Thoughts on Ken Ham, biblical inerrancy and Batman

"It's not who you are underneath, but what you believe about the inerrancy of the Bible that defines you." (image by rock1m1, via DeviantArt)

It was a peaceful Saturday evening, or so the hero of our story, Ken Ham, thought. He was enjoying a bit of quiet study in his library at Ham Manor, when the night’s tranquility was shattered by the blare from his home’s high-tech alarm system.

Recognizing that sound only too well, our hero dashed to the window of his study to see what he already knew he would find: the Ham-Signal was shining a bright distress call over the skies of Petersburg.

“Oh, no,” Ham muttered to himself. “The Bible is in trouble.”

Our hero had faced down many a threat before to protect his beloved (interpretation of the) Bible, but, still, seeing that beacon hanging in the sky never failed to quicken his pulse or dampen the back of his neck with cold sweat. The very thought of anything happening to his precious (interpretation of the) Bible was enough to keep him awake night after long, dark night.

Without a moment to lose, our hero dashed to the grandfather clock in his main study, which held an incredible secret, as only he and his trusted butler and confidant, Alfred, knew. His fingers moved quickly, having memorized long ago the movements necessary to set the clock to read the numerals of his closely guarded password: 1:01. An ingeniously disguised door in the wall promptly opened, and our hero disappeared through it.

Alone in his subterranean headquarters, our hero hurriedly donned the Ham-Suit he had specially designed and approached his trusty Ham-Computer.

“Talk to me, computer,” Ham said, trying (and failing) to keep the tension from sounding through in his voice. Then, though he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to hear the answer, he forced himself to ask, “Is someone defiling (my interpretation of) the Bible?”

The Ham-Computer whirred to life with a frenetic series of bright flashes and strange beeping sounds.

“I’m afraid so, sir,” the digital voice gravely replied. “Inerrancy is under attack.”

“NO!” Ham shouted, pounding his fists into the the computer’s cold metal facade. “Not again! Why? WHY?!”

And, suddenly feeling the crushing weight of a(n interpretation of the) Bible that so desperately relied on his strength for its protection, our hero collapsed to his knees. The responsibility of the life that he had chosen, and that had been chosen for him — sometimes, it seemed too much for one man to bear. He felt so alone.

So alone.

Poor K-Ham. Fortunately for us, his devoted fans, he mustered the strength to fight one more day with this column bravely defending biblical inerrancy. Where would we be without him?

Ham was responding to “The Bible isn’t perfect and it says so itself,” an essay by Zack Hunt, writer, speaker and blogger at The American Jesus. In it, Hunt states that he doesn’t believe in biblical inerrancy (I’m guessing this was the point at which the Ham-Signal went up in the sky) and that the doctrine itself is a 20th-century invention.

I think Hunt makes some good points; it was only fairly recently that inerrancy became an essential plank in the fundamentalist platform. The Bible, after all, is not the true Word of God — that’s Jesus (you know, according to the Bible). The Bible, then, is important to Christians not because it is God, but rather because we believe it to be the most reliable witness we have as to God’s nature, actions and relationship with human beings, as well as his guidance for how he would have us live our lives.

The copies of the Bible we possess today most certainly do contain minor scribal errors and a slew of apparent and sometimes-difficult-to-explain-away contradictions. And I have no problem acknowledging that the scriptures were written, copied over thousands of years and eventually assembled into a canon by fallible people, while still trusting that the same Spirit of God I believe originally inspired the authors also protected the essential truths of the text from being corrupted or lost over the millenia.

But, though I join Hunt in affirming that we Christians don’t need to be dying on a hill to defend the modern fundamentalist notion of inerrancy, I think he takes an ill-advised turn in a detailed metaphor involving his mother.

“[M]y mom is a lot like the Bible,” he writes. “She’s not perfect, but I can still trust that what she says is true.”

As much as it pains me to say this, I have to agree with Ken Ham (ew, right?) here. I don’t think Hunt’s mom telling him not to cross the street is a good parallel for the Bible, unless Hunt’s mom was directly inspired by the Holy Spirit in her warnings about the dangers of fast-moving vehicles. By equating the two, Hunt seems to be confusing common sense or practical wisdom (like, for example, “Don’t eat rat poison” or “Don’t stick that in the electrical outlet”) with the special revelation theologians hold to be obtainable only through an act of God.

