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Evangelical Theological Society Purges “Heretics” (Or Seems to Be Getting Ready To Do So)

“The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy”

Evangelical Christian theologians like Chris Tilling at his interesting moderate Christian blog, Chrisendom, are “disturbed” by the recent decision of the Evangelical Theological Society to adopt the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, because it was probably lead to members of that society being voted out as “heretics,” and not being recognized as “Evangelicals.” (Reminds me of Catholics who have been excommunicated yet who still call themselves “Catholic.” Though in the later case the excommunicado seems firmer, while Evangelicals can simply start their own church or seminary, and there already are plenty of non-inerrantist Evangelicals, including whole seminaries full, so the term remains more fluid.) At any rate the comments at Tillingʼs blog are worth perusing if you have ever been involved in a debate with an inerrantist, say, J.P. Holding of Tekton apologetics, who still clings to the myth of “inerrant autographs.” You see, there is no need for “Christian debunkers” get involved in debates over the inerrancy of the Bible, since Christians excel most at debating each otherʼs views of the Bible, and there are plenty of moderate Baptists out there as well as moderates in all the worldʼs major Christian denominations willing to debate inerrantists. You just have to know where the moderates are on the web so you can point inerrantists their way. Tillingʼs blog also contains links to like minded moderate Christian Evangelical scholars like himself. Though forgive me for attempting a few criticism of my own below, of the blessed Chicago Statement of Know Nothingness: QUESTIONS CONCERNING

“The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy”

Articles 13 & 14, state, “We deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations. We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.”

[COMMENT: So, the Bible is inerrant DESPITE a plethora of items that any sane person would take as prima facie evidence of errors.]


Article 15, “We deny that Jesusʼs teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.”

[COMMENT: Yet these same inerrantist are free to appeal to any and all possible “accommodation” hypotheses to explain a host of other Old Testament and New Testament verses related to other topics from genocide to Jesusʼs command that “the slave who was disobedient shall be beaten with many stripes.”]


Article 18, “Scripture is to interpret Scripture.”

[COMMENT: Really? The opposite appears to be a well-attested fact of all Christian history, not excluding the history of Evangelicalism. Scripture does not interpret Scripture. Rather, it takes dozens of lexicons, history books, commentaries, and plenty of education to interpret Scripture, and what are the odds those commentaries all contain the same interpretations? About the same odds that every Evangelical theologian contributing to the ever more numerous “Viewpoints” series of InterVarsity and Baker Books will interpret Genesis and Revelation and everything in-between the same way.]


Article 16, “We deny that inerrancy is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.”

[However…

Exegetical conflicts arose from the 1860s onwards. It was a time of turmoil that also led to the Catholic Church adopting its doctrine of papal “infallibility.” The view that the Bible is “inerrant” and the pope “infallible” seem to have similar roots around that time.

Essays and Reviews (a book on the Bible that said among other things that the raqia or firmament in Genesis 1, was solid) published around the time of Darwinʼs Origins (the mid-1800s) caused quite a stir in the religious world as did Colensoʼs book, The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined, as did the questions of German theologians.

Battle lines began being drawn, and the Catholic church came up with papal “infallibility” (which also was invented to combat growing ideals of “freedom of conscience and belief” that the Catholic Church was against), and the Presbyterians came up with inerrancy of the Scriptures.

For instance soon after The Presbyterian Review was founded in 1880, Warfield and Hodge began formally arguing in its pages for verbal inspiration and consequent inerrancy of the Scriptures.

One prominent “heresy” case (a generation before “The Fundamentals” were even published) involved several Presbyterian professors, Dr. Briggs, Dr. Henry Preserved Smith and Dr. Llewelyn J. Evans. (A retelling of the case in Smithʼs own words may be found in Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists.) All three men pointed out that neither their churchʼs Presbyterian Creed nor the teachings of many of the best known seventeenth-century Puritan theologians would have agreed with the ideas of “inerrancy” that Hodge and Warfield were then developing.

H. P. Smithʼs account of his heresy trial in 1892, and the arguments he and Dr. Evans put forth regarding their rejection of “inerrancy” can be found in a book titled, Inspiration and Inerrancy [Cincinnati, Ohio: Robert Clarke & Co., 1892]. Smith added that if you wanted to go back much further, Waltonʼs work from the mid to late 1600ʼs, The Considerator Considered, was also still worth reading. (Walton published in 1657 his great Polyglot, giving the ancient version a place alongside of the Hebrew text, and also supplemented the work with a list of various readings that called forth a bitter attack from John Owen, defender of Presbyterian orthodoxy. Owen deprecated the publication of facts which might militate against the authority of Scripture. Waltonʼs reply to Owen was the work Smith suggested reading, The Considerator Considered.)

Dewey M. Beegle from the 1960s-70s is a more recent example of an Evangelical Christian theologian who left inerrancy and thereafter debated his inerrantist brethren in print, yet remained in the church. (H. P. Smith had to switch denominations to a non-inerrantist one, wherein he continued his scholarly writing career.) Beegle was on the board of trustees and the translations subcommittee of the American Bible Society, and was author of Godʼs Word Into English, as well as, Scripture, Tradition and Infallibility, and, Prophecy and Prediction. He also composed articles on Moses for Encyclopedia Britannica and the Anchor Bible Dictionary, i.e., based on his research for his book, Moses: The Servant of Yahweh. (Beegleʼs story, “Journey to Freedom,” is in L.T.F., the book already mentioned above, in which Smithʼs testimony can also be found.)

Todayʼs Evangelical Christian “inerrantists” include Evangelical Theological Society members whose views range from young-earth creationist, to old-earth creationist, to theistic evolutionist (like Clark Pinnock), as well as those who hold rival interpretations of the book of Revelation and the “end times,” as well as those with rival interpretations concerning all manner of “teachings” and “commands” in the Bible (as can be read about in the “Viewpoints” series of debate books published by InterVarsity Press and also Baker Books).

Neither can various “inerrantist” seminaries agree whether a person is “saved” by believing in Jesus as “Savior and Lord,” or just by accepting Jesus as their “Savior.” Nor can “inerrantist” Evangelical and “inerrantist” Pentecostal churches agree on how necessary or unnecessary “speaking in tongues” is, or whether or not it is a visible sign of having recʼd the baptism of the holy spirit. Nor can “inerrantists” of various churches agree on how to view the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church.

If you want to read a brain sizzling book on the topic of inerrancy, there is one that may soon be available at amazon.com, titled, Inerrant the Wind: The Troubled House of North American Evangelicals. It compares and contrasts the many view of inerrancy and semi-inerrancy advocated by different Evangelical theologians. Very interesting distinctions each makes.]

Edward T. Babinski

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C. S. Lewis's “Man or Rabbit?” and Eric Hoffer's “The True Believer”

Eric Hoffer

The Christian philosopher, Victor Reppert recently asked at his blog, “Do Christian apologists and atheists agree on something important that much of the world denies?”

