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August 01, 2008

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The new atheists may have a bad attitude about religion. But are they wrong? That's the question.

This constant complaining about their attitude to me is like an echo chamber. I hear this constantly. And the layman might assume they've been answered due to all the negativity that has been directed towards them. What the layman probably hasn't heard is actual rebuttals.

The new atheists are tough on religion. No question. But being tough and having a bad attitude about religion is only wrong if religion doesn't deserve the criticisms they dish out. Why is it that all I ever find in response to the new atheists is complaining about their attitude and presentation? And not just from Christians. From liberals as well. If you assert that religion is destructive you're mean spirited. You're "noisy and noxious," like locusts from the east, soon to be forgotten supposedly. Are they wrong?

Jon - I think it is important to note that attitude and presentation are key ingredients in making a good case for any intellectual argument. If you listen to any of the lectures provided at STR (Berkley Lectures are excellent) you will see that yuor question "are they wrong?" is readily answered. The whole point of the post above is that the new atheists are not employing any new ideas in this debate. You failed to mention that the post also points the finger at lazy minded religious people who claim an interest in Christian morality, but who are easily swayed by this old, sneering rhetoric.

It is legitimate to complain that sneering does not an argument make. This year, Bill Maher will put out an interesting hit piece called "Religulous." I have never seen Maher do a serious and respectful discussion on religion because he believes it is a mental disorder. The problem is that agnostic/athiest thinkers like Maher do not offer any *new* philosophical arguments - they just caricaturize and smirk their way to the finish line.

I can't see any reason why it is wrong to call this what it is and argue against it. I am refreshed to see Christian intellectual thinking coming back to the forefront via the work here at STR, and others like Ravi Zacharias, JP Moreland and Nancy Pearcey. As JP puts it so well: Let us Christians Love our God with all our mind. Sneering is for lazy people.

Amy,

Another excellent post. I too used to be one of those "lazy minds". When I would hear the sneers of the atheist, my response was generally a sneer back. Most childish, actually.

The simple truth is that everything we need to know lies within the pages of God's holy word to us.

God clearly tells us that we need to build our "house" on the rock. We all know that. But..few do!

Even as I write these words, I can hear the sneer of many "Christians".

I am concerned about Christ's warning, to "Christians" that many of them will come to the end expecting to gain entrance into heaven, and Christ replies, "Who are you? I don't know you."

Sadly, I also believe that the seeker friendly, pop psychology mentality, in a great number of our churches, is but adding to the problem.

Satan is a deadly and sneaky foe! We must put on the armor of Christ.

Steve, you bring up another point I wanted to touch on. That is this claim that the arguments are "old." My response? So what? In my view Christians have been ignoring good arguments for centuries. This doesn't mean the arguments aren't any good. And it's not as if Christian arguments are new. N.T. Wright is nothing but Josh McDowell in a better suit. It's all John Warwick Montgomery and Francis Shaeffer warmed over. So what? This doesn't make Craig, Moreland, Zacharias, and Wright wrong. The arguments need to be addressed on the merits, not on their age.

I'm not saying that nothing of substance has been said in reply. What I am saying though is I probably see at least a 10:1 ratio of complaining about the style vs addressing the substance. And I'm monitoring apologetic websites, like STR, not places where you expect to see non-intellectual replies.

Like I said, the new atheists are harsh. But harsh is only wrong if the harshness is not deserved. Why do we spend so much more time criticising them for being harsh as opposed to criticizing the reasons for their views which justify their harshness?

It is also worth noting their attitude is actually required to move from atheist to antitheist. Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, et al. must take on an aggressive emotional stance that is necessarily negative in order to stamp out religion.

They are not interested in “believe whatever you want” and “live and let live,” they are hell bent on eliminating religion by assigning to it a false proportion of the evil perpetrated throughout history. For instance, they promulgate historical revisionist claims of millions of witches being burnt or point to individual evils such as childhood cancer as proof for their specious arguments while ignoring the fact that Stalin, Hitler, and Mao (all antitheists) slaughtered tens of millions of innocent countrymen. They additionally ignore the moral good the west (being grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition) has brought about in the world – the formation of hospitals, the development of science, abolition, etc.

Are they wrong? Yes. Now all they need is more power to realize their dream. Are they willing to slaughter innocent countrymen? I don’t know, but their attitude sure seems to suggest that they, if heads of state, would not tolerate private worship. They are interested in taking world secularism to the next level by making it intolerant of any religion. Since the religious impulse is deeply ensconced in human nature, they, by their new stance, deny their humanity and desire others follow them into the gutter.

I find it interesting that ‘new atheists’ don’t even use the real difficult arguments that have been around for so long.

