The Rapture

As anyone who is close to me can tell you, I have a real mischievous side to me. This subversive bent served me well when I was drawing underground comix.

I live in a neighborhood with quite a few fundamentalist Christians. They’re not bad folks, really. None of them seem to be like the priests who prey on kids (that perverse predatory behavior is now being blamed on the moral looseness of the 1960s, according to the Los Angeles Times. The 60s? Really? Pathetic.).

I am very tempted to buy one of those huge plastic trumpet horns that people blow during sports events.

On Saturday I could walk down my street, give a big long blast on the horn (for the “Gabriel’s Horn” effect), conceal the horn and then have my Christian neighbors sign over their homes to me. Why in the heck would they need a house if The Rapture is coming?

I could give a house to each of my kids and turn one into a new studio!

Just a thought (a naughty thought, I know).

The Rapture is coming on Saturday. Honestly, I have heard of few things so stupid. I’m laughing today; I’ll be laughing on Sunday.

I don’t laugh, though, when those same folks try to ban Evolution from textbooks and replace that vital, valuable info with Intelligent Design (does the use of “Intelligent” in that phrase qualify it as an oxymoron?) text. Oh, brother.

We are all witnesses to the dumbing down of America.

PS: If there is a Rapture, though, could everyone leaving please each take a birther and a Bin Laden’s-Still-Alive nut with them? Thanks! Or is what I’m asking redundant?

30 Responses to “The Rapture”

  1. Thomas Mazzola says:

    If no one was taken on this, the day of “The Rapture”, does it not mean
    there is not one “true believer” in all of humanity and that all human
    beings hold a bit of “doubt” in their souls as to the existence of “heaven” and
    “hell” and a life hereafter? Is not “doubt” the catalyst for thinking and nourishment for the evolution of the mind? I wonder.

  2. fws says:

    Bill,
    I read with great interest and disappointment your Rapture post.I’ve met you and talked to you a number of times and in addition to your great ability to produce some of the best art I’ve seen I’ve always considered you to be a highly intelligent person. I still do! But your inclination to judge Christianity by the silly notions of Harold Camping is quite beneath your obvious intelligence! Sadly, Harold Camping has done some harm to the message of serious well balanced Christians who have relied on very trustworthy scholarship to back their opinions regarding Christ’s Second Coming. All an honest person has to do is research to commentary of Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon, Machen and Hoeksema to realize intelligent Christians have and do believe Christ will someday return to this earth and put to an end the utter madness that prevails from day to day! And the notion that Darwinian evolution is free from it’s own misinformation is a joke! Darwinian evolution has been plagued with frauds from it’s inception! From Java Man to the recently perpetuated fraud that National Geographic fell for, i.e. the phony Chinese fossil that “proved” the evolutionary transformation from reptile to bird! It was a fake! National Geographic later admitted it was phony! Personally, I believe the Genesis record. I do not believe in Darwinian evolution! I don’t see any substantial evolutionary relationship between a butterfly and a buffalo! I do believe that dinosaurs existed! I also believe they co-existed with man…which explains the “dragon” mythology, and I also believe that some MAY continue to exist
    in remote unexplored tropical areas! But I do not believe all of Christianity can be judged by the idiosyncratic notions of Harold Camping nor the depraved inclinations of a few phony priests!

    Sincerely, Frank

  3. Rick Tucker says:

    Bill,
    Frank is judging and that’s most un-Christian (yeah, I was naive enough to aspire to being Christian but logic kept intervening, though the studies have paid off in debunking the supposed “true believers” with their own sacred word).
    I’m glad you didn’t respond. The Franks of the world do not, and will not get it in their entire lifetimes, but that’s given.
    By the way, it’s THIS Saturday!
    Maroons. Scary maroons.

    Rick

  4. Rick Catizone says:

    Bill (and also Rick),

    I too was surprised at the generalization and equating of serious Christians who have studied and researched with the deceived followers of Harold Camping. (BTW, I heard he’s moved the date again, after the fact, of course). The problem isn’t with Christianity, or scripture itself, it’s with those who haven’t studied it, or TWIST IT FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSE.

    And Rick, I find it intriguing that you said “logic kept intervening”. Well I am a VERY logical person, and to me it verifies. C.S. Lewis, the most noted logician of our time came to Christ once he HONESTLY looked at scripture and applied his impeccable logic to all the evidence.

    I won’t reiterate everything Frank said about evolution, but it is ONE theory of the evidence we have. No one saw it happen. There are no linking fossils, only transitions and adaptations within families.

    The computer I am using at the moment did not assemble itself into this complex maze of technology and design by itself. Parts on a shelf weren’t spilled millions of times until magically they fell into the right places and solder just happened to be near enough, and the day it got hot enough, be the exact right temp to assemble it. And neither did the electrical current accidentally over time snake it’s way through my house, directed from some other power source that came into existence by similar mysterious means.

    I would not discount intelligent design. There is quite evidently a design to the universe, to dna, to the structure of things. The idea that billions of accidents kept happening in a positive direction to create the amazing indescribably complex life on this planet just doesn’t work for me. Even science admits reluctantly that mutations almost always have negative influences, not a building of more complexly functional attributes.

    We can all joke about Harold Camping trying to set a date. I think it another matter to wipe away “a priori” Jesus Christ and what He said He would do.

    Look forward to seeing you in New Jersey.

    Best,
    Rick

  5. jim says:

    All right, folks. Anybody else wanna weigh in?

  6. fws says:

    To All,
    I’m a little uncomfortable using Bill’s site to hash out theological views so I’ll close with an observation I made many years ago! Some people are so opposed to Christianity that they will accept and perpetuate any argument against it’s veracity no matter how illogical the argument may be! To say that Christians are morons is to say Augustine and J S Bach and Isaac Newton and Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley and C K Chesterton and J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis were morons! And we know that’s not true! All one has to do is study the lives and accomplishments of these few individuals to realize their abilities often dwarf our paltry claims to intelligence!
    And to in turn to argue and advance the claim that Darwinism is free from error and it’s own history of hucksters is to play the proverbial ostrich! I’m just sayin’ , so can we now get back to music and art and stuff like that?

    Sincerely, Frank

  7. jim says:

    All dogma has it’s share of hucksters, as we’ve just witnessed last Saturday.

  8. Bill says:

    Hi All,
    I didn’t mean to open up such a can of worms here! I was actually about to remove this entry (I thought it could be interpreted as a little mean-spirited, which was not my intention. I just found the notion of one guy proclaiming The Rapture was coming on May 21st — and the following that was building — to be ludicrous) when I saw that it had a recent flurry of responses. Please allow me to respond in kind…

    To Frank (fws):
    It wasn’t my intention to come off as judging Christianity in general; I was ridiculing Camping and his followers in particular. My apologies if what I wrote came across as a broad brush tarring of Christians in general. It certainly wasn’t meant that way.

    I don’t think that there is necessarily a conflict between being a good Christian and being a good scientist. My friend Dale Russell is perhaps the most devout Catholic I know; he is also one of the world’s most brilliant paleontologists. There are also the gentlemen you mentioned, of course.

    I never stated that “Darwinian evolution is free from its own misinformation.” The scientific process that results in Good Science involves constant re-evaluation and requires objective examination to keep it honest and vital. It seems like new fossils are being discovered every week these days, making paleontology one of the most exciting and vital of all the modern sciences.

