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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Radar uses the "W" word...

I am way too tired after getting back from our weekend trip to post anything major, so Uniformitarianism has to wait...

Remember that "Happy Days" episode where Fonzi had to admit he was wrong and he couldn't get his mouth to pronounce the word? Wrr. Wrrrrrrah. Wrooooaguahooosa. Grrrrrr! Wrong! I was wrong.

I am going to withdraw my charge against Talk Origins that they post things they know have been refuted. Until such time as I want to go back there or research past notes to look for anything documented, I won't claim that they do anything like that. I will just say that I don't like the site and leave it at that.

Okay, I did my good deed for the day. The exhausted me will look over comments and post again tomorrow!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Neil Young - Ignorance Never Sleeps

"Well I heard mister young sing about her
Well, I heard ole neil put her down
Well, I hope neil young will remember
A southern man don’t need him around anyhow"

Lynyrd Skynard

"If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart.
If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain."


Winston Churchill

I remember a young man who could rock out or wax poetic. With Buffalo Springfield, with CSNY, Crazy Horse and as a solo artist, he was once the interesting folk/rocker who penned these wistful words:

"Expecting To Fly"


"There you stood
on the edge of your feather,
Expecting to fly.
While I laughed,
I wondered whether
I could wave goodbye,
Knowin' that you'd gone.
By the summer it was healing,
We had said goodbye.
All the years
we'd spent with feeling
Ended with a cry,
Babe, ended with a cry,
Babe, ended with a cry.

I tried so hard to stand
As I stumbled
and fell to the ground.
So hard to laugh as I fumbled
And reached for the love I found,
Knowin' it was gone.
If I never lived without you,
Now you know I'd die.
If I never said I loved you,
Now you know I'd try,
Babe, now you know I'd try.
Babe, now you know I'd try,
Babe."



Now he writes and sings this:

"Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean

Thank God"



Uhm, Neil? You are a Canadian, dude! This isn't even your country. That ignorant, insipid, juvenile rant you are singing now? It tells me you may be old, but you never did grow up. I agree with Lynyrd Skynard. We don't need you around anyhow.

Friday, April 28, 2006

NOT like Jesus -Westboro Antichrists

A friend of mine, not a blogger, is a guy who like to play fantasy sports. He and I have been in leagues together for probably at least three years. He is a teenager, a very smart guy, and I am glad to know him. He emailed me today:

Dear Radar,

I'm sending this to you because you have the largest audience of anyone I can think. Reading about this group and watching this video made me sick to my stomach, I'm sure you and all of your readers would feel the same way. As Louis Brandeis said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant," and I'm hoping you won't mind shedding some on these whackos.

Regards,
Nick (my friend)


He was referring to the Westboro Baptist Church. Many of us in the blogosphere have already spoken out about these guys.

Nick sent me this video link. I suppose it speaks for itself. It takes a bit to load but be patient, you really should see this.

Now, you can get a big camel and walk around with him downtown with a rope tied around his neck. You can put a big sign on that camel that reads, "Dog". If you are a very talented animal trainer you may even teach the camel to bark. But that camel will never, ever be a dog.

In the same way, these Westboro people can call themselves Christians and their organization a church but anyone with a lick of sense can see that they are nothing but an ungodly organization of haters along the lines of Ku Klux Klansmen and Skinheads. Look at this link again. See what these WBC idiots say. They hate Jews and Gays and Blacks and in fact they hate other Christians and they hate America. They hate soldiers. They hate.

To support them, to defend them, to give them any credit at all is contemptible. Jesus went to the poorer parts of town and sought out those who were ignored by others. He would eat and drink and talk with them, heal their diseases and invite them to follow Him. There is not one man or woman on this planet that Jesus would treat in the manner the WBC people act towards anyone who disagrees with their whacko worldview.

Addendum -

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Monday, challenging a new Kentucky law that limits protests at funerals.

The law is an an attempt to prevent disruptions at military funerals. The law was aimed at members of the Westboro Baptist Church Cult, who have toured the country protesting military funerals with signs saying such things as, "God Hates Fags", and "Thank God For Dead Soldiers." Members of the cult believe the soldiers' deaths are a sign of God punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.

I believe the First Amendment protects people's right to peacefully assemble. I find it odd that the ACLU are not protecting the right of those who wish to mourn the fallen to assemble without being harassed by lunatic cultists.

Kentucky should have seen the challenge coming. Similar legislation was opposed by the ACLU in Louisiana and Tennessee.

However, in this case it doesn't seem to be the cultists that the ACLU are worried about. They claim that it could lead to an innocent bystander being targeted.

Lili S. Lutgens, an attorney for the ACLU in Louisville, said a portion of the law is overly broad in the limitations it places on freedom of speech and on freedom of expression.

"The language is so broad that two people holding a conversation on a sidewalk, if there's a funeral going on the funeral home, then they'd be in violation," Lutgens said. "Somebody who was whistling as they walked down the sidewalk, if a funeral was in earshot, then they would also be in violation."

Yeah right! Once again the ACLU are blind to good common sense and decency in favor of some absolutist view on free speech. The laws being presented are not infringing upon their right to expression. They can go 500 to 1,000 feet away and protest all they want. What this legislation is attempting to do is no different than laws that protect political figures from protesters with reasonable buffer zones. It is also odd that the ACLU have fought on the opposite side when those being protested against were abortion clinics. However it isn't suprising, as we see more and more everyday, that the ACLU are selective in what kind of messages they protect as free speech, and which ones they either ignore or downright fight against.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Point One - Creation versus Macroevolution

First, it is true that the majority of scientists of every discipline believe macroevolution to be true. For most of them, that doesn't enter in to their particular field of research. I am in the opposing camp, a small one, but one that includes some very brilliant and capable scientists. (disclaimer - The ID list is of scientists who agreed with this statement - “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” ) It would be more gracious of macroevolutionists if they would cease the propaganda campaign trying to configure creationists as cranks. Cranks believe the world is flat, or that the UFO's are coming to get us soon, or other ludicrous beliefs. Creationism has been the belief of some of the great scientists of all time and has never been disproved, it has just become unpopular. I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?

Creeper responds - There seems to be some general confusion here. First of all, I have to ask you something that I've asked before and you may have written off as a flippant remark:

What is a macroevolutionist?

And on the heels of that: what is macroevolution?

You seem to have plugged this in to use instead of "Darwinism", which is a likewise foggy term, and in different debates can be taken to mean anything from general atheistic heathenism to quite specifically Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Macroevolution is large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups. It stands opposed to YEC, which insists on variation within distinct kinds from the get-go.

What's important to grasp is that macroevolution simply refers to the evolution taking place and does not specify any mechanism. IDers, theistic evolutionists and naturalistic evolutionists can all agree that macroevolution did indeed take place. You can think of it as common descent, or the phylogenetic tree.

Common descent - or the mere observation that macroevolution did take place, by whatever mechanism - is accepted by the majority of scientists and just about universally by biologists. The opposing camp that you are in - the one that denies common descent - does not include the "very brilliant and capable scientists" that you link to. They signed a very different statement, one that does not deny or question common descent in any way. Not only is it such an incredibly vague and weakly worded statement that PZ Myers, Michael Ruse and Richard Dawkins could probably sign it in good faith, it is simply beside the point of macroevolution.

Try and get some scientists to sign something like: "We are skeptical of claims of common descent, and of a common ancestor for the different 'kinds' of life on our planet." - and see how far you get.


"On the other hand, macroevolutionists are correct in believing that if indeed there is a continuum of creatures from water to land, then "Tik" is closer to bridging that gap than any other fossil found. It is the closest thing to a transitional form yet discovered. It doesn't "prove" macroevolution to be true, but it is significant in that it is an expected find if macroevolution is true. As evidence it is definitely a blow for the macroevolutionary side of the fight. If macroevolution was able to be proved at some time in the future then a few more fossils like Tiktaalik would go a long way towards that end."

I've asked you this one before as well, but I'll try again: In what way would a transitional form be different from Tiktaalik, in your estimation? Let's see if you can answer this without a strawman.

The fact that scientists can look at the phylogenetic tree, predict roughly what organism will be between two different organisms, and in what strata it is most likely to be found (and where it will most definitely not be found) is a powerful confirmation of common descent. It also happens to falsify YEC and the notion of a recent global flood.


"I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?"

After taking a quick glance at that thing about G A Wells you linked to above, I wonder if you were able to keep a straight face while typing that. Just about half of that little essay is devoted to an extended ad hominem regarding Wells' academic past. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?

"Creation science", like it or not, is on extremely shaky scientific ground, and has offered precious little in terms of testable hypotheses.