Father Thomas D. Williams, author of Greater Than You Think, said the best anti-God arguments are the classics — the ones that thoughtful people have wrestled with for millennia. I happen to agree.

Debating new atheists should be like shooting fish in a barrel, but the emotions can run high. This is never good for the Believer.

Amy, I think you find Wilberforce's words comforting in part because he's merely confirming what we already know to be true from some of the best wisdom literature in the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9-11. (see link:
http://www.studylight.org/desk/?query=ec+1:9&t=nas&st=1&new=1&sr=1&sc=1&l=en )

I love this passage for its reminder that life on this planet may look, smell, sound, taste, and feel different from one epoch to the next, but that it will always be encased in a blanket of our own sin nature. Therefore, the words and attitudes of the scoffers can be recognized, shown to have been done before, and then refuted and not feared.

And Jon, I understand that you disagree with the basic Christian beliefs, but what alternative belief or argument to refute the Christian beliefs are you offering? You're upset that we're upset? Isn't this simply proving the point of Amy's post?

Agreed Kevin. I listened to a Point of Inquiry podcast where Victor Stengel rehashed Paley's arguments and then dismantled them. He did not, for reasons unknown to modern theists, deal with current design arguments in books by Behe, Dembski, Berlinski, etc.

I have to conclude he is either ignorant of current literature on the topic or unable to assail their arguments. Either option indicates lack of scholarship.

Jeremy, I'm not upset. And I have plenty of arguments that I can offer to refute Christian claims. But that's not my point here. I'm just saying, why is it that we see so much focus on whether or not the new atheists are "mean" and so little on the substance of their claims?

Mike has offered a couple. Supposedly they offer revisionist history, ignore the good that has resulted from Christian influences, ignore the murders of Stalin, Mao, etc. These are vague, unsubstantiated claims, Mike. Why not get away from the fallacious emotional claims and attempt to justify some of these assertions. That's what I think we need more of.

Say Jon, yes I'm calling you out, just curious, would you provide us info on your top and best arguments you use to refute the Christian worldview? Don't be shy, let's see what you have. Give us your best shot.


"why is it that we see so much focus on whether or not the new atheists are "mean" and so little on the substance of their claims?"

This argument brought forward several times now in this comment thread is a blatant red herring (and a sweeping generalization "all i see is...". Maybe you see this, but you saying it doesn't make it so.

Let's stick to the content and context of the original post. The very first words of this post are informing us about a new lecture by Greg K. which purports to address this very thing (style vs substance in the "new" atheist rhetoric).

By my last check - this lecture (and pdf notes) costs a whopping $3.99 at the STR store. I would suggest that Jon and David Porter simply have a listen and then practice what they preach: review the lecture based on the substance of the argument.

Let's see if we can put your claim to the test here and find out if this new lecture is nothing more than complaints against style, or is it an actual answer and refutation to argument?

>>I'm just saying, why is it that we see so much focus on whether or not the new atheists are "mean" and so little on the substance of their claims?

Jon, this is one little blog post! There are many more blog posts here responding to all sorts of claims.

The very point of Greg's lecture is to analyze some specific arguments made by certain atheists and then distill them down to the core claims. Greg notes that after you remove the rhetoric, there is much less there than what at first appears to be there. But then he does respond to what is there.

If all we ever said was that atheists were mean, you'd be right. But that's simply not the case here.

“Sensing opposition within the Communist Party leadership, Stalin used the December 1934 assassination of his heir-apparent Sergei Kirov (probably not arranged by Stalin himself, as once thought) as the excuse to launch the Great Purge of 1936–1938. This included the “Moscow Trials” that condemned his rivals of the 1920s, and the secret execution or imprisonment of one to two million members of the Soviet bureaucracy, intelligentsia, and military leadership.”

“Stalin took the victory of 1945 as vindication of his command economy, and intensified his dictatorial control instead of relaxing it as his subjects had hoped. He continued to conduct purges, particularly against ethnic minorities, foreign influences, and Jewish cultural figures. Possible further purges were cut short by his death of a stroke on 5 March 1953.”

“By most accounts, Stalin was a man of extraordinary evil. Adept at behind-the-scenes intrigue, he was implacably vindictive toward anyone who had ever disagreed with him or outshone him, save Lenin. Foreign leaders and diplomats who dealt with Stalin found him personally charming as well as shrewd, though he enjoyed humiliating his own loyal entourage. In retrospect, his paranoid tendencies are clear, but this is an occupational disease of dictators.”

“Stalin's model of government and economy was copied in China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and Cuba.”