I tend to doubt that such a question is quite as insightful as the fact that fanatics/fundamentalists who attach themselves to mass movements (in either religion or politics) seem to have much in common; while the rest of humanity, perhaps the majority in fact, appear less fanatical/fundamentalistic, and have learned to live a bit more autonomously (not merely being drawn to become cogs in mass movements) and learned to acknowledge uncertainties in their belief systems along with varying degrees of both hope and fear. I even suspect that “moderate” Christians and “moderate” Moslems and “moderate” non-believers can often get along better with each other than fundamentalists/fanatics can with fellow fundamentalists/fanatics even within their own tradition.

Speaking of being drawn into mass movements of the religious or political nature, below are some quotations from Eric Hofferʼs little classic, The True Believer. It might be interesting to compare and contrast Hofferʼs psychological insights into what drives people to become “true believers” with say, C. S. Lewisʼs views expressed in “Man or Rabbit?” (especially in light of how I myself summed up matters above). But for now hereʼs Hoffer alone:

P22 “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” [Or, when faith in oneʼs own autonomy is not allowed to develop, such a person may join a mass movement, either religious or political.—E.T.B.]

P23 “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

“A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other peopleʼs business.

“There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless.”

“One of the most potent attractions of a mass movement is its offering of a substitute for individual hope. This attraction is particularly effective in a society imbued with the idea of progress.”

P24 “In a modern society people can live without hope only when kept dazed and out of breath by incessant hustling.”

“The embracing of a substitute will necessarily be passionate and extreme. We can have qualified confidence in ourselves, but the faith we have in our nation, religion, race or holy cause has to be extravagant and uncompromising. A substitute embraced in moderation cannot supplant and efface the self we want to forget. We cannot be sure that we have something worth living for unless we are ready to die for it.”

P45 “The chief passion of the frustrated is ‘to belong’…”

Chapter 11: The Sinners

Pp55-56 “An effective mass movement cultivates the idea of sin. It depicts the autonomous self not only (p56) as barren and helpless but also as vile. To confess and repent is to slough off oneʼs individual distinctness and separateness, and salvation is found in losing oneself in the holy oneness of the congregation.”

Chapter 12: Preface to Part Three: United Action and Self-Sacrifice

P58 “What ails the frustrated? It is the consciousness of an irremediably blemished self. Their chief desire is to escape that self-and it is this desire which manifests itself in a propensity for united action and self-sacrifice.”

P59 “Both united action and self-sacrifice require self-diminution. In order to become part of a compact whole, the individual has to forgo much. He has to give up privacy, individual judgment and often individual possessions. To school a person to united action is, therefore, to ready him for acts of self-denial.

Pp 59-60 “The technique for fostering a readiness to fight and to die consists in separating the individual from his flesh-and-blood self-in not allowing him to be his real self. (p60) This can be achieved by the thorough assimilation of the individual into a compact collective body-by endowing him with an imaginary self (make-believe); by implanting in him a deprecating attitude toward the present and riveting his interest on things that are not yet; by interposing a fact-proof screen between him and reality (doctrine); by preventing through the injection of passions, the establishment of a stable equilibrium between the individual and his self (fanaticism).

P60 “To ripen a person for self-sacrifice he must be stripped of his individual identity and distinctness. The most drastic way to achieve this end is by the complete assimilation of the individual into a collective body. The fully assimilated individual does not see himself and others as human beings.”

“He has no purpose, worth and destiny apart from his collective body; and as long as that body lives he cannot really die.”

P61 “To be cast out from the group should be equivalent to being cut off from life.”

P75 “The readiness for self-sacrifice is contingent on an imperviousness to the realities of life.”

“All mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth nor certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ.”

p76 “It is the true believerʼs ability to ‘shut his eyes and stop his ears’ to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacle nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence. Strength of faith, as Bergson pointed out, manifests itself not in moving mountains but in not seeing mountains to move.”

“Thus the effectiveness of a doctrine should not be judged by its profundity, sublimity or the validity of the truths it embodies, but by how thoroughly it insulates the individual from his self and the world as it is. What Pascal said of an effective religion is true of any effective doctrine; It must be ‘contrary to nature, to common sense and to pleasure.’”

“The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude. No doctrine however profound and sublime will be effective unless it is presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth.”

“In order to be effective a doctrine must not be understood, but has to be believed in. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand. A doctrine that is understood is shorn of its strength.”

P77 “If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine. When some part of the doctrine is relatively simple, there is a tendency among the faithful to complicate and obscure it. Simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. He seems to use words as if he were ignorant of their true meaning. Hence, too, his taste for quibbling, hair-splitting and scholastic tortuousness.”

“To be in possession of an absolute truth is to have a net of familiarity spread over the whole of eternity. There are no surprises and no unknowns. All question have already been answered, all decisions made, all eventualities foreseen. The true believer is without wonder and hesitation. ‘Who knows Jesus knows the reason of all things.’ The true doctrine is a master key to all the worldʼs problems. With it the world can be taken apart and put together.”

P78 “An active mass movement rejects the present and centers its interest on the future. It is from this attitude that it derives its strength, for it can proceed recklessly with the present-with the health, wealth and lives of its followers. But it must act as if it had already read the book of the future to the last word. Its doctrine is proclaimed as a key to that book.”

“The urge to escape our real self is also the urge to escape the rational and the obvious. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic.”

“They ask to be deceived. What Stresemann said of the Germans is true of the frustrated in general: ‘[They] pray not only for [their] daily bread, but also for [their] daily illusion’. The rule seems to be that those who find no difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others. They are easily persuaded and led.”

P79 “A peculiar side of credulity is that it is often joined with a proneness to imposture. The association of believing and lying is not characteristic solely of children. They inability or unwillingness to see things as they are promotes both gullibility and charlatanism.“

“Only the individual who has comes to terms with his self have a dispassionate attitude toward the world.”

P80 “By kindling and fanning violent passions in the hearts of their followers, mass movements prevent the settling of an inner balance. They also employ direct means to effect an enduring estrangement from the self. They depict an autonomous, self-sufficient existence not only as barren and meaningless but also as depraved and evil. Man on his own is a helpless, miserable and sinful creature. His only salvation is in rejecting his self and in finding a new life in the bosom of a holy corporate body-be it a church, a nation or a party. In its turn, this vilification of the self keeps passion at a white heat.”

“He [the fanatic]embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness and holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold on to.”

P89 “Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.”

“There is a guilty conscience behind every brazen word and act and behind every manifestation of self-righteousness.”

P90 “A sublime religion inevitably generates a strong feeling of guilt. There is an unavoidable contrast between loftiness of profession and imperfection of practice. And, as one would expect, the feeling of guilt promotes hate and brazenness. Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith the more virulent the hatred it breeds.”

Pp91-92 “Their clamor for a (p92) millennium is shot through with a hatred for all that exists, and a craving for the end of the world.”

P92 “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”

Eric Hoffer True Believer and Mass Movements

P93 “The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others. The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer is apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit this earth and the kingdom of heaven, too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen shall perish.

“There is also this: when we renounce the self and become part of a compact whole, we not only renounce personal advantage but are also rid of personal responsibility. There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgment. When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom-freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse.”

“Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook.” [Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1943), p 171.]