I would like to see a transitional form today, no macroevolutionist can produce one. However, in the fossil world I would have to say that the organism would have to be at least partially changed from one animal to another. Tiktaalik looks more like an amphibian, but it is not capable of walking and remains a fish. If we find a fish that has a bone structure of an amphibian so that it is in between both then I might see that as a transitional form.

"The fact that scientists can look at the phylogenetic tree, predict roughly what organism will be between two different organisms, and in what strata it is most likely to be found (and where it will most definitely not be found) is a powerful confirmation of common descent. It also happens to falsify YEC and the notion of a recent global flood."

The phylogenetic tree is based on what was found in the fossil record and is more reactive than predictive of the same. That a devonian-style critter is found in devonian rock is no big stretch. But in fact YEC would expect to find rock layering all caused by water. The original Darwin prediction was that the rock layers were gradually laid down over millions of years by the daily layering of dust and vegetation and so on. It is the non-creationists who have had to alter their suppositions and adopt the catastrophic explanation for fossil rock. Now they claim at least nine different catastrophes for the layers. Hardly as elegant as the one-world flood. The Flood has not ever been falsified and still remains the more likely cause of the rock records.

Since fossils are dated by the rocks, and the rocks by the fossils (a simplification but largely true) then there is really no certainty of the age of the fossils OR the rocks. The geological column as taught by school teachers is found in less than 1% of the world's rock formations. Many layers actually interbed or are flipped and otherwise out of order. Creationists also have difficulty understanding aspects of the layering, and the fossils. More about this later in Part II.

radar - "I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?"


creeper - "After taking a quick glance at that thing about G A Wells you linked to above, I wonder if you were able to keep a straight face while typing that. Just about half of that little essay is devoted to an extended ad hominem regarding Wells' academic past. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?"

Wells is a self-taught 'scholar' with an apparent agenda. He is not comparable to this discussion. Besides, he belongs in the Christian discussion, not this one.

Let's talk about credentials. Perhaps you don't like this list. Perhaps you didn't read this post. There are more lists here. More here.
If you don't like AIG, read this one. There is also this page and this list.


It is a fact that there are hundreds of scientists who question macroevolution and hundreds who believe in special creation. Some of them are among the most brilliant scientists alive. Many of the great scientists of the past were creationists. Again I say that creationism is a valid scientific point of view whether or not it is the view of the majority.

Furthermore, in a previous post I linked to a creation science page that includes testable and falsifiable hypotheses. I linked it previously. Go read that and then tell me that creationism doesn't present empirically falsifiable hypotheses!

Whereas I addressed what a macroevolutionist is previously, I would love to have a shorter thing to type. Macro-evo? That sounds kind of cool. How about that? But one problem is that you view macroevolution as a fact and cannot see it as an untested and unproven hypothesis.


Dan S - 1) I respect your up-front concession, which has much of value. Honest consideration of opposing views is a rare and valuable commodity in the blogosphere. At the same time, there's something I have to take issue with: the use of "not a pure transitional form, since it remains a fish" and "the closest thing to a transitional form yet discovered." It's a definitional issue that has as its foundation something much bigger, not creationism, but - as some would suggest, anyway - the human habit of essentialism. (For starters, everything can be shoehorned into just a fish, or just an amphibian . . .)

Your poem in the post below led me to think (and eventually dig up) a poem I wrote, it turns out, almost exactly a decade ago, after walking from nighttime into daylight (something I did rather too much in college, and not truly since), with obligatory lovelorn sogginess, of course. We can point to night, easy, and we can point to day, easy. But the transition inbetween is different. We give these times names - dawn, dusk. For many animals, these are the times of most activity. For people, these - like many other in-between, liminal places and stages and times and things - are sometimes both special and uncanny. And they're frustrating. Can you pick the moment when night becomes day? Day becomes dusk becomes night? (Being ever ingenious, people have come up with various markers - so many stars visible, etc., but all have a sense of arbitrariness about them.) What you have instead is a stretch of time, watching individual slow, almost imperceptable moments that result in undeniable changes, as late afternoon deepens into the flush of sunset and is swallowed by starlight; as the world widens into light and night shrinks into shadows (including the genuinely strange moment where early morning has brought back form and depth and pale washes of color, yet not day, exactly.

There is no such thing as a 'pure' transitional form, only different moments. Indeed, given the nature of evolution, I don't think there can be such a thing; it would be an essentialist beast in a nonessentialist world. Instead, we would expect to see different mixes of characteristics making a sort of mosaic, tied, more or less well, to the task of literally making a living in, say, Devonian shallows or Carboniferous swamps or Permian uplands . .


Dan, what would really impress me is the transitional form today. But your comment was worth repeating on style alone. So I repeated it. Grins! Plus, you seem to indicate that nailing down a transitional form is a bit shaky anyway. maybe we would know one if we saw one.

The poem, though, should perhaps be posted in my coming poet's carnival. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Carnival of Part Time Poets

Coming soon, the announcement you have all been waiting for...the Carnival of Part Time Poets. Designed for those who do not make a living writing poetry - because they can't! Like me...

Macroevolutionists, Creationists and ID Proponents

As I promised a commenter earlier, I would quit calling the "opposition" Darwinists. So I began calling them macroevolutionists. But I have been questioned about that as well. So....

Creationist

Believes that God created the world and everything in it. Some creationists take a very literal view of the Genesis account and believe that the earth is of a very young age. There are some longer-age creation advocates as well. YEC stands for Young Earth Creationist. I am in that group. There are some creationists who believe that at some point God designed macroevolution to operate within nature. I am certainly not in that group. All creationists believe that God created the Universe and that God created life.

Intelligent Design

Many have called the ID movement a kind of a front for creationism. Some of the founders of the movement have been creationists. Yet many of them are not. In fact, there are ID'ers who believe in macroevolution to a great extent. They seem to believe in an initial design that has since evolved in various ways. Not all ID proponents are creationists. ID'ers claim that the Universe and living organisms appear to have been designed and there is evidence that makes it hard to believe otherwise.

Macroevolutionists

Macroevolution is a process by which natural selection, operating with mutation, changes organisms from one kind to another. Microevolution is the process by which organisms change within the kind. An example of macroevolution is the idea of a dinosaur evolving into a bird. The idea of microevolution is the idea of a Water Buffalo evolving into a Longhorn. Since "Darwinist" is not a term people want to have applied to them, and I have to identify the proponents of macroevolution in some way, this is the term I use. Hopefully that makes sense. Hard core macroevolutionists also postulate that life came from non-life, since no room for a creator is allowed.

The Majority

There is evidence found in the world today that seems to back up macroevolution, and evidence that is on the side of creationists/ID'ers. There are evidences that are hard for both sides to explain. I can cite religious reasons to believe in creation, but I generally rely on scientific and historical evidence in my postings here.

The majority of scientists today believe in macroevolution. The majority can be wrong, but there is no doubt what the prevailing scientific opinion is. In the United States of America, the majority of the public seem to believe in creation but many of them believe as modified old-earth creationists.

Opinion polls show that parents want both ID (to avoid the religious aspect) and macroevolution taught in the schools. The scientific majority fights tooth and nail to stop this from happening. These scientists want only one possibility taught in schools and wish to stifle the opposition. This is a major reason I blog on the matter. There are big questions both creationists and macroevolutionists need to answer but certainly neither point of view has been proven. It would be fair to say that macroevolution has been accepted generally, and now comes the search for evidence to back it up.

That is my opinion, of course, and I am happy to say that commenters with opposing points of view weigh in on the subject. Beginning tomorrow, seven points of the discussion as previously mentioned will be discussed in detail with the opinions of both myself and commenters being highlighted and reviewed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The First Three Points - Bible Stuff

"First, Jesus has been established as an historical character from eyewitness accounts in the Bible, writers of history such as Josephus, and people who might have rather erased all records of him, that is, the Romans and Jews. The Romans recorded the existence of "Chrestus" and His followers. The Jewish Talmud has references to Jesus, his birth, his ministry and also the Book of Matthew. Almost everyone agrees that He existed, other than a fringe factor that can be ignored. I consider the self-styled Bible scholar known as G A Wells to most definitely be one of the fringe. I am on the side of the majority opinion that Jesus was most definitely an historical character." (My words)

a hermit said...

Here's an interesting quote from John P. Meier


"Q: Can historians address the Resurrection, then?

A: We can verify as historians that Jesus existed and that certain events reported in the Gospels happened in history, yet historians can never prove the Resurrection in the same way. Why not?

Perhaps some fundamentalists would claim you can. Apart from fundamentalists, perhaps even some more conservative Catholic theologians would claim you could. I myself along with most questers for the historical Jesus—and I think a fair number of Catholic theologians as well—would say the Resurrection stands outside of the sort of questing by way of historical, critical research that is done for the life of the historical Jesus, because of the nature of the Resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus is certainly supremely real. However, not everything that is real either exists in time and space or is empirically verifiable by historical means."


