Another Atheist-Turned-Christian

This is  Rosaria Champagne Butterfield during an interview with Marvin Olasky of World Magazine.  (click for credit)
This is Rosaria Champagne Butterfield during an interview with Marvin Olasky of World Magazine. (click for credit)

Because I was an atheist who converted to Christianity, I like to read the stories of other former atheists (see here, here, and here). This post is about atheist-turned-Christian Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. She was an English professor at Syracuse University, and in her own words, her conversion to Christianity was a “train wreck.”

A short version of her conversion story is at Christianity Today, and it is well work the read. She has also written a book entitled The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. I have not read the book, but it is on my list.

What I find most intruiging about her story is how it began. She had written an article in the local newspaper that was critical of the Christian group called Promise Keepers. Like most controversial pieces, the article sparked all sorts of written responses. She says that she filed them into two groups: hate mail and fan mail. However, there was one letter she couldn’t classify. That letter led her down the path to Christ.

What was the content of the letter? In Butterfield’s own words:

It was from the pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a kind and inquiring letter. Ken Smith encouraged me to explore the kind of questions I admire: How did you arrive at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God? Ken didn’t argue with my article; rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it. I didn’t know how to respond to it, so I threw it away.

Obviously, she ended up fishing it out of the trash, and the way God worked through that letter and its author is incredible.

Because of God’s mighty work, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was transformed. She was transformed from someone who couldn’t say the name of Jesus to someone who worships Him. She was transformed from a woman who attacked Christians to a woman who loves her fellow Christians. She was transformed from a lesbian into a pastor’s wife and a mother of four.

Of course, that last transformation bothers some people. She gets a lot of pushback because she honestly discusses her sexuality before and after her conversion. For example, when she spoke at the University of South Florida a group of students staged a peaceful and respectful protest in the front row of her talk.

If you would like to hear more from this atheist-turned-Christian, you might watch this one-hour interview with Marvin Olasky of World Magazine. God calls to us in many different ways, and I am so glad that he does!

111 thoughts on “Another Atheist-Turned-Christian”

  1. I wonder if I should list all the websites of christians turned atheists and we could compare whose list is longer. I can show a lon list of people who left the faith because of science and the ureliability of the bible.

    1. You’re certainly free to do that, Luis, but I am not sure what it would mean. The majority position means little to a thinking individual. The position with the most evidence is what should matter, and the Christian position clearly has the most evidence. Science shows the necessity of a Creator, and it also demonstrates the reliability of Scripture.

  2. Excellent Interview with Olasky! The book goes into to greater detail and is a most fascinating read. Butterfield is very articulate and an excellent writer.

  3. Luis

    In what way is the Bible unreliable?

    Also, I don’t think Christians “leave the faith”, it’s more like they’re converted to a new faith, like Darwinism etc. Leaving one belief system for another. True science has little to do with it.

  4. I’m an athiest turned Christian. I even have a degree in evolutionary biology!

    I think the main thing that prompted my conversion was how empty the atheist universe is. It couldn’t account for all the things that really mattered, consciousness, love, the sense of purpose that seems to pervade life. Scientific materialism tries to explain all these things away instead of trying to explain these things as they are, which is why I see atheism as intellectually juvenile. As G.K. Chesterton noted, being a Christian allows one to be a cosmic patriot, enjoying existence on its own terms.

    Christianity also helped me come to terms with my sinful state and why the world seemed fallen. This is something that every religion (including atheism) has to deal with. According to scientific materialism the world isn’t fallen, it just is. This is yet another example of how that worldview denies what is plainly seen. With Christianity, we get a real explaination that grounds itself in human sin and, even better, we get the solution to the problem in the cross of Jesus Christ.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jeff! Even some current atheists, like Thomas Nagel, recognize the fact that current scientific materialism cannot explain important things like consciousness. Of course, rather than seeing that as a reason to look for something more to life than naturalistic processes, he wants scientists to start thinking that there are at least some goal-directed forces in nature. Thus, he wants a teleological view of nature, just not one that includes God.

    1. As far as I can tell from reading his book, Scott, he doesn’t want to connect the teleology he is looking for with God. Here is his own summary of his views:

      To sum up: the respective inadequacies of materialism and theism as transcendent conceptions, and the impossibility of abandoning the search for a transcendent view of our place in the universe, lead to the hope for an expanded but still naturalistic understanding, that avoids psychophysical reductionism. The essential character of such an understanding would be to explain the appearance of life, consciousness, reason, and knowledge neither as accidental side-effects of the physical laws of nature nor as the result of intentional intervention in nature from without but as an unsurprising if not inevitable consequence of the order that governs the natural world, from within.

      [Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly Wrong, Oxford University Press 2012, pp. 32-33]

  5. “I wonder if I should list all the websites of christians turned atheists and we could compare whose list is longer.”

    Poor mathematical analysis. Given at least a 20 to 1 sample disparity in favor of theists to atheists the theist to atheist list would always be longer simply because there are not enough atheists.

  6. Jeff

    I don’t think you were a real atheist. You were just a guy who was not sure and searching for a worldview. You changed to theism based on emotional reasons, not intellectual ones. Theists to atheists change for the opposite reason. One can’t have a degree in evolutionary biology and be a christian because the bible opposes it. You have to fudge one or the other. Dr. Wile and I have had this discussion before.

    Mike

    I think you’re wrong. My argument isn’t the comparison between theists to atheists, it’s the amount of conversion from one to another. For example, there could be 200 christians and 100 atheists. We could see 50 christians to atheists on the net and 25 atheists to christians. My point is the deconversion rate is much higher than the conversion rate.

    1. Luis, you are getting a little desperate now. Do you have a degree in evolutionary biology? If you don’t, how could you possibly know if a person can have such a degree and be a Christian? We have had this discussion before, and the only thing you could do was mischaracterize Karl Gibberson’s views. You couldn’t even comment about Francis Collins, another devoted Christian and committed evolutionist. Now you are judging a person over a degree you know nothing about.

      Also, you need to check your math. In the scenario you gave, the deconversion rate would be 50/200, or 0.25. The conversion rate would be 25/100, or 0.25. So in your own scenario, the rates are equal.

  7. Luis,

    I can guarantee you that I was a real atheist. All that is required to be an atheist is a lack of a belief in God. Your reasons for it have nothing to do with whether you were a ‘real’ one or not.

    Also, I agree that I did not convert for intellectual reasons. As a Confessional Lutheran I agree with Martin Luther who states in his Small Catechism that ‘I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.’

  8. Jeff

    If you converted for emotional reasons rather than intellectual then how do you know your beliefs are true and real rather than a product of wishful thinking?

    Also, how do you reconcile evolution, which you have a degree in, and the bible when they are absolutely opposed to one another?

    1. Luis, as I have already shown you, evolution is not opposed to the Bible. If it were, people like Dr. Francis Collins would not be devout Christians and committed evolutionists.

  9. Luis,

    How do you know that reason and intellect are reliable guides to truth? I know that Jesus is lord because he grants me the faith to believe it. Its not intellectual. Once I have recieved faith, can I look at the world in an intellectual way? Of course I can, but the initial faith cannot come about by one’s own reason or will.

    And how do I reconcile evolution with my faith? That’s easy, I don’t. While I believe that you can reconcile faith with evolution, the biblical hermenuetic of my confession does not allow it. Therefor, while I know all of the evidence for evolution and an old Earth, on a deeper level I accept the biblical narrative at face value. For all men are liars, and let God be true.

  10. Dr. Wile

    I know what you have shown me and I disagree with it. Collins and Giberson are more interested in evolution science than the gospels. They trot out the metaphor narrative which anyone can see was not meant to be taken that way or else all christians would. They have been fooled and are trying to fool others. Evolution and a good god don’t go together. Simple. Darwin killed god as I said before. I think Lyell had an assist too. The twin Charles brought him down.

    Jeff

    This is all circular reasoning. You are saying “I know god exists because god gave me faith to belief he exists”. You also disregard all evidence for evolution, which you were taught, for this cirular reasoning. This is irrational at best. You shouldn’t do apologetics cause you are aren’t going to win anyone over with that. This is Fideism which is believing in something evn in the face of contrary evidence.

    1. Luis, you are simply wrong. Collins and Gibberson are not more interested in evolution than the gospels. Indeed, the reason they wrote their book, The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions, was because they thought people were walking away from the Christian faith because they had been fooled by the notion that the Bible and evolution are incompatible. Their book clearly shows that the two are quite compatible. There is nothing in evolution that says anything about the nature of God, so the idea that evolution and a good God are incompatible is simply false.

      You claim that Genesis was not meant to be taken as a metaphor or all Christians would take it that way. However, Christians cannot agree on the interpretation of many Biblical passages. Why should Genesis be any different? If Genesis is not meant to be taken as metaphor, why has it been taken as metaphor by Christians throughout the history of Christendom? Origen took the Genesis account as metaphor back in the mid 200s AD, and there has been a steady stream of theologians who have taken Genesis that way since. Indeed, by the Medieval period, a metaphorical interpretation of Genesis was widespread in the church. If it’s so obvious that Genesis is not to be taken metaphorically, why have Christians been doing just that throughout the history of Christendom?

  11. Of course people were walking away from the faith because those critical thinkers knew the bible had been falsified and went where the evidence led.If you are so sure that the two are compatible then why are you a YEC when the evidence clearly shows otherwise? Is is because you know the text was meant as literal and believe it as such? Collins is a fool to think that a purposeful god can use a random, deathly process to bring about man. Either he intended us or he didn’t.

    I’ve heard this argument before and it’s simply wrong. Maybe a handful of early church fathers thought it metaphorical but the church as a whole took it it literal because that’s the way the text plainly reads. Darwin and Lyell proven them wrong. The church should have thrown the bible out as false at this pont but continued to hold on to it. They went back and said “oh, it’s just a metaphor after all so it’s OK to still believe in it.” If science shows the bible true then it’s the literal word. If science shows it’s false then it’s meant as a metaphor. Heads I win, tails you lose. The bible can’t ever be falsified with this way of thinking.

    1. Luis, I can’t imagine how you could be more wrong. The evidence strongly supports the Bible, which is why critical thinkers turn from atheism to Christianity (see here, here, and here, for example). The evidence also clearly supports the YEC view, which is why I am a YEC. Even when I was an atheist, I saw that evolution doesn’t work as an explanation for the origin of biological diversity. However, once I became a Christian, I was happy to believe in an old earth. It wasn’t until I was working on my PhD in nuclear chemistry that I saw how the data strongly support the YEC view. I am not a YEC because Scripture requires it. I am a YEC because the scientific evidence requires it.

      You claim Collins is a fool, yet you don’t even understand his position. He believes God did, indeed, intend to create us, and He used the process of evolution to do so. You see, to Collins, God is so powerful that He can create a world that, on it’s own, will produce the life He intends for it to produce. I suggest you actually read a person’s views before you start calling him a fool.

      You claim that “a handful of early church fathers” thought the creation account was metaphorical, “but the church as a whole took it literal [sic].” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. A lot more than a handful of early church fathers took the first few chapters of Genesis metaphorically. In addition to Origen, there was Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose of Milan, and Gregory of Nyssa. This is about the same number as the early church fathers who took the first few Chapters of Genesis as history. Thus, even the early church was divided on the details of creation. This is why there is no mention of the details of creation in any of the major Christian creeds. Since the early church could not agree on them, there was no way a specific view of creation could be codified in a creed.