“Thus hatred is not only a means to unification but also its product. Renan says that we have never, since the world began, heard of a merciful nation. Nor, one may add, have we heard of a merciful church or a merciful revolutionary party.”

P94 “Imitation is an essential unifying agent. The development of a close-knit group is inconceivable without a diffusion of uniformity. The one-mindedness and Gleichschaltung prized by every mass movement are achieved as much by imitation as by obedience. Obedience itself consists as much in the imitation of an example as in the following of a precept.

“The chief burden of the frustrated is the consciousness of a blemished, ineffectual self, and their chief desire is to slough off the unwanted self and begin a new life. They try to realize this desire either by finding a new identity or by blurring and camouflaging their individual distinctness; and both these ends are reached by imitation.

P95 “The less satisfaction we derive from being ourselves, the greater is our desire to be like others.”

“The desire to belong is partly a desire to lose oneself.”

“Finally, the lack of self-confidence characteristic of the frustrated also stimulates their imitativeness. The more we mistrust our judgment and luck, the more we are ready to follow the example of others.”

P96 “Imitation is often a shortcut to a solution. We copy when we lack the inclination, the ability or the time to work out an independent solution. People in a hurry will imitate more readily than people at leisure. Hustling thus tends to produce uniformity. And in the deliberate fusing of individuals into a compact group, incessant action will play a considerable role.”

P107 “The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the single-handed defiance of the world.

“Charlatanism of some degree is indispensable to effective leadership. There can be no mass movement without some deliberate misrepresentation of facts.” [Emphasis added]

p108 “The total surrender of a distinct self is a prerequisite for the attainment of both unity and self-sacrifice; and there is probably no more direct way of realizing this surrender than by inculcating and extolling the habit of blind obedience.”

“All mass movements rank obedience with the highest of virtues and put it on a level with faith: ‘union of minds requires not only a perfect accord in the one Faith, but complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and the Roman Pontiff as to God Himself’. [Leo XIII, Sepientiae Christianae. According to Luther, “Disobedience is a greater sin than murder, unchastity, theft and dishonest…” Quoted by Jerome Frank, Fate and Freedom (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1945), p. 281] Obedience is not only the first law of God, but also the first tenet of a revolutionary party and of fervent nationalism.“

P114 Suspicion

“Self-contempt, however vague, sharpens our eyes for the imperfections of others. We usually strive to reveal in others the blemishes we hide in ourselves.”
“Strict orthodoxy is as much the result of mutual suspicion as of ardent faith.”

For Further Eric Hoffer Gems click here and here

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On The Meaning of Life, Heaven & Hell: Victor Reppert & Edward T. Babinski

Christian philosopher Victor Reppert wrote at his blog: “What God created us for, and what will fulfill us for an eternity is, according to Christianity, eternal fellowship with Himself. If atheism is true, that kind of satisfaction isnʼt in the cards for anybody. That said, I think Christians make a mistake in saying that life has no meaning if Christianity isnʼt true. Christianity offers a meaningful life in this particular sense, but atheists can have a meaningful life in many other senses, which should not be denied by theists.”

If I may comment on Vicʼs statement (and those of others who responded at his blog)…

…I take the view that though Vic wrote “eternal fellowship with God” was “the meaning of life,” what he was probably more concerned with was the question of the “duration of life,” rather than its “meaning.” In fact Iʼd even say that when Vic wrote, “eternal fellowship,” he was more concerned with the “eternal” part rather than the “fellowship” part.

Why do I say this?

No matter how you dress up the idea of the “meaning of life” the desire for a longer healthier life is one that we all share, sans all the poetry and heavenly vision talk. Such a simple basic desire is even reflected in the question that Jesus was asked a number of times according to the earliest written Gospels, namely, “How may I inherit eternal life?”

Secondly, concerning the “fellowship” side of Vicʼs speech, I suspect that having friends and knowing the joy of being with them is something both Vic and I take more for granted than living “eternally.” Vic and I already practice “fellowshipping” of a very human sort with people of a wide variety of beliefs and consider it less of a miracle than say “eternal life.” I could for instance attend church with Vic, or pray with Vic, and/or he could simply spend time together with me enjoying each others company and friendly banter, and share food, music, films, books, a game of chess, etc. (Speaking of “fellowshipping,” a recent poll published in Christianity Today or Christian Century mentioned that even among Evangelicals, most do not put “attending church” at their list of favorite things to do. So most Evangelicals are like most people in general in that respect.)

My point is that “eternal life” is a miraculous wish, but spending quality time with people of different beliefs is something we each do everyday at work, at school, even in our own families where beliefs may differ, but love and “fellowship” of a very human sort, remains. So people of a wide variety of different beliefs are able to enjoy the other “fellow,” especially in the U.S.

Unfortunately, many non-U.S. countries are filled with people whose ethnicity continues to regulate their lives, including their language, food, religion, and choice of marriage partners, with rival ethnicities being viewed with suspicion, or sometimes, hatred.

In contrast, in the U.S. people of different ethnic persuasions are uncommonly free to eat what they like, read and watch and speak what they wish, even marry people of completely different religions, and even disagree or change their religion, even within the same family. Take for instance John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture (a magazine published by Christianity Today International, whose flagship magazine was founded by Billy Graham), and who recently mentioned that he and his fellow “Evangelicals are… notoriously riven by disagreement over matters large and small, from the particular translation of the Bible that should be used to the political implications of the Gospel, from the flavor of music most conducive to worship to the role of women in ministry. No wonder a new evangelical denomination or quasi-denomination is born every day;” to which Wilson added, “[Never]underestimate the fluidity of religious identities. My wife and I have four children, all of them raised in an evangelical setting. The two oldest, ages 36 and 28, stopped going to church when they were about 16. We pray that they will return. Our third child — after graduation from Grahamʼs alma mater, the evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois — converted to Catholicism along with her husband, also a Wheaton grad, who was home-schooled in a self-described fundamentalist family in Texas.” [John Wilson, “God Fearing,” essay in The New York Times, Nov. 12, 2006]


Note On “Eternal Fellowship”

If Christianity is true then isnʼt THIS life here on earth the most exciting point in all of eternity for each human being because only here is where the Christian experiences the excitement of “escaping damnation” and “finding salvation?” Itʼs relatively clear sailing after that according to Christian theology. Or to use an analogy, if Christianity is true then even an “eternity” in heaven seems like an eternal drag on a cigarette after all the “action in bed” is over.

To put it yet another way, see the following conversation, based on something that the famous Rev. Spurgeon really said:

Reporter: But Rev. Spurgeon, What will we do in heaven for eternity? Wonʼt we get bored?

Rev. Spurgeon: Nonsense. We will joyously sing and meditate on the sufferings of Christ that made the miracle of our salvation possible. As for myself, I could sing and meditate on the wounds round Jesusʼs head for a billion years. Then focus on the wounds on his scourged back for the next billion. Then the wound in his right hand for a billion more, the wound in his left hand for a billion, the wound in his side for a billion. Then the wounds in his feet, each foot for a billion years.

Reporter: So, youʼre saying thereʼs nothing worthy of a Christian's time and devotion, nothing worth looking at, or singing about, for all eternity, except Jesus and his wounds?