Of course, being K-Ham, our hero has a lot more to say than simply tweaking Hunt for his poor choice of an analogy. Here’s a snippet:

And yet, Hunt doesn’t believe everything the Bible says. Noah’s Ark, for instance, he says is okay to believe when we’re five years old. But as adults, we have to realize that the account of the Ark and the Flood is just meant to teach a theological truth — it’s not literal history.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a God who intentionally lies to me just to teach me some truth about Himself — however one determines what that truth is!

Do me a favor, and make sure you read that last sentence over a second or third time, just to make sure you really understand it. If it seems contradictory (or just plain idiotic) to you, it’s probably because your faith isn’t as strong as K-Ham’s.

But don’t feel bad. It’s not easy to obtain the kind of faith K-Ham has, the kind of faith where you know the only two options for the bulk of the biblical text is 100-percent complete and absolutely factual history or “intentional lies.”

What do you think, readers? What does the term “biblical inerrancy” even mean to you, and do you believe in it? And, the most important question of all: Did I read too many comic books when I was a kid?

Update: Zack Hunt has written another post on biblical inerrancy in an attempt to further clarify his views.

Tyler Francke

  • I liked that “Batman” way of presenting the issues.

    What does the term “biblical inerrancy” even mean to you, and do you believe in it?

    As a child, the Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark and Tower of Babel stories seemed to me to be of the genre of fables (or “Just So” stories), though I’m sure I did not know the word “genre” at that time. So if part of the text consists of fables, then it does not seem to challenge inerrancy to take that part as being fables.

    • Thanks for reading Neil. I appreciate your thoughts, and definitely see where you’re coming from.

      I liked that “Batman” way of presenting the issues.

      Glad you liked it. I just watched the new Superman movie last night, so I might have had DC Comics on the brain. 🙂

  • Lynda Field

    So how do you choose which parts are “fables” and which parts are not?

    • Ron Stone

      Yes, as Ms Field puts it here, “…how do you choose which parts are ‘fables’ and which parts are not?”

      The whole point Ken Ham is trying to make with his statements of the inerrancy of the Bible is that if we cannot trust ONE part (Creation, Noah and the flood) how can we trust the part where we learn of Jesus’ love for us? If you cherry-pick what you want to consider truth and what you don’t, you weaken the entirety of it all!

      • In response to you both, thanks for reading and for your questions. With respect, Ron, I think you’re presenting a false dichotomy. I trust all of the Bible, and I think all of it’s true — that doesn’t mean I have to think it’s all literal history. I try to approach the Bible thinking things like “What does this mean?” or “What is the Spirit of God saying here?” I think that lets you dig much deeper into the text, whereas if you think it’s just history, then your only takeaway can be, “Oh, so that’s what happened.”

        I think there’s a helpful parallel in the teachings of Christ and his frequent use of parables. They were fictional stories, told to convey deep moral and spiritual truths in ways his audience could understand. Given Jesus’ affinity for this method in the New Testament, why would we think the Spirit of God would never employ a similar tactic in his inspiring of the Old Testament?

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks again.

        • Ian Ross

          Jesus Christ is the Voice (Word) of God from the beginning. It was He who said to our first parents “where are you?” as He walked in the garden. Since the beginning of creation He , by His Spirit (with Whom He is One), has traced human history. He inspired the Law of Moses. His heart broke when He sent His beloved people into captivity before He was ever made manifest in the flesh. He was no less the Voice of God when He spoke to us as a man amongst men. With such experience, He did not have to dream up fictional stories in the parables He uttered. God does not employ tactics to mislead those who trust His word. Our friends are right Tyler. The Scriptures are one organic whole and stand or fall together. How wonderful it is that the Scriptures are God-breathed and we can stake our very lives upon their integrity. Ken Ham is spot-on and he will be proved to be correct, not only in this life but in eternity.

          • Once again: Interpreting certain parts of the Bible as being intended to convey theological truths about the nature of God and his relationship with us, rather than literal history, does not mean I believe those parts of the Bible are “not true.”