One of the foremost Biblical scholars of our day confirms that the Resurrection of Jesus CANNOT be established as historical fact.


My Answer


I already posted several sources for the existence of Jesus Christ, including the New Testament books. But if you want to be thoroughly anal about it, just exactly what people CAN you prove were actual living people during that time? Pontius Pilate? Less proof for him than for Christ. Annanias? Who? How many documents that you can prove were written during his lifetime attest to the existence of anyone other than one of the Caesars? We have more proof of the historians of that time than we do the people they wrote about.

What is important is that there is enough historical evidence to establish Jesus as an historical figure. How much you take from the Bible and apply it is an individual choice. I would tell a hermit that you cannot dispute the resurrection with any historical evidence, either. At some point you either believe or disbelieve. Belief in God has always been a matter of faith rather than knowledge. Jesus was a real man. Was He the Christ?

~

"Second, it has been established that there is a great deal of controversy within the ranks of Biblical scholars concerning the dating of the New Testament books. There are competing camps, neither of which can claim a concensus. I am on the side of the early daters, as I have posted previously."

creeper said...

The Bible Stuff: Yep, there's controversy about the dating of the New Testament books, yep, you're a Biblical literalist, and Jesus is most likely a historical character, though that is not a certainty. And it's still another few steps from a person named Jesus actually existing to the details of his life (especially regarding his miracles, birth etc.), which aren't confirmed historically in the slightest.


My Answer

Well, since there is much to confirm the first five books of the New Testament (containing the history of Jesus and the early church) as being written in the first century AD by men who either knew Jesus or were contemporaneous, it becomes a matter of choice whether to accept them into evidence. Since the books were being mentioned as being in existence in the late first century and early second century, people who attempt to assign late dates to the books appear to be agenda-driven rather than seekers of truth. Dan Brown can make a ton of money being fast and loose with evidence and history but hopefully no one takes his assertions seriously.

One can decide that the Gospels are not historical and ignore the life of Christ revealed within. That is yet another choice to make. But, again, there is plenty of evidence that the Gospels are actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as honest testimonies to actual events. It falls to us to believe, or to believe not.

~

"Third, I have established myself as a Bible literalist. Unless the Bible is clearly using prophetic or allegorical terminology I take it literally for both doctrine and historical narratives. This puts me in the minority, but it is not a tiny minority by any means."

a hermit said...

"I believe it is the rapidly changing world view of a Western World moving away from Christianity and towards Humanism in the 1800's that led to the theories of Darwin being adopted, Uniformitarianism accepted, and Biblical textural criticism popularized. Once popularized, such thoughts became the "default setting" for the teaching of those disciplines, thus many Christians have come to agree with positions that are not in accord with the Bible."

Probably true, and, I think, a good thing since the result has been the rejection of slavery, the recognition that women are persons and not chattel, scientific advances, the expansion of civil and human rights etc.

My Answer

That is a strange comment bordering on the ridiculous, a hermit, since it is the Christian world in which such values have been recognized. You don't see women's rights and the expansion of civil and human rights in communist countries, or in countries ruled by Sharia law. Bible believing men wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in this country, documents foundational to the advances you named. Bible believers led the fight against slavery in the USA, in case anyone has forgotten. Furthermore, the great scientists of the centuries leading up to the 1800's were primarily believers in God. Atheism doesn't make for better scientists.


Creeper and anonymous have done a fine job of responding to most of the rest of this post, so I'll just add pass this on for anyone interested in Prof. Well's response to Rev. Neal's criticisms:

G. A. Wells Replies to Criticisms of his Books on Jesus

"I conclude that I have in Dr. Neal yet another conservative critic who to some extent misrepresents me, dwells on some marginal matters as if they were of fundamental importance to my case, and deals with the more central ones by mounting plausible-sounding objections while ignoring the answers I have repeatedly given to these very points. His polemical tone and confident emphases do not improve his case. His acerbity increases as his dialogue with my defender proceeds and is obviously in part the result of sheer exasperation with an interlocutor who continually comes back at him. But it is partly prompted by his concern to deter potential readers from my books by persuading them that they are unworthy of serious attention."

Quite a substantive rebuttal, I recommend reading the whole article.


My Answer

(I did read the whole article, by the way).

Wells is one of a number of Bible critics who look for evidences in more recent documents to prove to them what went before. They tend to ignore evidences that support the NT books as being written before 66 AD although those evidences are powerful. They pick and choose what historians they will pay attention to and have a pat answer for their decisions. It doesn't change the fact that men of the first, second, third and fourth centuries believed these books were authentic and they were much closer to the time of writing and had far more sources than do these latter-day critics. One of the fallacies of liberal Bible scholarship is to ignore the findings of early scholars.

Wells also displays a great deal of ignorance concerning the writings of Paul. Paul had no need to recount the Gospels, since they were already available. Paul was writing epistles to specific churches or pastors concerning the needs of those particular people and in doing so God used him to present the basics of Christian living to His church. Both Paul and Peter mention that in their preaching they preached the gospel, in other words, the life, death and resurrection of Christ leading to the salvation of man. Let's just consider the writings of Paul, since there is less dispute as to whether Peter would understand and teach the ways of Jesus.

Romans 1:15 - "So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also."

How often does Paul use this phrase or a similar one in his writings? I count at least forty times. How about this phrase?

I Corinthians 1:22-24 - "For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

In the Book of Romans Paul lays out the principles of sin and the price for sin. He explains what Jesus accomplished in His mission to mankind and how Jesus both paid the price for sin and made salvation available to mankind. He lays the background for understanding atonement, and grace, and echoes what Jesus told both His disciples and the crowds to whom He preached. Paul certainly understood Jesus' teachings exceedingly well and could present them convincingly.

I could go on and on. Paul's epistles, like those of James and Peter, were meant to augment the testimonies of the Gospels and the Acts, not to echo them. G. A. Wells seems to think that Paul needs to rerun previous scriptures in order to either have validity or to give validity to the scriptures that had been written by others. But Paul would not have seen that as being part of his mission. Paul sought converts to Christianity and as a mentor to other preachers he helped others to do the same. I am sure Paul never gave a moment's thought to whether his writings were a validation of the Gospel of Matthew. Like Jesus when He taught, Paul would occasionally quote scripture in his writings to make a point, but not to authenticate the passage being quoted.

Wells fails to see the significance of the fact that Peter and other believers associated with Jerusalem and Jesus himself acknowledged Paul as an apostle of Christ. Furthermore, Paul did not cling to that acknowledgement but actually was bold enough to question some of their rituals. Much like Jesus, Paul put emphasis on grace and the state of the heart of man above that of circumcision or the washing of hands. G. A Wells does not grasp this. Unfortunately G. A. Wells lacks the insight to understand the writings of the New Testament thoroughly because he comes to the books as a skeptic. A skeptic will have difficulty understanding.

II Peter 1:19-21 - "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

I try to be a humble man. It pains me to say something that people will take as arrogance. Yet I believe this to be true, that unless you are a believing Christian you cannot get as much out of the New Testament as can a believer. Based on the scripture above, men wrote the scriptures but first they had to be believers and be able to be moved by the Spirit of God to write. Second, in order to interpret what is written on needs the Spirit of God to help you understand in depth what has been written. This is not my idea, I am just passing on what the scriptures say.

As a believing Christian who has prayerfully studied the writings of Paul in the Bible, having read every one of his epistles dozens of times, looked up the Greek, prayerfully considered and meditated over individual passages, based my living in part on what is contained in those passages, I have to say this: G. A. Wells may very well be both a sincere and a studious man. However, Wells, when talking about what Paul said and knew and believed, just doesn't know what the heck he is talking
about.

____________________________________________________

Preview of coming events

Largely fueled by comments by creeper, the second set of seven points will be a much longer posting. It should be up on Thursday, since I teach a class on Wednesday and have a few other obligations so my post tomorrow may be a shorter one.

I do want to thank again all the commenters who take the time to post here. Concerning feedback, kindly make a comment on the last poetry posting if you would consider taking part in a Poetry carnival. I am thinking of hosting one and I think I have some commenters who could contribute some interesting stuff. Thanks!

Monday, April 24, 2006

No politics this time...

What could cause the Right Wing News and the StopThe ACLU guys to join forces with the Democratic Underground????

This!

Wanna play games, huh?

Amy Proctor pointed this out:

"Liberals are at it again. My friend Curt at Flopping Aces was hacked today, apparently because he reported an outing of a Democrat CIA agent.

This is what liberals do. This is how liberals operate."