      Of course, the metaphorical interpretation of Genesis continued throughout the history of Christendom. Some of the greatest Medieval theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, William of Conches, Saint Cajetan, and Saint Bonaventure also took the first few chapters of Genesis metaphorically. Rather than being a reaction to Darwin and Lyell, then, a metaphorical interpretation of Genesis has a rich legacy from the earliest parts of Christendom. You should really study church history before you start claiming what the church has believed throughout the ages.

      You claim, “If science shows the bible true then it’s the literal word. If science shows it’s false then it’s meant as a metaphor.” However, that’s not how any Christian I know thinks. It’s certainly not the way I think. I look at it as science helping me to understand how to interpret the Bible. Since there have been several interpretations of the first few chapters of Genesis throughout the history of orthodox Christianity, that tells me we need something else to help us understand which interpretation to choose. Since I see science as strongly supporting the YEC view, I use science to help me choose from among those orthodox positions. The theistic evolutionists I know think likewise. They think (incorrectly) that science supports the evolutionary account. As result, they use that fact to help them choose which orthodox theological position to hold. If you would take the time to read some theistic evolutionists, you would see that. For some reason, however, you refuse to do so. Instead, you simply mischaracterize what they believe. That’s not what a critical thinker would do!

  12. Luis,

    As a Lutheran I believe in the ‘ministerial’ use of reason on not ‘magisterial’ use of it. I believe that reason is great when used in service of mankind and the scriptures. When reason is used to heal the sick, create useful technology, and presenting the foolishness of unbelief it is being used rightly. However, because we are fallen, even reason is corrupted by sin. Because of this, it should never stand in judgment over Holy Scripture.

    Now, I don’t expect you to understand this or agree with it. But, before you criticize it further have you thought about the Fideism that is present in Naturalistic Materialism? Naturalistic materialism claims to know how the world is really structured. However, given this belief, there is no possible way to justify it. If we are totally material beings created by chance and necessity through the blind processes of evolution, there is no reason to trust our minds or reason itself! As Charles Darwin once said, “Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any?” So in the end I would argue that all epistemologies are fideistic. They all have to have a leap of faith somewhere in their structure.

  13. Jeff

    The argument from reason. If our reason is untrustworthy, given naturalism, then why have we been able to do science so well? If our reason is no good then we should still be swinging from trees but we’re not. Even Dr. Wile doesn’t agree with this argument. Our reason is reliable or natural selection would not have selected for it.

    Dr. Wile

    I can’t force you to believe anything. You have to come to the conclusions yourself but I have to tell you that a lot of people out there think that YEC are complete idiots. I’m not calling you that but Facebook is full of ridicule against YEC for example. Doesn’t that make you want to re-examine your science and your beliefs? Doesn’t that make you want to consider that you may be wrong? It makes me somewhat glad that I don’t hold to the faith anymore. It makes one look rather dumb for holding on to religion.

    Again, if these people took Genesis as metaphor then why trust this account over any other creation metaphor? What’s the difference? I can’t get past the fact that genetics has shown Adam and Eve to be false.

    1. Luis, a lot of people out there thought Dr. Dan Shechtman was a complete idiot for believing in quasicrystals, but he turned out to be right. A lot of people thought Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren were complete idiots for thinking that ulcers were caused by a bacterium. However, they turned out to be right. A lot of people thought Dr. Karl Müller and Dr. Johannes Bednorz were complete idiots for believing in the existence of high-temperature superconductors, but they turned out to be right. In the end, people’s opinions mean little to me. I care about what the data say, and the data support the YEC view. I really hope you aren’t choosing what to believe based on peer pressure! That’s about as far from critical thinking as you can get.

      I always leave open the possibility that I am wrong. In fact, that’s why I left atheism. Even though I was an atheist, I was at least willing to believe I was wrong. In the end, science showed me I was, so I began to believe in God. Once I became a Christian, I still believed in an old earth, but once again, I was willing to believe I was wrong. When I started looking at the data in an unbiased way, I found out that I was, so I became a YEC. I am still willing to believe that I am wrong. However, no one has given me sufficient evidence to show me that. Instead, the evidence continues to confirm what I believe.

      You claim that genetics has shown Adam and Eve to be false. That, in itself, is a false statement. A particular model of population genetics, laden with unverifiable assumptions, shows that it is impossible for the human population to come from two individuals. However, that model has been shown to be inconsistent with a lot of genetic data. In their book, Science and Human Origins, Gauger, Axe, and Luskin demonstrate this very clearly. They also offer up a genetic analysis to show that two people are sufficient to give us the genetic diversity we see in the human population.

  14. I have heard the book “science and human origins” is poor on science. A guy named Paul Mcbride (or something like that)reviewed and refuted the book chapter by chapter. If these are just assumptions then why do people like Denis Venema at Biologos find them acceptable? The same refutations have been done to “Darwin’s Doubt”. I have read a lot of accounts of people leaving creationism and the faith once they find out about the science of evolution.

    1. Let me get this straight, Luis. You have not read the book, and you have not read Paul McBride’s review. However, because you heard the book is “poor on science,” you won’t even read it. I think that speaks volumes. In fact, Paul McBride tried to refute the book, but as these detailed discussions show, he didn’t come even close.

      You claim that Darwin’s Doubt has also been refuted. Have you read the book? Have you read the refutations? In fact, the supposed refutations of Darwin’s Doubt seem to be convincing people of the truth of what’s in the book. I note that you commented on that article, so you know this has happened. Yet, that still hasn’t prompted you to look into the matter further. Once again, very interesting.

      You ask, “If these are just assumptions then why do people like Denis Venema [sic] at Biologos find them acceptable?” I could turn the question around and ask, “If these assumption are reasonable, why do scientists like Dr. Ann Gauger and Dr. John C. Sanford find them unacceptable?” Rather than relying on other people’s opinions, you should look into the evidence yourself. In order to evaluated their scientific validity, one has to see whether or not the assumptions lead to conclusions that are consistent with the data. That’s what determines whether or not they are reasonable. Since the assumptions in the human genetic model lead to results that are inconsistent with genetic data, they are clearly not good assumptions, no matter who believes them.

      You might have read lots of accounts of people leaving creationism and the faith once they find out about evolution. However, have you read the many accounts of people becoming creationists once they started learning real science? How about the accounts of people coming to faith once they start looking at the evidence for the reality of Christianity. I think I know the answer to that one!

      Once again, this all goes back to actually looking into the arguments on both sides. Until you do that, you aren’t thinking at all, much less exercising critical thinking!

  15. Thank you for this discussion, Dr. Wile but I just can’t bring myself to believe in the biblical creation account. As I mentioned before, I think the text was meant to be taken literal as the majority of the early church did and modern science has shown it to be false in every way. I know that you don’t agree and that’s fine but as a layman I have to go with the consensus until proven otherwise. I think your position is incorrect scientifically (no offense) and I think that Collins is incorrect theologically. The real position, I find, is nihilism. I will try to read some of the posts that you connected as I have time but I’m not sure if they will change my mind because I will always have the voice of consensus saying the science of YEC is wrong.

    1. Luis, I take no offense at you thinking I am wrong. However, I must caution you that your opinion is based on no evidence. Instead, it seems to be based solely on the opinions of others. As a result, it is not the opinion of a critical thinker. If you would actually read the theology upon which Francis Collin’s views are based, you would at least be in a better position to critique it. If you would look at the evidence upon which YEC is based, you would at least be in a better position to critique it. I do hope you become more informed, because basing your views on the opinions of others is not a reasonable way to go!

  16. May I interrupt the Love Fest between Luis and Dr Jay to say that our housegroup was talking about this tonight. It’s a bit of a surprise how some very staunch atheists come to Christ. It would, to human eyes, seem like a very long journey, and an impossible one. “With man it is impossible …”

    By sharing these stories, it gives us hope as we pray for our friends who are (currently) atheists.

    PS Where can we read your testimony, Dr Jay?

  17. Luis,

    Your inability to think out the box and relying only on the consensus is troubling. The “consensus” after all believed in spontaneous generation. The “consensus” believed in bleeding patients to cure a wide range of ailments. The “consensus” also ridiculed and got rid of poor Dr Ignaz Semmelweis who fought against the “consensus” and orthodoxy when he discovered washing hands before surgery drastically reduced patient deaths.

    Scientific fraud, peer review fraud, mountains of failed predictions, plenty of reasons to question the “consensus” today.

    “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” -unknown

    1. Jason, that quote comes from Michael Chrichton. While he is best known for fiction, he was trained as a scientist and did work as a scientist. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Note that the link I gave you is for a scientific paper in which the author, Jorge R. Barrio, agrees with Chrichton. Barrio is a professor of Biomedical Physics and Molecular & Medical Pharmacology at UCLA and has published extensively in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

      My favorite quote about the scientific consensus comes from another scientist, Dr. Alan Feduccia. He is one of the most important paleornithologists in the world (and an evolutionist). He says:

      The word ‘consensus’ has no place in science and is never a validation of any hypothesis, yet one frequently sees trust in ‘consensus’ for validation of important scientific concepts.
      [Alan Feduccia, Riddle of the Feathered Dragons, Yale University Press 2011, pp. 4-5]

  18. Luis,

    It doesn’t matter if Dr. Wile agrees with the argument from reason. That is an argument from authority. I think it holds up logically. There is no reason to assume that natural selection would have endowed us with a reason that could discern truth. All natural selection would do is endow us with a reason that is useful on the supposed Pleistecene plain on which our species first evolved. So our reason would have evolved to help us kill antelope, dig up tubers, and navigate the sociobiological heirarchy. This reason would then be exapted to another use, like science. Therefor there would be no reason to trust the human mind in terms of truthfullness, only usefulness.

  19. Jeff, thank you for all your fascinating comments from your Lutheran perspective. I’m currently studying Dr. William Lane Craig’s book, Reasonable Faith, and just today I finished chapter 1, which discusses the relation of reason to Christian belief. I just learned the terms “ministerial” and “magisterial” today from my studying, so imagine my surprise to read them in your comments here! Your conversion is a wonderful example of what Dr. Craig calls “the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit.” Thank you for this real-life example of what I’ve been studying.

  20. Dr. Wile,

    Thank you SO for this post! I bought the book immediately and I’ve been reading it. It’s really wonderful. And of course the comment section is ALWAYS a blast:-)

    The consistency of your blog posts is very much appreciated at my house. Thanks again!

    Kendall

  21. I have to say that the constant presence of Luis at these discussions belies his declaration that he cannot believe. He is obviously hoping to be convinced. Perhaps remembering that the Bible says “If any man will do do His will, He shall know the doctrine” would be of more help than scientific evidence. Or, how about, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” He that would see God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him. Best to seek Him rather than fight against His call.

  22. Holly

    If you have seen my previous posts then you should know that I was a christian at one point before I found the abundant evidence for evolution. After searching other areas of evidence for god, I came to the conlusion that there is not one argument that can’t stand up to scrutiny. All arguments and evidence for god has counter arguments and evidence against him. I would like to be convinced that god does exist but at the same time I don’t want to live my life in following something that’s not real. I need an irrefutable argument to believe and there is none. All that one is left with is faith which is belief without proof and we all know that would be irrational.

    1. Luis, I really do find it hard to believe that you “would like to be convinced that god [sic] does exist.” After all, you won’t even read the abundant evidence for His existence or the abundant evidence against evolution. If you started reading about the evidence, you wouldn’t have to rely on the bandwagon fallacy upon which you are currently relying.

  23. Hi Luis,

    You’re right, there are arguments and counterarguments for all of the discussions involving God. However, the fact that there are counter arguments doesn’t DISPROVE God. Just as a majority vote does not make something TRUE. The existence of a counter argument doesn’t make the truth claim invalid.

