Comment on Debate between Stephen Meyer and Charles Marshall by Sean Pitman.
I got a chuckle over your appeal to apolgetics authority when it comes to the veracity of oral tradition and historicity 🙂 A tad bit of bias?
Let’s test your theory: what parts of the Illiad do you think are true and why? Fiction? Fact? A bit of both?
I’m not saying that there are no mythical stories – obviously. Clearly, myths can evolve and develop over time and they can have an element of original truth. Many such myths arose soon after the death of Alexander the Great for instance. What I’m saying is that the Genesis account was not written as a myth or in the style of a myth, but was written in an obvious effort, by the author, to present a real historical account of real events. Even secular scholars of Hebrew agree on this much. In other words, it is quite clear that the author of the Genesis account was actually trying to wright down a factual account of real history – not some fantastic myth that would have been mythological even from his own perspective. The intent of the author is important here. It is also important to understand that those passing on this account considered it extremely important to pass on this account with a high degree of accuracy. Unlike your comparison to the game of telephone, it is well documented that the Hebrew Scriptures have remained essentially unchanged over thousands of years of time – aside from a few minor updates of the names of places and the like.
Now, when it comes to determining if the story is true or not, that’s when the credibility of the author’s account comes into play… as I’ll discuss a bit further below.
What parts of the earlier ‘recorded’ flood story Epic of Gilamesh do you think are true and why? Do you think that those witnesses are any less credible than the ‘unknown’ author(s) of Genesis who relied upon passed down stories about the Nochian flood? Don’t you think the Epic of Gilamesh was passed down to large groups of people who thought it important? ; so important in fact that it was recorded on clay tablets? Do you think there is any chance that the Noachian flood story was a modified version of the earlier Epic of Gilamesh? As both versions meet your historical test as above cited which is true or accurate? Either?
There are in fact a great many stories around the world in many different cultures about a world-wide Flood. This fact alone support the Biblical claim that all humans descended from those who survived the same Flood – and speaks against the idea that this Flood that has left its impression on human memory at large was just some local or regional flood.
As far as the common claim that the Bible borrowed its account from the Sumarians, that the Epic of Gilgamesh (EoG) came first, this is very unlikely for several reasons. First off, this notion is taken directly from the discredited Documentary Hypothesis which you continue to reference for some reason. The Biblical account is far more internally consistent and is also much more consistent with empirical reality. For example, the ship described in the EoG is a perfect cube, not at all seaworthy, whereas the ark described in Genesis has been shown to be very stable in high seas. The gods in the EoG are petty and fearful for their own well-being. The God of the Genesis account is concerned for the pain and suffering that is being caused by the rapidly increasing evilness and violence of mankind – consistent with the general theme of the rest of the Bible and with the empirical evidence we see in the world in which we live. The total duration of the Flood described in the EoG is less than two weeks – to include just seven days of rain. This is not as consistent with the effects of a truly worldwide Flood as is the Genesis account, lasting just over one year before Noah and his family could get off the ark. There are numerous other similar details that collectively favor the credibility of the Biblical account both in regard to internal consistency and the currently available empirical evidence (Link).
What does this suggest? Well, it clearly suggests that the Genesis account did not borrow from and was certainly not derived from the EoG, and most likely came first as the original account. Of course, there are many striking parallels between the two accounts. It is just that the Genesis account is the more credible account by far given the reality of a truly worldwide Flood. The credibility of the Genesis account is further established by the historical accuracy of the post-Flood stories described in Genesis. Such evidences, such as the discovery of archaeological evidence for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, long thought to be mythical, as well as the other cities of the valley in that region, found in exactly the same order as described in Genesis, add to the overall credibility of the author of Genesis as a very accurate historian. This is true throughout the Bible. The Dead Sea Scrolls, and other ancient portions of the Bible, also testify to the fact that the wording of the Bible was very accurately preserved over hundreds and thousands of years – unlike your comparison with the game of telephone. The Bible is by far the most credible, the most accurate, historical textbook that we have. It has proven itself to be superior to every other historical text that discusses similar events, persons, places, etc. This is a fact supported by vast amounts of archaeological evidence which continues to undermine, again and again, the claims of the Documentary Hypothesis that you continue to cite…
As to the commentator in your link, I wonder if he spent much time in courts of law where the veracity of eyewitness accounts is tested? Perhaps you should talk to a few good trial lawyers about rules of evidence – especially hearsay or second hand evidence- in this regard. Also ask yourself how many historical acoounts of Alexander were written after the fact by historians that were not actually there.