REF: Robert V. Daniels "Stalin, Joseph" The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World, 2e. Joel Krieger, ed. Oxford University Press Inc. 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Los Angeles Public Library. 1 August 2008

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REF: Wikipedia

Stalin launched a command economy in the Soviet Union replacing the New Economic Policy of the 1920s with Five-Year Plans in 1928 and at roughly the same time, forced rapid industrialization of the largely rural country and collective farming by confiscating the lands of farmers. He derogatorily referred to farmers who refused his reforms as "kulaks", a class of rich peasant which had in actual fact been wiped out by World War One; millions were killed, exiled to Siberia, or died of starvation after their land, homes, meager possessions, and ability to earn an existence from the land were taken to fulfill Stalin's vision of massive "factory farms"[4]. [The Black Book of Communism]
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Those within and without China agree that under Mao’s leadership over 40 million died as a result of his “programs.” Check the Oxford Dictionary of Political Biographies and World History and Wikipedia. I’m going to assume you are not contesting Hitler since you did not mention it, but we can add another 6 or 7 million into the mix.

Jon said, “These are vague, unsubstantiated claims, Mike.”

Really?!?! I guess Jon knows better than the historians who review the primary source documentation and have done the appropriate research so their writings can appear in the Oxford Desk Reference series and other encyclopedias.

Please don’t say, after I’ve quoted sources, that this is an appeal to authority. The fact is, that all but a handful of scholars must appeal to the work done by others. I’m gonna go with the Oxford reference on this one; how ‘bout you Jon?

Well, I did some googling and I have to admit that I do find many substantive replies to the new atheists here at STR. Not that I agree with the critiques, but there is more than just complaining about the attitudes. So I guess I'll have to withdraw my claim, at least with respect to STR.

Still, I think there are quite a lot of replies that focus on their "meanness" or supposed anger, which I think is a distraction. But Amy, I do recognize that this is a blog and not every blog posting about atheists needs to be a detailed rebuttal of their claims.

Mike, it seems you have misunderstood me. I'm not asking you to prove that Stalin was wicked. I'm asking you to prove your assertion that the new atheists ignore Stalin. I highly doubt your claim. Show me that Dawkins or Harris ignore the good that has resulted from Christian influences. Show me their historical revisions. Assertions like these are easy to say but harder to prove. Maybe you're right about them. I haven't read them. But you can't just make charges like this without backing up your assertions.

>>The new atheists may have a bad attitude about religion. But are they wrong? That's the question.>>

Wrong about what? I have yet to hear an actual argument. And I say this as a former atheist. It is important to point out their anger because it has replaced argument. Hitchens' "God is not great..." is one long straw-man rant. This is not argument. He actually says very little about Christianity (or Judaism or Islam). When a real atheist makes a real argument, it will be easily responded to. Until then, someone needs to point out that the emperor is naked.

>>So I guess I'll have to withdraw my claim, at least with respect to STR.

Excellent. You're a good guy, Jon, and I always like having you around here. Thanks for being fair.

>>Still, I think there are quite a lot of replies that focus on their "meanness" or supposed anger, which I think is a distraction.

That's actually just what we're claiming! Their anger and meanness is a distraction from real arguments, but unfortunately many people mistake those distractions for arguments. We just want to help people recognize the difference between the two.

Thanks for pointing out the misunderstanding Jon and I agree that we should not make charges without backing them up with evidence. I do not support their campaigns by buying their books so I rely on things I’ve heard them say in debates and talks about religion.

They give no credit to evidence supporting the claim that religion is not a poison within humanity. That is, it does not register with them as a point worthy of consideration (as I have done with your comment about argumentation above). Instead, they dismiss evidence offered in favor of religions as either untrue or unjustified, and then continue on their rant.

It is logically contradictory to affirm religions have both improved societies and also that religions should be eliminated. Whence their antitheism if they affirm the good influence of monotheistic religions?

You can put it like this:

You can debate Christianity or the existence of God with someone for hours and when it’s over; want to go out to get coffee with them.

Sometimes with ‘new atheists’ you want to skip the coffee.

Sometimes they would like to skip the coffee as well.

Being gracious in debate seems rare these days. You should never want to skip the coffee.

If the new atheists are right, why are they so unhappy ? I've never been around a more bitter and unfulfilled group of people in my life than those I know who are students of the new atheism. Yes, there are religious people who are similar, but nearly in the same numbers.

Isn't the full title of Hitchens' book actually, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything"?

I think it might just be reasonable to point it out when the so-called new atheists are "being mean." They are the ones who seem to exhibit poisoned behavior when debating the very issue.

Why is that?