    I want to ask you, would an absolute proof of God really change your mind? Would you really believe? In Matthew after Jesus’ resurrection it says “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” When faced with the resurrected Jesus, even some doubted. In the old testament, when God dealt with people directly, as so many people these days wish he would again, people STILL doubted God. Does proof really change anything?

    I would look into the definition of faith a little bit btw. I would like to share something with you from one of my favorite apologists: Michael Ramsden (sorry about the length!)

    “Many Christians and curious skeptics nurse philosophical fears about faith. These tend to revolve around the concern that faith has nothing to do with truth or reality. Some would argue that this is precisely why Christianity is called “faith” in the first place – because it lacks both truth and reality.
    In the absence of truth and reality, faith soon collapses into the merely psychological: God is not there to believe in, yet somehow we are still able to believe in him. The question of faith becomes asking not whether it is true or false, but whether is is psychologically possible for people to believe in such an absurdity.
    This conviction that faith has nothing to do with either truth or reality is very common. Faith is seen as a persuasion of the mind that falls short of the truth. In which case, faith is construed as the ability to believe in things even when you have no idea whether they are true or not, but would like them to be. A strong faith then would consist of being able to believe in things that you actually suspected weren’t true or real, yet were still firm in your convictions. And the strongest possible kind of faith that you could have, therefore, would be knowing that something isn’t true or real, and still being able to believe it. How strong a faith would be required for that!
    This conviction is often expressed most politely in the following form:”Michael, I’m so happy that you’re a Christian, and I wish I could believe what you believe, but I can’t.” In my experience, what most people mean by this is “Michael I am so happy that you are so happy. There seems to be a joy and completeness in your life that I find attractive. But the reason you are happy is because you are a Christian. In other words, you believe in things that are not true or real.” (now, what do you call people who believe in things that are not there? The answer is: lunatics.) So what they are saying is,”Michael, you are actually insane. But the main thing is that you are happy and insane. And I am happy that you are happy. As a matter of fact, I’m so desperate to be happy, that I too would embrace insanity just to join you, but I can’t do it. I’ve thought about it, but I just can’t.”
    Thankfully this is not the christian understanding of faith. yes, the Bible does say that faith is a gift, but it is not the gift of stupidity. It is not being able to believe in things that are not there. Nor is it a blind leap in the dark.
    For example, if I were to say to you, “I have faith in the British prime minister,” you would not hear me saying, “I wish to postulate at a philosophical level the existence of an ontological metaphysical entity, which I am labeling
    ‘British prime mister.'” I further wish to postulate that, given his existence, I am justified in believing in him.” No one would ever understand me to be saying such a thing. Instead, when I say, “I have faith in the British prime minister,” what they would hear me saying is two things: one, that there is a real person who is the British prime minister – he actually exists – and two, that I have grounds to trust him – that I know him to be true to his word and so on.
    It is only in this sense that the Bible uses the word faith. It never carries with it the idea of speculation at a philosophical level. The statement “I have faith in God,” carries the same meaning as the statement “I have faith in the British prime minister.” That is, I trust in someone who really exists and who is true to his word and character – a being who is worthy of being trusted.
    The question then is this: is God real and worthy to be trusted?”

  24. “The question then is this: is God real and worthy to be trusted?”

    The is the question I need answered. In the words of Carl Sagan: “I don’t want to believe, I want to know.”

  25. Luis,

    Any scientist worth his salt will tell you that science is not about knowing. Its about finding the best hypothesis that meets the data. There is no absolute knowledge that cannot be challenged at some point in the future. Take for example what Massimo Pigliucci (an evolutionist) and Eugenie Scott (another evolutionist) say about special creation. They claim that special creation could have happened by God creating everything as it was last Thursday. This ‘Last Thursdayism’ is logically consistent and agrees with all the facts in the world. The scientific mind then rejects this hypothesis because it is not falsifiable. Falsifiability is a concept introduced to science by Karl Popper, but the concept itself can’t be falsified. So science itself is built upon philosophical presuppositions that may err.

    As to evolution, I believe that the theory of universal common descent is one that cannot be falsified. For awhile I worked as a trilobite systemetist during graduate school (before I switched over to Quaternary Geology). I learned a lot about modern cladistics and classification. They tend to assume common descent instead. There is no fact that anyone could possibly find that would make biologists question this claim. One of the big problems with modern cladistics is that the evolutionary trees that they are getting from different genes don’t match up and are contradictory. However, the cladist then just takes out the genes that don’t match his preferred tree. I always joked that even if they found a rabbit in the Precambrian, it wouldn’t falsify common descent by the rules evolutionists follow today. They would just speculate really long ghost lineages for pretty much every vertebrate lineage to reconcile this find with common descent.

    And that’s just the problems with common descent. Don’t get me started with complaining about natural selection.

    Dr. Wile, what is a good serious book about young earth geology?

    1. Jeff, you are correct about evolution being unfalsifiable. If evolutionists can tell stories to get around the Cambrian Explosion and the fact that genetic phylogenies disagree with fossil phylogenies, they can tell stories to get around anything!

      The best book on young-earth geology is a two-volume set called Earth’s Catastrophic Past by geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling. It’s pretty dense, but a really serious treatment. If you want a somewhat less dense treatment, environmental scientist and Fellow of the Geological Society of London Paul Garner has written a general overview entitled The New Creationism.

  26. If god does exist then please provide the some evidence that can’t be countered. I think what Kendall is saying could be taken as circular reasoning in a way:

    “God exists because we have evidence for his existence but you have to accept this evidence in order to know that he exists.”

    What if you are just convincing yourself about something that’s not real but it seems real because you are convinced of it.

    Jeff

    I would like to have an email discussion with you on evolution since you have a degree in it. I would like to find out how much you know of the theory and what your responses are to the evidence.

    1. Luis, this is not circular reasoning. I have given you all sorts of evidence for God’s existence that cannot be adequately countered. You have refused to read it. Please read the evidence, and you should see that the evidence for the existence of God is very strong, and the counterarguments are incredibly weak.

  27. Luis, if you are correct and Kendall is using circular reasoning as you described, wouldn’t that make belief in just about everything a matter of circular reasoning? When you say “you have to accept this evidence in order to know that [God] exists”, it seems that statement would apply equally well to, say, the planet Mars. I have to accept the evidence that it exists in order to know that it exists. How ELSE could I know it exists?

    You asked for some evidence for God that can’t be countered, but if I understand what you mean by “countered”, you’ve asked for something impossible. Correct me I’ve misunderstood, but it sounds like you want evidence so strong that it leaves no room for any other explanation. But no such evidence exists for anything, God included. Take the planet Mars again as an example. Even if I took a spaceship there and walked on the planet myself, that would not leave “the planet Mars exists” as the only possible explanation for my experience. After all, I could be a brain in a jar in a mad scientist’s laboratory somewhere, and he could just be making me THINK I walked on Mars. There can be no proof beyond all doubt that anything in the external world, or that anything at all, exists.

    None of this is to say that reason and evidence are not valuable. They are, but they will never lead you to certainty, which seems to be what you’re after. The best they can do for you is show that a thing is plausible or not, and even then only if you’re willing to grant certain assumptions (such as the reality of the external world). If you want certainty that God exists, as opposed to just good reasons to think so, I think the only way to get it is from God himself. This is why Christians like Dr. Wile, who have received this certainty or Faith from God, can say “I know God exists”.

  28. Excellently put Keith! My brother is always telling me that (when I ask weird off the wall questions) you also have to take the world the way it is, how it ACTUALLY works. You can have theoretically possible ideas that just don’t work in the real world. That’s why he says the evolution is plausible, it just isn’t ACTUAL since there is no evidence for it.

    Jeff, I really appreciate your input on this discussion, your thoughts have been very helpful! Thanks for your time and contribution!

  29. Keith, you nailed it on the head. There are no facts that can’t have multiple explanations for them. In fact for every finite set of facts there are an infinite number of logically consistent explanations. This is why the principles of falsifiability and parsimony were introduced into the sciences. Both of these principles are philosophical in nature and make assumptions about what reality is ‘really’ like. This is why I tend to favor presupposition apologetics in addition to evidential apologetics. Without the correct presuppositions, all the evidence for Christianity will be for naught.

  30. “For example, there could be 200 christians and 100 atheists. We could see 50 christians to atheists on the net and 25 atheists to christians.”

    Come with some data. For someone talking about emotion and not facts you have no data. The data indicates that for every 200 theists there would be 10 atheists or less (giving a VERY generous 5%).

    iF only one atheist converted to theism and 20 theists converted to atheism the “rate” would be the same (10%). You stated point blank that the issue was whose list would be longer and the facts are as I said – the sample size disparity would make one longer all by itself. Furthermore given that the vast majority of people on the planet are theists a higher “rate” as you claim would be reflected in a rise in atheism at a level no poll shows.

  31. “I can’t force you to believe anything. You have to come to the conclusions yourself but I have to tell you that a lot of people out there think that YEC are complete idiots. I’m not calling you that but Facebook is full of ridicule against YEC for example. Doesn’t that make you want to re-examine your science and your beliefs?”

    Fortunately or unfortunately you have betrayed your own emotional basis for believing what you believe. Facts are what should cause someone to re-examine their beliefs not facebook or who else believes or disbelieves something (that fact by popularity fallacious reasoning is huge among atheists but wrong).

    DR Wile has many articles on this blog that speak to why he believes in YEC. A more rational course of action would be to deal with those articles not appeal to what is laughed at on a social network. Some people laugh at good manners, fidelity and/or etiquette on facebook too but it hardly means I should re-evaluate how I think of any of them

    In fact the fact people on facebook do laugh at these things is a reason in itself to keep them. Wisdom and foolishness is sometimes defined by its company.

    as for your general argument you are dead wrong. Yes many people are motivated by emotional aspects in their life BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN but I have almost never met a former atheist that did not subsequently address rational reasons for their faith just as this entire blog confirms in Dr Wiles case.

    I have deeply emotional reasons for loving and trusting my mother but that hardly means I have found no reasons based on real facts to do so.

  32. Keith

    If someone were to claim that I was a brain in a jar they would have to provide evidence for that. Scientific, testable, observable evidence or else I don;t have to believe the claim. This is is the same thing for god. We don’t have this sort of evidence for him, only arguments that can be easily countered. The more we have, the harder it is to prove against it like evolution and the age of the earth. We must know that things are real or else we would not have survived and flourished this far. Our reasoning and the scientifc method is reliable so we should have been able to detect god in some way.

    Kendall

    Sorry to say but your brother is wrong. There is plenty of evidence for evolution. This is what has caused me to walk away from the faith. Evolution is one samll cog in the wheel that debunked Genesis.

    Jeff

    This is whay I can’t understand why you don’t accept evolution. After 150 years the theory stands tall because nothing that has been discovered has falsified it. This is a good indicator of it’s reality. How do you explain something like ERV’s for example. That is powerful evidence.

    Mike

    Polls show that christianity is declining in the world (other than China which christians love to point out). Atheism is on the rise because science is the order of the day. That would would mean that there are more people converting to atheism than to christianity. Otherwise polls would show the opposite.

    1. Luis, you claim that “We don’t have this sort of evidence for [God], only arguments that can be easily countered.” Of course, there is no way you could know, because you aren’t willing to even read the scientific evidence for His existence, much less the detailed discussions that show how weak the “counterarguments” against His existence are.

      You claim that that there is “plenty of evidence for evolution,” but of course, that is far from true. In fact, there is precious little evidence for evolution and a wealth of evidence against it.