Again, you seem to be looking for something akin to legal proof or something “beyond all doubt”. Well, that’s not science. Science, especially historical science, is about the weight of evidence, not absolute proof or the removal of the possibility all doubt. Science is about what seems to be most likely true, what seems to be most reasonable, given the limited evidence that is currently in hand – knowing, all along, that such a conclusion is always open to being wrong, to being effectively falsified, given some additional evidence.
In this line, ask yourself why pretty much all historians believe in the accuracy of the main outline of events in the accounts of ancient historical figures like Alexander the Great? – to include detailed strategies and events during his numerous battles and the very words that he spoke on various important occasions? – despite the fact that they weren’t written down for quite some time after his death and despite the fact that myths and legends about Alexander were rampant very soon after his death. Do historians believe in the reality of the core events of Alexander’s life based on absolute proof? Of course not. They believe based on the weight of evidence for the credibility of certain non-mythical accounts of his life – to include the internal consistency of certain accounts in particular as well as the lack of self-acclaim from these accounts, like those of some Alexander’s generals (Ptolemy in particular), who could have taken credit for acts of valor which they denied being involved in, giving credit to others instead. Also, descriptions of the flaws of the heroes and/or personal flaws within a historical account are also important. Such details add credibility to the other claims of the author as well.
The same is true, or at least can be true, of one’s belief in the claims of the Biblical accounts – for the very same reasons.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
He became a Christian in his first year of Unversity and science or evolutionary models had nothing to do with it.
I agree. Where did I suggest otherwise? His personal view of Christianity is not related to his view of science or evolution. They are independent topics in his mind – as is the case with you and others like Kenneth Miller.
I think you have certainly given an incorrect interpretation of his statement which was nothing about changing his mind about any particulars of science but about him now being judged by his Christian views and not only his science.
Hardly. He has changed his opinion about what is and what isn’t the scientific basis of origins. He no longer believes that the neo-Darwinian story of origins is scientific. That’s a significant change of position for him with regard to his scientific position on Darwinism – or at least the Darwinian mechanism which he no longer believes is scientifically tenable.
Debate between Stephen Meyer and Charles Marshall
I’ve repeatedly given you evidence for the recent creation of life on this planet, for the inevitable degeneration of complex life over time, for the requirement for high level creativity and intelligence and design to explain even the most simple of living things and various biomachines within all living things, and for the overall credibility of the Bible on the topic of origins which fills in gaps in knowledge and does in fact go beyond what the empirical evidence itself can support. After all, if all of the claims in the Bible could be directly demonstrated, one wouldn’t need the Bible. The credibility of the Bible, as I’ve already explained to you, is based on those elements that can actually be tested and evaluated in a potentially falsifiable manner. These tests give credibility to those claims that cannot be directly tested – such as the Virgin Birth, the literal 6-day creation week, or the Resurrection.
In contrast, I fail to see where you have presented any argument against any of this or against anything the Bible has to say on origins, or the position of the SDA Church, beyond a simple appeal to the authority of the opinions of others. Where is your own argument that you think you personally understand? Present an argument against any of the evidence I’ve presented in this forum for several years now. You have yet to do so as far as I can tell.
I already know that I’m in the minority when it comes to the opinions of mainstream scientists. Telling me this over and over again simply isn’t helpful when it comes to explaining or getting me to see and understand why I’m wrong. For example, why not present some specific argument that explains the Darwinian mechanism to me and how it works beyond low levels of functional complexity? Have you even tried to do this? No, you haven’t. Or, present some specific argument that explains away the problem of the high detrimental mutation rate for slowly reproducing organisms. Have you done this? No, you haven’t. Present an argument for the preservation of proteins and DNA in dinosaur bones for 60 million years – in the face of kinetic chemistry experiments that strongly suggest that such long-term preservation is highly unlikely. Have you done this. No, you haven’t. What about the problem of continental or mountain erosion rates? Nothing from you. The list goes on and on and on.
So, if the best you have is to tell me that my ideas aren’t popular, but you don’t personally know why, I’m sorry, but that’s just not helpful to me. I’m just not interested…
The problem isn’t with the speed or rate of radioactive decay or that God is trying to deceive us by giving false or misleading information. The problem is that the various ways of measuring time within the geologic/fossil record do not agree with each other – by many orders of magnitude. And, these problems are not outdated or based on “40 year old” papers. These problems are modern problems, some of which are of very recent discovery – to include the genetic evidence that slowly reproducing creatures are sustaining far more detrimental mutations than can be eliminated from their gene pools by natural selection, resulting in an inevitable deterioration of their gene pools (devolution) toward eventual genetic meltdown and extinction. All of these factors play into the obviously designed nature of complex life and the biosphere within which it lives.
The fact is that the significant weight of evidence currently in hand strongly favors the concept of a recent arrival of life on this planet and a recent and very rapid formation of much of the fossil record.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…