    To try to discredit the theory of evolution and its logic because of two well known fakes (one a deliberate hoax, the other an error of enthusiasm) is akin to declaring that all Christians must be criminals and hypocrites when two have been found to be so. It was the vigilance of Science (not the Intelligent Design folks, by the way) that busted and exposed those two frauds. In its never ending pursuit of Truth, Science constantly and rigorously polices its own. I do not find the same rigorous objectivity within the Intelligent Design group.

    Speaking of hoaxes, it was my friend and paleontologist George Callison who discovered the Christians attempting to carve human footprints into a dinosaur trackway so that there would be “proof” that dinosaurs co-existed with humans. If such an actual trackway was discovered that provided proof that dinosaurs co-existed with man, you can be sure there wouldn’t be a group of scientists attempting to destroy the human tracks to retain support for the theory of evolution. Scientists would be first in line to validate (or discredit, if they turned out to be fakes) their authenticity.

    I am sorry that by your own admission you can’t see the “evolutionary relationship between a butterfly and a buffalo”. I can. That it’s not that difficult for me might simply be because I have possibly had more exposure to that branch of science than you have (I don’t know what your educational background is). What pains me is your belief, with over a hundred years of evolutionary science before you, that dinosaurs co-existed with man. There is a 60 million years gap between the most recent dinosaur fossil and the appearance of man. The dating of these fossils is not solely done through carbon dating. There are many other dating methods that are used as cross references for dating fossils. They all point to the same conclusion.

    As far as finding dinos in a remote jungle, you know me: I SO wish that would happen! It’s my dream to see a living dinosaur (other than birds) — from a safe distance.

    To Rick Tucker,
    As tempting as it might be, please don’t be so hard on Frank. He is earnest in his beliefs. While you and I are astonished by those beliefs, there are quite intelligent folks out there who are not. Happily, he’s Frank’s not on a rant; he seeks civil discussion. I think he would just like us to try to see his side of things. He’s a passionate individual with quite excellent taste in art (i.e., he likes my stuff).

    To Rick C.,
    Camping moved the date? I didn’t know that he’d come out of hiding since Saturday.

    Speaking of Camping & hypocrisy, how hypocritical is it for those Christians who believed in Saturday’s coming Rapture to max out their credit cards in huge spending sprees because they didn’t think they’d be around later to pay them off? Wouldn’t being so selfish and nasty as to leave honest folks holding their irresponsible financial bag instantly disqualify them from being allowed to be beamed up to be with the Big Guy?

    I have to take issue with you, however, when you try to compare development in the natural world (evolutionary changes) with what are obviously man-made technological improvements. Huh? I have also never spoken to a single scientist who “reluctantly” (or otherwise) admitted that “mutations almost always have negative influences”. Again, huh? There are thousand of examples to the contrary. I’m one of them. I have never had the formation of wisdom teeth. Lucky me!

    You said, “I won’t reiterate everything Frank said about evolution, but it is ONE theory of the evidence we have. No one saw it happen. There are no linking fossils, only transitions and adaptations within families.” To me that sounds like either you’re arguing with yourself or that you don’t have a fundamental understanding of evolution, how many “linking fossils” that have indeed been discovered and the importance of “transitions and adaptations within families” as they apply to evolution.

    I believe that the history of life is generally pretty sloppy; its design is far from “intelligent”. As Woody Allen famously stated, “If there is a God, he’s an underachiever.” It has evolved over the last billion years both slowly and in fits and spurts. I don’t think it’s valid to point out the miraculous successes in life without acknowledging the thousands of evolutionary dead ends. There have been loads of what you describe as evolutionary “accidents.” Horses developed and evolved in North America. They then went extinct here until they were re-introduced thousands of years later by the Spaniards. We had several types of elephants roaming our continent, too (I’m currently painting some for the San Diego Zoo).

    As to Jesus doing “what He said He would do”, my immediate reaction is how in the heck do we know what Jesus said? To quote Marlon Brando when he denied saying what an interviewer quoted him as saying, “Was you there, Charlie?” As in the past, I refer you to Bart Ehrman’s fine book, Misquoting Jesus – The Story Behind Who Changed The Bible and Why. My own experience with the Media (and the Bible is an ancient form of the Media) in promoting my first dinosaur book showed me that I can’t even trust what is reported about me in my own time, even by folks who are fully on my side! The last time I read an issue of Time that featured a cover article on dinosaurs, I noted at least one MAJOR factual error in every single paragraph!

    Hi Jim, and finally back to Frank (fws),
    Rick used the Warner Brothers cartoon term “maroons” — not “morons” (although I believe his intent was the same). Rick and I gave up believing in Invisible Friends a long time ago. Wait! I apologize; that’s a smart ass thing to say. It’s a serious subject. I came to my own epiphany when I was drawing cartoons for kids in the Children’s Hospital Terminal Ward. No minister, priest or any other theologian who believes “God is good” has ever been able to explain to me why, if God is omnipotent, why He puts innocent children through the long, painful tortures of terminal diseases. If He is truly merciful, He could simply end their suffering before it began. Instead, it always come down to the same perverse logic (or lack thereof): God gets credit for anything good that happens, yet never gets the blame for anything bad (“We cannot begin to understand the mysterious ways of the Lord” is quoted to me all the time, despite the fact that so many people claim to understand the ways of the Lord when good things happen). You can’t have it both ways. Both good and bad happen under His watch, with much of the bad (natural disasters, for example) not caused at all by the actions of bad people. It’s like what Woody Allen said…

    As stated, though, I certainly know lots of highly intelligent Christians and count them as friends. I don’t think anyone would quarrel with your fine examples, Frank.

    I’ve already made clear (I hope) that no scientist claims that “Darwinism is free from error”. The theory of evolution is constantly being examined and refined as we gather and gain more information; it’s a living science. Evolution’s huckster history you mention is paltry, however, especially in comparison to the legions of frauds, slaughter and devastation perpetrated in the name of God and religion. The two just don’t begin to compare.

    OK.

    Unless you all want to further extend this thread, I’m perfectly fine with getting back to Music and art and stuff like that. It’s way more fun!

  9. fws says:

    Bill,

    Thanks for your response! Darwinism still looks like a thin slice of Swiss Cheese to me but I appreciate your attention to my concerns! What informs my doubts about Darwinism are not only the frauds I mentioned (Java Man and National Geographic) but Piltdown Man, Archaeoraptor, Carbon 14 dating anomalies, and the strange notions that Science is somehow always free from bias and that Darwinism is a benign scientific discipline! The practical application of Darwinism by a few maniacs gave birth to one of the bloodiest centuries in the history of mankind! It’s role in the rise and development of brutal atheistic regimes cannot be understated! I’m sure you’ve seen Ben Stein’s documentary EXPELLED but for those following this exchange it may be of some interest! Once again, thanks for your civil response!

    Sincerely, Frank

  10. Rick Catizone says:

    Bill,

    As Frank said, no one wants to hijack an art forum of your work and experiences. But since the post was afield of art, permit me a response.

    If anyone maxed out a credit card because of their belief that Jesus was coming the next day, they were either severely retarded in their understanding and growth as a Christian, or they were not Christians. As a believer, if I knew my Lord was coming tomorrow, I would most assuredly be attempting to conduct myself as I have tried to do in my daily life….doing what would be right in HIS eyes….not being irresponsible.

    I understand that some claim that there are linking fossils. But I also recall that often the ones claimed to be linking fossils have been found in later strata. I don’t doubt that animals adapted in ways that may have changed attributes, but not their species. And I think dating methods have shown to be wrong, when they dated living (existent) forms as being hundreds of thousands of years old.