Rev. Spurgeon: Thatʼs exactly what Iʼm saying.

Reporter: So, ah…Whatʼs hell going to be like?

E.T.B. (based on actual replies of Rev. Spurgeon)


When Robert Ingersoll heard how Rev. Spurgeon planned to spend billions of years in heaven just staring at Jesusʼs wounds, Ingersoll said, “I bet he even takes great delight in reading the genealogies of the Old Testament.”

The Best of Robert Ingersoll, Robert E. Greeley, Ed.


And What About Those In Hell? Another Equally Banal Answer From a Theologian

An article in Christianity Today (“Hellʼs Final Enigma,” April 22, 2002) by Rev. J. I. Packer (professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver and executive director of the aforementioned magazine) addressed the question, “How might those in heaven feel about those in hell?” The people in hell will include fellow human beings with similar joys, fears, and life stories to those in heaven, and Christians have been taught they ought to love others with an “unconditional love” and “forgive seventy-times-seven times.” So how can heaven truly be bliss for Christians if people whom they have grown to know and love (and care for) on earth are burning in hell?

Reverend Packer replied that heavenʼs occupants would be busy loving each other and praising God. (I wondered if he meant that in the same sense as “winning teammates patting each other on the back for eternity?”) He added that their attention would be focused on heavenly glories. (I wondered if he meant that in the same sense as children so immersed in playing an entrancingly beautiful video game that they cannot be distracted by any actions or thoughts outside of the game?) Then, after having described how heavenʼs occupants would feel about God, heaven, and each other, Reverend Packer finally replied to the original question of “How might heavenʼs occupants feel about those in hell?” The Reverendʼs reply consisted of ten words: “Love and pity for hellʼs occupants will not enter our hearts.”

But doesnʼt such a reply beg the question? What kind of “heart” could find neither “love nor pity” entering it, knowing that the greater portion of mankind, including former wives, children, and friends, were all suffering in hell?

Perhaps Rev. Packerʼs next column should be about how to reconcile the following two statements, the first one being his own:

“Love and pity for hellʼs occupants will not enter our hearts”

“Love is patient… it keeps no record of wrongs… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… These three remain: faith, hope and love.” (1 Corinthians 13:4,7,8,13—NIV translation)

E.T.B.


According to the book of Revelation, Heaven is an eternal praise service; a service of compliment or flattery. God sits on his throne, attended by twenty-four harp-playing elders (Rev. 5:8) and some other dignitaries pertaining to his court, and looks out over his miles and miles of tempestuous worshippers, and smiles, and purrs, and nods his satisfaction northward, eastward, southwards; as quaint and naive a spectacle as has yet been imagined in this universe, I take it. It is easy to see that the inventor of this image of heaven did not originate the idea, but copied it from the show-ceremonies of some sorry little sovereign state up in the back settlements of the Middle East somewhere.

Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth


Is it possible that an infinite God created this world simply to be the dwelling place of slaves and serfs? Simply for the purpose of raising orthodox Christians? That he did a few miracles to astonish a few of them? That all the evils of life are simply his punishments, and that he is finally going to turn heaven into a kind of religious museum filled with Baptist barnacles, petrified Presbyterians and Methodist mummies?

Robert Ingersoll


Have you ever been awakened early in the morning by a Jehovahʼs Witness? Maybe youʼve been accosted by a crazy street preacher with a megaphone? You turn on your TV, and thereʼs Tammy Bakker, Jerry Falwell, that Reverend Scott guy who never sleeps. Has it ever dawned on you that heaven might be a very annoying place?

My brother Mike has always been—and still is—the most annoying religious person Iʼve ever known. He thinks homosexuality is a sickness. He believes that all Jews will burn in hell. He thinks women belong in the home. Mikeʼs one of those people who has to talk to God, because nobody else can stand him.

One Thanksgiving Mike told me, “You know, Ricky, Iʼm really worried about you! Iʼm beginning to think that you might not go to heaven!” I leaned toward him very calmly and said, “Mike, I donʼt want to go to heaven. You know why? Youʼre gonna be there!”

Rick Reynolds, Only the Truth is Funny


The experts on Heaven disagree about which conglomeration of religious believers will qualify, but they always seem to think that they personally belong to that elite group. An eternity with people that conceited seems intolerable to me.

Robert Anton Wilson, “Cheerful Reflections on Death and Dying,” Gnoware, February 1999

On The Meaning of Life, Heaven & Hell: Victor Reppert & Edward T. Babinski

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What Evidence Do We Have From the Cosmos (or From the Bible) That Human Beings Are “Valuable?” Questions Abound.

Evidence of Intelligent Design

How intrinsically “valuable” are human beings according to the cosmos and also according to the Bible? In the cosmos all living things die, including human beings, and even some of the tiniest forms of life live by sucking the life out of the ones with the largest brains and/or the biggest hearts. As for the Bibleʼs view of humanityʼs intrinsic “value,” even more questions arise, a wide variety in fact.

FIRST, letʼs review the most direct and common recognitions of humanityʼs place in the cosmos:

The Cosmos And Human “Value”

Every living thing in the cosmos dies. There is plenty of evidence that our home planet, the earth, has been struck by large objects from space. Visible fiery meteors continue to enter the earthʼs atmosphere from time to time some even videotaped, and some larger objects from space have passed so close to the earth in the past few decades that their pathways were within the distance from the earth to the moonʼs orbit. Also, a little behind the arm of the Milky Way in which our solar system lies, there are stars being drawn into our galaxy from a nearby smaller galaxy, and so over a million stars are entering our galaxy and their gravity is interacting with stars found in our galaxy which can cause grave problems for any planets on those stars as they pass nearby each other. Lucky for us the arm of the galaxy where our solar system lies has just recently (in galactic time) already passed through that danger zone where the stars keep entering our galaxy. Also note that a solar flare from our own sun came so near the earth in the 1990s that it disabled satellite and cell phone communication. The earthʼs magnetic field is also diminishing (viz., the earthʼs poles shift in polarity and power over time, and a “few generations from now” our planet will soon be in a down phase, lacking a magnetic shield, and no one knows for sure how that might effect life on earth, or affect how electronic-based technology—computers and telecommunications function). I also read that dangerous gamma radiation was detected striking the earth in bursts coming from the vicinity of a “magnestar” that blew up in our general part of the galaxy. That could be quite dangerous if the star were just a bit nearer. Others have supposed that radiation from a star going nova in our vicinity might have instigated some extinctions in the past. Though if any star went nova near the earth that might be it for all life on earth. So this cosmos provides uncertainties galore concerning the continuance of life. Even stars and galaxies in our cosmos have finite lifetimes (though the question of what sort of infinite matrix all cosmoses might lie within, or how that matrix generates new cosmoses, remains an open one in physics and philosophy).

Astronomers have evidence of rings of matter and even planets surrounding distant stars, so there might be planets in the cosmos other than earth on which sentient beings live (found in the “galactic habitable zone” of our galaxy or of distant galaxies, since thereʼs over a hundred billion other galaxies out there, each of them containing a billion or so stars). It is not inconceivable that such beings should they exist, live on planets like ours in which every living thing dies. One is therefore left with far more questions than answers concerning cosmic “value.”