            With such experience, He did not have to dream up fictional stories in the parables He uttered.

            You don’t believe the parables were fictional stories?

        • Ron Stone

          If I may say first, you claim I am presenting a false dichotomy. A dichotomy would imply (at least to me) lying. So a false dichotomy … is redundant.

          There are many forms of literature used in the Bible. The poetry of Psalms and Song of Solomon, historical records and genealogies of the Pentateuch. The eyewitness accounts of the Gospels and the expository writings of the Epistles.

          You speak of the fact Jesus uses parables frequently, and He does. When referring to the Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God, the New Testament most often (more than ninety times, usually by Jesus) uses the phrase “It is written” (e.g. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), Jesus described this written word as that which “comes from the mouth of God”. So important were the exact words of God that Jeremiah was told, “This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word” (Jeremiah 26:2)

          The point I’m making; WITHIN THE TEXT of the Scriptures, time and again Jesus and each of the respective authors of the books of the Bible make the clear statement that these are the direct words of God.

          Yes, Jesus uses parables. As you yourself said, this was mostly for the same reason a minister might tell you the story of the time he and his son went fishing … its to put a higher ideal into a terminology we can understand (I like the analogy my pastor might use; to put the toys down where we can reach them). Yes, some of these stories (the Prodigal, the Sewer of seeds, the wheat and tares) are fictional. But the people hearing these understood that.

          I reiterate my statement of earlier:
          “if we cannot trust ONE part (Creation, Noah and the flood) how can we
          trust the part where we learn of Jesus’ love for us? If you cherry-pick
          what you want to consider truth and what you don’t, you weaken the
          entirety of it all!”

          • If I may say first, you claim I am presenting a false dichotomy. A dichotomy would imply (at least to me) lying. So a false dichotomy … is redundant.

            I don’t understand why the word dichotomy would imply to you anything other than what it means: “a division into two mutually exclusive or contradictory groups.” There is nothing remotely redundant about the phrase “false dichotomy.” Look it up.

            Thank you for arguing so forcefully that Jesus believed the Old Testament books were the words of God, but you and I were never in disagreement on that point. I believe wholeheartedly that entirety of the biblical text is divinely inspired, infallible and “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

            Our disagreement is over merely the interpretation of authorial intent, not who the author is. You seem to accuse me of not trusting the Bible is true because you think my interpretation of the first parts of Genesis (that they are sacred stories intended to convey theological truth) is incorrect. I don’t think that’s fair. I believe that your view (that the passages were intended to teach science and history) is incorrect, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to accuse you of “cherry-picking what you want to consider truth.”

          • Ron Stone

            Short answer because the needs of reality are robbing me of the time to put the real effort into this:

            You state our disagreement is over the intent of the author. Per your own statements, we are in agreement as to who that IS (God), so I would simply pose the question to you: WHY would God, using my own previous analogy, put such lessons up on the high shelf? Yes, the Old Testament does include value lessons along with history. But these lessons had to be accessible, or else why have them at all?

          • I think the lessons of the Genesis creation accounts are perfectly accessible. They include, but are not limited to: 1. God is the one and only creator of the universe; 2. Creation was an orderly process that proceeded at (and as Hebrews 1:3 says, continues by) the power of his word; 3. God’s creation is good; 4. Humans have been given stewardship over God’s creation; 5. Disobedience to God (i.e. sin) brings nonphysical death into the lives of people; 6. Much of the evil in the world is the result of humans’ willful choices; 7. Our decisions to sin are often the result of our pride and fleshly desires; 8. Humans are made in the “image of God”; 9. Despite that fact, we remain created beings, lower than our creator and ultimately responsible to him; 10. Sin brings shame.

            I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. If you’re asking me why God chose to reveal these and other truths in stories like the creation accounts, rather than simply enumerating them like a theological creed, my answer is I don’t know. We can only guess. But I know Jesus, whom Hebrews describes as the “exact imprint” of God’s nature, certainly seemed to like telling stories.

          • Ron Stone

            While I fully agree with the lessons you mention, and I’m sure I’d probably agree with the lessons you skipped for the sake of brevity.