    Sorry that you didn’t like my analogy to the computer. I don’t find any contradiction there. I maintain that the human being (as one example) is so incredibly complex, that the idea that there was no creator or designer seems unfathomable to me. I was making the comparison that anyone using a computer would never expect that somehow all these elements came together perfectly to make such a complex thing. Just because something is a living organism, I don’t see how that immense leap of faith is justified that it could have happened there.

    As to Ehrman, Reinventing Jesus and several other books clearly take Ehrman and others to task. Bart skips over major flaws in his own theories, because it can clearly be proven that Jesus was believed to be God based on the creeds long before he says Jesus was made into a God in medieval times. And you have the writings of those who walked with Jesus, and their early disciples as well. To try and twist that 2000 years later seems devious.

    I believe that these men saw and believed Jesus to be God incarnate. We can call them liars if we choose to, but we should not say they didn’t write what they did or mean what they wrote. Is it important if they kept the exact heart of what Jesus communicated but didn’t memorize the exact words? I don’t think so. You have the written accounts from various disciples. It says in the Bible that Jesus did far more than could written there. I would suggest that he probably raised many people from the dead, but they were all not written about. The same with other miracles. On one occasion he may have said something a bit different than on another, but with the same exact meaning. They may have chosen the one that struck them individually.

    All of that comes down to this, can you trust the New Testament in its accuracy? The answer based on meticulous study and analysis, and new evidences confirming things each year, is yes. If that is so, as C.S. Lewis said, Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Who He claimed to be. There are no alternatives possible…He didn’t leave that option open.

    Best,
    Rick

  11. Bill says:

    Hi Rick,
    I am so happy we’re all so civilized!

    Don’t worry about highjacking the forum. We can talk about anything here and, well — I started it.

    We agree on the credit card maxing folk. That it was an un-Christian thing to do was my point exactly, especially when one would logically think you’d want to be on your very best behavior right before Judgement.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the term “linking fossil”. What I call linking fossils are the thousands of fossils that display a physical progressive change in form that in many cases ends with present day creatures. Among those fossils are common ancestors, branching relatives and lots of dead ends.

    Yes, there can be mistakes in dating. That’s why paleontologists use many different dating methods to cross reference their results of date determination tools like carbon dating.

    I still don’t get your computer analogy but that just could be because it’s late at night.

    I’ll check out Reinventing Jesus, as Ehrman’s credentials & background and the distinctly unsensational, dry text of Misquoting Jesus have me totally convinced in regards to the findings of his most painstaking and scholarly studies.

    Which raises a question…What would it take to convince you that Eherman’s book (or some book with a similar premise and scholarship) was true? And if you were indeed supplied with such evidence and convinced it were true, what would that do to your faith — anything? I don’t mean to be provocative here; I’m truly curious.

    So many things in the Bible have been shown to be impossible by a science that did not exist during Biblical times. Usually, the answer I get from Christians to that is that the logical lapses and lapses that violate the laws of reality that occur in the Bible are meant as allegories. I’m fine with that and came to the same conclusion on my own.

    I wouldn’t say that the men who wrote he Gospels were “liars” — just that each guy was not necessarily objective and that each Gospel was written from their personal point of view.

    Here’s one problem I have with the Bible being considered the Word of God: If the Bible truly is the Word of God and its interpretation and following as important as Christians say it is, then why didn’t this omnipotent God leave us this book in a more permanent form? What is contained inside seems too important and precious to be left to the hands of man.

    At least Brigham Young had his heavenly instructions delivered to him in more permanent form, written onto gold plates. It’s not his fault he lost them…

    OK, Rick — you really lose me when you start talking about raising the dead back to life. Just because I make zombie movies doesn’t mean I think they’re real…

    I think there are many more choices than the three you mention. From what I’ve read, Jesus seemed a complex man. Adding charismatic philosopher and wise carpenter to your list springs immediately to mind. I’m not sure where you got “liar” from. I never thought of Jesus as a liar and am not sure why I would, except for maybe that Son of God thing (aren’t we all, in a way?) or the claiming to be God, both of which Ehrman refutes pretty convincingly (it was a medieval typo caused by an ink bleedthrough, for those of you who haven’t read his book).

    Feel free to be done or carry on…We’ll probably never meet on some of these points.

  12. Rick Catizone says:

    Bill,

    Well, I like intelligent discourse, even when we may not agree. And even if we never agree, I think it’s good to work the mind muscle with facts and logical presentations of understandings on things. So, while everything mentioned truly requires many paragraphs each, let me be brief in making some clarifications.

    I wasn’t saying that you said Jesus was a liar, but that things like “good moral teacher”, “wise sage” and “charismatic philosopher” are not options. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Without going into a long study of the usage and understanding of that term, He was claiming to be God. You say, “Aren’t we all in a way?” Yes we are…as adopted children. The Son as used here means of the same nature. That is, God-nature….all knowing, all holiness, all righteousness, all love, all justice. That is why the Jews wanted to kill Him. They knew what HE was claiming and they attest to His miracles, and accuse Him of using the power of Satan, because they knew no natural man could do such things.

    Jesus forgave sins. Yet the entire Jewish culture and scripture (which Jesus affirmed at every turn as true) said only God could forgive sins. If Jesus isn’t God, then there seems to be a very big disconnect with saying to someone that He forgives their sins without even asking the various injured parties. Jesus accepted worship on a number of occasions. While some say it wasn’t “really” worship as such, the Greek word used is the same as used when describing worship of the Father. John testifies that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The following verses clarify that he is speaking about Jesus. Jesus was with God, and Jesus is God. The entire Bible declares that Jesus knew Who He was and why He came, and that His apostles and disciples understood Him to be God, especially after the resurrection. Also of note, is that Jesus never said that He wasn’t God or told them not to worship Him. Certainly sacrilegious unless He is God. Even angels who appear to men, when worshipped, were told NOT to do so.

    So either Jesus was completely mad thinking Himself to be God, or He was a liar…which means He intentionally led men astray, which takes away any possibility of “good moral teacher”… or Who He claimed to be. No other options are open.

    As to raising the dead, His apostles and disciples report that they saw it. All of the people in the area could have denounced it but they saw some of these occurrences. The religious leaders acknowledged it, but accused Him of working through Satan’s power. Then Jesus was raised from the dead with various individuals (and even over 500 witnesses) seeing Him at one time. All the apostles save one, were most cruelly tortured and killed for the undying belief that they knew they had seen Jesus risen and alive and well, though they had seen his most tortuous death on the cross.

    As to Brigham Young…unfortunately no one else ever saw those plates…which also mysteriously have almost complete plagiarisms from the extant Bible. And to say that it wasn’t his fault that he lost the plates? I could be wrong here, but if God gave man his Word to be written down by man, and we are criticizing that, how much more care would ANYONE have taken if they truly had golden plates given by God? You’ll note that Moses didn’t lose the Ten Commandment tablets, although, he did break them in anger when he saw how little the children of Israel loved or wanted their God, the very One Who had just delivered them from a life of slavery.