God And Human “Value”

Assuming God exists, how do we know for sure that God “values” human beings or to what degree He does? Iʼve already reviewed questions regarding the nature of such “value” based on the cosmic situation in which God has placed humanity, and also based on the fact that neither nature nor God provide every embryo a whole and healthy start in life, but instead the opposite is true, since disabilities, nutritional deficiencies, and childhood illnesses, including deaths during birth and deaths during infancy and early childhood are very common among all species, including human beings.

The Bible says and/or implies that God finds human beings “valuable,” even created in Godʼs own “image,” however human beings wrote those books, and any sentient being would probably find it difficult to imagine a deity not created in THEIR own image.

However, being “created in Godʼs image” does not even mean that humanity was so valuable as to be granted the equally god-like gift of immortality. Instead, early authors of some books in the Bible also expressed in numerous places that everyone went to the same place after they died, Sheol, the grave, the land of shades. Such authors of early books of the Bible taught that only God was immortal, while human beings were created from dust and to dust would return. Iʼm not saying the Bible teaches a uniform view of the afterlife, but simply noting that there are different ideas in the Bible of the afterlife. One was that humanity was animated dust and was not immortal like God. Such a view was common in the ancient world. Among the Greeks for instance, they viewed humanity as mortal , but a select few “heroes” could be taken up to be with the gods and live forever like Hercules (the early Hebrews likewise pictured only a few like Enoch and Elijah being taken up, but in other places the Bible emphasized humanityʼs mortality and a place known as Sheol where all ended up). So some strands of the Bible picture humanity as being “valued” while they lived and breathed, but after death they were “valued” no more than say, “dust” or mere “shadows.”

Speaking of the Bible, the same people who wrote some of the earliest books in the Bible also assumed the cosmos was created in six evenings and mornings as measured by evenings and mornings on what we today know to be but one planet, earth. This does not impress humans living today who have learned that all planets have their own days and nights, evenings and mornings, rather than the earthʼs evenings and morning being central. Was the very first light created “in the beginning” for the sake of instituting our planetʼs earth days and nights, evenings and mornings? And all the rest of the cosmos was likewise created “based on earthʼs days and nights,” six of them, whether in metaphor or fact? But if that is what “revealed” books of the Bible teach, then how can we be sure of other matters in such books, including statements that God “values” humanity?

Even the pains and pleasures that people and nations experienced were interpreted by the Bibleʼs authors as being signs of “Godʼs” pleasure and displeasure, or signs of Godʼs “punishments” or “blessings.” While today people question such easy black or white supernatural interpretations of disasters and boons, of good times and bad times. It would appear that it is indeed the writers of the Bible who are interpreting what happened to them and their nation in terms of “God,” just as they interpreted the earthʼs status in cosmic creation myths, with light created for the earthʼs evenings and mornings, and the earth created even BEFORE the sun, moon and stars were “made and set… above the earth… to light it, and for signs and seasons” on earth, merely one planet out of the entire cosmos?

The ancient Greeks likewise viewed their nation as lying at the “center of the earth” with their oracle of Delphi lying at the earthʼs navel, and the earth itself being the foundation of creation with a dome above it where the sun, moon and stars lay. The ancient Greeks also thought they “knew” why good and bad things happened during the Trojan war to certain warriors and nations. They “knew” it was due to the pleasure or displeasure of their “gods” and the exertion of their supernatural powers to decide battles or bless the land (read Homer).

The “Value” Of Humanity In The N.T.

Only in the New Testament are human beings portrayed as having such “value” that God would put Himself through suffering, death, and hell, including God “becoming sin”—becoming something that God cannot stand—hence God punishing God, in order to spare humanity from “hell.” That is quite a claim concerning humanityʼs “value” but note the lateness of such a claim even in the “revealed religion” of the Bible.

Also, think about the self-centeredness of such a portrayal of humanity. Humanityʼs self-centeredness began with claiming it was created in Godʼs image, then in the intertestamental period believing it would live eternally, and now in the N.T., humanity claiming its own "sins" or failures are why God had to put God through pain, death and hell, with God Himself becoming sin, and shunning and punishing Himself, thus creating a rift, albeit temporary, in God. Quite a jump from humanity being simply mortal dust that returns to dust and winds up in Sheol, the land of shades. For now the human writers of the N.T. have even divinized humanityʼs faults, imagining God had to take humanityʼs faults so seriously as to tear God Himself into pieces in a manner of speaking, God punishing God (or to use a metaphor from nature and animals) God smeared Himself with our poo and hated Himself, disassociating God from God, creating a rift in the Godhead all because of US. Thus humanityʼs ego and hubris appears to have grown over time and throughout “revealed revelations” in the Bible, such that even our poo is made to eventually smell good or come out good, regardless of the consequences to “God.”

The “Value” Of Humanity Vis A Vis The Question Of Hell

Even one human groupʼs self-centered dislike of other nations or other human beings differing from them, has sought justification in the “Divine,” namely “Divine condemnations.” Such hubris not only gave birth to the interpretation that when other nations suffered they were being “punished by God,” but also applied later in the sense of eternal punishment (book of Daniel) other intertestamental works, and of course the N.T.

In intertestamental works the idea of “evil” demons and Satan ruling this world, their power over this world, and fears thereof, all grew immensely, leading to elevated suspicions and hatreds projected onto “outsiders.” In the N.T. the projection of such fears was also projected onto believers who loved the same holy books, and who were labeled, “heretics.” Thus Christians began persecuting fellow believers as soon as the first Christian emperor gained the throne of Rome, and Christians proceeded to kill more Christians in a few years during the Arian-Athanasian controversy than were killed during the previous three hundred years under non-Christian Roman emperors; even killing each other over matters such as whether or not a bishop had ever denied his faith under duress during the earlier days of persecution or remained “pure” (the Donatist controversy). Today Christians continue to debunk each otherʼs practices and beliefs far moreso than non-believers have ever done.

The notion of hell raises the question of the “value” of humanity in other ways as well. Though some Christians declare that hell is Godʼs “great compliment” to human beings, that simply begs the question of what God would do to someone He wished to “insult” rather than “compliment.” Furthermore, if God already sees the past and future, then God would know in eternity that there was no “choice” for some souls but hell. What “value” does such a view place on human life?

Hellish conundrums continue when one considers the view that Adamʼs sin (as Augustine taught) automatically damned all humanity, and it was up to God to grant the gift of saving grace to whomever He would, but he only grants it to some, and denies it to the rest, which means God “values” only some, and damns the rest. Jonathan Edwards put it in Augustinian terms and added darker metaphors, teaching that we all deserve the utmost punishment, because Godʼs disgust toward all of Adamʼs children since the fall is similar to the disgust we feel when we see a horrid insect or worm. Doesnʼt sound like everyone is extremely “valuable” in Godʼs eyes.