Some wingnut moonbats hacked Flopping Aces to shut them down. Why? Because Flopping Aces had revealed the connection between secret leakers at the CIA and Clinton Administration wonks such as Sandy (I got top secret papers in my underwear!) Berger and John Kerry and notoriously anti-administration pundits like Dana Priest. Not to mention Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame...how many interviews and news articles and possible book deals have you guys gotten out of the so-called 'outing' now? Looks like a concerted effort by Clinton-related liberals to make political gains at the expense of our nation's security.

That Priest won a Pulitzer Prize(!) reminds one of the United Nations, where Iran is selected as deputy for Asian nations for the United Nations Commission on Disarmament! That the news media is trying to promote Mary McCarthy as a "whistle-blower" is disgusting. The major news media try to ignore Abel-Danger, forget about Berger destroying documents related to the 9/11 investigation and promote traitorous news stories based on leaked CIA documents. If the news media of our time had been around during World War Two, D-Day would have been no surprise and the advantage of having an Enigma machine would have been leaked to the Germans. Disgusting.

I try not to get angry about this kind of thing, but people who leak classified information for political purposes, putting our citizenry in danger, they ought to be prosecuted. Period!

Anyway, since wingnuts tried to shut Flopping Aces up, I counter by putting them on my blogroll. Freedom of speech, baby!

Let's Review...Ten Points of Discussion

Bible Stuff - Three Points

First, Jesus has been established as an historical character from eyewitness accounts in the Bible, writers of history such as Josephus, and people who might have rather erased all records of him, that is, the Romans and Jews. The Romans recorded the existence of "Chrestus" and His followers. The Jewish Talmud has references to Jesus, his birth, his ministry and also the Book of Matthew. Almost everyone agrees that He existed, other than a fringe factor that can be ignored. I consider the self-styled Bible scholar known as G A Wells to most definitely be one of the fringe. I am on the side of the majority opinion that Jesus was most definitely an historical character.

Second, it has been established that there is a great deal of controversy within the ranks of Biblical scholars concerning the dating of the New Testament books. There are competing camps, neither of which can claim a concensus. I am on the side of the early daters, as I have posted previously.

Third, I have established myself as a Bible literalist. Unless the Bible is clearly using prophetic or allegorical terminology I take it literally for both doctrine and historical narratives. This puts me in the minority, but it is not a tiny minority by any means.


Creation Stuff - Seven Points


I am going to first make a concession. Whereas I don't believe in macroevolution, the Tiktaalik controversy caused me to consider the matter carefully. Creationists are correct in saying that "Tik" is not a pure transitional form, since it remains a fish. On the other hand, macroevolutionists are correct in believing that if indeed there is a continuum of creatures from water to land, then "Tik" is closer to bridging that gap than any other fossil found. It is the closest thing to a transitional form yet discovered. It doesn't "prove" macroevolution to be true, but it is significant in that it is an expected find if macroevolution is true. As evidence it is definitely a blow for the macroevolutionary side of the fight. If macroevolution was able to be proved at some time in the future then a few more fossils like Tiktaalik would go a long way towards that end.

First, it is true that the majority of scientists of every discipline believe macroevolution to be true. For most of them, that doesn't enter in to their particular field of research. I am in the opposing camp, a small one, but one that includes some very brilliant and capable scientists. (disclaimer - The ID list is of scientists who agreed with this statement - “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” ) It would be more gracious of macroevolutionists if they would cease the propaganda campaign trying to configure creationists as cranks. Cranks believe the world is flat, or that the UFO's are coming to get us soon, or other ludicrous beliefs. Creationism has been the belief of some of the great scientists of all time and has never been disproved, it has just become unpopular. I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?

Second, the large amount of historical records and the evidences of carvings and figurines and drawings is evidence that dragons and sea-monsters and firebirds were actual living beings - dinosaurs. Once they became uncommon they tend to take on the characteristics of myth. But much mythology is just history passed on by "Chinese Telephone" so to speak. No one has been able to come up with a reasonable explanation for why it is that so many of these representations and records are accurate depictions of dinosaurs according to the best paleontological evidence we have today.

Third, there are evidences in virtually every culture that the Bible narrative of Genesis is true or at least evidences that support the narrative. Genealogies around the world mention Noah, Sham, Ham and/or Japheth and some go all the way back to Adam. There are world-wide flood accounts from cultures on every continent. The Biblical account was carefully safeguarded by the family of Adam through Noah down to Moses and then on through time by Jewish scribes carefully counting words and comparing scripts so that not "one jot or tittle" would be miscopied. This is why the Genesis account is plausible whereas other stories have the appearance of what we call myth.

Fourth, Uniformitarianism, once a tenet of macroevolution, has been largely debunked. Geoleogists are moving back to catastrophism. Creationists say the events surrounding the Noahic Flood are responsible for the geological record in stone. Macroevolutionists say that it is a record of multiple catastrophes with varied causes, such as comets, local floods, meteors, etc.

Fifth, a very controversial subject is the matter of evidence surrounding the Noahic Flood and the fossil record. Both camps believe that the fossil record is strongly on their side. Macroevolutionists deny that the Ark and the Flood are plausible and that the time factors are wrong. Here is another place where the age of the earth and the Universe become part of the dialogue.

Sixth, there are conflicting opinions regarding the statistical possibilities of macroevolution and the application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Also, another controversial subject is that of Irreducibly Complex systems. The fine-tuning of the Universe is yet another factor to be considered. In all of these discussions creationists sometimes find themselves on the same side as Intelligent Designers, with macroevolutionists on the other side. But make no mistake, ID proponents and creationists are not necessarily coming from the same place. My point of view concerning the origin of life and the Universe are quite different from a Hugh Ross or a William Dembski. There are Christians who are macroevolutionists and Christians who are creationists. There are non-Christians who nonetheless are creationists or ID'ers and there are non-Christians who are macroevolutionists. I am a Christian who is a creationist but I sometimes use the arguments of ID proponents when they are, to me, valid, even if there are areas of disagreement between us.

Seventh, in my opinion the primary reason a person is either on the side of macroevolution or creation seems to be world view. I believe it is the rapidly changing world view of a Western World moving away from Christianity and towards Humanism in the 1800's that led to the theories of Darwin being adopted, Uniformitarianism accepted, and Biblical textural criticism popularized. Once popularized, such thoughts became the "default setting" for the teaching of those disciplines, thus many Christians have come to agree with positions that are not in accord with the Bible. At that point many Christians decide to not take the Bible literally in places they might have otherwise done so, on the basis of what is considered by the world to be common or accepted knowledge. There were no great discoveries in the 1800's to disprove God, but rather there were hypotheses proposed that did away with God as a necessity.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Comes the day - a poem

Comes the day

Upon
so soft a night
as butter to be torn away
from lips poised for dream's
kisses
with saws-edge working
comes the day

Though you and I
be joined together before the moon
in soul and substance
loving
giving way
There holds no bond between us
before that bright blade


Kimbal Ross all rights reserved

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fish do pushups! Film at eleven!

I think all the hoopla (which has now died down) about Tiktaalik was fun. Macro-evolutionists were hopping all over themselves about having found the missing link...until they realized that "Tik" was no more likely to have been able to walk than the coelacanth. "Tik" has bones in its fin lobes that are not attached to the main skeletal structure. No supportee-no walkee.

I got a kick out of this article and so I will share. Go to Doug TenNapel for the full effect.

"...wait a minute, you're telling me that scientists have been preaching Godless evolution all this time without a legit fish-to-tetrapod missing link?! Well what were you using all this time on the fossil tree, science fiction? Luckily, no gap is so great between species that can make some scientists lose their faith in a dogmatic fundamentalist allegience to Materialist Darwinism.

Here's the newly discovered fish, recategorized by science as a substantial missing link and organsmically reported by TheNewYorkTimes (HT:HH). It gets so much coverage you'd think it was a new photo release from Abu Gharib.

Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375 million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought "missing link" in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.

Long-sought missing link. Long sought. You're seeking missing links because you don't have any. Why are you pushing a scientific theory into public schools when this is your first missing link that connects fish to us? If you want better evidence, I'd go for Dolly Parton because she's starting to look like a trout (speaking of, don't go see The Hills Have Eyes)

A model of the 375 million-year-old fish, which exhibits changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals.

Sorry buddy, but you aren't allowed to use the term "anticipate" when referring to blind evolutionary principles. Anticipation is what happens when you have an Intelligent Agent. I know I'm going to Darwin-hell for speaking such blasphemy but I'm only repeating what the Times already printed. Please tell Pope Dawkins not to fire me from my college.

In addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils are widely seen by scientists as a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who hold a literal biblical view on the origins and development of life.