>> "consequence of the reasonings of the infidel writers having been much studied, but from the progress of luxury, and the decay of morals:"

I would say that my "decay of morals" is deffinitely an issue.

Evidenced by the fact that I will be returning to Thailand next week to live in ko phangan for 4 months and pursue short term mating goals with as many breeding age human females (preferably swedish) as possible.

VIDEO - where i'll be staying:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un4hKfaizC8

However my fall from Christianity was ENTIRELY logic based. Though there's nothing I can say to a Christian to convince them of that so I won't try.

However, since this blog is about "new arguments" I'm quite curious to hear what you all think about the ERV argument for common ancestry. It's been making the rounds quite a bit as of late:

VIDEO - good ERV demo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De-OkzTUDVA

I have tried to remain skeptical of evolution, and i'd still like an explanation of abiogenesis from these "new atheists". But damn, this data looks pretty solid.

If I were still Christian, i'd be a little nervous.

I've been trying to think how I would respond to me if I were Christian. I think a quite acceptable explanation is to simply say Satan altered the genome to trick us into believing in evolution. Christians shy away from statements of this sort, but I think it's quite plausible. If I were Satan, and I wanted to convince people to not believe in the bible, that's what I would do.

Atheist suffer from two, I think principle problems. One they don't really have a good basis for "truth." And they really have little clue as to a truthful and correct view of the gospel of Christ.

If they did. They wouldn't remain atheists.

Atheistism is a denial of theism. And if we take as a premise that there is no god, then there remains no arguement that can be made for theism which could ever be true. And from within this premise it can be argued that all arguments for theism are circular. That theism must be supposed in order to make the supporting aguments.

We as theists can make such a premise for a logical exercise where none of our aguments in defence of theism could ever be true.

The atheist, because of an underlying problem with truth would not be able to do the same type of logical excercise with theism and the gospel of Christ.

It should be noted, that professed ex-christians could argue that is not true.

What I fail to understand from professed ex-christians, is how one can really know someone (God in this case) and then say that person doesn't exist.

It does seem the best atheists can do is poke fun at what they deny. And vilify theism. Not that they don't try to make other arguments against theism.

Jon, I think the original point that Amy was making in her post is that sarcasm has become more than just a tactic in the New Atheists' arsenal. It's their primary tactic for evading serious discussion.
How many of us have debated atheists, only to have them mangle our words to score points for the sake of their likeminded audience? I've debated many nonbelievers on very serious theological questions -- only to have these bizarre, "Seinfeld"-like responses thrown back at me.
You know, the Gospel writers showed that sometimes even Jesus used sarcasm to make a point. The thing is, Jesus HAD a point. He used sarcasm to reinforce it. Atheism, in a "Seinfeld" sense, is a worldview about nothing that masks its absence of a point with smirks, innuendoes, double-talk and attitude.

Tony,

I have a couple of questions about ERVs.

1) How many ways can ERVs infect germline cells, such that the ERV is present in the descendants?

2) Did the ERVs we see in both humans and chimps come from a common ancestor, or did they, perchance, jump from a chimp to a human; Or even, did the jump happen from human to chimp, then back to human?

These obvious considerations aside, however, I admit that the YouTube argument seems at least plausible, as far as the issue of biology is concerned [that is to suggest that more than biology is required to support Evolution the Theory].

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a biologist; So it's possible that my questions assume something untrue.

>> How many ways can ERVs infect germline cells, such that the ERV is present in the descendants?

thousands upon thousands of combinations

>> Did the ERVs we see in both humans and chimps come from a common ancestor, or did...

I don't quite understand this question. The ERV's are seen along the phylogenetic tree.

Read
What's Wrong With the World and or The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton.
The Atheist hasn't changed.(which is a little ironic since they hold to evolution). :-)))
The same old vitriol, the same old canards, the same old message that has been answered again and again. Even Cicero he had a brilliant response to the "here by accident" theory.
The reason people fall for the "new ideas" is because they are completley ignorant of the old ones. The best defense against this nonsense is a robust worshiping community and an educated public both of which seem to be lacking at the moment.

Good stuff above, but I think this was worth the wading through all of what was above it.

"What I fail to understand from professed ex-christians, is how one can really know someone (God in this case) and then say that person doesn't exist."

This is brilliant, thanks, Paul!

Brad B

Both sides can be just as sarcastic.

I used to blog here and was treated horribly.

I tried to take it in stride, take it as good natured ribbing, but whenever my real arguments against christianity were too potent, I was ridiculed sacrastically too.

I decided to give as good you get, and the whole enterprise fell apart.