Christians have also argued that heretics and other non-believers in this life are not very “valuable” at all, since they spread the disease of unbelief that kills people eternally. Some Christians have even argued that we should treat heretics and/or unbelievers no better in this life than God is going to treat them in the next, in hell. For example see these statements by Luther and Melanchthon regarding the Anabaptists, a diverse Reformation movement of Bible readers and preachers, many of whom wanted to live in a land were religious beliefs were totally a matter of conscience, and there were no state churches, nor coercion, nor indelible national creeds (neither Lutheran nations nor Calvinist ones nor Catholic ones), but instead each person could read the Bible and love and follow Jesus as they were led by God.

“They [the Anabaptists] are not only blasphemous, but highly seditious, urge the use of the sword against them… We may not, therefore, mete out better treatment to these men than God Himself and all the saints.”
—Luther in letter (written early in 1530) to Menius and Myconius who were composing a work against the Anabaptists

“They [the magistrates] should apply to them [the Anabaptists] the law of Moses against blasphemy and treat them as the Roman Emperors treated the Arians and Donatists.”
—Melanchthon in a letter to Myconius (Feb. 1531)[SOURCE: Mackinnon, James (Ph.D., D.D., Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Edinburgh), “Luther and the Anabaptists,” p. 57-75 in Luther and the Reformation, Vol. IV., Vindication of the Movement (1530-46), (New York: Russell & Russell, Inc, 1962), pp.64 & 69]

A Few Final Questions Of “Value” According To The Bible

How “valued” is humanity in the “primeval history” stories in Genesis in which God “repents” of having made man, and floods the earth, drowning nearly every breathing thing on it? How about in Exodus where God tells Moses He would like to let all the Israelites in the desert die and raise up a people from Moses alone? (Even if the story is interpreted as being a ruse on Godʼs part or a temptation or testing of Moses by God, anyone reading it cannot help to also see in it a certain callousness toward human life by God. Note that it states elsewhere in the Bible that God does not “tempt” people so why would he “tempt” Moses with an offer to let the Israelites die and set Moses up as a new Abraham giving birth to a new people? Admittedly, theologians finely divide, some say “gerrymander,” the words “tempt” and “test” in this case). And one could also ask what “value” God places on human life when He commands Joshua to slaughter every breathing thing inside certain cities, including babes and pregnant women? Makes life seem relatively “cheap” in Godʼs eyes.

Revealed biblical religion even states that God “sends lying spirits” into prophets, and God “hardens” peopleʼs hearts in order that they might be destroyed utterly as in the book of Joshua (“The Lord hardened their hearts to meet Israel in battle in order that He might destroy them utterly, that they might receive no mercy”). Or, God sends plagues and famines, or God says He will put people in the situation where they will be forced to eat their own children just to survive. Or in the N.T. God “sends them great delusion” that they might not turn and be saved. Sounds like a cavalier way to treat human life.

*A Final Note On “Hell”*

From Originʼs day to ours Christian theologians have continued to debate just how much of Jesusʼs apocalyptic speech about “hell” needs to be taken literally. Some say such speech is an accommodation to the ideas of Jesusʼs day concerning ideas of heaven and hell already in circulation since the inter-testamental period; and thus we donʼt even know for sure just how much of what Jesus spoke about hell was an accommodation to ideas and concepts his audience already took for granted.

The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1908) by Schaff-Herzog says in volume 12, on page 96, “In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality; one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked. Other theological schools are mentioned as founded by Universalists, but their actual doctrine on this subject is not known.”

Augustine (354-430 A.D.), one of the four great Latin Church Fathers (Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome and Gregory the Great), admitted: “There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.”

Origen, a pupil and successor of Clement of Alexandria, lived from 185 to 254 A.D. He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church. In his book, De Principiis, he wrote: “We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued…for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” Howard F. Vos in his book Highlights of Church History states that Origen believed the souls of all that God created would some day return to rest in the bosom of the Father. Those who rejected the gospel now would go to hell to experience a purifying fire that would cleanse even the wicked; all would ultimately reach the state of bliss.

The great church historian Geisler writes: “The belief in the inalienable capability of improvement in all rational beings, and the limited duration of future punishment was so general, even in the West, and among the opponents of Origen, that it seems entirely independent of his system.” (Eccles. Hist., 1-212)

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church, says in his Catechetical Orations: “Our Lord is the One who delivers man [all men], and who heals the inventor of evil himself.”

Neander says that Gregory of Nyssa taught that all punishments are means of purification, ordained by divine love to purge rational beings from moral evil, and to restore them back to that communion with God…so that they may attain the same blessed fellowship with God Himself.

Eusebius of Caesarea lived from 265 to 340 A.D. He was the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and a friend of Constantine, great Emperor of Rome. His commentary of Psalm 2 says: “The Son ‘breaking in pieces” His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state.”

Gregory of Nazianzeu lived from 330 to 390 A.D. He was the Bishop of Constantinople. In his Oracles 39:19 we read: “These, if they will, may go Christʼs way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice.”

What Evidence Do We Have From the Cosmos (or From the Bible) That Human Beings Are “Valuable?”

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Richard Carrier's Five Questions Concerning “The Resurrection”

Five questions Richard Carrier prepared for a radio discussion with Gary Habermas and Mike Licona on “the resurrection”):

Richard Carrier - Five Questions
  1. “In the Book of Acts the Apostles are having vivid and powerful visions and dream communications from God all the time. We hear of similar experiences reported in that era from Jews and pagans, who were also having vivid and powerful visions and dream communications from a variety of gods and angels. Why isnʼt this happening now? And why was that happening back then, even to pagans and Jews, who werenʼt seeing or hearing what the Christians were seeing and hearing?”

  2. “This might sound like a frivolous question, but it really isnʼt. I mean it quite seriously. Why does God give me more evidence that smoking cigarettes is harmful than he gives me that Jesus lives?”

  3. “The Gospel according to Matthew says (27:52-54) ‘the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who slept rose up and came out of their graves after His resurrection, and went into the Holy City and appeared to many’. Do you believe this happened? If Yes: How could this amazing event have escaped everyone elseʼs notice, even the other evangelists? If No: How could the author of Matthew get away with such a lie?”

  4. “The following three questions are all closely related and really amount to one question. Why did the risen Jesus only appear to his followers, and to only one previously obscure enemy among the thousands opposing his Gospel? Why didnʼt he appear to Pilate or Herod or Caiaphas or the Roman Senate? Why didnʼt he also appear to deliver the Gospel to China—or to the Americas, as the Mormons claim he did?”

    Or… “Why was the death of Jesus so public, but his resurrection so private?”

  5. You seem to trust what the Gospels say is what actually happened. I want to understand why. I have an analogy that I think might help. Suppose I hauled you into court on a murder charge, and the only evidence I had against you was a bunch of letters that described you murdering the victim in vivid detail. Of course you would ask who wrote those letters. I answer, “Joe, Mike, Bob, and Dan.” You then ask, “Who are they?” And I answer, “I donʼt know for sure.” Thatʼs a dead end, so you would ask, “How do they know any of the things they claim in those letters?” And I answer, “I donʼt know. They never say exactly where they are getting any of their information.” Okay. Imagine that happened to you. Would you conclude that I had a convincing case against you? Do you believe the jury should conclude that you committed the murder those letters describe you committing?”