      You claim, “After 150 years [evolution] stands tall because nothing that has been discovered has falsified it.” Once again, that is completely false. I have documented several instances in which the predictions of evolution have been falsified (here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example). Others have shown other examples (here, here, and here, for example.)

      You ask how creationists explain ERV’s. Actually, creationists have a much better explanation for ERV’s than do evolutionists (see here, here, and here, for example), which is typical of most biological processes.

      You claim, “Polls show that christianity is declining in the world…” Once again, that is false. As the Pew Research Center shows, the total number of Christians in the world is rising, and their percentage of the population is pretty much the same as it was a century ago.

  33. Luis,

    My problem with evolution is that it can’t be falsified. Its not falsifiable in principle. When talking about evolution it is helpful to realize that we are actually talking about multiple different theories. Ernst Mayr in his book “What Evolution Is” identified five of them:

    1. Evolution as such. This is the theory that the world is not constant or recently created nor perpetually cycling, but rather is steadily changing, and that organisms are transformed in time.

    2. Common descent. This is the theory that every group of organisms descended from a common ancestor, and that all groups of organisms, including animals, plants, and microorganisms, ultimately go back to a single origin of life on earth.

    3. Multiplication of species. This theory explains the origin of the enormous organic diversity. It postulates that species multiply, either by splitting into daughter species or by “budding”, that is, by the establishment of geographically isolated founder populations that evolve into new species.

    4. Gradualism. According to this theory, evolutionary change takes place through the gradual change of populations and not by the sudden (saltational) production of new individuals that represent a new type.

    5. Natural selection. According to this theory, evolutionary change comes about through the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation.

    Now when I look at those five I would probably agree with number 1 and disagree with all of the rest. I think that gradualism has been completely falsified by the fossil record. We simply don’t find ‘transitional’ forms. We find discrete species that persist in the fossil record and then disappear. With regard to common descent, I think it is assumed rather than demonstrated. Natural selection is a tautology, which I think is impossible in all but the most severe circumstances. It doesn’t have the power to slowly craft species based on minor improvements. Genetic drift and the effect of other genes in the genome will act as significant obstacles for allele fixation if the benefit of the allele is not that great.

    As to ERVs, they may be evidence for common descent. But as an evolutionist how do you explain orphan genes?

  34. Jeff

    “I think that gradualism has been completely falsified by the fossil record. We simply don’t find ‘transitional’ forms. We find discrete species that persist in the fossil record and then disappear.”

    We have tiktaalik, Archeopteryx, mammal to reptile transitions, land mammal to whale transitions and the numerous hominid fossils. We also find simple to complex organisms in the strata. To expect that we would find every single fossil that ever lived is absurd. We can look at what we have and reason that evolution is a good hypothesis to explain these transitions.

    “With regard to common descent, I think it is assumed rather than demonstrated.”

    DNA similarities, ERV’s, Vitamin C pseuogene, Chromosome 2 fusion, homology, social patterns. These are all good evidences of common descent. We have never observed a monkey turning into a man but common descent does explain what we see beyond reasonable doubt.

    “Natural selection is a tautology, which I think is impossible in all but the most severe circumstances. It doesn’t have the power to slowly craft species based on minor improvements.”

    Natural selection culls out the less fit for the environment based on what advantage the genetic mutations has confered on the organism. We see this happening all the time with Lenski’s E. Coli experiment and bacteria resistance to antibiotics. This is natural selection in action.

    “Genetic drift and the effect of other genes in the genome will act as significant obstacles for allele fixation if the benefit of the allele is not that great.”

    Don’t know much about genetic drift so I can’t comment on it. Is this the same as horizontal gene transfer?

    “As to ERVs, they may be evidence for common descent. But as an evolutionist how do you explain orphan genes?”

    ERV’s were fixated to our genome before humans and chimpanzees split from our last common ancestor. Orphan genes evolved in each lineage after the split. So evolution explains the similarities as common descent but also explains the differences as we continued to evolve after the common ancestor.

    1. Luis, like usual, most of what you are saying is 100% false. Tiktaalik is not a transitional form. Neither is Archaeopteryx. There are no mammal-to-reptile transitions. There are no land-mammal to whale transitions. The hominid fossils are not part of any kind of evolutionary lineage.

      DNA similarities falsify common descent. ERV’s are functional and defy common descent. The vitamin C pseudogene defies common descent. Chromosome fusion is not evidence for common descent. Homology is a significant problem for common descent, because apparently homologous structures appear throughout nature but cannot be linked by a common ancestor.

      You claim, “We have never observed a monkey turning into a man but common descent does explain what we see beyond reasonable doubt.” I think you need to learn more about this hypothesis of which you are so enamored, because no evolutionist believes that monkeys evolved into man.

      You claim, “ERV’s were fixated to our genome before humans and chimpanzees split from our last common ancestor.” This is false as well.

      You really need to read what the data say about evolution!

  35. It looks science has uncovered why people believe in religion. We evolved to believe. I guess this puts a damper on all the theists who visit here.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140117153635.htm

    Also, if there is a god, he better show himself soon because there is a mission to deconvert the masses.

    https://www.facebook.com/thereasonwhisperer?ref=profile

    All I can say is that I’m so glad I didn’t push religion on my kids. They would be going through one heck of a faith crises in today’s age. Something I spared them from.

    1. Luis, I think you need to actually read the study. Nowhere does the study even imply that religious belief is the product of evolution. What it demonstrates is that the brains of people who are religious are different from those who are not. The Bible tells us:

      Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

      Thus, it is not surprising to me that the brain is reshaped by religion. This is just another example of how science confirms the words of Scripture!

      But let’s just assume for one moment that evolution did produce religious faith. That, of course, would support the proposals of Dr. Karl Gibberson and Dr. Francis Collins, two devout Christians who are also evolutionists. They believe that God used evolution to create people. Obviously, if that were the case, then evolution would clearly produce a belief in God. At the same time, it seems to me that this would be devastating to your belief. After all, you think that we are the product of undirected evolution. If undirected evolution produced our belief in God, that means you would have to acknowledge that undirected evolution produces incredibly wrong beliefs. Thus, I would think you should be worried about all your beliefs. If, according to you, undirected evolution produced this incredibly wrong belief about religion, what other incredibly wrong beliefs did it produce?

      Far from putting a damper on the theists, then, the idea that religious belief evolved (which is not supported by the study you cite) should put a damper on any atheists who visit here!

      There have been many missions to deconvert the masses, and they have been wildly unsuccessful. Consider, for example, Friedrich Nietzsche. He tried to deconvert everyone back in the late 19th century. Did it work? Of course not. As I mentioned to you before, contrary to your assertions, the Pew Research Center demonstrates that the total number of Christians in the world is rising, and their percentage of the population is pretty much the same as it was a century ago. I suspect that Dr. Peter Boghossian will have about as much success as Nietzsche.

      You say that you are glad you didn’t push religion on your kids, because they would be “going through one heck of a faith crises in today’s age.” Not surprisingly, however, the data say otherwise. Indeed, what we find is that those who attend college are much more likely to hold on to their religion than those who don’t. In today’s age, then, the more knowledge you have, the more tightly you hold onto your faith. I am sure glad that I encouraged my daughter to be a Christian! Since she went to college, I saved her a lot of faith crises!

  36. This is why evidence is the most important thing. Our brains are plastic and adapts to the changing environment and sensory input. When reasonable evidence is presented, our brains will change to the new information being presented. Our ancestor’s brains evolved to believe in higher powers because that is what the brain perceived. Now that science is growing and teaching us, our brains are now evolving to see things differently. To see reality. We are evolving beyond religion because our brains have adapted to the real world through science.

    The information you presented about christianity on the rise is dubious. Christianity maybe growing in the ignorant and superstitious cultures but it is declininng in the educated Americas and Europe as the study shows. This supports what I said. Brains evolve to new information. Educate the people and they will evolve to be atheists. Keep them ignorant and they will stay at that level of evolution. There are some exceptions of course but that is the over all pattern.

    Also, studies show that young people in colleges and universities are where faith is commonly lost. Why? They are being educated out of their ignorance. If school had taught me more about evolution and the unreliability of the bible (and it is unreliable when you critically examine it), I wouldn’t have been a christian for as long as I have.

    I also noticed you received a lot of flak in the comments section to the articles you linked. Doesn’t that tell you something? Have you actually considered taht maybe you’re wrong on what you believe?

    1. Luis, I do agree that evidence is the most important thing. That’s why I am a Christian and a YEC. The evidence strongly supports both positions.

      You claim that our ancestor’s brains evolved to believe in a higher power, but you provide no evidence for this. If evidence is the most important thing, I would like you to present some evidence for your position. Also, once again, if you really believe that evolution produced this incorrect belief, how can you have faith in your beliefs? After all, if evolution produced one incorrect belief, how many more incorrect beliefs has it produced? Indeed, if you think evolution is now causing us to lose belief in religion, how do you know this new belief is correct? Perhaps evolution produced the correct belief to begin with and is now replacing it with an incorrect belief! Once again, the idea that evolution produced religious belief should put a strong damper on any beliefs you might have!

      You might find the evidence of Christianity being on the rise to be dubious, but once again, you present no evidence to back up this belief. If evidence is the most important thing, please provide evidence for your position. Also, please explain why the Pew Research Center generally produces excellent data, but in this one specific case, their data are not reliable. Perhaps it’s because you don’t like what the data say, so you want to dismiss it rather than learn from it.

      You claim that religious belief is “declininng in the educated Americas and Europe,” but that’s not what the study shows. In fact, the study shows that while the world’s population is only 32% Christian, the U.S. population is 86% Christian and the population of Europe is 76.2% Christian. Thus, Christianity is most popular in what you call “the educated Americas and Europe” and is least popular in what you call the “ignorant and superstitious cultures.” Also, as a point of clarification, could you please indicate which cultures are the “ignorant and superstitious” ones? I think people would like to know…

      You claim that “studies show that young people in colleges and universities are where faith is commonly lost.” Once again, however, you cite no evidence for that claim. If evidence is the most important thing, I would like to see some evidence. Also, you ignore the evidence that I present, which shows that those who are better educated are more likely to retain their faith. Please explain to me what is flawed about the data in the study that I presented. Indeed, the authors of the study I present say:

      Emerging adults who do not attend college are most prone to curb all three types of religiousness in early adulthood. Simply put, higher education is not the enemy of religiosity that so many have made it out to be.

      Could you please specifically tell me the data that show these authors are wrong?

      I do receive a lot of flak in my comments section, and that does tell me something. If you notice the conversation, you will see time and time again that I am the one who provides evidence for my position, while those who argue against my position are forced to ignore the evidence. That’s what’s happening in this conversation as well. You say that evidence is the most important thing, and yet you provide no evidence to support your position. At the same time, you ignore the evidence that I present. Such conversations clearly demonstrate which position is the most reasonable one!

  37. I did provide evidence for this claim. It was right there in the article.You stated that belivers brains are different than non-belivers brains. How did this happen? It’s because the two brains evolved differently based on environmental pressures and neuro plasticity. When did this happen? It started with our ancestors who didn’t understand science and passed on the traits and beliefs to us today. Why did this happen? It’s because it confered a survival advantage. Now that we have EVIDENCE in science for things that we thought right but was actually wrong, we are evolving past this survival trait because it’s no longer needed. Our brain is evolving to the new information we are gathering. Of course you will ask for evidence for this but it is all found in evolution which you don’t agree with anyway.

    You are trying to bring up the argument from reason which you yourself deny based on a previous thread. You know our reason is reliable or else we wouldn’t have survived and flourished for as long as we have. Does this mean we know everything? Of course not but our reason allows us to make corrections once new information comes in and we evolve to match reality more closely.