    Regarding my faith and other authors that contradict the vast majority of scholarship on the Bible, I can say that for many, many years I studied other faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, new age, esotericism, etc. Being a somewhat voracious reader on subjects I enjoy, I couldn’t tell you how many books I read and studied on those subjects. My final analysis was that the non-Christian books and anti-Christian books were cleverly written. They weaved things that weren’t related. They mixed total fabrications, as well as outright lies, with things from scripture in an effort to confuse, and legitimize their own point of view. It could not have been accidental. A good example from Baha’ism tried to make one believe that Bahuallah was the Holy Spirit that Jesus said He would send to His disciples. They took the part they wanted from the New Testament, and twisted it. However, should someone actually pick up the New Testament and read the verses, it clearly said the opposite of what they were saying it did. So many want to use little parts that fit their agenda to legitimize their own faith. Christianity is an all or nothing acceptance, not just the parts one likes, or suits their purpose. SO it isn’t as if I hadn’t taken on many challenges to Christianity. In fact, for a long time, before I really looked at the counter arguments FROM Christianity, I had accepted all kinds of things mixed into a new age hodge-podge Christianity that seemed to make sense to me…but fell apart when really analyzed.

    As to linking fossils, it is my understanding that we really don’t have real connections. If all these changes took SO long to happen, then ALL the intermediates should have been as plentiful as the different species…meaning we should be finding tons more of all the intermediates that the species themselves. I was just re-reading a piece on the horse series and the bird series. Granted it is 10 years old, but at that time the author concluded that there were serious gaps in transitions, and even some evolutionists admitted it. I’ll see if I can get some pages scanned. It might give you something to make the flight to NJ more interesting.

    Best,
    Rick

  13. Bill says:

    Hi Rick,
    Another very interesting response; you make several good points.

    I do get nervous when statements are made like “No other options are open”, though. That kind of slams the door on open thought and discussion, as well as the effect of whatever info that might get dug up in the future. It gets to the crux of why I asked the honest question of what sort of legitimate evidence would it take to shake your faith…If the answer is nothing, then that really stifles and ends all thoughtful discussion — ask Galileo. We always need to entertain the possibility that we might be wrong in our efforts to seek the Truth. Honestly, I’d be giddy with happiness if a live dinosaur were found in the Congo and we had to rewrite our paleo texts.

    I noticed you didn’t address my permanence issue with the Word of God, nor natural disasters or the suffering of young innocents. Those are tough ones, aren’t they?

    I was joking when I said losing the gold plates wasn’t Young’s fault. I should have included a smiley emoticon 😉 I don’t believe there ever were any instructive gold plates. If there were, wouldn’t losing them have been the height (or depth) of irresponsibility?

    Although my dad was raised Mormon, I don’t believe a word of the Book of Mormon. Jesus visiting America? Puh-leeze! It seems as wacky as Scientology with its space aliens.

    Honestly, the only religion that even begins to make any sense to me as a person living in the real world is Buddhism. Buddhism at least answers some of the “Why bad things happen” questions I’ve got in way that’s pretty thoughtful. I don’t fully embrace Buddhism (or any other religion), though, as I tend to prefer to think for myself on most matters. God gave us brains — we should use them, right?

    “Don’t follow leaders — watch the parking meters”
    — Bob Dylan

  14. Rick Catizone says:

    Bill,

    First, I am absolutely with you on hoping to find a dino in the congo! You know they say that Willis O’Brien spent so much time in South America because of stories and hopes of finding a live dino. I think we will all be amazed if it happens. For as much of the anatomical guesses will be on the right track, they may specifically wrong on detail, as well as perhaps in the exact way they move. Almost like Cecil Kellaway, as he observes the rhedosaurus, and the surprise and awe at the specifics.

    When I said that no other options are open, I didn’t mean it as if to say we can’t discuss other options if you see some other possibility. I was taking it from C.S. Lewis’ perspective, which I find very solid. If one really studies the things Jesus did, and all He said, and the things said about Him by His disciples and also His enemies, then it paints a very clear picture of a man walking this earth Who claimed to be God. And then predicted His death and resurrection, and said that is why He came into this world, to pay a ransom that no one but God could. Now, whether some critics want to argue that the text isn’t reliable, or they ascribe worth to a book known to be written in the 1400’s which contradicts what is clearly taught in all previous accepted scripture from within 30-60 years of Christ’s death, and take scripture in isolation or out of context and “defeat” the veracity of the Bible is a different discussion.

    Suffice to say, that many pastors and ordinary laymen have questioned and wanted to know the truth. Are the gospels reliable, have they been miscopied, and does it change any crucial doctrine of God’s relationship with man if it was? Are we speaking of legends or witnessed events? What did His enemies record? All that must be taken into a study. My son studied both Greek and Hebrew to be sure what was actually written and how it has been translated, and to try and better understand the scriptures. He is the strongest Christian I know because of it. Others have devoted their entire lives to it, and except for a small group who would like either their own notoriety or just to try and destroy any belief in God, the Bible has held up. Since you are into dinosaurs, possibly archeology as well, you may know that most of the discoveries that actually prove all the historical information in the Bible was found be atheist archeologists who were trying to prove the Bible as false. But all they did was verify it. (As opposed to, as you said, the Book of Mormon, which has zero archeological evidence at this date.)

    While we might be wrong in parts of our search for the truth, I believe enough of the truth is knowable that we should at least be careful to accept main tenets of something rather than not because we believe that one can’t know the truth.

    Not sure what you wanted regarding permanence. But as far as suffering innocents, it is the toughest question we all face. The doctrinal answer is that God made the world perfect and created man to inhabit it and rule in it in joy as he walked with his Maker. But he also gave man a free will, because without that, man could not freely choose to love God. Man disobeyed God’s warnings and death…not God’s wish for mankind…became part of the picture. God’s holiness can not tolerate sin. His justice demands that debts are paid. His love provides a way that man can be reconciled to God, by His Son paying that debt. And while all of that is settled, this earth and all in it, still feel the effects of the ruined creation that was distorted from God’s desire. None of that answer, while understandable on an intellectual level, eases the pain of losing a loved one.

    Yes, I believe God gave us brains and we should use them. And I think for myself. I am not a sheep. We should also be careful not to eliminate Him from the equation. As the lyrics from a song say, “I’d rather be a fool in the eyes of man, than a fool in the eyes of God.”

    Best,
    Rick

  15. jim says:

    Bill,
    Can we fit Scientologists into this discussion? :))
    What a great blog. I’ve had time to grab some popcorn and a soda.
    Carry on boys. Jim

  16. Rick Tucker says:

    Bill,

    All good points. As I stated before I’m a former aspiring Christian and logic ruined me though I pursued faith even as I questioned it. I was the kid slated for the priesthood to boot. When the priests and others said don’t ask I realized they had no answers to my questions. I bothered them. After exploring the Southern Baptist culture and the hard right swing in the Catholic Church as well as Scientology and Mormonism it became very clear that a lot of people need something to believe in. They do not trust the inherent values of the human experience without the illogical anchor of life ever after. And once indoctrinated it’s hard to shake especially when faith often comes at the expense of not questioning it. Questions in most faiths are discouraged which I found odd seeing as questioning things, being curious is what being human is all about.
    Rick C. the one driving point that continued to bring doubt, well besides the obvious things, are the really big ones. Why is Christianity THE faith and not Judaism, Muslim or paganism or Hindi? Side questions that plagued me were which of the two biblical genesis tales is the one to believe, if Cain and Abel are the only offspring of Adam and Eve (no others are mentioned) who’s going to see the mark on Cain, why was it okay for Lot to have sex with his daughters, and while I can’t have any gods BEFORE God does that mean the others are just subservient, and why is God manic depressive?
    The biggest question of all is why are all the key myths of the bible (genesis, the flood, virgin birth, man/god, battle at end times, etc…) in the Vedic stories that actually predate the oldest biblical tales by over 2 thousand years?
    You can’t learn these questions without looking into the ones that are alleged to be truths you can’t look into.
    Also, the “Maroons” I was referring to were those sacrilegious enough to believe they knew God’s unknowable will by predicting something only God knows. And they are SCARY. If they break God’s will I imagine they could not care less about disobeying the social ones we abide by.