            However, I fail to see how the value of such lessons could negate the possibility of these events having actually *happened*.

            We’ve agreed that God is the author of the Scriptures. In more verses than I plan on going into, we are shown plainly that God only speaks truth and does not countenance lies from those who follow His teachings.

            That being said, if God is Truth (and truthful), why would He instruct the authors of the Genesis account to write something that didn’t happen?

          • summers-lad

            I’m continuing, as time permits, to explore your site which I discovered a month or so ago. My answer to why God chose to reveal these and other truths in stories is two-fold:
            1. God likes stories (the Bible gives ample evidence of this), probably because they are much more engaging than dry theoretical statements, and capture the imagination much better.
            2. The creation stories – like the rest of the Bible – were written to reveal truth of God to people in various cultures and at all levels of education and scientific knowledge. If they had been written in modern scientific terms they would have been meaningless to most of our forebears.

          • Hey summers-lad, thanks so much for the comment. I agree, and I appreciate hearing your thoughts 🙂

  • Dr. Mike Viccary

    Well I’m afraid your essay is rather thin – to say the least. The plain truth is that if the bible contains errors of fact (i.e. Noah’s flood is a myth) then we are hopelessly lost. Gresham Machen and many others have sought to defend the bible as inerrant and if we lose on this doctrine then it will not be long before other doctrines fall. I for one came to know Christ as a young man and decided that if Christ be God and died for me then I must take His word as gospel truth and test all other things (science included) by the rule of God. Incidentally making a division between the Lord Jesus Christ and Scripture is a false move. The Word of God and the word of God are inextricably linked. Both are human and divine. Christ is sinless and so the Bible is inerrant. If you attack inerrancy you attack the sinless nature of Christ.

    • The plain truth is that if the bible contains errors of fact (i.e. Noah’s flood is a myth) then we are hopelessly lost. Gresham Machen and many others have sought to defend the bible as inerrant and if we lose on this doctrine then it will not be long before other doctrines fall.

      My concern is that if your faith is based upon such a rigid approach that you can only interpret the Bible one way or it’s “not true,” then you’re already lost.

      The Word of God and the word of God are inextricably linked.

      Thank you for pointing this out to me. Because, you see, I used to think that the thousands of early believers who didn’t have the Bible, and the thousands of believers throughout the Middle Ages who couldn’t read it, and the thousands of believers in remote areas right now who don’t have Bibles in their languages, were all real Christians. Now I know otherwise.

      Christ is sinless and so the Bible is inerrant. If you attack inerrancy you attack the sinless nature of Christ.

      I appreciate that you think you have the theological high ground here, but I can’t help but find it a bit blasphemous to claim that a book that’s been copied over thousands of years and translated from archaic and primitive languages is equal to the unblemished Lamb of God. I seriously doubt Paul or any of the other apostles would agree with you on that one.

      • Dr. Mike Viccary

        I see you have fallen for the modern scholarship fallacy. We judge what is right or wrong by our assured ‘scientific’ knowledge, rather than the word of God. I am sorry for you.

        • K, thank you.

          • Ian Ross

            A wee PS before I rest after a long, hard day Tyler. I am absolutely astounded that you believe Noah’s flood to be a myth and not historical fact. The living unblemished Lamb of God (your own words) – our glorious risen Lord Who cannot lie – warned that His coming would be like in the days of Noah. They were marrying and giving in marriage then the FLOOD came and took them all away! Is atheistic evolutionary teaching making you doubt the words of your Lord? Further, the writer to the Hebrews deals significantly with the life and times of Noah. He is described as a preacher of righteousness and full of faith in His God. No doubt when he was building the Ark he was maligned – just as you are mocking Ken Ham. He survived. The Eternal Triune God, in all His written and preserved revelations does not peddle myths. Myths don’t preach, nor do they enter arks when instructed, nor do they survive cataclysmic floods. The flood happened alright – and it was global.
            May God bless you Tyler.

          • We don’t even need to get into the significant and far-reaching scientific problems to make a strong argument against the idea of a global flood. There are loads of evidence within the biblical text itself that indicate the flood of Noah was a local one. Just to give you a sample of the article, the Hebrew phrase used throughout the flood account was most often used elsewhere to refer to local geography. The Hebrew language also contained a word that always referred to the entire earth (“tebel”); interestingly, that word is never used to describe Noah’s flood.