    You cherry picked the data in the pew research article (typical of creationists). You failed to mentioned that christianity has fallen drastically in the Americas and Europe since 1910. It still may be dominant in those places but it is decreasing over time as we become more educated in the sciences. In another 100 hundred years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it drops even more more compared to today. The uneducated countries are the ones in Africa, South America, Asia. They are poor and do not have access to the same knowledge we do in a lot of cases. I would bet that when we show them what science has uncovered, they would drop there too. How many believers are there in South Africa compared to Ethopia, I wonder.

    1. But Luis, the article provides no evidence that the differences between believers’ brains and nonbelievers’ brains are the result of evolution. It only shows that those differences exist. If you claim that evidence is “the most important thing,” please provide some evidence to support your conjecture. The fact is that you cannot. Even the supposed evidence you have tried to present for evolution is easily refuted. If you want to believe in evolution, you are forced to believe in it against the evidence.

      I think you need to read what I have written, because I am not using an argument with which I disagree. I think that if evolution happened, it must have selected for true beliefs, since true beliefs lead to more survivability. However, you are specifically saying that evolution has selected for a false belief. I disagree, but since you seem committed to this unscientific idea, you have to deal with the consequences. If evolution selected for this specific false believe (belief in God), then what other false beliefs has it selected for? Also, if evolution is now producing a belief against the existence of God, how can you know it is true? Once again, Luis, the idea that evolution has produced a belief in God is very easy for Christians like Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Karl Gibberson to understand. However, it should put a serious damper on your beliefs!

      You are the one who is cherry picking data (typical of those who do not want to look at the evidence). It is true that belief in Christianity has declined somewhat in the U.S. and in Europe, but even with the decline, the “educated Americas and Europe” (as you call them) still hold a higher percentage of Christians than the rest of the world. Christians also still make up the large majorities of both countries. If education goes against such a belief, why do the “educated Americas and Europe” hold the highest percentage of Christians? Also, if education goes against Christian beliefs, why does college attendance encourage students to retain their faith? You can’t provide answers to those questions, because you are not willing to accept what the data say. That is truly unfortunate.

      So the African, South American, and Asian countries are the uneducated ones, are they? I can’t help but notice that these are the countries in which the percentage of Christians is rising. Not surprisingly, the facts are once again against your position. As studies show, Asians are more educated than the rest of the world. If your unscientific idea that uneducated people are more likely to believe in Christianity were true, Christianity would not be on the rise in Asia. Once again, then, no matter how you look at it, the data go against your position. For someone who claims that evidence is so important, you seem to form most of your beliefs against the evidence!

    2. Since Jeff didn’t answer your supposed explanation of orphan genes, Luis, I thought I would. You claim, “Orphan genes evolved in each lineage after the split.” The problem with that “explanation” is that orphan genes appear abruptly, with no apparent homologous genes in organisms that are supposed to resemble the ancestors of those that have the orphan genes. Thus, there is no conceivable pathway for their evolution. Obviously, such genes defy evolution. Indeed, the evolution of any gene is astronomically unlikely, but orphan genes pose an even more insurmountable problem for evolution. Of course, if you are committed to believing in evolution despite the evidence against it, I suppose that doesn’t matter.

  38. With orphan genes you are requiring a lot of ‘design work’ to be done in an extremely short period of time. There are orphan genes in humans that aren’t present in Chimps. Given that the current estimate is that Chimps split from humans around 6-7 million years ago, you begin to see the problem. You have a species that has a small population size and long generation times and you have to search design space for these genes de novo. This just isn’t possible. You never see anything like this in any laboratory experiments. Even Lenski’s E. coli experiments didn’t show de novo gene evolution and there you had more generations and a higher population than the human lineage.

  39. OK, if we didn’t evolve these brains then god must have created them. If that is the case, why would he create people with brains that would reject him? If you use some scripture like 2 Corinth. then I would ask where is the scientific evidence that sin corrupts our brain and grace restores it (or some such thing)?

    Again, EVIDENCE!! If I want to find out if my beliefs are correct, I find scientific evidence for it. If I find it in abundance then I can trust there are correct. If I don’t then I must change them. So far, we have not found any scientific evidence for god’s existence. I know you have all sorts of arguments and indications but no DIRECT evidence for him. Our ancestors had none because they weren’t as evolved as we are. Once we started to gather information and our brains grew, we were able to gather more and more info. We have discovered that there is no deity responsible for nature. We have the laws of nature that started at the big bang. We don’t know what came before yet.

    This is my whole point. I’m not arguing about the number of christians, I’m pointing out that they are in decline. I’m saying “christianity is dying in Europe” and you’re saying “ya, but it’s still majority”. Me: “Yes,but it’s declining”, You: “but it’s still a majority”. But it may not be in 100 years as I have said.

    “So the African, South American, and Asian countries are the uneducated ones, are they? I can’t help but notice that these are the countries in which the percentage of Christians is rising.”

    Thank you for making my point for me. Christianity is rising precisely because they are uneducated. When I meant Asia, I was refering more to Thailand, Singapore, Phillipinnes. Christianity maybe growing in China or Japan only because people are looking for a way to escape an oppresive government system. So they will cling onto something that gives them hope even though it’s not true.

    1. Luis, God did make our brains, and he made them so that we would have free will. If you want to reject the overwhelming evidence for His existence, you can, because He has given you the free will to do that! The scientific evidence that grace restores the brain is in the very study you linked! That study shows religious people have different brains than non-religious people. Clearly, the difference is because of what religion does to a person! Another way to see the evidence is to look at peoples’ changed lives. Those who become Christians often go through a radical transformation in behavior, outlook, etc. That’s evidence for the power of grace.

      You claim, “If I want to find out if my beliefs are correct, I find scientific evidence for it.” However, most of your beliefs go against the evidence, and when I show you that evidence, you ignore it! We have found all sorts of scientific evidence for God’s existence. However, rather than investigating it, you simply ignore it!

      You claim, “We have discovered that there is no deity responsible for nature. We have the laws of nature that started at the big bang.” However, that’s simply not true. The scientific evidence clearly shows that this universe was designed by an Almighty Creator. I have shown you that evidence over and over again, and once again, you ignore it!

      You are right that Christianity is somewhat in decline in Europe and the Americas, but you have studiously avoided answering my question. Once again, you claimed that the Americas and Europe are educated. However, if education is the enemy of Christianity (as you claim), why are these educated countries still majority Christian? Also, why are religious people more likely to retain their faith the more education they have? These two facts demonstrate quite conclusively that your idea is wrong, and you are forced to ignore them.

      In order to try to believe against the facts, you now claim, “When I meant Asia, I was refering more to Thailand, Singapore, Phillipinnes.” However, notice what the article I linked says:

      Shanghai-China, and Singapore were top in maths, with students in Shanghai scoring the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most OECD countries.

      So once again, the facts demonstrate that you are wrong.

      Your last claim shows just how far you will go to ignore the evidence. You say, “Christianity maybe growing in China or Japan only because people are looking for a way to escape an oppresive government system. So they will cling onto something that gives them hope even though it’s not true.” However, you specifically claimed that the more educated people are giving up on Christianity. Now you make up some story about government oppression to attempt to explain away the fact that the evidence shows your belief is false. The fact is that education supports Christianity, as the data I have shown clearly demonstrate.

      By the way, could you please explain how the Japanese government is “oppressive?”

      Once again, for someone who claims evidence is important, most of your beliefs go squarely against it!

  40. “You know our reason is reliable or else we wouldn’t have survived and flourished for as long as we have. “

    I wouldn’t really consider humanity to be “flourishing.” It seems to me that we’re surviving DESPITE all of the war and crime, hate and cruelty, racism and poverty that exist.

    Some of the most horrific acts in history were committed by atheists who followed atheism and evolutionary thinking through to its logical conclusion: meaningless, purposeless life, into nonexistence.

    A lot of youths are taught evolution in high school, a rough emotional time for kids, and end up in attempted suicides, or even successful suicides. But why not?

    Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? These are fundamental questions that every thinking human being ask, and need to answer.

    I pray for you, and hope you will consider critically ALL of the possible answers to those questions, and come to an understanding of the truth.

    Consider: if there is a God, even the slightest smallest, most miniscule chance that there is a god, don’t you think it is probably the most vital and important pursuit to find out if the being in question is a good being or a bad being? You say you are a layman, but that doesn’t mean you should give up the pursuit of truth . It’s an exciting adventure!

    P.S. Dr, Wile,

    Can’t thank you enough for this blog post. I bought Rosaria Butterfield’s book immediately. It’s a wonderful book. It came at the right time for me, speaking on A LOT of points I needed to be spoken to about. I am tempted to buy copies to give out to everyone I know, I love it that much!

    1. Kendall, I am glad that the book spoke to you. That’s what happens when people actually take time to investigate the evidence. It’s unfortunate that some simply won’t do so, even when the evidence is put right in front of them!

  41. I think Kendall nailed it in his last post. Children are having evolution pushed on them at school. There are no religious classes, nothing serious, to provide balance. Kids leave school having been exposed to only one worldview.

    My nephew who has just finished highschool in the UK has never heard of Abraham. He’s never heard the Creation account and knows nothing of God, heaven or hell.

    Obviously the younger generations having gone through the secular school systems are less religious. Expose them to both worldviews and I guarantee it would be business as usual in favour of religion.

  42. Dr. Wile

    “Luis, God did make our brains, and he made them so that we would have free will. If you want to reject the overwhelming evidence for His existence, you can, because He has given you the free will to do that! The scientific evidence that grace restores the brain is in the very study you linked! That study shows religious people have different brains than non-religious people. Clearly, the difference is because of what religion does to a person!”

    What you see as evidence for god, I see as evidence for evolution. My brain is evolving differently fro yours. No need to believe in grace when nature explains it.

    “However, most of your beliefs go against the evidence, and when I show you that evidence, you ignore it! We have found all sorts of scientific evidence for God’s existence. However, rather than investigating it, you simply ignore it!”

    I go against YOUR evidence. A minority evidence that atheists and christians alike have rejected. I can say that you against the mainstream evidence which I have mentioned. It goes both ways.

    “The scientific evidence clearly shows that this universe was designed by an Almighty Creator. I have shown you that evidence over and over again, and once again, you ignore it!”

    Science shows no such thing. You are presupposing god into the beginning of the universe which by the way is starting to be rejected. The big bang is losing it’s credibility.

    “Once again, you claimed that the Americas and Europe are educated. However, if education is the enemy of Christianity (as you claim), why are these educated countries still majority Christian? Also, why are religious people more likely to retain their faith the more education they have? These two facts demonstrate quite conclusively that your idea is wrong, and you are forced to ignore them.”

    A quick search on google will give you lots of info. That’s how I learned about the truth of evolution. You can take a look at Jason’s comment too.

    “So once again, the facts demonstrate that you are wrong.”

    Fine, I was wrong about Singapore but that’s one country out of many in Asia.

    “Once again, for someone who claims evidence is important, most of your beliefs go squarely against it!”

    Pot.Kettle. Black

    Kendall

    “I wouldn’t really consider humanity to be “flourishing.” It seems to me that we’re surviving DESPITE all of the war and crime, hate and cruelty, racism and poverty that exist.”

    We continue to grow in numbers, scientific and medicinal knowledge. Soon we will even transcend humanity itself. Immortality will be found in science not the supernatural.

    “Some of the most horrific acts in history were committed by atheists who followed atheism and evolutionary thinking through to its logical conclusion: meaningless, purposeless life, into nonexistence.”