1. You're admitting that major transitions in evolution were previously unconfirmed-but-taught-in-public-schools.
2. When you say "religious creationists" don't you mean, "psycho-fundamentalist, snake-handling-creationists"? Or are you calling those of us who support Intelligent Design some kind of religious creationists?
3. I wasn't even aware that religious creationists were in the race so it seems weird that you're wasting time rebutting them. If ID isn't science, why go so far out of your way to throw down a challenge? I mean, you're not announcing a challenge to flat-Earthers, but that's because you know flat-Earthers aren't in the race. You just accidentally strengthened our position. You should go back to ignoring ID like you did ten years ago.

But on closer examination, scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but exhibiting changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals — a predecessor thus of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans.

A fish has a wrist so now he's my grandfather. That's some serious anticipation. I mean, here's a WALKING FISH with LUNGS! Is this going to evolve into a human too?

The scientists described evidence in the forward fins of limbs in the making. There are the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows and shoulders. The fish also had a flat skull resembling a crocodile's, a neck, ribs and other parts that were similar to four-legged land animals known as tetrapods.


Here's why this whole fish-thing is gay. You can't know that the fins are limbs in the making or if the fins are fully functional and perfectly complete as is. It's also really suspect that an entire arm system would be evolving at the same time. Does a fish fin that has 10% progress in the digits, wrists, elbows and shoulders really have an advantage over his peers to help him get his genes into the next generation? If I have 10% of a shark tail growing out of my butt have I gained a swimming advantage? How about 1% of a shark fin? I'm sorry but this kind of Darwinism is just self-evidently dumb.

Plus if any "scientist" would bother reading Hugh Ross they would see that most of us in Intelligent Design actually strongly believe that some form of evolution occurred. So again, I don't agree with the Times that this is some death nail in our position. How exactly do these researchers know by looking at the Candadian fish's bones that it doesn't have the ability the information in its DNA to already be able to change from fins to a proto-wrist? They just presuppose Philosophical Naturalism and file all data accordingly.

The discovering scientists called the fossils the most compelling examples yet of an animal that was at the cusp of the fish-tetrapod transition.


Wait, it's on the cusp or it's transforming? Make up your mind, this is supposed to be science.

In two reports in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, the science team led by Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago wrote, "The origin of limbs probably involved the elaboration and proliferation of features already present in the fins of fish such as Tiktaalik."

Probably. How probably?

Dr. Shubin, an evolutionary biologist, let himself go in an interview. "It's a really amazing remarkable intermediate fossil — it's like, holy cow," he enthused.


You'd think the guy was getting nervous at the lack of evidence they could press into use for their preferred conclusion. But nah, these guys are scientists. Or, as BIll Murray said in Ghostbusters, "Back off buddy. I'm a scientist."

But Tiktaalik is so clearly an intermediate "link between fishes and land vertebrates,"

Clearly an intermediate? What happened to probably?

they said, that it "might in time become as much an evolutionary icon as the proto-bird Archaeopteryx," which bridged the gap between reptiles, probably dinosaurs, and today's birds.

Probably dinosaurs?...or clearly? Clearly probably?

"Based on what we already know...


KNOW?! Probably clearly know.

...we have a very strong reason to think tetrapods evolved from lineages of fishes. This may be a critical phase in that transition that we haven't had before. A good fossil cuts through a lot of scientific argument."

Your faith in Darwinism cuts through a lot of scientific argument.

While Dr. Shubin's team played down the fossil's significance in the raging debate over Darwinian theory, which is opposed mainly by some conservative Christians in the United States

You mean, "conservative, fundamentalist, Bush-supporting, snake-handlin' Christians who used the Crusades and the Inquisition to take over the world and-

other scientists were not so reticent. They said this should undercut the creationists' argument that there is no evidence in the fossil record of one kind of creature becoming another kind.

Wait, before this Canadian fish weren't the "Creationists" correct? If there were so many fossils proving your theory why is this Canadian fish such big news?

Dr. Novacek responded in an interview: "We've got Archaeopteryx, an early whale that lived on land and now this animal showing the transition from fish to tetrapod. What more do we need from the fossil record to show that the creationists are flatly wrong?"

You don't need more from the fossil record to believe in evolution and you didn't need this Canadian fish...nor did you need the whale and Archaeopteryx transitional forms. It's not about evidence with Darwinists and it never was.

It was not until July 2004, Dr. Shubin said, that "we hit the jackpot." They found several of the fishes in a quarry, their skeletons largely intact and in three dimensions. The large skull had the sharp teeth of a predator. It was attached to a neck, which allowed the fish the unfishlike ability to swivel its head.

"Some people think there are two cervical vertebrae [making a fish neck], other people think they don’t have any." - Frietson Galis, biologist at the Institute of Biology of Leiden University in The Netherlands.

Embedded in the pectoral fins were bones that compare to the upper arm, forearm and primitive parts of the hand of land-living animals.


Wow! A fish with digits, wrist and shoulders just like us. You'd think we might have a similar Architect. No! The fish-wrist can only mean one thing! There is no God! Yayyyyy!"

Friday, April 21, 2006

Are New Testament Books Historically Relevant?

I am not even going to repeat the insistence of modern liberal Bible scholars who propose late dates for New Testament books, including the Gospels, based on hypotheses that are unsupported by any solid factual evidence. I do intend, however, to show that the authors of the New Testament books were contemporaneous with Jesus, some of them knew Him, and all of them wrote the scriptures in the first century AD. Therefore, the Gospels and Acts are faithful and useful historical records that attest to the life of Jesus Christ as an historical figure. I will consider all the books here, especially the Gospels and Acts and most especially the one found at the beginning of the New Testament, Matthew.

First, the early Christian authors were nearly all Jews (Jesus was a Jew, too, by the way) who had followed Christ or became followers of Christ not long after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Like Paul). If any of the New Testament was written after 70 AD the elephant in the room of scripture is the destruction of Jerusalem in the spring of AD 70.

"The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70, only five years after our epistle, was the greatest single event of a thousand years, and religiously significant beyond anything else that ever occurred in human history." (James Burton Coffman, Commentary on James, 1 & 2 Peter, p. 231)

Josephus documented the conflict thoroughly and characterized it as worse than any that had gone before. He stated, “the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews [at the destruction of Jerusalem], are not so considerable as they were” (Wars , Preface, 4). With the slaughter of over one million people, the cannibalism, the physical destruction of the temple and surrounding buildings, it is understandable that Josephus would have had such an opinion.

The writers, such as John, could not have helped but noted such a destruction, such a blow to the Jewish people, even if he himself was a follower of Christ. Yet not one New Testament author mentions that terrible event and any time a description of Jerusalem is given, or one of the landmarks described, it is in present tense as if the city had remained whole. Before the spring of 70 AD this would have been true. In fact, since the Maccabean revolt had begun in 66 AD and rumors of Roman invasion had started not long thereafter, even the possibility of the destruction of Jerusalem would likely have been mentioned. But not one word on such a subject is found.

Gijs van den Brink on Matthew

"In Matthew 24 we find a second verse that is relevant for our investigation, which even gives evidence for accepting that the gospel was written before 66. This is found in Matthew 24:15-16.

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation', spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains".

It now becomes impossible to accept that this last phrase 'flee to the mountains' was written with reference to actual events, since the mountains of Judea were in fact already in enemy hands at the end of 67 AD (Robinson 1976: 16). Moreover, according to the church father Eusebius (HE III,5.3), the Christians did not flee to the mountains, but left Jerusalem before the outbreak of the war in 66 and went to the town of Pella in the Transjordan. The most simple explanation for all of this is that the exhortations of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:16 are prophetic words, written down by Matthew before 66 AD

In closing, we shall discuss a matter that suggests that the gospel was written even before 62. What actually happened in 62? According to Eusebius, James, the brother of Jesus, died as a martyr in that year. As leader of the church of Jerusalem, he was succeeded by Simeon, the son of Clopas, the brother of Joseph (HE III,11; III,23.1-6; IV,22.4). This succession within the family through the line of the father reflects Jewish custom. Clopas, the father of Simeon, also appears in the New Testament as the husband of one of the Marys who stood by the cross (John 19:25). It is natural and most likely to identify this Mary with the one described by Matthew as the 'mother of James and Joses' and as 'the other Mary' (Matt 27:56, 61; 28:1; Meyer-Bauer 1963: 426). If Matthew had written his gospel after 62, at the very least one would have expected that he, who himself stood in the Palestinian tradition, would have indicated this Mary to be Mary the mother of Simeon. The fact that Matthew does not mention Simeon in connection with this suggests that he has written his gospel before 62 AD. (Robinson 1976: 106)."


CARM.ORG

This site was a find for me, and in reading it I had to revise the earliest possible date of the Book of Acts from around 40 AD to around 55-60 AD due to the established time of Festus as Procurator, as mentioned below. I disagree with their view of the time of John's writings (which has a great deal to do with eschatology) but otherwise the information is relevant indeed.