            Good night, brother. May God bless you as well.

          • Ian Ross

            Thanks for your response Tyler.

            My point 1: According to the scholarly authority I use, all references using the Hebrew word translated flood in Genesis is the word mabbul -meaning deluge or flood and comes from the word yabal which is a prime root meaning flow. The word I quoted in an earlier post from Luke’s Gospel and the same word used in the Apostle Peter’s reference to the flood both use the Greek word Kataklusmos meaning inundation and comes from the word katakluzo meaning deluge, overflow. Therefore the Scriptures give no indication to me whether the flood was global or local. However, a local flood would not account for the legion of legends from around the globe which confirm a world-wide cataclysmic event from earliest times. The Greek word used in the New Testament confirms it was a cataclysmic occurrence. So I fail to see where ‘loads of evidence’ you say exists in the text itself is coming from.
            My point 2: Whilst you responded to a minor consideration, you left the weightier matters unanswered.
            Thanks and blessings Tyler.

          • Therefore the Scriptures give no indication to me whether the flood was global or local.

            If you had read the article, you would have seen that what I was talking about had nothing to do with the word “flood,” but rather the word describing the “whole earth/land” that was flooded. The author argues (quite persuasively, in my opinion) the text refers to local geography and not the entire planet. As I said earlier, if the human author of Genesis had meant to imply the entire globe was flooded, there is a different word that he or she could have used and avoided ambiguity.

      • Ian Ross

        Tyler – You describe the Lamb of God as unblemished. Does that not mean He was full of integrity in everything He did and said? One phrase He used to debate His opponents was: “Have ye not read?” The Torah was an ancient document by then, but He cast no aspersions on its integrity then. So why should we do so with the Scriptures now? His was the Spirit who inspired the words and, because He is God, is able to ensure their preservation. He let us into a tremendous secret in this regard when He debated the Sudducees – You are in grave error, because you do not understand the Scriptures, nor do you understand the power of God.

  • Nathanael James Wisecup

    When i became a child of God i declared I was going to be a seeker of the Truth first rather than just someone who believed what everyone told me, including the church and the secular world. By doing so when ever someone said something I didn’t think was Biblical or approached me with what they called a contradiction in the Bible I researched it and questioning it, and finally asked God himself about it in prayer. God always knew where i needed to read or what Hebrew or Greek word i needed look up in order to understand that what his Word said was true. Even when someone comes to me with an argument about the Bible i listen and quote Titus 3:2 so we do not debate and research it all over again. By doing it this way i have encountered Jesus Christ through the study of God’s Word over and over again and again. He has become so real to me by when i read his Word. When I read his Word and do what he says to do, the reward he promised in the Bible comes true. How can i then say the Bible isn’t entirely true? Anytime you have faith and water it down you are only deluding the power of God in your life, so stay true true God. Ask him the hard knock questions of faith and why his Word says what it says. Believe, be true, have faith in God. Allow him to lead you lead you by his Holy Spirit and his Spirit will not lead you into sin or astray. Always remember John 14:26. Never doubt it.

    And the comic book thing was what attracted me to read this article. I thought someone just pulled Batman into some form of relevancey to corraspond with the Bible. It was neat. Not what i expected by was neat

    • Thanks for reading, brother. Peace.

      • Nathanael James Wisecup

        You are welcome peace and grace be unto you. Amen

  • Ian Ross

    You have precious little to do when you have time to dream up balderdash like this – pathetic.

    • Well, you know, I doubt I could ever match the creativity and rigorous intellectual honesty of the young-earth proponents, but I do what I can.

      • Ian Ross

        Tyler
        Why bring in Batman to trivialise a serious subject? I missed your point, if you had one. I only read a sentence or two. What I read was balderdash. One man’s meat is another’s poison. life is too short to be dreaming up garbage Tyler.

        • Why bring in Batman to trivialise a serious subject?