    Frank, evolutionary science is a breeze to buy into as an anatomist. Cats have elbows and when my daughter was a baby she had vestigial little gill holes (all gone now). It’s that simple. People speak of the complexity of God’s creation to which I have to ask why would God bother and why not make his creations less flawed (men’s backs and prostates are ridiculously poorly designed and women’s plumbing is terrible as well as so many fetuses being jettisoned naturally it’s a wonder we survive at all, and those are the more obvious flaws), complex and yet biologically similar? I’m just a mortal but I put more thought and far less tiny details into my work.

    Before anyone thinks I’m bashing faith I admit it eludes me but a good deal of my friends, family and even my wife have faith. If I didn’t respect their various faiths (Muslims, Jews, Christians and even some Unis and Buddhists) they’d likely have little or nothing to do with me. Though, if the tables were turned the faithful have proven to be the most intolerant of those of us who just aren’t buying. Hell, they kill people of other faiths, even other similar ones. Luckily we’re mostly lazy and peaceful as a species.
    Not one of the folks I know thought Camping had a clue.

    By the way, those who question things ARE the reason there are cars, TV sets, computers, bio science, meteorologists, geologists, social scientists and medical practitioners. Many of them still go to church too. Science is an ever changing and improving method for explaining our world. If it was perfect it would be fixed in one place. I like that it grows and changes. It’s allowed to be wrong when a better theory is presented, unlike the rigidity of religious beliefs.
    At the end of the day I don’t know a thing. I just get the distinct feeling that when I die no special treatment will allow me to go to some alleged paradise. When I die, I’m gone. I find great comfort that the universe continues without my consciousness. To have this one shot and be aware of it is pretty great.

  17. Rick Catizone says:

    Rick T: In my studies and personal search, I never had a pastor say, “Don’t ask.” The Christian faith is not to be a blind faith, but a faith based on logic, reason, and evidences. There are many books on the Christian faith that take serious questions and analyze and answer them.

    Many scientists and inventors were Christians that did INDEED ask questions, and looked for God’s hand in the universe, and that led them to their discoveries. My pastor has said that his studies in chemistry and the universe in general have led to even more confirmation of his faith.

    I am not sure I understand the basis of doubt being whether one religion might be “right” or more right than another. Contradictory things cannot be true. While all major religions have similar moral codes (and some diverge), there is a gulf of difference in the doctrinal beliefs and main tenets of their respective faiths. As a psychologist once said, if the faiths are contradictory to one another, they can’t all be true. So either one is true and the others false, or all can be false, but all cannot be true. If one is true, shouldn’t we try and find out which one? He also felt that since Christianity is the fulfillment of and completion of Judaism, so they would be referred to as being one.) While it is true that Judaism as such has not accepted Christ as Messiah, Christians accept all of the Old Testament as truth and part of their faith.

    Hinduism, for example, (not to pick on that faith, but because we don’t have space to address every one) says that there are many gods, and that each person is god, and that this world is an illusion. They believe in reincarnation and karma, and that one should not help another. While I would say that has changed over the last 50 years, one should note that it was the work of missionaries and Christian churches that went to India and built hospitals to care for these people that no one would help, for fear of making their next life worse. They let people suffer. (Also true in the United States as far as who built the hospitals, though many names have been changed, but they were invariably started by the churches. Divine Providence, St. Johns, St. Marys, Mercy, etc.)

    On the other hand, the Christian says that this world is very real. And we are to help others in need. In all other faiths, man reaches up to God and tries to attain perfection or heaven with his merits. Christianity says that man can’t attain, and that God reached down to man to lift him up. And we should emulate that compassion.

    As far as not having “any other gods”, Christianity says there is only one God. ..and that all others worshiped as gods are not only false, but if they exist at all, are created creatures who rebelled against God. As far as different faiths having some seemingly similar stories or beliefs, if man did descend from one created group, they would have common heritage and history. If man was created and God walked with him, as it says, then man had knowledge of God and His nature and man’s relationship to him. Man’s sin and rebelling against God, and each going his own way, changed and no doubt distorted a lot of that first-hand experience and knowledge…though concepts were still incorporated even in a changed state.

    Many questions, and as I said there are a number of good books that address a number of the questions you bring up. And some of these questions obviously require more space than we want to take here. (Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences)

    Best,
    Rick

  18. Rick Tucker says:

    Rick C. you answered none of the questions or contradictions I brought and that’s typical of dyed in the wool faithful. That’s fine but it’s a shame that you ignore the obvious while convoluting your own beliefs sidestepping basic issues of the problem with faith. Suffice it to say I think it’s all wrong, not evil, not always detrimental but certainly not for me. I wasted the better part of three decades before I came to that decision so please keep your idea that I didn’t look hard enough to yourself.

    Bill, sorry. I’m done. Won’t happen again.

  19. Rick Catizone says:

    RickT:

    I’m sorry that I could not deal with so many questions and in a short way in this forum. Here is what C.S. Lewis says about God and can one religion be more right than another. (Just an excerpt obviously)

    THE RIVAL CONCEPTIONS OF GOD
    I have been asked to tell you what Christians believe, and I am going to begin by telling you one thing that Christians do not need to believe. If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from odier religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.
    The first big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not. On this point, Christianity lines up with the majority—lines up with ancient Greeks and Romans, modern savages, Stoics, Plato-nists, Hindus, Mohammedans, etc., against the modern Western European materialist.

    And, of course, that raises a very big question. If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling “whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?” But then that threw me back into another difficulty.

    My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too— for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

  20. fws says:

    To All,

    Hey! What’s going on here? Break it up! What’s wrong with you guys? I’m gone a week or so and all “hell” breaks loose! Weren’t you ever told not to argue over religion? There’s little to nothing to be gained! Nobody in this exchange is gonna convert or be converted! But the comment about “invisible friends” brought to mind a scene in I, Monster when Christopher Lee’s character, a hard-core skeptic, scoffed at the existence of God and blithely asked, ” Where is he? I don’t see him, do you?” Peter Chushing’s character looked past his newspaper and said in a very calm voice, “You can’t see a thought, but I don’t think anyone here would deny they exist!” I liked that! There are many things we cannot see but that does not mean they don’t exist! You can’t see hope or regret or ambition or worship or a zillion other things that certainly do exist! Often I think we as humans think we know much more than we actually do! We often take pride in our tiny notions when all around us are mysteries beyond our comprehension! Mysteries unknown! Mysteries yet to be discovered! Mysteries to be solved or never solved! Well anyway, have at it! I’m outta here! God bless or just take care, whatever you’re most comfortable with!

    Sincerely, Frank

  21. Matt says:

    A cheeky post which, considering the thin slice of Christianity whom actually believe a single preacher no-one should really be offended by.

    As to the negative comments on evolution by others here, one thing I’ve noticed is that people like you and I, who work with scientists and see what evidence is gathered, how it is gathered, the incredible detail of it, and the fact we need to understand it for our work, have a very different view and understanding than most people.

    Spend time in contact with scientists whom work in any field and it makes you realize the absolute shallowness of a lay person’s knowledge. This is one of the reasons scientist tend not to get involved in these debates, to them they are simply diversionary nonsense which has no actual bearing upon their work.