    Please. Don’t play this game. I can bring up the crusades, the reformation, the Spanish inquisition, the witch trails and all the abuse suffered. Christianity’s
    record isn’t clean. All worldviews have blood on their hands. So let’s not get into a urine match.

    “A lot of youths are taught evolution in high school, a rough emotional time for kids, and end up in attempted suicides, or even successful suicides. But why not?”

    Evidence please. Even if this is true, so what? Evolution is still the truth. Perhaps if religion wasn’t taught anymore, we wouldn’t have grand delusions about ourselves.

    “Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? These are fundamental questions that every thinking human being ask, and need to answer. I pray for you, and hope you will consider critically ALL of the possible answers to those questions, and come to an understanding of the truth.”

    We are cosmic accidents with no purpose and meaning. I don’t subscribe to any of it as some atheists do. I’m an nihilist. I don’t pretend to make up meaning, purpose, value and think it’s real. I might as well believe in god or santa clause. I think atheists only take reality so far and then back up to create their own junk because they can’t accept the reality of what they are. Does this make me happy? No, but I folow it because I’m not afraid to go where reality is.

    “Consider: if there is a God, even the slightest smallest, most miniscule chance that there is a god, don’t you think it is probably the most vital and important pursuit to find out if the being in question is a good being or a bad being? You say you are a layman, but that doesn’t mean you should give up the pursuit of truth . It’s an exciting adventure!”

    I’ve been looking for the existence of god for almost three years. I haven’t found anything reliable to believe in him as the previous posts can attest to.

    1. Luis, I do think you have hit on one of the problems in this discussion. As you say, “What you see as evidence for god [sic], I see as evidence for evolution.” You seem to be so committed to the idea of evolution that you try to warp any evidence into evidence for evolution, when in fact, the evidence doesn’t support evolution at all. Consider, for example, the brain study. You see a study that shows religious people have different brains than nonreligious people, and you think it must be the result of evolution. However, since there is very little evidence for evolution and an enormous amount of evidence against it, that’s not a reasonable explanation. When I look at the study, I see it as indicative of how God changes people. My interpretation is more reasonable because it has supporting evidence. There are lots of examples of people changing in other ways when they become a Christian, and those examples provide corroborating evidence for the fact that God changes people. Also, since there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for God’s existence, God is clearly the more reasonable explanation.

      You say that the evidence I present is merely “my” evidence. That’s part of your problem. You have decided that any evidence presented by someone with whom you disagree is not worth investigating. As a result, you ignore almost all of the evidence in this discussion. This is not “my” evidence. The evidence I present is pure scientific evidence. The fact that you ignore it because you don’t like the source is something called the genetic fallacy. If you want to make reasonable decisions, you should not commit such logical fallacies!

      You claim that I am “presupposing god into the beginning of the universe.” However, as I have told you before, that is demonstrably false. I used to be an atheist. If anything, then, I presupposed the opposite. However, since I am a scientist, I followed the evidence, and the evidence points overwhelmingly to God’s existence. You say that the “big bang is losing it’s credibility.” I agree. However, what is not losing its credibility is that the universe had a beginning. Science is quite clear on this point.

      When I ask you for evidence to back up your claim that education is the enemy of Christianity, you cannot provide me with any. Instead, you say, “A quick search on google [sic] will give you lots of info.” If you had reached this belief because of the evidence, you should be able to present it to me. However, you cannot. This, of course, is because the evidence (which I have already shown you) is on my side, and you are simply forced to ignore it.

      Your admission also demonstrates why you are believing things against the evidence. You say you “learned about the truth of evolution” from the internet. There are a lot of great things on the internet, and there are also a lot of lies. Unless you actually look at both sides, you cannot discern the good stuff from the lies. Your discussion with me demonstrates very clearly that you have not looked at both sides, so it is not surprising that your internet search has directed you away from the evidence.

      I am glad that you have at least admitted that you are wrong about Singapore. Now look at the study and admit that you are wrong about Christianity being on the decline around the world and that it is only on the rise in uneducated nations. The study demonstrates you are wrong about both of those points as well.

      You claim that I am a pot calling the kettle black when I point out that you are ignoring the evidence. However, anyone who reads this discussion can see that is 100% false. In the very few instances where you have tried to offer evidence, I have looked at that evidence and patiently demonstrated why you are wrong. On the other hand, I have presented evidence after evidence that you have simply ignored. I have presented evidence that ERVs are a problem for evolution. You ignored it. I presented evidence that orphan genes are a problem for evolution. You ignored it. I presented evidence that a college education makes a person more likely to retain his or her faith. You ignored it. I presented evidence that DNA similarities are a serious problem for evolution. You ignored it. I presented evidence that Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik are not transitional forms. You ignored it. I presented evidence that the vitamin C pseudogene defies common descent. You ignored it. I presented evidence that chromosome fusion does not support common descent. You ignored it. I presented evidence that homology is a significant problem for common descent. You ignored it. The list goes on and on…

      You say, “I’ve been looking for the existence of god for almost three years. I haven’t found anything reliable to believe in him as the previous posts can attest to.” But as this discussion clearly shows, you haven’t really looked at much evidence. In fact, you spend the majority of your time ignoring evidence. No wonder you haven’t found anything! You haven’t been looking!

  43. Dr. Wile

    “I think Kendall nailed it in his last post. Children are having evolution pushed on them at school. There are no religious classes, nothing serious, to provide balance. Kids leave school having been exposed to only one worldview.

    My nephew who has just finished highschool in the UK has never heard of Abraham. He’s never heard the Creation account and knows nothing of God, heaven or hell.

    Obviously the younger generations having gone through the secular school systems are less religious. Expose them to both worldviews and I guarantee it would be business as usual in favour of religion.”

    Straight from the horse’s mouth. No offense, James. Young people are being taught real world science in school and come to the realization that god is not real. I would still be a theist if it wasn’t for the educating power of the internet. The information age will DESTROY religion. It will be a slow process but in time god will be looked upon like Zues.

    1. Actually, Luis, you seemed to have missed the main point of Jason’s statement:

      “Obviously the younger generations having gone through the secular school systems are less religious. Expose them to both worldviews and I guarantee it would be business as usual in favour of religion.”

      What Jason has described (and you seem to support) is indoctrination. Rather than presenting the evidence and allowing students to decide, the secular school systems are indoctrinating students into just one view. Even with this serious indoctrination, however, Christianity has only declined a little and still represents the majority in the UK. This tells you how robust the evidence for Christianity is. Even when kids are indoctrinated against it, it is still the dominant view! Even secular indoctrination can’t destroy Christianity. Why? Because the evidence in its favor is so overwhelming.

      This, of course, is why Jason makes the obvious point that if the schools bothered to teach both sides (as anyone engaging in a search for the truth should), “it would be business as usual in favour of religion.”

  44. “Some of the most horrific acts in history were committed by atheists who followed atheism and evolutionary thinking through to its logical conclusion: meaningless, purposeless life, into nonexistence.”

    Please. Don’t play this game. I can bring up the crusades, the reformation, the Spanish inquisition, the witch trails and all the abuse suffered. Christianity’s record isn’t clean. All worldviews have blood on their hands. So let’s not get into a urine match.

    Hey Luis,

    My point here was not that atheists have the worst record in history (though that may be true, I don’t know!), it was that, given atheism, you must follow it through to its logical conclusion. That being: a moral neutral.

    Humans have done some terrible acts in the name of God, it’s true. And I think that was, and still is, a result of human pride and power abuse. I think those things were WRONG. I don’t think they represent Christianity, they represent the evilness embedded within the human heart. However, if you follow atheism to it’s conclusion, you can’t say anything was wrong about anything Hitler did, or any other abhorrent acts committed by Christians in the name of God. You can’t make a moral judgement about anything, actually.

  45. Hey Luis. Thanks for taking the time to reply to me the other day. I’m sure you’re quite busy reading all the mountains of evidence that Dr. Wile has given you investigate. Or maybe not, heh.

    To start with, let me say I think you are correct in thinking that nihilism is the proper logical conclusion of atheism. If God does not exist, life has no meaning, purpose, or value. We’re all going to die one day, and so will the whole human race. If scientists are to be believed, the whole universe will one day “die”, spreading into an infinite void as heat death kicks in. We are doomed people in a doomed world, and nothing we do can change that. The human situation without God is bleak indeed.

    And yet, even given the horrific implications of nihilism, you seem determined to hold onto it. Luis, that should not be so. Even if the evidence for God’s existence was miniscule (and it certainly is not, as Dr. Wile has shown you), you should be grasping at that straw for dear life. I think part of you knows that, because while you claim to be a nihilist, you don’t act like one. For someone who believes there’s no meaning in the universe, you attribute a lot of meaning to reason and scientific evidence. For someone who thinks there’s no purpose to life, you seem awfully intent on knowing the truth about reality. And for someone who thinks nothing has any moral value, your insistence that Christianity has just as much blood on its hands as atheism is shockingly inconsistent.

    To Jeff:
    Thanks for the compliment on my last post. I put a lot of thought into that one, and it’s always great to get some validation. God Bless!

    To Dr. Wile:
    Like Kendall, I’ve also been reading Mrs. Butterfield’s book, and it is truly an amazing story! Thanks so much for bringing this incredible woman’s book to my attention. Every Christian who’s unsure about how to treat gay and lesbian individuals ought to read it.

  46. Keith

    “And yet, even given the horrific implications of nihilism, you seem determined to hold onto it. Luis, that should not be so. Even if the evidence for God’s existence was miniscule (and it certainly is not, as Dr. Wile has shown you), you should be grasping at that straw for dear life. I think part of you knows that, because while you claim to be a nihilist, you don’t act like one. For someone who believes there’s no meaning in the universe, you attribute a lot of meaning to reason and scientific evidence. For someone who thinks there’s no purpose to life, you seem awfully intent on knowing the truth about reality. And for someone who thinks nothing has any moral value, your insistence that Christianity has just as much blood on its hands as atheism is shockingly inconsistent.”

    I am after reality not what makes me feel comfortable. I tnink atheists only go so far and when they see what relaity is really like, they back away and create their own reality. I can’t do that and be honest with myself because I know that they are all constructs on my own creation. But I have to because my fear of death is greater than my disenchantment with life. I carry on pretending these things are real in order to survive but on the indside, I know it’s not real. I could go back to theism but that wouldn’t do much good either because I know that’s not real. Either way, I have to hold onto an illussion.

    I don’t know how long I can hold onto the illussion though.

    1. Luis, I don’t make excuses for the data. That’s your speciality. Remember, you are the one who tried to make an excuse for the rise in Christianity taking place in China and Japan as being the result of “oppressive” governments. That reminds me – you never answered my question about how the Japanese government is “oppressive.”

      The website you give is a good one, and not surprisingly, it supports my position. For example, one of the books on the list is one that I have read – Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. Here is a quote from that book:

      One recent study, for instance, using some of the best longitudinal data available, has shown that it is not those who attend college but in fact those who do not attend college who are the most likely to experience declines in religious service attendance, self-reported importance of religion, and religious affiliation. Another showed that among recently surveyed college students, 2.7 times more report that their religious beliefs have strengthened during their college experience than say their beliefs have weakened. (pp. 248-249, emphasis theirs)

      The book shows quite clearly that education is not the enemy of religion – it supports religion. This, of course, is the exact opposite of what you have been stating, and you have yet to provide a single piece of evidence to support your claim.