You have to decide before the debate starts how much sarcasm, ribbing, ridicule, ad hominem, etc you will allow. You have to agree on this before the debate starts! Or else the whole thing is on a slippery slope.

Philosophy has a long tradition of graciousness. It come from Socrates' insistence on objectivity. So if you are going to respect the tradtion of graciousness, and listen whole-heartedly to other points of view, in case they have some truth in them, I would suggest you agree on absolutely NO FOOLING AROUND WHATSOEVER.

Even though adding some humorous rhetoric here or there makes for a more entertaining performance, it is a slippery slope. And we are dealing with whole world views...challenging a persons whole identity...we must procede seriously, and delicately.

We must assure the christians that we mean them no harm. But how can we do that if we convince them their religion is incorrect (not false) and they feel compelled by reason to change their whole lives, stop going to church, miss their friends, send them off into a painful cognitive dissonance? There is no greater personal attack.

I wonder if reason really does have the power to compell them to change their whole identities. I don't think reason is capable of that alone, but should not be denied.

However, I still believe in reason, because without it we have no chance of reconciling whatsoever. We have to debate, or else the only option is to ignore each other or kill each other.

Unfortunately, humorless, seriousness does not comport well with BLOGS! Both sides are just as guilty.

>> "What I fail to understand from professed ex-christians, is how one can really know someone (God in this case) and then say that person doesn't exist."

Ask an ex-muslim.

Mike, a person can affirm that some good has come of religion without affirming that the overall effect is positive. The new atheists see that some good has come of religion. I understand Dawkins enjoys some church services and sings hymns with vigor along with everyone else, just as I do. My point is they are not saying that nothing good can be said of religion.

Heath, I agree that a lot of the atheists you engage with online have superficial trite replies. I don't think that's true of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc. You can disagree with them, but they are thoughtful people.

Hi ToNy, I think the point is the same for so called ex-Muslim, that is they are so-called in each case, not true believers as it relates to nature. In other words, they could be no other if it were authentic.

Brad B

How could a muslim have an "authentc" relationship with Allah, if Allah doesn't exist?

Hello all,
1st: To the "ex-christian". Judas would be an example of an "ex-christian"; he was never one to begin with. I don't mean anything derogative, I really don't think you would have betrayed anyone for 30 pcs. of silver. But until that night, Judas would have been thought to have been "Christian".
2nd: Here is just part of why I'm a Christian; based on logic.
A)The Cambrian Explosion. B)The Big Bang. C)Transpermia {I'm unsure of the actual spelling}.
First let me say that I'm speaking to 'origins/primary cause'.
Darwinian processes assume an infinite universe; (time/space/mater). Natural selection only works for functional advantage in existing
organelle, it can't give you the organism itself. Darwin didn't have a mechanism for the first living cell.
Now to A) above. The "Cambrian Explosion" is the evolutionist's attempt to explain the lack of transitional forms in the fosil record. Fully formed complex ife from top to bottom; The Bible? ' God created each kind fully formed'(Paraphrased).
B) The Big Bang is cosmology's attempt to explain the second law of theromdymic's increasing entropy. The universe is proceeding to disorder. It cannot be infinite, or it would be in a state of heat death by now. Time/space/mater had a begining. The Bible? 'In the begining God created....' C)Transermia is a term created by atheist Francis Crick, in the late 1980's, to explain how the original organic material came to be on planet Earth. ( Space aliens planted it here) He was forced to this extreme after his two year investigation of all the emperical data concerning the amino acid/DNA/protein delema. No research has ever shown amino acid to protein without DNA. DNA is pure information. No information the likes of DNA has ever been shown to come from anything other than an intelegent agencey. It is an artifact of mind. Only one ancient text declares that the universe 1)Had a begining, 2) That all living things were created fully functional, and 3) Decsribes a Creator with the requsite attributes to be the Creator.

Here's the clincher for me. We find in John's account that the creator has a name, Jesus. Jesus also states that He is the only way to the Father John 14:6. Jesus either is or He isn't what He claims. It dosen't mater what you belive, you still depend on Jesus. You depend on Him not being what He claims, and we Christians depend on Him being what He claims. Either way it depends on Jesus; you can run but you can't hide. No other man, or woman for that mater, has ever established themselves with such authority so as to become the focal point of such arguements. And it dosen't mater whether you believe it or not, a universal truth dosen't require our belief to be true. The real problem atheists have is Jesus, judgement and ultimate responsibility.
I've just touched the surface of nearly 7 years of watching this debate and weighing the evidence. Time and room doesn't allow for much more here. The truth is there; you do have to be looking for the truth though. I've never regreted coming to faith in Christ in 2000; the truth is the truth no mater how I feel at any given moment. At 59 I'm tired of trying to 're-invent the wheel'.
As for the 'ex-christian' and his 'fluid transfer' program. Jesus already knew about those transgressions and paid for them on the cross, I just pray that you come to a place of accepting that payment before you stand judgement before Him. You're not shocking anyone, least of all God with your foolish boasting. ' For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God'. All you've done is proven God's word correct.
As far as who's being mean to who? I'll leave that to the critics.
God bless.
P.S.Oh yes, 'atomic glue'. Physisits can't explain why atomic particles that should be repelling each other, don't.
"......in Him all things consisit."Col1:17. Guess who 'Him' is? Coincidence? There are a lot of such 'coincidences' in the Bible. You're holding, 'ACES and EIGHTS', my ahteist friends, the dead mans hand.