  22. fws says:

    I’m sorry but I do not entertain the faith in science that some of you have! The idea that science is free from bias puzzles me! To think that science cannot be politically motivated, or financially motivated, or ideologically motivated, or personally motivated is beyond comprehension! There was once a science that believed psychopaths could be identified by the “bumps” on their heads! There once was a science that believed criminals could be identified by the “narrowness” of their eyes! There once was a science that believed Jews were an inferior race worthy of extermination! But we now believe we are past those kinds of errors in our science. We now believe we are beyond those kinds of glitches. We now believe science can police itself forward even though history has shown the policy of self-correction to be faulty at best! I believe that someday, in the not too distant future, science will look back on some of OUR nutty notions and wonder how WE could have been so stupid. So with that in mind I think we should exercise a little reservation before we rashly condemn contrary opinions and race headlong under any banner of “evidence” or “theory” or whatever! Sometimes it seems to me that the difference between science and religion is often just varying degrees of faith! Thanks again, Bill, for the space, literally and figuratively!

    Frank

  23. Bill says:

    Wow! I’ve got some catching up to do here now that I’m back (briefly) from my travels.

    OK.

    To Rick C. (May 31 post):
    Jesus as God…I’ll have to politely disagree and go with Ehrman’s (and others’) studies on that one. The earliest Biblical texts don’t seem to make that statement. It’s that pesky later Bible with the ink bleed through changing the meaning of the word on the opposite side of the page that seems to have started that “Jesus is God” thread.

    On a similar note it was revealed that one of my favorite Bible stories (“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”) never happened. It was added to the Bible hundreds of years later. Great story, though, with a good ending and punchline.

    When talking about what Jesus did one must bear in mind Ehrman’s discovery that, in essence, there have been more changes to the Bible than there are words in the Bible. Once again, I ask the question: If the Bible is the Word of God and His words are so vitally important to humanity, then why didn’t he leave them to us in a more permanent form. As an omnipotent God, doing so would not be (or have been) beyond His powers.

    Ehrman’s studies were neither for notoriety nor to destroy belief in God. It was Ehrman’s own Fundamentalist fanaticism, not wanting to trust the many different translations handed down through the centuries, that drove him to learn Aramaic, ancient Greek, Hebrew, etc. so that he could read the oldest texts himself, unadulterated by subsequent translations, to seek out the true word of God. What he discovered completely disillusioned him.

    Man’s free will does not provide an answer as to why humans suffer from calamities (i.e., natural disasters) out of their control (nor the suffering of most innocents from disease). Isn’t it ironic that the Katrina floods mostly wiped out the believers in the poor sections of New Orleans while leaving most of the notorious sinners in the French Quarter and the Garden district high and dry…? It looks like God sort of dropped the ball on that one…

    To Rick T. (May 31 post),
    I find it fascinating that Joseph Campbell, the world’s greatest expert on religions and their origins, was a non-believer. Bill Moyers really had trouble wrapping his head around that one. I don’t. Man has always had some kind of spiritual needs and a need for tales and metaphors that explain the human condition. That’s why, as Campbell noted, the same religious stories turn up in slightly different versions adapted to the different geographies and by the varied cultures of people all over the world. One doesn’t have to be religious to understand and appreciate that.

    On a similar line of thought: good point about the Vedic stories.

    I’m with you, too, Rick as far as your concluding statement. Life is not a dress rehearsal. You’ve got one shot at it. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. Dust to dust, as they say. Don’t wait to make your mark; you’re not going to get another chance. Writers, artists, musicians — the things we create are our hostages to the future, our chance to touch the hem of immortality.

    To Rick C. (June 1 post):
    As far as which religion is the True One to Follow, I vote for “None of the Above” or, at the most, “Bits and pieces of some of the above”. There are things I find ridiculous in the texts of every religion, including Christianity (Adam & Eve siring all of humanity? That’s a lot of inbreeding). The different bids and threats regarding each religion’s attempt to be The One I see as nothing more than recruiting tools.

    To Rick T. (June 1 post):
    I felt the same way. Questions not answered: If the Bible is the Word of God (and God is omnipotent), then why wasn’t the Bible left to us in a permanent form? If God is omnipotent, why are children and other innocents made to suffer? If God is good, why the annual slaughter of innocents (and His believers) by His natural disasters?

    To Rick C. (June 2 post):
    Not “one big mistake” (“mistake” is a pejorative term) but a series of incredibly fortunate series of events (Aren’t we lucky!) that didn’t all happen at once (or in one week) but over the course of billions of years.

    In arithmetic (says the dad of a magna cum laude Yale math major graduate), problems can be devised to which there are several correct answers.

    I learned a long time ago that the world is indeed unjust and that life is not fair. To think otherwise sets you up for constant disappointment. That’s not to say that the occasional irony and payback doesn’t occur… There’s a phrase “Only the good die young”. That must be a very common occurrence for the phrase to have remained in our popular lexicon for so long. I have made note that a lot of the nastiest people in the world live very long lives. So much for karma…unless their moral payback if having to be themselves for so long.

    I don’t buy the elliptical absolutism of your last paragraph. In fact, I don’t begin to understand it. Maybe my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. I have real trouble with a lot of “either/or” arguments. I often find that there are many more than just two this-or-that choices.

    To Frank (June 3 post):
    I’m with you (I think). I’m starting to weary of the subject matter here. All involved eventually hit walls. I’m not sure anything really gets accomplished. Certainly no one’s mind gets changed.

    I liked the Cushing character quote. There was a great little foreign film (whose name eludes me right now) in which an angel falls to earth, his wings coming off during his plummet. The local clergy doubts that the angel is actually an angel. “I only believe in what I can’t see!”

    I’m a big believer in Mysteries yet discovered. I never thought in my lifetime that we would accurately know the colors of some of the dinosaurs.

    It’s kinda like UFOs. I believe in Unidentified Flying Objects. When people start identifying them — that’s when I start to have problems.

    To Matt:
    As a lay scientist, I am humbled by the thoroughness of the exhaustive effort put into their work by the paleontologists and other “real” scientists I know. Yes, mistakes get made. But the scientific community is usually the first to correct them.

    To Frank (June 5 post):
    No good scientist would claim that science is completely free from bias or error. That’s one reason why scientific papers are (often harshly, even when by friends) peer reviewed. That’s why corrections, if necessary, are usually quite promptly made by other scientists.

    By comparison, the religious community does not have anything that comes even close to the rigor of Good Science. The religious community is structured to preserve the Status Quo and their base of power. Look how threatened Christians were by Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, an honest, extremely scholarly attempt to try to find the true word of God. Others who took Ehrman’s path of simply attempting to find The Truth were excommunicated by the Church or tortured and killed. Galileo was forced by the Church to recant his discovery that the earth revolved around the sun and spent the rest of his life under house arrest for his alleged heresy.