Richard Carrierʼs Five Questions Concerning “The Resurrection”

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Dolphin Hind Limbs - Response to AiG

Response to Answers in Genesisʼs Response on Dolphin Hind Limbs

Dolphin Vestigial Limb Remnants

TOKYO Nov 5, 2006 (AP), Japanese scientists reported a bottlenose dolphin, has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of hind limbs. The dolphin was captured alive in western Japan on Oct. 28, by Fishermen. “I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphinsʼ ancient ancestors lived on land,” said Seiji Osumi, of Tokyoʼs Institute of Cetacean Research. The hind fins are much smaller than the front fins and are about the size of human hands, protruding near the tail. The dolphin measured approx 9 feet in length.

I just read AIGʼs article, “Dolphin found with ‘remains of legs’ Should creationists surrender?” by Ken Ham and David Menton
November 5, 2006

In that article I noticed this paragraph in particular:

“While cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, and whales) lack hind limbs, they have pelvic bones that differ in males and females and appear to support the reproductive organs. Whether they also have rudimentary femurs and other leg bones is less certain. For evidence of whale ‘legs,’ many evolutionists cite a paper published by Struthers in 1881 which purports to describe a rudimentary ‘femur’ in the adult Greenland Right-Whale (Balaena mysticetus).”

My response to the above paragraph is that

  1. Your readers ought to be informed of AIGʼs changing views concerning whether or not ANY evidence of hind-limbs on cetaceans (ancient or modern), has ever been found. AIG tried to deny the evidence of modern day cetaceans found with remnants of hind limbs, and simply ignored the embryonic evidence found in ALL cetacean embryoes of hind-limb buds. Sarfati told me in an email that he would not even LOOK at the scientific articles I had collected concerning such evidence.

    At first AIG even mocked the idea that the bones found near the genitalia of whales were indeed “pelvic” bones. Now it seems AIG is shifting its opinions. You admit above that they are “pelvic” bones. Bravo. But now you assert that the existence of “femurs” is “uncertain.”

  2. But the existence of “femoral” bones is not “uncertain” at all according to the worldʼs leading cetacean scholars.

    “The existence of a pair of small pelvic bones is known to exist in nearly all of the Cetacea…[and] in the Fin Whale, the Blue Whale, and the Humpback, the femur too is present near the pelvis. [Even in the Sperm Whale the femur is sometimes present (in the form of a small round-shaped bone near the pelvis).-E.T.B., there are photos at my website edwardtbabinski.us/whales] And in the Right Whale not only the femur but also the tibia exists. [An exhibit concerning Struthersʼs dissections is on display at a museum. See photo of that exhibit at my website. - E.T.B.].” [Ogawa, R., and Kamiya, T. A. (1957) “Case of the Cachalot [Sperm Whale] With Protruded Rudimentary Hind Limbs.” Scientific Reports of the Whales Research Insititute, No. 12, p. 197-208.]

Also note my earlier submission to AIG on this topic:

Submitted To “Feedback” At “Answers In Genesis” 3/6/2006

In John Woodmorappeʼs article, “Walking whales, nested hierarchies, and chimeras: do they exist?” he added in a footnote, “…National Geographic mentions the fact that…the usually tiny ‘hindlimbs’ found in modern whales serve as anchors for the muscles of the genitalia. There is thus no compelling reason for considering the reduced hindlimbs, which occur in true cetaceans, as evolutionary leftovers of a terrestrial ancestry.”

No compelling reason? How does he arrive at that conclusion? The fact that such hindlimbs serve as “anchors for the muscles of genitalia” is yet another reason to agree that we are speaking about a vestigial pelvis in the whale, because the pelvis in land mammals also provides “anchors for the muscles of the genitalia.”

Secondly, the the embryos of ALL cetacean species (i.e., whales & dolphins) not only develop FRONT-limb buds that grow into their front limbs (limbs with finger bones and finger muscles like in land mammals, but the muscles have become skinny less flexible tendons); but all cetacean embryos ALSO develop HIND-limb buds that appear (then get reabsorbed in the embryonic stage)!

The question for creationists is why do hind-limb buds develop in all cetacean embryos if the idea of “hindlimbs” on a cetacean is something creationists continue to try and deny?

Modern cetaceans not only have pelvic bones, but some species also have femurs, while still others have a remnant pelvis, femur and TIBIA as well! Some such remnants on rare occasions even bulge or protrude from the cetaceanʼs body! For photos just google: Cetacean Evolution Babinski

One species, the Right Whale, features remnants of femurs, tibias AND the synovial capsules around the joints connecting them to one another, exactly as expected if we are indeed talking about remnants of hind-limbs.

“One cannot help being convinced, as the dissection goes on, that these rudiments [in the Right Whale] really are femur and tibia. The synovial capsule representing the knee-joint was too evident to be overlooked. An acetabular cartilage, synovial cavity, and head of femur, together represent the hip-joint. Attached to this femur is an apparatus of constant and strong ligaments, permitting and restraining movements in certain directions; and muscles are present, some passing to the femur from distant parts, some proceeding immediately from the pelvic bone to the femur, by which movements of the thigh-bone are performed; and these ligaments and muscles present abundant instances of exact and interesting adaptation. But the movements of the femur are extremely limited, and in two of these whales the hip-joint as firmly anchylosed, in one of them on one side, in the other on both sides, without trace of disease, showing that these movements may be dispensed with. The function point of view fails to account for the presence of a femur in addition to processes from the pelvic bone. Altogether, these hind legs in this whale present for contemplation a most interesting instance of those significant parts in an animal — rudimentary structures.” [Struthers, John, M.D., Professor of Anatomy in the University of Aberdeen. (1881) “On the Bones, Articulations, and Muscles of The Rudimentary Hind-Limb of the Greenland Right-Whale (Balaena mysticetus).” Journal of Anatomy and Physiology (London), Vol. 15, p. 141-321.] Google: Cetacean Evolution Babinski

OTHER vestiges that point to the mammalian land ancestry of modern day cetacea (whales & dolphins) include:

  1. Forelimbs that feature bones and finger-muscles as in land mammals but although the bones and muscles remain present the muscles are much reduced, largely non-contractile and act more in the fashion of ligaments.

  2. Cetaceans have hearts with ventricles and auricles just like land mammals.

  3. Cetaceans are warm-blooded like land mammals.

  4. Cetaceans have lungs like land mammals.

  5. Cetaceans nurse their young like land mammals.

  6. Cetaceans have eyelids that move as in land mammals.

Fin? Fin? Creation Ministries International

(formerly Answers in Genesis)
keep trumpeting that word as if the dolphin were a mere fish.
See for instance, “A dolphin with legs—NOT” by Carl Wieland
8 November 2006
They ignore that the dolphin is a mammal, hence its front appendage is a forelimb, not a “fin,” but merely functions as a “fin.” And its forelimb is composed of bones homologous to the arms and hands of its quadrupedal ancestors.