"When were the gospels written and by whom?

Dating the gospels is very important. If it can be established that the gospels were written early, say before the year 70 A.D., then we would have good reason for believing that they were written by the disciples of Jesus Himself. If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy better substantiated. Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for myth to creep into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses to Christ's life that wrote them. Furthermore, those who were alive at the time of the events could have countered the gospel accounts and since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical.

Destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. , Luke and Acts

None of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied concerning the temple when He said "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down," (Luke 21:5, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold in the temple melted down between the stone walls and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the gold. Such an obvious fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy most likely would have been recorded as such by the gospel writers who were fond of mentioning fulfillment of prophecy if they had been written after 70 A.D. Also, if the gospels were fabrications of mythical events then anything to bolster the Messianic claims -- such as the destruction of the temple as Jesus said -- would surely have been included. But, it was not included suggesting that the gospels (at least Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written before 70 A.D.

Similarly, this argument is important when we consider the dating of the book of Acts which was written after the gospel of Luke by Luke himself. Acts is a history of the Christian church right after Jesus' ascension. Acts also fails to mention the incredibly significant events of 70 A.D. which would have been extremely relevant and prophetically important and garnered inclusion into Acts had it occurred before Acts was written. Remember, Acts is a book of history concerning the Christians and the Jews. The fact that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is not recorded is very strong evidence that Acts was written before A.D. 70. If we add to this the fact that acts does not include the accounts of "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)," and we have further evidence that it was written early.

If we look at Acts 1:1-2 it says, "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen." Most scholars affirm that Acts was written by Luke and that Theophilus (Grk. "lover of God") "may have been Luke’s patron who financed the writing of Luke and Acts." This means that the gospel of Luke was written before Acts.

"At the earliest, Acts cannot have been written prior to the latest firm chronological marker recorded in the book—Festus’s appointment as procurator (24:27), which, on the basis of independent sources, appears to have occurred between A.D. 55 and 59."

"It is increasingly admitted that the Logia [Q] was very early, before 50 A.D., and Mark likewise if Luke wrote the Acts while Paul was still alive. Luke's Gospel comes (Acts 1:1) before the Acts. The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly."

For clarity, Q is supposedly one of the source documents used by both Matthew and Luke in writing their gospels. If Q actually existed then that would push the first writings of Christ's words and deeds back even further lessening the available time for myth to creep in and adding to the validity and accuracy of the gospel accounts. If what is said of Acts is true, this would mean that Luke was written at least before A.D. 63 and possibly before 55 - 59 since Acts is the second in the series of writings by Luke. This means that the gospel of Luke was written within 30 years of Jesus' death.

Matthew

The early church unanimously held that the gospel of Matthew was the first written gospel and was penned by the apostle of the same name (Matt. 10:2). Lately, the priority of Matthew as the first written gospel has come under suspicion with Mark being considered by many to be the first written gospel. The debate is far from over.

The historian Papias mentions that the gospel of Matthew was originally in Aramaic or Hebrew and attributes the gospel to Matthew the apostle.

"Irenaeus (ca. a.d. 180) continued Papias’s views about Matthew and Mark and added his belief that Luke, the follower of Paul, put down in a book the gospel preached by that apostle, and that John, the Beloved Disciple, published his Gospel while residing in Asia. By the time of Irenaeus, Acts was also linked with Luke, the companion of Paul."

This would mean that if Matthew did write in Aramaic originally, that he may have used Mark as a map, adding and clarifying certain events as he remembered them. But, this is not known for sure.

The earliest quotation of Matthew is found in Ignatius who died around 115 A.D. Therefore, Matthew was in circulation well before Ignatius came on the scene. The various dates most widely held as possible writing dates of the Gospel are between A.D. 40 - 140. But Ignatius died around 115 A.D. and he quoted Matthew. Therefore Matthew had to be written before he died. Nevertheless, it is generally believed that Matthew was written before A.D. 70 and as early as A.D. 50.

Mark

Mark was not an eyewitness to the events of Jesus' life. He was a disciple of Peter and undoubtedly it was Peter who informed Mark of the life of Christ and guided him in writing the Gospel known by his name. "Papias claimed that Mark, the Evangelist, who had never heard Christ, was the interpreter of Peter, and that he carefully gave an account of everything he remembered from the preaching of Peter." Generally, Mark is said to be the earliest gospel with an authorship of between A.D. 55 to A.D. 70.

Luke

Luke was not an eyewitness of the life of Christ. He was a companion of Paul who also was not an eyewitness of Christ's life. But, both had ample opportunity to meet the disciples who knew Christ and learn the facts not only from them, but from others in the area. Some might consider this damaging to the validity of the gospel, but quite the contrary. Luke was a gentile convert to Christianity who was interested in the facts. He obviously had interviewed the eyewitnesses and written the Gospel account as well as Acts.

"The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God," (Acts 1:1-3).

Notice how Luke speaks of "them," of those who had personal encounters with Christ. Luke is simply recounting the events from the disciples. Since Luke agrees with Matthew, Mark, and John and since there is no contradictory information coming from any of the disciples stating that Luke was inaccurate, and since Luke has proven to be a very accurate historian, we can conclude that Luke's account is very accurate.

As far as dating the gospel goes, Luke was written before the book of Acts and Acts does not mention "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)." Therefore, we can conclude that Luke was written before A.D. 62. "Luke's Gospel comes (Acts 1:1) before the Acts. The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly."

John

The writer of the gospel of John was obviously an eyewitness of the events of Christ's life since he speaks from a perspective of having been there during many of the events of Jesus' ministry and displays a good knowledge of Israeli geography and customs.

The John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 of John's gospel dated in the year 135 contains portions of John 18, verses 31-33,37-38. This fragment was found in Egypt and a considerable amount of time is needed for the circulation of the gospel before it reached Egypt. It is the last of the gospels and appears to have been written in the 80's to 90's.

Of important note is the lack of mention of the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. But this is understandable since John was not focusing on historical events. Instead, he focused on the theological aspect of the person of Christ and listed His miracles and words that affirmed Christ's deity.

Though there is still some debate on the dates of when the gospels were written, they were most assuredly completed before the close of the first century and written by eyewitnesses or under the direction of eyewitnesses."


One has to keep in mind that the early church fathers agreed not only that these books were canonical scripture, but agreed to the authorship thereof. It is a fine thing for "scholars" to try to dispute such findings nearly 2,000 years later, but today we don't have the same information that was available to, say, Origen.

Dr. van den Brink weighs in with some additional thoughts on the authorship of Matthew:

"In his Ecclesiastical History (HE VI, 25.4), Eusebius quoted Origen who wrote, "... first was written that according to Matthew, who was once a tax-collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language" (tr. Loeb II, 75). Irenaeus wrote, "Now Matthew published among the Hebrews a written gospel also in their own tongue, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and founding the church" (quoted by Eusebius, HE V, 8.2; tr. Loeb I, 455). However, the view that Matthew is the author of this gospel is especially based on a quotation also found with Eusebius (HE, III, 39.16). This quotation originates from Papias, bishop of Hierapolis around 130, and goes as follows, "Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best as he could" (tr. Loeb I, 297).

First of all, this brings up the question as to what Papias meant with ta logia (literally words, proverbs). Since Schleiermacher many explained the word logia in this passage as 'sayings' and believed Papias had refered to a document containing (only) sayings of Jesus. But nowadays there is more or less a scholarly consensus that Papias used the word in the sense of 'reports', including quotational elements as well as narrative units. He called his book 'Investigations of the logia' (HE III,39.1) and by this Greek expression he meant the canonical gospels, whether they contain sayings or narratives (Reicke 1990: 299). The Church Fathers after him also understood his words in that way.

When we read that Matthew 'has combined his gospel in the Hebrew language', another problem emerges: almost all scholars agree that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek, and is not likely to be the work of a translator. Therefore, it is assumed that Papias was wrong here, or that a Semitic translation of Matthew's Greek gospel was in circulation at the time. However, both suppositions lack conclusive evidence. We may just as well assume Matthew wrote both an Aramaic and a Greek gospel. As Davies and Allison (1988: 12) rightly observe, it is not easy to determine whether an ancient text, especially one so clearly bearing the marks of two cultures, as does Matthew, is or is not a translation. They mention the fact that learned Greeks, such as Eusebius, Origen, Clement of Alexandria and Irenaeus, presumably knew the Greek language better than most modern scholars. And they all took canonical Matthew to be the translation of a Semitic original."