      The other books talk about various problems in the church, which are all real. Some of them discuss how many young Christians don’t understand their faith. Some discuss that college professors are hostile to faith. One discusses the slight decline of faith in the U.S., but it also shows that Christianity still is believed by the majority. This is consistent with the Pew research, which you called “dubious,” and it shows that even in the “educated Americas,” as you call them, most people still believe in Christianity. Once again, then, education is not the enemy of Christianity – it supports Christianity.

      Now…some of the books do discuss the fact that young people leave the church. However, other books talk about how this is a typical cycle. For the Gallup Poll mentioned, for example, we learn:

      …69% percent of 13- to 15-year-olds report being members of a church or synagogue, compared to 59% of 16- to 17-year-olds, 60% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80% of those aged 75 and older.

      Note, then, that while youth do tend to leave the church, they tend to come back when they are older and more educated. Also, these books don’t even touch on the many atheists (such as the one in the original post) who come to Christianity. In the end, then, this website supports my case and weakens yours even further!

  47. Luis,

    Your tale seems an awful lot like mine. Scientific atheism usually does devolve into nihilism. I pray that you find your way out of that morass. One way to find your way out is to go to church. I’m guessing that when you lost your faith you weren’t an active member of your faith community. It sounds like you found a couple of webpages (like talkorigins), read them, and let them destroy your faith. On your own you were no match for them, when in reality, they are fairly easy to debunk if you know what to look for. If you want to live a fulfilling life with meaning, join a church, learn the faith, and stop tormenting yourself. You are chasing ‘reality’ like an idol. In fact, your chasing of ‘reality’ has turned out to be an ouroboros and eaten itself, because a nihilist can’t really believe in reality.

  48. Jeff

    That’s pretty much what happened to me. I kept hearing on TV that evolution was a fact and I always thought it was just a “theory” by atheists who didn’t want to belive in god. I decided to look on the internet for this and I was shocked by all the evidence for it (I know Dr. Wile disagrees with me on this). I began to search nervously for other reasons to hold on to my faith and prove that god was real. I began to find arguments and refutations against everything that I trusted for his existence. Creation, Big Bang, Biology, miracles, prayer, shroud of turin, archeology, reliability of the bible, morality and the problem of evil. All had counter evidence against it. I began to doubt and stopped attending church. My family hasn’t been there in months. I finally couldn’t believe anymore and this is why I NEED some kind of proof without any counter evidence. There is none.

    1. Luis, if you are really looking for evidence, it is all over the place. You could start by reading the links I have given you. The scientific evidence clearly points to the existence of God, and there is an enormous amount of evidence for Christianity. You keep asking for proof without any counter evidence, but that is impossible. I can give counter evidence against anything. Indeed, there is counter evidence against the Theory of Relativity, which is one of the most well-confirmed theories in modern science. That counter evidence is incredibly weak, however, and that’s the key. When a conclusion is true, the evidence is strong and the counter evidence is weak. That’s what I see with Christianity – incredibly strong evidence and incredibly weak counter evidence.

  49. Luis,

    If I may offer a suggestion. A radio program that has been particularly helpful to me has been Issues, etc. Go to their website (http://www.issuesetc.org) and you can search for past programs. So take an issue that has been a problem for you (such as Miracles or Problem of Evil) and listen to the program on it, because they probably have one. Give it a chance and see if it is helpful for you.

  50. Typically christians use the bible as the revealed word of god. If the bible is found to be unreliable then what evidence do you have that god exists? There are several points that can be shown why the bible is unreliable.

    1) The accounts differ because they are from different viewpoints. Which points of the authors are right? One says two woman at the tomb, another says one woman for example. How do you judge these viewpoints? They can be messy to piece together a bigger picture. Do we even know that were eyewitness accounts?

    2) The gospels were written 30 years after the event. Do you really think that the apostles remembered every detail, every word and every action that they wrote? Even in an oral culture, it’s not probable that one can remember everything correctly.

    3) The scribes took some liberty to change, add, delete or smooth the narratives. The example of John 8 about the Woman caught in adultery likely never happened but it is treated as if if did. How can they be trusted as accurate?

    4) There have been several translations over the years which could lose some of the original meaning of the texts.

    5) The early church decided which gospels to add or not. Which ones are correct? Why not the gospel of Thomas? The church could have left some out to keep the population ignorant.

    6) We don’t have the oroiginal records. We just hav copies of copies of copies. How do we know what we have is what they even wrote? What if the stories were changed from the time of the events to the original records to the oldest copy we have?

    7) No other accounts from aroung that time has claimed anyhting in the gospel accounts happened. No one reports Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, appearing to 500 people, the graves being emptied out, storms being calmed, NOTHING. Of course the standard answer to that would that the Romans didn’t care about this man or the village he came from so why bother writing about it. Or you could say that they were poor peasants and couldn’t afford to write everything down. Or yoo could say that these records may nto have been found yet because we don’t have all the ancient world excavated.

    Combine all these together and no rational person can put any trust in the bible, at least not enough to dictate their lives over.

    1. Luis, not surprisingly, most of your points aren’t even true. For the few truths that are contained in your points, there are strong arguments to indicate that they are not real problems. Please do not do what you normally do and simply ignore those arguments. Please take the time to actually investigate them.

      1) All the viewpoints are correct, they are just given by different people. As a result, they concentrate on different things. The fact that they differ in some details is very indicative that they are eyewitness events, because eyewitness accounts do differ greatly in the details. Excellent discussions of this issue can be found here, here, here, and here.

      2) The documents called the gospels were written many years after the events. That doesn’t mean the events themselves were written down then. I am a writer, and I write things down as I learn them. This is, in fact, one reason I blog. Then, when I see a need to actually collect those writings, I summarize them, producing a book. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is how the gospel writers did things. They collected individual stories that had been written or told by eyewitnesses shortly after the events, eventually producing a much larger document. Of course, that scenario isn’t even necessary. The gospels don’t contain every detail, every word, and every action of Jesus. They contain the “high points.” I can still remember the details from various “high points” of my high school years. Also, you are ignoring the fact that the Bible was inspired by God. If the writers didn’t remember something, I have no problem with the idea that God would improve their memories for the purposes of writing a correct account. Finally, you have the important fact that the gospels were accepted by the early church fathers, who hand first- or second-hand knowledge of the events themselves.

      3) The scribes certainly did not take liberty to change, add, and delete from the narratives! This is a common assertion, but it goes against nearly everything we know about the history of the Bible. The story of the woman at the well is an excellent example of this. See here, here, and here.

      4) There is no doubt that translation can degrade the meaning of any text. However, that’s why we have theologians who study the original languages, the early manuscripts, etc. That’s also why it is helpful to compare several different translations. The fact that translation is difficult should not affect how one views the Bible. It should only affect how one studies it!

      5) Once again, this assertion is simply wrong. The church did not decide on which gospels to keep. There were many independent church fathers who kept their own lists of what they believed were inspired works. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that these lists were developed independently, there were few disagreements among them, and the four gospels were on the earliest lists. In fact, there was never any serious dispute about the gospels – only a few of the other books. When the church councils at Hippo Regius (AD 393) and Carthage (AD 397) codified the canon, they didn’t make a new list. They simply accepted the list that had been developed by several independent church fathers. Excellent discussions of this can be found here, here, and here.

      6) We don’t have the original manuscripts, but we know that what we have are faithful copies of those originals. Why? Because we have multiple, independent copies that all agree with one another, and some of those copies were made very shortly after the original was penned. When you have multiple independent copies that agree with one another, you know that they are faithful to the original or all made exactly the same changes. When the time between the original and copies is short (as is the case with the Bible), the second option becomes incredibly unlikely. There are excellent discussions of this here, here, here, and here.

      7) This statement is also false. There are several nonBiblical sources that confirm events that are reported in Scripture. Note how this source sums up all this evidence:

      Now think about this reconstruction for a minute. This is a TON of information about the man we know as Jesus and all of it comes from witnesses who were HOSTILE to the truth claims of Christianity! And from ANCIENT sources, none the less! Now let’s go back to what we know about the time in which Jesus lived and the climate in which historians and theologians were writing. Remember that:

      1. There are amazingly few manuscripts of ANY text written during Jesus’ time
      2. Historians of this period wrote amazingly little about religious figures anyway
      3. Jesus was active for an amazingly short period of time (just three years)
      4. Jesus ministered in an amazingly remote corner of the Roman Empire

      The key word here in “AMAZING”! it is amazing that there is ANY extra-Biblical information about Jesus at all, let alone this MUCH information about Him. That’s why so many of us who have come to trust that Jesus really did live and really was who He said He was, find that the hostile historical witness is a powerful evidence of the truth of the Bible.

      So as you can see, most of the reasons you don’t trust the Bible aren’t even true. For the few that contain some truth, there are strong arguments to indicate that they are not reasons to doubt the Bible. Once again, please don’t do what you have done throughout this discussion and ignore this evidence. Take some time to read what I have linked so you can see that most of what you have learned from the internet is false!

      You ask, “If the bible [sic] is found to be unreliable then what evidence do you have that god exists?” The evidence shows the Bible to be incredibly reliable. However, even without the Bible, it is very clear that God exists. See here, here, here, and here for starters.

    1. Kendall, this hypothesis is trying to explain the origin of life, not the origin of the universe. At first glance, life seems to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, because it takes unordered molecules and causes them to be ordered in a very refined way. However, as I have written previously (here and here), this isn’t really a violation of the Second Law.

      What this hypothesis is trying to explain is why life is so good at disordering the surroundings while increasing its own order. In the end, he thinks there is some sympathetic response between molecules and the energy sources that exist. This allows the universe to have a “driving force” towards life. That’s important for an atheist, because the origin of life is a complete enigma to the atheist. As Simon Conway Morris (who wants to believe in a naturalistic origin of life scenario) says:

      Francis Crick can write ‘An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle’…More than two decades on from Crick’s ruminations, however, it still remains the case that the notion of an infinitesimally unlikely series of chemical reactions – that from our perspective can be described only as a ‘near miracle’…remains the unbidden and silent observer at much of the discussion of how life originated. Yet, as Iris Fry (note 85) reminds us, such terminology is effectively that of creationism. Put this way, nearly everyone will ask that the now unwelcome guest should vanish through the adjacent wall…[Simon Conway Morris, Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, Cambridge University Press 2003, p. 67]

      So given that life looks like a miracle (which it clearly is), there needs to be some sort of driving force to produce it. To an atheist, it can’t be God, so it has to be something else. For this hypothesis, it’s some mystical resonance between molecules and energy sources.

  51. I would advise not to put confidence in the “god of the gaps” fallacy. Once we figure out how life originated, it will be one less thing for god to do. Science keeps working on it rather than just positing “god did it”. That’s a well known science stopper.

    1. Luis, saying “God did it” is not a science stopper. In fact, it is a science promoter. For example, Dr. Russell Humphreys believes that God created the planets. He hypothesized about the process by which God created them, and as a result, he produced the only working model of planetary magnetic fields (see here, here, and here). In the case of planetary magnetic fields, then, “God did it” was a catalyst for science.

      In fact, as atheist philosopher Dr. Bradley Monton points out, the refusal to consider “God did it” is actually a science stopper. Anytime you arbitrarily rule out a possibility, you are harming science, not promoting it.

  52. I’ve read that Humphrey’s work is dubious as eveidenced by the commenst by Kevin N. in the comments section.

    That aside, I think you may be missing my point. Humphrey’s work still found a natural explaination for fields. He didn’t find anything supernatural about it. The same thing will be found for the origin of life. Wether one starts their science with or without god, the end result will be a natural one.

    “This allows the universe to have a “driving force” towards life.”