The absence today of hind limbs in dolphins and other living cetacean species serves as proof that even vestigial hind limbs are no longer needed for either guidance or copulation. Yet the fossil record shows that hind-limb rudiments were the RULE long ago when the first dolphin and cetaceans lived. And hind-limb buds can STILL be seen sprouting from the embryo in the same places as they do in other mammals, but in the case of the cetacea such buds are reabsorbed and do not develop into hind limbs, though sometimes the buds do become rudimentary hind limbs that have been found occasionally on modern day dolphins and other cetaceans, and those hind limb vestiges have been x-rayed and/or dissected and proven to contain vestigial bone and cartilage resembling femurs, and sometimes also contain vestigial femurs and tibias and synovial capsules between them, and sometimes they even contain femurs, tibias and some hand and fingerbones.
See the evidence at edwardtbabinski.us
- ETB

Dolphin Hind Limbs - Response to Answers in Genesis

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Testimonies of Two Who Left the Fold: Paul Wright and Gareth McCaughan

It was mentioned here and at Victor Reppertʼs Christian philosopherʼs blogsite that former Christian Gareth McCaughan had left the fold and had composed an intelligent and calmly worded testimony about having done so. (Gareth and Vic used to discuss Vicʼs philosophical arguments in a British usenet group back when Gareth was still a Christian.)

Paul Wright

I recently heard from Gareth that a friend of his, Paul Wright, left the fold before he did and that Wright had composed a testimony of similar intellectual equipose that can be read here.

From : Gareth McCaughan
Speaking of UK atheists on the web, you might like to take a look at Paul Wright, a friend of mine who preceded me into apostasy.

Additional Testimonies of Those Who've Left the Fold

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Victor Reppert, Edward T. Babinski, Philosophical Problems of Knowledge & Communication

Victor Reppert recently left me a comment at his blog that began with an invitation for me to return to kindergarten, and concluded that my replies were full of “sound and fury,” and my questions “signified nothing.” My reply appears below.

Born Again

Vic,
Since you wish to take me back to kindergarten, then letʼs do so. No evasions, letʼs begin from scratch.

Tell me all that you know about God, all that youʼve seen of God, touched of God, heard of God, tasted of God; and then tell me all that you know about the world you see and taste and touch and hear, the people you see everyday, and the cosmos where you see all things die.

The “God” knowledge appears relatively more “hidden” to me than the knowledge I have of the cosmos we all live in together.

I am not saying that the problem of evil has ceased being problematical any more than I am saying it is impossible for anything other than nature to exist. Iʼm simply telling you what I know with some degree of certainty compared with beliefs that I am less sure about.

I have also pointed out what I consider to be flaws in philosophizing about the Big Questions. Anyone may philosophize all they wish, and argue for whatever “God” or “force” they believe exists or doesnʼt.

However the more I read such arguments, the less convincing I find them. “Words” themselves do not appear to provide absolutely accurate descriptions of the realities they are supposed to parallel. “Words” are stuck having to describe things that can also be understood as lying along spectrums of change. Words and concepts appear to be distilled from experiences within this cosmos where words/concepts and their opposites co-exist, or intermingle along spectrums of change. Neither am I of the opinion that verbal analogies constitute proof. Poetry yes. Proof no. I suspect the human mind of also being flexible enough to come up with counter analogies and counter arguments aplenty concerning all the BIG questions.

So I have simply come to trust direct experience a bit more than idealized philosophical arguments purporting to explain the answers to all the Big Questions. I also have grown more patient, not less, with living life day to day, and with the experimental process on both a personal level and in terms of humanityʼs groping toward greater knowledge. I choose patience even to the point of admitting I will very probably grow old and die with the same questions we have discussed, being debated still among philosophers.

Let me put it this way, I donʼt even know nor can I prove in a strictly philosophical fashion whether or not death ends “me” permanently, or, whether I or bits of me might survive after I die in a “ghostly” fashion, or, whether bits of me might not merge or join with others or bits of others that have died to form something new that begins again in a cosmos like ours or continues in some another dimension, or, whether I or bits of me might not “come back” in a reincarnate fashion, or, whether bits of me might survive after death for a long time and THEN even those bits die eventually, or, whether I have an immortal individual “soul” that can never die, or, perhaps I will die and an exact duplicate of me will be CREATED with the exact same knowledge and memories I had right up to the instant of my death (I donʼt know whether or not such a thing could be done by beings of super-intelligence from the future or past or parallel cosmoses, or by a demi-god or infinite Being who kept a copy of me in their “memory” and so could recreate me in some other place time or cosmos even if the “me” that lives here “dies”). Christian philosophers of mind also canʼt agree on the later two options, an immortal soul, or recreation after death by God. Some of them even use the Bible to argue that human beings donʼt “have” souls, they “are” souls. So, they agree the mind could be a function of the brain and the summation of experiences and knowledge each brain takes in as it grows and develops and becomes enculturated. Purely philosophically speaking, any or all of the above options might be true. Itʼs even possible philosophically speaking to argue that what we call “consciousness” does not include our particular memories and knowledge and lives which might accrue and gather round “consciousness” and interact with it, so “consciousness” might be something that is more basic even to the cosmos itself, malleable and universal rather than individual. (Note, Iʼm not saying I view all options as equally appealing.)

There certainly are many weird things Iʼve read about when it comes to consciousness, including mystical experiences, and weird visions people claim to have experienced which vary depending on oneʼs culture. Though unfortunately, most people whose heart stop during surgery, or for long periods, and they are revived, recall nothing. And most sleep during the night is unconscious, dreamless. And thereʼs questions that result from split-brain experiments, and thereʼs cognitive science that is teaching us some of the many ways we each are influenced by items around us, or by others, unconsciously, and thereʼs phermonal influences as well (scents we canʼt even consciously smell that affect us). Recently I read about how certain bacteria might be affecting peopleʼs brain/minds. Other experiment indicate that the brain/mind is an excuse generator, even a belief generator (as indicated in some-split brain experiments).

It also seems to me that humanity is young as an intellectual species. Heck weʼre still stuck on the cradle planet.

So tell me Vic, what do you really know? How much do you think you know about “God the universe and everything?” What percentage of that knowledge consists of philosophical conundrums that have remained unresolved for millennia? While just how much more do you interact with and know about the cosmos in which you live, move and have your being, and in which everything dies? I think youʼd have to agree with me that you know more about the latter than the former.

P.S., By the way, your recent post about the Deityʼs “right to choose” as a possible reply to “evil,” appears like youʼre thrashing blindly about for answers nearly as much as I am. I donʼt know how you can continue to believe you are building up “proofs” when you sink back in that post to relying on total mystery and faith in whatever “God does,” which is close to relying on the mystery of “whatever will be will be.” Are you honestly considering no longer even asking WHY “God” might “choose” the things “God” chooses, or what the definition of “good” is? Is it simply whatever God chooses? Whatever exists? Again, mystery. Didnʼt Aquinas and Barth also sink back into total mystery in the end and admit all of their philosophizing wasnʼt quite the point, or didnʼt provide the ultimate proofs theyʼd hoped to present?

I know youʼre not a fundamentalist Vic, and you DO admit uncertainties. I simply admit more than you do. By the way, thereʼs a book about kindergarten that I enjoyed reading once, titled, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Philosophical Problems of Knowledge & Communication

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