It is very interesting to note that one very significant historical record would be the Jews themselves. The Jewish people were known for keeping careful records and taking note of events of the day. Perhaps no record was more important than the Talmud. This column which appeared in the Kansas City Star (among other publications) sheds additional light here. (all sections in bold enhanced by me)

Support for the Authenticity of Book of Matthew Comes from an Unlikely Place

As reported in the Kansas City Star - Posted on Sat, Jun. 07, 2003 to KansasCity.com

"Buried in ancient texts of Jewish historical works are fragments of evidence that appear to show the first book of the New Testament actually was written by one of Jesus' apostles.

One of these texts also challenges a long-held assertion that no ancient text except the Bible mentions Jesus' birth.

Taken together, the information lends support to the claims of some Christian scholars that Matthew actually wrote the Gospel bearing his name, a Gospel that more than the three others emphasized Jesus' Jewish roots.

"One of the reasons that people have not come to grips with the Jewishness of Jesus is that it makes the accounts of the Gospels plausible," Craig Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Theological Seminary, said in an interview this week. "For the Jewish or Christian believer, it helps them better understand who Jesus was, what he stood for and what to do with this Gospel."

Since the 1800s groups of scholars have argued that Jesus might have been a real person, but that he wasn't the son of God, that he didn't perform miracles and that the four Gospels are mostly myths composed by people who assigned to Jesus godlike powers.

More recently the scholarship has taken the form of the Jesus Seminar, a group of about 200 academics who have been studying the Gospels since the mid-1980s. The seminar created a media splash a decade ago when it publicly announced its conclusions that Jesus said only 18 percent of what's conventionally attributed to him in the New Testament. The Gospels, they concluded, are not historically reliable.

But as scholars of Judaism continue to research the history of early Christianity, they are uncovering evidence that appears to show the Gospels of the New Testament may be more reliable than some thought.

Matthew as parody

In the New Testament, none of the authors of the Gospels identifies himself as the writer. The names -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- belong to followers of Jesus who early church leaders believe wrote the texts.

Until the 1800s Gospel authorship was rarely, if ever, questioned. Then scholars in Germany shook up conventional belief by questioning the authorship and challenging commonly accepted dates for when the Gospels were written.

One of the first Gospels to be doubted was Matthew. Church tradition said it was written by Matthew, a tax collector who became a disciple of Jesus, a witness to events. Conservative Christian clergy and scholars said they believe the book of Matthew was written between A.D. 40 and 60, within Matthew's lifetime.

But other scholars concluded the Gospel wasn't written any earlier than A.D. 85, perhaps as late as A.D. 135, long after Matthew's death. If the author wasn't a witness, the thinking goes, the Gospel becomes less credible.

So to scholars the dating is important.

In an essay written for the book Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times, Israel J. Yuval of Jerusalem's Hebrew University reported a find in the Talmud that appears to show Matthew could have been written earlier than some scholars contend.

Yuval wrote that a leading rabbinical scholar of the time was "considered to have authored a sophisticated parody of the Gospel according to Matthew."

The parody, written by a rabbi known as Gamaliel, is believed by some well-respected liberal Christian scholars to have been written about A.D. 73 or earlier.

The fact the parody exists and the date when it was believed to be written "would undercut badly (biblical critics') claims of a late date of A.D. 85-90 or later," said Bob Newman, professor of New Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.

"That is very significant and very important," said Tim Skinner, associate professor of Bible and theology at Luther Rise Seminary in Georgia, because that validates the legitimacy of Matthew's Gospel...it confirms the truthfulness of the biblical account in Matthew and confirms the truth of what Jesus did."

Blomberg said a close study of the parody's wording indicates it was based on an existing text. If that text was Matthew, the Gospel existed much earlier than some scholars believe.
Similarly the earlier the Gospel was written, the more likely eyewitnesses to Jesus' life would still be alive.

"(Which) would mean that Matthew's Gospel would be seen by other eyewitnesses who could check and authenticate it," Blomberg said.

Praise and pronouncements

Among the challenges to Christianity was the charge that Jews had rejected Jesus and that no Jewish leaders or scholars ever accepted Jesus as the Messiah. But even one of the most revered Jewish texts, the Talmud, a collection of rabbinical writings from 100 B.C. to A.D. 500, suggests otherwise.

In the second century A.D., Rabbi Judah Ha Nasi (A.D. 135-200) purged the Mishnah, part of the Talmud, of many references to Christianity and those who adhered to it. But not everything was edited out.

In his classic work, The History of the Talmud, Jewish Talmudic scholar Michael L. Rodkinson wrote: "There were passages in the Mishnayoth concerning Jesus and his teaching...the Messianists...(were) many and considerable persons and in close alliance with their colleagues the Pharisees during the (first) two centuries."

Those words from the Mishnah appear to correspond to New Testament accounts that many Jews, including Pharisees and "a great company of priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).

The Talmud mentions that the Romans hanged Jesus from a tree, while in another text section the Talmud does something done nowhere else but the New Testament -- mentions Jesus' birth.

English scholar R. Travers Herford, in his book Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, wrote that rabbinical writings mention that Jesus' mother, Mary, was "descended from princes and rulers."

Despite the noble lineage, Herford noted, the Talmudic text referred to Jesus as "Ben Pandira," roughly translated as "son of a virgin," which was considered an epithet.

"While the Jesus Seminar was making radical pronouncements (among them that Jesus was not the Son of God) and courting the media," Blomberg said, "what is less well-known to the public is the study in which scholars have been growing in their appreciation of Jesus' Jewish roots."

He said, "These things have never been presented in any popular forms of consumption to the American public."


(Neil Altman is a writer who lives in Pennsylvania and specializes in the Dead Sea Scrolls and religion. His others works have appeared The Times of London, the Toronto Star and The Washington Post.

David Crowder, an investigative reporter with the El Paso Times, and Bill Norton, of The Star, contributed to this story.)

A Conclusion

Just as Uniformitarianism and Darwinism got started in the 1800's, so did the attempt to label the Gospels and Acts with later dates and discredit the authorship thereof. One cannot wonder if perhaps this was another instance of world view fueling the fires rather than an advance in knowledge.

That the Talmud authenticates the birth and life of Jesus Christ is significant because the Jews who did not follow Jesus would not have wished to give Christianity any credit. That the Talmud also validates Matthew as being written by Matthew and having been written certainly earlier than 73 AD discredits the liberal "scholarship" of the last 200 years and presents Matthew as a credible, contemporary, eyewitness account of the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is not just Pliny and Tacitus and Josephus and Origen and Julius Africanus who mention Christ, it is the very people who slew Him and wanted nothing to do with Him. (References to Jesus can also be found in Roman writings that refer to "Chrestus" or His followers.)

I say, therefore, that there is ample historical evidence that Jesus was absolutely a real person and that eyewitness accounts to His ministry do exist.

Linked to Woman Honor Thyself

I wanna know if Acambaro the dinosaur tonight, Dad?

Earlier I presented a few historical references to dinosaur's interaction with mankind, all from the region around Scandinavia and the British Isles. Skeptics like to scoff at the reports, but then there are hundreds of reports and scattered all about the region. It is hard to imagine a conspiracy of our ancestors in which they would try to fool us into believing in dinosaurs. It is also hard to imagine how they would often draw anatomically correct (by modern standards) representations of dinosaurs along with their writings or in the works of ancient artists.

As it happens, I could make a dozen posts on the subject. In South America, North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa....in every kind of culture and on every inhabited continent there are records and artistic representations of dinosaurs. In some cases, there are natives who claim that there are still living dinosaurs to be found. "Mokele-Mbembe" was still claimed to be living in the 1980's, for instance. 'Nessie' was faked, no doubt, and no one has presented a living dinosaur or a fresh dinosaur corpse in recent days. Perhaps they really are all gone? (Although Coelacanth was thought to be extinct for eighty million years until one was caught in 1938. The Gladiator Fly was supposed to have been gone much longer still, until they were found on a mountaintop in Namibia in 2002.)

But I digress. The tales of the Thunderbird in virtually every American Indian tribe echo the sightings of flying reptiles in Europe. The dragons of China and England are also depicted on walls in South America. In fact, pictorial representations of dinosaurs done 500, 1,000, 1,500 years ago and before have been documented all over the globe. You have to wonder why the Chinese calendar would include eleven extant animals....and a dragon. But if the dragon was once living amongst the Chinese, then it is understandable.

The occasional fake (The Ica stones, for instance) will show up. But for every Ica stone, there are probably 3 Acambaro figurines that have withstood various tests as genuine ancient artifacts.

Acambaro

The finds in this small Mexican town are among the most astounding ever. Although the first figurines were found in 1945, many of the figurines were prophetic in nature in that:

1) They displayed dinosaurs not yet found and identified by paleontologists but now known to have existed.