Tim,

ok but what about the ERV data?

Hi ToNy,
I'm glad this thread isn't dead.
Hey I'm a poet and...never mind.
You'll have to explain what the acronym ERV stands for, just to make sure I understand what you're referring to.

To clarify the 'origins' context of my position, I challenge the notion that science can either prove or disprove the existence of a supranatural cause for the universe. I can't prove that the
God of the Bible is real using science. However neither can science disprove His existence. I believe it was Steven Meyer who said 'science can only give an inference to the best possible explaination.'
Virtually every major tenet that evolutionary (Darwinism) theory is based on has come to a dead end at the origins question.
It was Denton, who wasn't a Christian, who started seriously questioning naturalistic mechanisms as being responsible for the incredible complexity within the cell. His doubts were based on what 'science' was uncovering, in particular the true nature of DNA and RNA.
If you give the amino acid, DNA, protien nexus, a true hearing if you will, the only plausible explaination is design.
Let's look at another area.
The water moleucle. When the oxygen atom 'captures' the two hydrogen atoms, the hydrogen atoms attach themselves at a very precise angle, something like 103.5 degrees. Thus when water freezes it becomes less dense (lighter)so that it floats. If it didn't most of the water on earth would be frozen. I'll leave the ramifications of that to you.
Let's look at just one more problem briefly. The 'economy of scale'. The human body is estimated to contain about a trillion cells; each cell contains a full compliment of DNA. The DNA molecule is estimated at about six feet long. A design problem that staggers the mind. Maybe cut it in half, and twist it into a 'spiral helix'? Let's give a huge 'fudge factor', and reduce the number of cells to only one million. It is still a staggering problem. We havn't even looked at the 'transcrition process' that takes place thousands of times a second.
I'll wait to address the ERV data until I'm sure of what the acronym stands for. I believe I know, but I don't want to get side tracked because of my misunderstanding.

RE: ERV data,
This likely is an offshoot of the argument that the ability of a virus to mutate somehow proves evolution. I'll point out that the basic organism is still a virus.
As far as the specific ERV data is concerned, the peer review process still needs to take place.
It's precisely this 'rush to conclusion' that has caused so much embarassment over the lack of evidence for Darwinian processes.
As far as similarities are concerned, that doesn't suprise me. Going back to the amino acid link, all living (cell based) units have their protiens drawn from the same pool of 20 left handed amino acids, arranged in precise order by "instructions" from the DNA/transcription process. One researcher pointed out that there is only about a 2% difference between slime mold and human blood at the genetic level. However giving slime mold as a substitute in a blood transfusion would be fatal.
Just to set the record in order, I'm not opposed to evolutionary therory being presented. I find it very interesting though, that those who are offering evidence that challenge Darwinian processes are blocked in the courts, and the actual science is never allowed the peer review process.
I'm not challenging the science itself, but the assumptions and conclusions.
Darwins assumptions and most of his conclusions have been proven wrong. The first assumption was that the cell was a simple mass and not very complex at all, that view was held by most researchers until the 1950s. Now of course we know that assumption was completely incorrect. In fact the 'Human Genenome' project would be virtually impossible without modern super computers, because of the infinitely complex nature of the cell. Darwin drew conclusions that he and the science of his day were completely unqualified to make. As a result, science has had to completely abbandon the theory that the cell
is nothing more than a simple mass of protoplasm.
In Biblical hermeneutics there is a principle stated as follows,
" A text out of context, is a pretext." The same principle applies in science. If your pretext is to prove Darwinism, then you're going to interpret the results of experiments accordding to your pretext, and not necessarily according to where the data is leading. Now I'm not suggesting that I nor anyone else is free from 'pretexts', because I'm not, nor is anyone else.
The bottom line is this, are you basing your arguement on a pretext, or are you giving a fair hearing to both sides. That is something only you can do. The Bible says only God can search the heart and test the mind. My world view, hermeneutic and theology are completely different from both before I came to faith in Christ in 2000, and especially after I began to actually study the Bible in a systematic way.
This thread may not be condusive to further disscusion between us. An exchange of e-mail adds. may be more feasible for further discussions. One final note about Darwin. His theory wasn't acceppted based on his science, in fact some of his most arrdent supporters severly criticized his scientific methodology. His theory was originally known as " Social Darwinism." I suspect that Darwin was trying to be rid of a God who was both all knowing, and also very personal. God is very intensely interested in our lives on an level so intimate ( searching the heart and testing the mind) , that those who don't want to be held responsible are driven to extremes like Francis Crick was. I also find it interesting, that for the most part, the debate is between the creator God of the Bible and evolutionists. No other ancient writting has presented such a challenge on a scientific bassis to evolutionary theory. As pointed out in my 1st post, Jesus has become the central deffining personage in history no mater what your world view happens to be. He just also happens to be the creative agent of the Bible as well. So again, (searching your heart, testing your mind syr,tym) are you running from Jesus? I was and still try to when I don't like what I hear from His word. Phil 1:6 Says that the Christian walk is a life long process. BTW, I can run but I can't hide, nor can anyone else. That is what Darwin was actually trying to do.