          The Batman metaphor was meant to convey my opinion that Ken
          Ham seems to see himself as a vital defender of Christian orthodoxy, quick to
          rebut any believer who doesn’t share his radical views. I don’t see satire as “trivializing”
          anything. As the poet T.S. Eliot said, “Humor is also a way of saying something
          serious.”

          I missed your point, if you had one. I only read a sentence or two.

          You may find that you will often miss writers’ points if you only read “a sentence or two” of what they wrote.

          • Ian Ross

            I do not see it the way you see it Tyler. Ken Ham does not defend Christian orthodoxy, whatever that means. He merely defends the integrity of God’s word. God has called him to a vital ministry which is badly needed for our times, and he is doing a great job of it. If the USA goes the same way as Britain, Christians on your side of the pond will be grateful for the likes of Ken Ham and all others who stoutly defend the Faith.
            We are talking about the honour of the eternal God and His word here. Batman is a worldly putative person, a figment of someone’s imagination and there is no place in the things of God for such a non-existent figure.
            Christian writers perhaps often fail to consider the implications of how they decide to introduce their subject. It is the introduction which captivates the reader.
            I see nothing humorous about likening a genuine servant of God to an imaginary figure. It may be because I am a Presbyterian Scotsman! We’re not best known for our humour!
            Blessings

  • Renee Dowling Brophy

    I don’t know about you, Tyler, but the first thing the Holy Spirit showed me when I was a thumb-sucking baby in the Lord was “this is My Word” and he showed me it in an inerrancy. Maybe it’s hard to believe when one apostle sees what happened from a different angle than another. But God is that big, isn’t he? To give one angle and then another. Good luck in bashing Ken Ham – I am sure it will get you treasure in heaven.

    • Maybe it’s hard to believe when one apostle sees what happened from a different angle than another. But God is that big, isn’t he?

      Big enough to be seen from different angles by different people? Um…yes. (Although, to be fair, I think every person who has ever lived was big enough for that…)

      Good luck in bashing Ken Ham – I am sure it will get you treasure in heaven.

      Thanks! I hope so!

      • Ian Ross

        Perhaps one day you will regret bashing Ken Ham. That is even before you enter eternity. Our country (UK) is far ahead of the USA in secularisation. All Christians are now being marginalised and it is difficult for Christian voices to be heard, even the voices of those who espouse atheistic evolution. I consider that in 20 years or less Christians will have to head for the hills (as our forefathers had to do in ‘Covenanting’ times) to worship God and to give Him glory. I may not live to see it, but I sense that martyrdom for the cause of Christ is a distinct possibility here in the foreseeable future. Be thankful for Ken Ham, give God praise for him and support his efforts all you can. We could do with a dozen of his like in Britain right now.

        • If Christian voices do become marginalized in the public square here, I would contend that it would be due in no small part to people like Ken Ham, who have lobbied to push unscientific, religiously based curricula into our nation’s schools and who try to instill in Christians an “us vs. them” mentality against anyone who doesn’t share all of our views.

          • Will

            Ken Ham’s views are not unscientific. The Bible and science are NOT in conflict. They are in total agreement. The God of the Bible IS the God of science. Please give an example of your accusation that Ken Hams’ cirricula is unscientific. This is an erroneous claim.

          • Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. It is the only legitimate scientific theory that explains why all of life looks and acts the way it does, and every field of biology (from cellular to behavioral study) backs this up. And here’s a primer on the overwhelming evidence that the world is more than a few thousand years old: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_against_a_recent_creation

          • Ian Ross

            I have observed many apes in my time – in zoos and on telly – there must be millions of them in existence. I have observed millions of humans in my day. If biology makes sense only in the light of evolution – imperceptible changes over billions of years – where are the trillions of ape-people between the two kinds? Where is the evidence of the trillions of increased genetic information transactions required for molecules-to-man evolution. The last PhD I asked could only come up with 4 which wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of those required for abiogenesis. I studied mining in university and worked in the Scottish coal fields. I believed that it took millions of years to form coal, until Mount St Helens blew up and coal was formed in 30 years.

          • If biology makes sense only in the light of evolution – imperceptible changes over billions of years – where are the trillions of ape-people between the two kinds?