    I think I might be done on this one (you guys go ahead, though, and duke it out if you want to). This takes too much time. I could be painting…

  24. fws says:

    Again, I recommend Ben Stein’s “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed!” Today’s science, in some disciplines, looks a lot like the old orthodoxy! It’s just as restrictive! It’s just as censorial! The recent scandal involving East Anglia University, a junction where most global warming data is processed (and apparently reconfigured to meet certain predisposed opinions) is a case in point. Fraud is often found in the strangest places. Even among those who claim to be the most honest and judicial and scientific among us! But I agree with your observation that Christianity seems to be lax regarding it’s own dogma. Its true, it’s all over the place! But if you look at the long history of Christian doctrine you must admit that orthodox Christianity, albeit Catholic, or Protestant, or Congregational, is, and has been, remarkably consistent regarding central themes! Until recently, however! In the late 1800’s there was a movement known as Higher Criticism that attempted to strip the Bible of its
    supernatural claims, and to some extent it succeeded! The new skepticism gave birth to a new barbarism! Even H. G. Wells, a dedicated Darwinist, recognized the disaster awaiting civilization should Christianity fail! (Read H. G. Well’s Outline of History!) He asked, What would replace the man who honestly believed it was wrong to kill, or steal, or lie, or cheat, or bear false witness? Even though Well’s himself doubted the existence of God he feared the consequences of doubt and atheism! And history proved his concerns to be valid! Soon thereafter Fascism and Communism and Hitlerism and Stalinism and Maoism dominated history! Millions were brutally killed or imprisoned or ostracized! And it’s not over! On the horizon is a full scale socialistic Globalism! An atheism that only recognizes power over people! Not people created in the image of God, with value and worth and importance, but people enslaved to the State! Taxpayers to be controlled! Numbers to be counted! All the wrongs will be right and all the rights will be wrong! The hard working people will be forced to support the lazy! The honest people will be overrun by the liars! The moral will be overcome by the immoral! The meek will be shouted down by the brazen! And if you disagree, well, you’ll be ridiculed or worse! You might even be called a “maroon!” It’s already happening! It’s an everyday thing! It doesn’t take much to see which way the wind’s blowing! As Leonard Cohen “prophesied”… things
    will slide in all directions! And they are! Just a few thoughts!

    Frank

  25. Bill says:

    Hi Frank,
    First: Calm down!

    Science “just as restrictive” and “just as censorial” as religion? Puh-leeze! The scientific world with which I am involved is paleontology. I have yet to see restrictions and censorship on my fellow members of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. They have civil yet contradictory arguments all of the time (i.e., T. rex — hunter or scavenger; Archaeopteryx — good flier & lived in trees vs. poor flyer living on the ground). It is all part of the scientific process to constantly question, examine and re-examine what has been accepted as fact.

    The East Anglia thing was dealt with swiftly by the scientific community. Compared to the vastness of what goes on in the scientific world, it was just an embarrassing anomaly.

    As far as Christian consistency, the only thing I’ll agree on is that the Church has been consistent at trying to maintain its power base (despite the misery it causes all over the world; overpopulation and the Catholic church’s war against condom use immediately spring to mind) and the Status Quo. Look how long it took the Catholic church to deal with the molestation issue (which it tried to fight, hide & minimize and which it still hasn’t fully faced on a worldwide basis).

    You seem to agree with Karl Marx that religion is the opiate of the masses, the only thing that keeps the hordes from turning on us. That may be true; religion is an effective way to control people and keep them in line (as is TV).

    BTW, one doesn’t need to have any belief in God to be good. I know plenty of atheists who believe it is wrong to “kill, or steal, or lie, or cheat, or bear false witness”. I also know plenty of “Christians” who are readily willing to “kill, or steal, or lie, or cheat, or bear false witness” to achieve their goals.

    As you know, I exhibit at a lot of shows (comic & sci-fi & horror conventions) around the country. I’ve been doing this for many, many years. In all that time I have only been given five bad checks. Those checks were from three ministers and two priests. They never made good on any of those checks. In all that time I never had a check bounce from someone I knew to be an atheist. I no longer take checks from priests or ministers, by the way, unless they’re close personal friends (Hi Randy!).

    Lumping in Hitler & the Fascists with the Godless Left? I believe Adolph and his buddies saw themselves as good Christians and had the full support of the Church in Germany. They saw being Christian as a justification for persecuting non-Christians, i.e., Jews, gypsies & homosexuals (hmmmm…Christian persecution of gays; the more things change, the more they stay the same). The Catholic church certainly didn’t stand in his way (there is currently a movement to get the Catholic church to officially apologize for not intervening with Hitler and the Nazis and just looking the other way).

    As to the last ten lines of your entry, the rant part: I tend to agree but for different reasons. I fear the mindless dogma of the hard right “Christians” (in quotes because I believe them to be some of the most un-Christ-like people I’ve ever encountered) wanting to control the population of our nation. I think the worst thing that could happen to our country would be the destruction of the wall separating Church and State. The Founding Fathers were no fools. They saw the inherent danger of mixing the two.

    Some things don’t seem to change. The Right fears control of the Left. The Left fears control of the Right. Me? I worry about the meddling in my life of both and being surrounded by idiots.

    Again: please calm down, my friend. It’s a beautiful day outside (at least it is here in hurricane & tornado-free L. A.). I think I’ll take my wife for a little drive up to Santa Barbara, eat some incredible Mexican food at La Superrica Tacos, savor the sounds of the Ojai Music Festival, spend the weekend relaxing with friends and enjoy the occasional earthquake.

    Frank — Today, find something loving and wonderful upon which to focus.

    Like art.

  26. fws says:

    Bill,

    Thanks for the advice! But I don’t rant! I have a loving wife, 5 “Buckeye” hens, and plenty of interests to keep me occupied! I found this thread interesting and thought it would be fun to contribute to the exchange of ideas. As for East Anglia, the global warming misinformation was exposed by outsiders intercepting and leaking emails! It was NOT a matter of science policing itself! As for Hitler’s identification with Christianity there is now plenty of information available exposing the occult history of the Third Reich and demonstrating clearly that Hitlerism was NOT a Christian movement! It’s true that the Catholic Church acted slowly and stupidly regarding it’s role in protesting the German Fascist treatment of Jews, as did other institutions and nations, including our own. But to suggest that Christians were not actively involved in attempting to put to an end the Fascist madness is to ignore the efforts of people like Corrie Ten Boom, Deitrich Bonhoffer and the Christian family that hid and protected Anne Frank for years, endangering themselves! Bonhoffer was personally ordered by Adolph Hitler to be executed, hung with a piano wire, shortly before the war ended! A few days ago it was reported that NASA was going to have to completely revamp it’s understanding of solar science given the recent upheaval on the sun’s surface! I guess that means they didn’t have all the answers! Time magazine very recently reported that the edge of the universe (is there an edge?) was composed entirely of BUBBLES!!! I’ll almost guarantee they’ll have to revise that conclusion! Well, again, just a few closing comments! The exchange has been fun! Exhausting, but fun!

    Frank

  27. Rick Catizone says:

    Bill,

    I think Frank’s point was about the scientific community being restrictive and censorial regarding other views, as documented in Expelled. Sure, they are okay with internal debates as long as they don’t contradict their entire premise.

    As far as atheists believing it is wrong to kill, steal, lie, etc., I know that happens. But it is a mystery, without something to explain WHY there should be any morality at all. And that morality often fluctuates depending on the particular person and the particular instance. (And while some may say that individual Christians make individual decisions that may be immoral, there is no changing of the standard, or belief from others that it was a proper decision…only that they failed at meeting the standard.) This atheist philosophy is often described as the “whatever is right for you” belief system, or “your truth is your truth”. An individual’s truth is only “true” in any sense as it aligns with TRUTH itself. I believe there is an absolute TRUTH, and our goal is to get as close as possible to that to weigh our decisions. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity lays out a very reasoned and methodical look at these concepts.