What the hell was that?????

Tim the erv question is outlined here:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=De-OkzTUDVA

You've just made my point. The ERV argument is based on existing systems, which nobody denies. My point is that the existance of an information bearing system doesn't prove spontaneous generation, but militates against it.
There still remains the peer review process. The narrater made the statment,' it should be obvious....', when in fact just the sheer number of infection sites would make verification an extremely unlikely thing.
And we come back to the assumption that it confirms evolution.
The fact remains that these systems are responding to very complex instructions, where did the information come from?
Let's look at the experiment process itself. Did the information directing any given expiremnet suddenly come into existence as the expirement progressed, or did it already exist. Are we 'creating new information', or just discovering information that already exists. The answer is obvvious. A virus or any other physical element cannot exist without the information (laws) that govern it. The information has to pre-exist. I'm being asked to just take for granted the very thing I'm challenging. The discovery of ERV data is no different than the DNA discovery. And the article completely leaves out that Crick was forced to admit that at the end of the 1980s, natural selection couldn't explain DNA/RNA. Instead he therorized that an advanced race of aliens
'planted' genetic material here.
Am I being asked to accept that ERVs just 'kind of' happened independent of the 'specificly directed information' required for them to function? My challenge goes beyond the existence of the systems, to WHY they function as they do?
Let's start there. Explain to me
'why' they function as they do, and perhaps I can make my position more clear. It's entirely likely I'm not articulating the main context of my position correctly.
I have to return to work tomorrow, so I probably won't be able to respond until some time this week end.

>>Explain to me 'why' they function as they do, and perhaps I can make my position more clear.

ERV Markers don't have a function. They are merely remnants of past integration.

ERV Markers, are the genetic scar tissue of our ancestors. And if I were still Christian, I would be a little scared to learn that apes have the same scars that I have.

ToNy,

Thanks for sharing the information regarding ERV's. As one who is skeptical about the veracity of evolution by descent through natural selection, it is abundantly clear that the ERV evidence bears further investigation with a thoughtful, measured response. I'd love to see Greg, or one of his friends at the Discovery institute take this issue up.

I found the following germane anti-Darwinian perspective on ERV's:

http://tinyurl.com/6adfdd

A chief conclusion of the article is that "ERVs must have been incorporated into the initial design of eukaryotic life."

I look forward to others' thoughts on this topic!

Hi ToNy & Shaun,
First I have to apologize for starting in the middle of my position.
Because of the results of the work by countless tens of thousands of researchers in the field of genetics, any discussion of any life form currently in existence, and its origins must of necessity address itself to the DNA molecule and the specifics involved. Whether one is a Biblical creationist such as myself, or an evolutionist like Franis Crick, The laws governing the amino acid, DNA, protien reality must be reconciled. An 8 minute video clip is hardly conclusive proof of evolution. The piece was based on the pretext that evolution is a fact, which it is not. Just like creationism, evolution is a therory about origins.
So here is my basic problem with current Darwinian processes as an origins explaination. If you are arguing for undirected random chance, you have to forgo special design all the way to the origins of any living organism.
The DNA molecule stores specific information at each site along the strand. So to begin with
undirected natural forces would have to develope the extremely complex information for each site, develope the processes to manufacture the gene, then develope the processes to encript it, making sure that it can be transcribed in the RNA portion, plus making sure it can be reproduced etc. Then the undirected natural processes would have to know exactly where on The DNA strand to place each specific gene. This is an extremely simplified version ad
admittedly so far. When specific information reaches the nuclear core complex in the cell, specific information is transmitted requesting that specific protiens be made. The instructions for the specific protien is stored at an exact location on the strand. The transscription process must know exactly what protien is needed, where the instructions are on the DNA strand, move to it, unravel that portion, transcribe the information onto messenger RNA, transport it out of the nuclear core complex to manufacturing sites where the exact amino acids are assembled, including the correct number of amino acids and the precise placement in the protien chain. Now I'm not going to go any further down this road. Just examining each step in the general out line above is infinitely complex in itself.