    Why does this have to be bad for theism? After all, why does the universe need that “driving force” toward life? Perhaps the universe was front loaded wwith this property which could point to god.

    Off topic, I understand that Ken Miller made the prediction that the the bacterial flagellum evolved from the type III secretion system. I thought an artcile came out a while back stating that they found it was the other way, the type III evolved from the flagellum. Is this true and if so does this and credibilty to irreducible complexity? I though Miller debunked Behe’s work.

    1. Luis, Humphreys work is not dubious. In fact, it is the only model of planetary magnetic fields that works. Not only was it able to predict the magnetic fields of Neptune and Uranus before they were measured, it also explains why the moon and Mars once had magnetic fields and lost them, how magnetic reversals can happen quickly, and why Mercury’s magnetic field has decayed substantially since 1975. No other model of magnetic fields can do any of that. So…if you want to call the only working model of planetary magnetic fields “dubious,” you are doing so against the dictates of science. My responses to Kevin N.’s comments demonstrate this quite clearly.

      You are the one missing the point. You claimed that “God did it” is a science stopper. Humphreys demonstrates that is false. In fact, had Humphreys not assume “God did it” when it came to the creation of planets, we wouldn’t have a working model of planetary magnetic fields. In addition, Humphreys’s model is not natural. It is based on the assumption that God supernaturally created planets by starting with a sphere of water and supernaturally transmuting the water molecules into the constituents of the planets.

      I don’t think a driving force towards life is bad for theism. It is simply not supported by any evidence. The fact that God created life is supported by many lines of evidence, so it is a much more scientifically reasonable explanation for the origin of life.

      Like most of what you seem to have learned on the internet, Luis, the idea that Miller debunked Behe’s work is utterly false. In fact, Behe debunked Miller. And yes, Miller’s desperate attempt to explain the bacterial flagellum has been demonstrated to be wrong. The type III secretory system is the result of loss-of-function mutations in the flagellum. Speaking of loss-of-function mutations, Behe’s work has been supported strongly by the longest-running evolution experiment. In his well-known peer-reviewed paper, Behe showed that adaptive mutations generally involve a loss of function, not an increase of function as evolution requires. In addition, he made a prediction about the citrate-digesting bacteria that were produced in Lenski’s longest-running evolution experiment. His prediction was quite the opposite of the evolutionist prediction, and it involved a mutation that produced a loss of function. Behe’s prediction was confirmed and the evolutionist prediction was falsified in a subsequent experimental analysis.

      Once again, this is why “God did it” is not a science stopper. In fact, excluding the possibility that “God did it” is the science stopper.

  53. “In addition, Humphreys’s model is not natural. It is based on the assumption that God supernaturally created planets by starting with a sphere of water and supernaturally transmuting the water molecules into the constituents of the planets.”

    This is exactly why I don’t trust YEC science. How did the water get into space that formed the sphere? How did the water form the sphere if the gravity of the sun wasn’t around until the fourth day? How did god transmute the water molecules? How do you even test for that? You might as well call alchemy science.

    1. Luis, I don’t think you understand how science works. Whether or not you like the assumptions of a model is irrelevant from a scientific point of view. The only relevant issue is how well the model compares to the data. Quantum mechanics, for example, makes all sorts of weird assumptions that make no sense at all. If I were given the option, I would say that the assumptions are clearly wrong. However, it is a good model of how the world works at the atomic level because it compares so favorably to the data. Thus, even though I don’t like its assumptions, I have to believe they are true, because their predictions line up so favorably to the data. The same thing applies to Humphreys’s model of planetary magnetic fields. Whether or not you like his assumptions, you have to admit that it is a reasonable model, since it compares so favorably to the data. Now, if you (or someone else) can come up with a model that is as (or more) successful when compared to the data, then you can argue that you have a superior model. Until that time, however, you have no scientific reason to reject Humphreys’s model. You might have some religious objection to it, but you cannot have a scientific objection to it, since it is the best model out there.

      You ask, “How do you even test for that?” The answer is simple: You see what the proposed process implies for observable data. If the proposed process produces predictions that are in line with the data, then the proposed process is feasible scientifically. This is why alchemy is not science. It’s predictions don’t line up with the data at all. However, Humphreys’s model is the only model that lines up with the data. As a result, it is scientific, regardless of what you think of its assumptions.

      I agree that the Ken Ham method of “How do you know? Were you there?” is silly. Science can figure out all sorts of things without being there. For example, science can provide very strong evidence that God created life, even though no one was there to observe it. Once again, its all about how the predictions line up with the data, and the assumption that God made life produces predictions that have been confirmed by the data.

  54. Perhaps, you could try the Ken Ham method and ask “How do you know? Were you there?”. I really hope he uses this on Bill Nye in their debate. That would be classic.

  55. It’s not so much about the model fitting the data. It’s about your assumptions as you point out. How do you know or how can you test that god did this supernaturally 6000 years ago? It could very well have been matter and energy alone through the power of natural laws. We have scientifically verified matter, energy and natural laws exist but no god. Isn’t it more reasonable to say that this model was started by the things we have detected as opposed to the things we haven’t?

    We can hypothesis a model that a fire broke out. The data can fit that model and suggest that there was a fire that happened here. Would we say that god must have started that fire or the laws of nature? If we presume that god started this fire, even through the laws of nature, then we are right back to believing in mythology. Thor created the lightning bolt, not the laws of nature. God created the magnetic fields, not the laws of nature.

    How would you propse a model to test if god created the magnetic fields supernaturally rather than the laws of nature doing it? I would like know how we can test Humphrey’s assumption. I know the laws could have done it because we have evidence for them.

    1. Luis, I have told you how we test this. We make predictions based on the assumptions. If those predictions are confirmed by the data, the assumptions are reasonable. We have done that, and the predictions line up quite nicely with the data. That’s how science is done. It’s the reason we believe in quantum mechanics, despite the fact that we don’t like its assumptions.

      In your fire analogy, to test the idea that God created the fire, you would need to make a prediction about the fire using that assumption. If that prediction turned out to be true, it would be evidence that God started the fire. Of course, if another proposed mechanism by which the fire started produced the same prediction, then you wouldn’t have any evidence to distinguish the two mechanisms. Thus, you need to make a prediction that is specific to your mechanism. For example, you might predict that the fire doesn’t need fuel, because it’s supernatural. If the fire didn’t consume any fuel, that would be evidence that it was started by God. Once again, this is the way science works. You make predictions based on your proposed mechanism. If the predictions are confirmed by the data, your proposed mechanism is scientifically feasible. This is why Humphreys’s model for planetary magnetic fields is scientifically reasonable, regardless of your religious objections to it. The fact is that his predictions are specific to his proposed mechanism, and they are confirmed by the data.

      Yes, we have scientifically verified that matter, energy, and natural laws exist. However, we have not verified that they can produce what we see around us. Indeed, the models that are developed based on that assumption are hopelessly inconsistent with the data.

      So we are left with the following situations:

      (1) The assumption that God produced what we see, which leads to predictions that are confirmed by the data.

      (2) The assumption that matter, energy and natural laws produced what we see, which leads to predictions that have been falsified by the data.

      The scientifically reasonable position, then, is (1). You can choose to believe (2) if you wish, but you do so against the dictates of science.

    1. Once again, Luis, your interpretation of the find is incorrect. In fact, this find demonstrates the accuracy of the Biblical account, as most serious archaeological research does. I agree that the tablet has a lot of similarities with Noah’s account in the Old Testament, and that should be a real problem for anyone who wants to believe that the Global Flood was a myth! After all, such stories didn’t travel very well in ancient times, and yet all sorts of unconnected cultures have an account of a Global Flood, and they have very similar details. How, exactly, did all these cultures just randomly come up with such similar “myths”? Obviously, they did not. They all passed down the historical event in their own way, and over time, some of the details got changed to fit the specific needs of the culture.

      So the real question, then, is which account is the most accurate? While some accounts might have been written down before the account in the Bible, it’s the Biblical one that has the most scientific evidence to support it. For example, it mentions the fountains of the great deep opening in order to initiate the Flood, for which there is strong evidence. In addition, the Biblical one describes the kind of vessel that could actually survive in rough seas.

      I do love the fact that you keep changing the subject when you can’t defend your position. Doesn’t it get tiring to keep flailing around trying to refute Christianity when the majority of the evidence points to its validity?

  56. Sorry, science has long discredited a global flood. Even some christians don’t believe that anymore. Without that evidence, all you have is one myth account vs another. It stands to reason that the Jews copied the earlier account from another culture. They didn’t want to be left out and so created their own god, their own creation and flood stories by copying others. It may be that something happened as evidenced by all the accounts but it doesn’t mean it was the jewsish way of things. They probably did that with the Exodus because there is no evidence for the event either. I think judaism is as much a sham as christianity is.

    It’s not so much that I keep changing the subject than it is to point out all the things wrong with christianity in such a short amount of time and space.

    You keep citing creationist sites which I don’t trust. I don’t know why you keep doing that. Show me the mainstream science supporting the things you claim and I will be happy to believe again.

    1. Once again, Luis, you couldn’t be more incorrect. Science supports a Global Flood, and items like the Mesopotamian tablet simply confirm that it actually happened. You can ignore the evidence all you want, but you are only demonstrating that your objections to Christianity aren’t rational.

      By the way, you say that “Even some christians [sic] don’t believe that anymore.” However, earlier, you claimed that people who didn’t believe in the literal account of Genesis aren’t really Christians. Which is it? Are they Christians or aren’t they? I agree that some Christians don’t believe in a global Flood, but that’s probably because most of them haven’t looked at the evidence with a really open mind, as the evidence is overwhelming.

      It actually doesn’t stand to reason that the Jews copied the earlier account from another culture. The Flood account in the Bible is the one that has the most evidence to support it. As I demonstrated previously (and you ignored), there is evidence for the fountains of the deep starting the Flood, as mentioned in the Bible. In addition, the Biblical account describes an ark that would actually be able to survive rough seas. So in the end, we have many historical accounts of a global Flood, demonstrating that it actually happened. The Bible’s account is the most scientifically accurate, so it stands to reason that it is the correct one.

      Yes, you do keep changing the subject. Remember, this all started with you claiming evolution has disproved the Bible. I showed you all sorts of evidence that shows this isn’t true, and you ignored it and changed the subject, because you couldn’t defend your position. You moved on to try to show things that are wrong with the Bible. I showed you how most of those objections were wrong, and what little truth was in those objections did not discredit the Bible. Once again, you ignored it and changed the subject, because you couldn’t defend your position. You then moved on to claim that higher education reduces a person’s faith in Christianity. I showed you the evidence that clearly demonstrates the opposite, and you ignored it and changed the subject, because you couldn’t defend your position. You then tried to claim that “God did it” is a science-stopper. I showed you that it wasn’t, so you ignored it and once again changed the subject, because you couldn’t defend your position. This seems to be a pattern for you – pose a terrible argument against Christianity, and when you are shown how terrible that argument is, ignore the evidence and bring up another terrible argument.

      I keep citing creationist sources because I want you to see the evidence. If you ignore that evidence, you’re committing the logical fallacy known as the genetic fallacy. It once again demonstrates that the evidence isn’t keeping you from Christianity. That makes me wonder what is really keeping you from seeing the reality of the Christian faith!

  57. “How do you explain something like ERV’s for example. That is powerful evidence.”

    Luis.. You have a lot of rhetoric which I don’t need to respond to but I did want to respond to this. This WAS powerful evidence – but only when ERVs were assumed to be non random and non functional. From my readings this is no longer a given.

  58. My apologies. I see now that Dr Wiles had already addressed you on the subject of ERvs

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