2) They displayed features such as dermal spines, not known to be found on such dinosaurs at that time, but now (as of 1992) understood to be a feature of many dinosaurs once pictured as smooth-backed.

Dating methods in general are not totally reliable, but within 4,000 years or so have been proven to be worthwhile for demonstrating an age range for an object. The Acambaro figurines consistently test out as 1,500-4,500 years old when tested by impartial testing agents, although they often withdraw their findings when they realize the implications of the results.

The Mystery of Acambaro

"In 1945 Waldemar Julsrud, a German immigrant and knowledgeable archeologist, discovered clay figurines buried at the foot of El Toro Mountain on the outskirts of Acambaro, Guanajuato, Mexico. Eventually over 33,000 ceramic figurines were found near El Toro as well as Chivo Mountain on the other side of town. Similar artifacts found in the area are identified with the Pre-classical Chupicuaro Culture (800 BC to 200 AD).

The authenticity of Julsrud find was challenged because the huge collection included dinosaurs. Many archeologists believe dinosaurs have been extinct for the past 65 million years and man knowledge of them has been limited to the past 200 years. If this is true, man could not possibly have seen and modeled them 2,500 years ago.

During the years 1945 to 1946,Carlos Perea was Director of Archeology, Acambaro zone, for the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. In a recorded interview he described Julsrud excavations as unauthorized, as were many similar discoveries made by local farmers, but he had no doubt that the finds were authentic. He acknowledged that he examined the figurines, including dinosaurs, from many different sites. He was present when official excavations were conducted by the National Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. They found many figurines, including dinosaurs, which he described in detail.

In 1954 the Mexican government sent four well known archeologists to investigate. A different but nearby site was selected and a meticulous excavation was begun. Six feet down they found numerous examples of similar figurines and concluded that Julsrud find was authentic. However, three weeks later their report declared the collection to be a fraud because of the fantastic representation of man and dinosaur together.

In 1955 Charles Hapgood, respected1 Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Hampshire, conducted an elaborate investigation including extensive radiometric dating. He was accompanied by Earl Stanley Gardner, former District Attorney of the city of Los Angeles, California and the creator of Perry Mason. They falsified the claim that Julsrud manufactured the figurines, by excavating under the house of the Chief of Police, which was built 25 years before the Julsrud arrived in Mexico. Forty three more examples of the same type were found. Three radiocarbon tests were performed by Isotopes Incorporated of New Jersey resulting in dates of 1640 BC, 4530 BC and 1110 BC. Eighteen samples were subjected to thermoluminescent testing by the University of Pennsylvania, all of which gave dates of approximately 2500 BC. These results were subsequently withdrawn when it was learned that some of the samples were from dinosaurs.

In 1990 an investigation was conducted by Neal Steedy, an independent archeologist who's livelihood depends on contract work from the Mexican government. He arbitrarily selected an excavation site considerably removed from the Julsrud site. Chards were found but no figurines. He commissioned radiocarbon tests for samples from the Julsrud Collection which produced a range of dates from 4000 to 1500 years ago. Then he decided to ignore the results because he claimed the figurines were too soft to last more than 20 years in the ground. He also ignored the fact that many of the acknowledged Chupicuaro pieces are of the same consistency and they survived just fine. Of course, some pieces in the Julsrud collection are beautifully fired. Steedy's effort does more to support Julsrud collection than to refute it. He effectively demonstrates the determination of the establishment to defend evolutionary dogma in the face of the devastating implications of this truly significant find."


A bit of detail on testing and investigation

"Hapgood excavated a number of sites that were on previously undisturbed ground and found many pieces of ceramic figurines of the "Julsrud" type. To eliminate any possibility of fraud that Tinajero or anyone else had manufactured the ceramics, Hapgood decided to excavate beneath a house that had been built in 1930, long before any artifacts were found on El Toro Hill. They found a house directly over the site owned by the chief of police, asked permission to dig beneath the floor of his house. Permission was granted, and they dug a six-foot deep pit beneath the hard concrete floor of the living room, unearthing dozens of the controversial objects. Since the house had been built twenty five years before Julsrud arrived in Mexico, it exonerated Julsrud, eliminated the hoax theory and negated Dipeso's as well as Noquera's reports at all the important points.

In 1968 Charles Hapgood returned to Acambaro accompanied by Earle Stanley Gardner of Perry Mason fame. Mr. Gardner was not only trained in criminology but was also an investigator of archaeological problems. He was supremely impressed with the vastness and the variety of the collection. It was quite clear that Mr. Gardner considered the fake theory completely false, outrageous and deceptive!

The radiocarbon 14 method of dating was still in its infancy, but Hapgood acquired specimens for C14 testing.6 Gardner and Andrew Young (inventor of the Bell Helicopter) financed the testing.

Hapgood submitted the samples to the Laboratory of Isotopes Inc. in New Jersey. The results were as follows:

Sample No. 1


(I-3842) 3590 + - 100 (C.1640 BC)

Sample No. 2


(I-4015) 6480 + - 170 (C. 4530 BC)

Sample No. 3


(I-4031)3060 + - 120 (C. 1110 BC)



The radiocarbon dates of up to 4,500 B.C for Carbon on the ceramics would make the collection the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1972, Arthur Young submitted two of the figurines to Dr. Froelich Rainey, the director of the Pennsylvania Museum for Thermoluminescent Dating. The Masca lab had obtained thermoluminescent dates of up to 2,700 B.C. In a letter dated September 13, 1972, addressed to Mr. Young, Dr Rainey said:

"...Now after we have had years of experimentation both here and at the lab at Oxford, we have no doubt about the dependability of the thermoluminescent method. We may have errors of up to 5-10% in absolute dating, but we are no longer concerned about unexpected bugs that might put the whole system in doubt. I should also point out, that we were so concerned about the extraordinarily ancient dates of these figures, that Mark Han in our lab made an average of 18 runs on each one of the four samples. Hence, there is a very substantial bit of research in these particular pieces... All in all the lab stands on these dates for the Julsrud material, whatever that means in terms of archeological dating in Mexico, or in terms of 'fakes verse's authentic' pieces."

But when the lab at the University of Pennsylvania found out that dinosaurs were part of the collection, they retracted their thermoluminescent. They asserted that the ceramics gave off regenerated light signals and could be no more than 30 years old.

A thermoluminescent technician admitted that no other ceramics existed, in his experience, that produced regenerated light signals, and no other thermoluminescent dating of ceramics had ever been done by utilization of a regenerated light signal. In short, the testing was a hocus pocus, laboratory trick to avoid the obvious conclusion that dinosaurs and man lived together."


Even skeptics admit that the Acambaro collection is a powerful case for coexistence of dinosaur and man. But part of the story of Acambaro is the laboratory results that consistently reveal ages of more than 2,000 years for these figurines...until the technicians realize the implications of the findings and then fall over themselves trying to reverse their fields.

Subterfuge and lies have been part of the creation versus macroevolution argument. The Ica stones appear to be a hoax, recent works passed off as ancient. There are doubts about some human prints found in stone such as the "Meister print" and the "Zapata track". The Paluxy River area is a rich source of possible dinosaur-with-man prints even though tourists in the first part of the 20th century made away with some of the tracks. One of the best human tracks was destroyed in 1992, according to the bible.ca site. But Glen Kuban of Talkorigins denies strongly that he was involved and hints that no vandalism took place (I believe he is telling the truth that he did not go to the site and damage anything, although his rebuttal includes some incorrect information). Now I personally view Kuban's site, just as I view Dr.Dino's site, as propagandists willing to stretch the truth or at least unwilling to include all the truth when they make their posts. You won't see me blogrolling Dr. Dino and you won't see me pay any attention when a macroevolutionist links to talkorigins, either. I also freely admit that sometimes a site like bible.ca misses the boat as well. It is a subject that transcends science and segues into the worldview where often facts get twisted like pretzels to make them fit.

In the case of Acambaro, however, no reasonable macroevolutionist has come up with an honest rebuttal or explanation as to how ancient peoples could have molded dinosaur statues with more accuracy than the scientists of the time they were discovered. No reasonable explanation has been given by macroevolutionists for the hundreds of drawings, carvings and figurines of dinosaurs done by people long before paleontologists began finding dinosaur fossils and providing representations of what their appearance might have been. No good explanation has been given for the multitudes of stories about dinosaurs, not just as stories but as historical narratives in records kept by government and other officials.

For Bible-believers, attempts to characterize Leviathan and Behemoth as a crocodile and hippopatumus, respectively, have received the scorn they deserve. Even the Bible records dinosaurs, often with the word being translated as dragon. The record of human history, both written and described graphically as paintings, drawings, carvings and figurines, is that of co-existence with dinosaurs for many hundreds of years.

(PS- No, I did not have to go on a long trip, hurray!)