The video clip cited Crick's 1979 statement. It completely ignored the fact that at the end of the 1980s, after his own two year study of the various lines of empirical data, he concluded that undirected natural processes couldn't explain the first living cells from which all other life supposedly evolved. Instead he theorized that transpermia accounted for it; a race of advanced aliens planted genetic material here on earth.
So before you jump to the conclusion that the ERV data proves evolution, you are going to have to either explain away the processes above, or just ignore them and go on to your conclusions, assuming an explaination that has been largely
abandoned by portions of the research community. Denton, who to my knowledge isn't a Christian, abandoned evolutionary theory for the most part as an origins explaination, and started the whole 'Intelegent Design' debate with his book, 'Evolution, a Theory in Crisis.' I'll point out that he based his conclusion on the empirical data, not for 'religious' reasons.
This is just part of the material that I've looked at, and to be honest, my pretext is,1) that evolution isn't a fact, but a theory. 2)That the Bible gives the most accurate 'inferrence to the best possible explaination' as to who the Originater is, what He expects of me, and that His name is Jesus of Nazareth.That's a whole other debate though.
Please let's keep the discussion open.
God Bless

Tim,

I appreciate your comments and find myself in the strange position of sounding as if I'm defending evolution, which I am not.

I seek clarity specifically regarding the ERV argument.

Tim, your response seems to broadly describe your perspectives that support rejection of Darwinism. I dispute few of your points.

However, your response was *broader* in scope than was the *specific* request from my previous post. Let me lay the premises based on my very nascent understanding of the Darwinist's perspective: ERV's survive by inserting their DNA into our DNA. ERV's appear to be present in our DNA. The same ERV's appear to exist at analogous positions in the DNA of organisms similar to us (chimpanzees, etc.)

Darwinists conclude that the apparent presence of ERV infections in human, chimpanzee, and other species represent DNA "scars", and provide empirical evidence for common descent. (For more on the Darwinist's view, read here: http://tinyurl.com/2vp6tc)

To date, I have found only one non-Darwinist response (which appeared well referenced at http://tinyurl.com/6adfdd) that concluded, "ERVs must have been incorporated into the initial design of eukaryotic life." This is tantamount to saying God put the viral DNA in our DNA when he designed us. That may be true, but I'm curious as to whether there are any other reasonable, measured *specific* explanations or responses that other brilliant (I mean that term sincerely!) folks affiliated with STR could offer?

Thanks for engaging!

My apologies again Shaun. You may want to go to ICR.org for detailed information. I believe STR's site has a link. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is an authoritative source from a Biblical perspective. They answer scientific questions with science.
Two video resources I would recomend to get a grasp of the basics are, 'Unlocking the Mysteries of life', and 'Thousands not Billions'.
As to the video clip on YOUTUBE, that post is specificaly designed to defend Darwinism. The main thrust of my post was that Darwinism isn't an uncontested fact. But in fact has serious, even fatal flaws as an origins theory, that's why I assumed what I did.
As to why I'm a Biblical creationist is another debate, however taking advantage of ICR's resources will help explain that.
In the final analisys, after all is said and done Shaun, you will still come face to face with a man by the name of Jesus. After several years of observing the scientific debate, the real sticking point for atheists isn't the scientific evidence for inteligent design as long as the designer doesn't have a name. The true problems are that only the Bible, out of all ancient religious texts, describes origins events consistent with modern laws of thermo dynamics, declares there was a time when time, space and mater didn't exist, describes an inteligent designer with the requisite attributes, and here is the true
reason for Darwinism; the Bible gives Him a name, Jesus. The Gospel of John in the opening chapter clearly identifies Jesus as the creative agent in Genesis.
He is personal and intently interested in me, you, ToNy and every other "living soul".

Check out the ICR site, if there isn't a specific answer to your
question about 'scars', send them an e-mail. I can assure you they are aware of the ERV data.

God Bless
P.S. Don't be afraid of the truth.

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