    Regarding the “mindless dogma of the far-right Christians, I don’t know exactly what you may be referring to. I would note that “far-right” these days could be mean a group that maintains the orthodox faith…which is really the center of the faith…because so much has tried and somewhat succeeded in pulling the central faith off course. Often with books of “scholarship” that don’t even comport with the original Greek. Greek can’t be twisted and turned to mean something else. The ones who do twist it violate the very rules of Greek grammar. For example, there is only ONE way John 1 can be read in terms of its meaning. Some sects that call themselves Christians twist it so it seems to mean something very different. While there can be fringe weirdos in any faith or science, we shouldn’t use them as a basis to paint the group.

    As far as the separation of church and state, you are correct on one point, our founding fathers definitely wanted it. However, they were protecting the infringement of the state on the church, not the other way around. One only has to look at all the original state constitutions, our own constitution, their belief statements in letters and proclamations, Bible verses in the children’s textbooks, etc., to know that they believed in a Creator and the importance of faith in every individual life. The famous Jefferson letter which is the only place where “a hedge of separation” between church and state is ever mentioned, clearly shows that Jefferson was writing to explain that the government could not interfere in matters of religion. While our country was founded on no specific denomination, it was plainly in support of the Christian faith.

    There has been a movement to reinvent Jesus, and along with him, the Christian faith. While what that small group believes flies in the face of all other scholarship, they do get a lot of attention, as they seemingly find “the real Jesus”. There are many good books which easily refute these authors and their premises. Easy to read ones are : Reinventing Jesus (Wallace), Case for the Real Jesus (Strobel), Case for Faith (Strobel), Case for a Creator (Strobel). Others, such as Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh MacDowell, are good, but more demanding. By the way, both MacDowell and Strobel were devout atheists, who went out to disprove the faith. Through their journey of examining evidence and interviewing experts in a number of fields, they found the only conclusion to be the truth of what Christianity has said over the 2,000 years it has existed, and that it hadn’t been changed or distorted.

    I know you like Ehrman’s book, and said that it is “an honest, extremely scholarly attempt to try to find the true word of God.” I know it might seem like that if one isn’t also reading all the other books that show that he does not attempt to find the truth. He clearly disregards evidence that doesn’t fit with his Redefining of Jesus. As I said before, there is little that he covers regarding supposed misquotes by Jesus, but the book mostly is an overall attack on the whole Bible. Christ was NOT redefined as God by some later council. One can clearly see it in John 1:1, as well as throughout the entire New Testament.

    I have enjoyed the discussion, and in the main think that all comments were kept within the bounds of good discussion and sometimes passionate, but well-meaning, debates .

  28. fws says:

    Thanks, Rick, for the support! When I first entered this debate I thought I was diving into the deep end of the pool. I didn’t realize I was wading into the “kiddie pool.” Apparently, our antagonists are unaware of the science of presuppositionalism and its ramifications! When they argue for atheism they’re basically saying WE are nothing more than hunks of flesh taking up real estate on a dirtball hurtling through space. They’re saying there is no essential difference between Mother Teresa and Jeffery Dahmer. They’re saying morality and ethics and law and order are little more than superficial constructs manufactured to facilitate a functional society. They’re saying we are nothing more than stuff on stuff hurtling through stuff. They’re saying that all of our lives are essentially meaningless. I don’t think they realize they’re saying all of that but if they understood the science of presuppositionalism they would immediately recognize how they appear to those of us who see things from a
    scriptural perspective. I believe we all have inherent worth and value and meaning and purpose because we are all created in the image of God!

    Again, Rick, thanks for the support!

    And, Bill, I still love your art! You’re awesome!

    Frank

  29. Rick Catizone says:

    Frank,

    I enjoyed the depth of some of your posts as well. I’m not sure exactly how you intended the kiddie pool comment, but assume it was a humorous
    aside directed to me.(I so wished this site allowed us to modify our own posts)

    Both Rick T. and Bill strike me as very sincere in their beliefs. Not everyone has the best understanding to make judgment on this huge issue unless they have read both sides. The attempt to un-deify Jesus started again many years ago with the Jesus Seminar. Seeming intellectuals said they had the goal of searching for the real Jesus. They set up their parameters and then judged every saying of Jesus as to whether they thought he might have set it, and had a scale of worth they created. In the end, almost everything Jesus said was struck from the Bible. And Jesus was left portrayed as a less than ordinary person, when history shows he was one of the most controversial figures.

    Sincerity in and of itself (and that is on “our” side as well) is not a measure of truth. In my martial search, I once went to a martial arts school, to train with different students. They had learned respect and were very physically fit. However, they had absolutely no technique, and no power to defend themselves in any way. When we sparred, my friend and I did not humiliate them. We moved around, scored, and let them occasionally touch us. The reality here was that this group of students were very sincere, and believed they were learning the truth of Japanese karate. It was not their fault that their teacher was a fraud.

    Because I have not kept up on recent paleontological info, I would never attempt to argue with Bill on the relationship between a Triceratops and Chasmosaur. The new information does makes sense to me, and actually comports with my belief that there are other explanations for things. However, I saw no problem as seeing as a “family” of animals with adaptations and changes WITHIN their species. In the same way, I will be interested to hear what Bill thinks of Reinventing Jesus and those scholars taking Ehrman’s points to task. At this point, he is going on Ehrman’s claims without hearing the attorney for the defense and his evidence.

    I agree with the last part of your post on what certain positions ultimately mean. Much like atheism is really another faith, not an absence of faith. It is a belief that everything happened by billions and billions of accidents which resulted in the greatest complexities we have yet discovered in the universe. It doesn’t believe in a god as such, although it actually elevates each individual man to be his own god.

    Although I have only had the opportunity to meet Bill twice, they were wonderful experiences. I see a man who honestly approaches things, is a true gentleman, searches for truth to guide him, and is genuinely concerned with others and how he treats others, and does so in a gentle and affirming way. (He reminds me of me….but with way more talent.) And so I again say that I think it has been a well-spirited “debate” between all, without insulting or demeaning each other.

    Best,
    Rick

  30. fws says:

    Rick,

    The “kiddie pool” comment not directed toward you. I actually found myself agreeing with ALL of your points. We’re on the same page. What I was referring to was the apparent need to constantly explain myself. When debating with intelligent people one should not have to explain the importance J S Bach (genius) or Isaac Newton (defined gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, the laws of movement and developed the discipline of calculus before 30 years of age) or Jonathan Edwards (considered the greatest mind of his age) or Cornelius Van Til (the genius behind Presuppositional Apologetics) or C S Lewis (one of the greatest logicians of all time)!
    All Christians! (I’m sure each and every one of them thought through the atheistic option and chose Christianity instead.) One should not have to explain the connection between Darwinisn and Communism and Socialism and Facsism as if one were talking to children. One should not have to explain rudimentary philosophical
    notions as if they were strange and foreign ideas! One should not have to stop at every word or idea or opinion and explain themselves! A debate between intelligent people should be fluid and swift not sluggish and dull! No, Rick, my “kiddie pool” comment was not directed toward you! Your logic is “right on!” And to some extent I agree with you that this debate for the most part has been conducted fairly and honestly and without accusation or name calling. Although I do think this thread is becoming a little threadbare! By way of closing I would like to say I too have talked to Bill a few times and found him to be a very gracious person. I recently purchased a very nice zombie piece from him, an original! $$$ I love his work and his work ethic! Oh, and by the way, it was reported yesterday that “global warming scientists” were caught “fudging” rising sea level figures. Imagine that!

    Frank

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