            Humans did not evolve from other modern apes — we share a common ancestor. Where are the infinitely fine graduations of species that tie us and modern apes to our common ancestor? Extinct. That’s how evolution works. We now see them only in the fossil remains that have been discovered of some of those forms.

            Where is the evidence of the trillions of increased genetic information transactions required for molecules-to-man evolution.

            Here is a short explanation of how mutations have been observed to increase novel genetic material and variety within populations.

            I believed that it took millions of years to form coal, until Mount St Helens blew up and coal was formed in 30 years.

            I’m no geologist, but according to this article, it does not have to take millions of years to form coal. The article also contains responses to young-earth creationist claims regarding Mount St. Helens.

          • Ian Ross

            So evolution is evolving Tyler, and the teaching I received in the 1950s has now been superseded. I was taught that we are direct descendants of the anthropoid ape. Now, it appears, we simply have a common ancestor, and all the living beings (trillions I presume) which would demonstrate the veracity of the progression through trillions of imperceptible changes from the ancestor (ant-eater perhaps) to the ape and from the ancestor (or was it a dinosaur) to humans, are all extinct. How very convenient. Your postulation makes no sense at all to me. You are either very gullible or you are the possessor of great faith in the changing views of the proponents of atheistic evolution. Tyler, I’m afraid I find it much simpler to believe the obvious via the sacred record: “Let us make man in our own image and after our likeness … God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.
            I cannot comment on the remainder Tyler – you failed to include the links.
            Every blessing.

          • So evolution is evolving Tyler, and the teaching I received in the 1950s has now been superseded.

            Yep. That’s how science works: It is refined through the endless process of discovery and experimentation. I would guess that the only people who are teaching the same “science” as they were in the 1950s are the creationists.

            Your postulation makes no sense at all to me.

            I’m sorry about that, but your self-described inability to understand basic science does not make the precepts any less true. I may not understand how my computer works, but guess what? It still works, despite my ignorance.

  • Gaylordcat

    I am an atheist. However, I believe religion is important to countless human beings and should be encouraged and practiced by those people. The Bible, the Qur’an, the Vedas, and all other scriptures are very important to a culture because they contain the myths that define their people. Myths are significant in our lives; without myths we would never know who we are as a people. Americans, for example, are partly shaped by the stories of the rugged individuals, the fearless pioneers who with their bare hands carved out our nation from a wilderness, and many of those stories are myths or legends or folklore with which we teach our children what it means to be American.

    But, as an atheist I cannot accept the stories in any scripture as historic. I believe sincerely that the Jesus of Nazareth we meet in the New Testament is a myth and was never a historic human being. I can accept that a human being of overwhelming charisma lived at that time and touched the lives of many people and changed those lives for good. So did Martin Luther King, Jr. So did Gandhi. So did several popes throughout history. So did Mother Theresa. Thousands of charismatic people in history did what Jesus did in terms of helping people and bringing them closer to God as he defined God.

    However, I can never believe in his miracles and he did not rise from the dead in a little over 48 hours (He was not in the tomb for three days; died at 3 p.m. Friday and rose, let us says, a 6 a.m. Sunday.) after being killed by means of crucifixion, one of the most hideous deaths ever devised by human kind.

    So, of what use is the NT, or OT, to us if the vast majority of what is in them is myth? To me it teaches that even though people are by nature cruel to each other, which is my definition of sin, there is kindness glimmering through. Although Christians see the story of Jesus as God’s great blood sacrifice for our sins, I see it as a story of a man who followed through on what he preached: Love your neighbor as yourself and be willing to give your life for that neighbor if the act of dying will save him or her. In the story Jesus and his disciples and confront by armed authorities and if Jesus had not submitted himself to them, they probably would have been killed, too. His miracles say to me that I must do all I can to help people, give all I have, and never reject anyone, to do this for my fellow human beings and not for a god that does not need my help, presumably.

    Indeed he was sinless because he always gave of himself for people, not because he was divine or God incarnate but because he was a good person, something rather unusual for that brutal time, and our time as well. Jesus shows me that I owe it to my fellow human beings to treat them with love. He loved people, and was willing to do anything for them, even die on a cross.

    Fact is, if Jesus were the divine son of god, I would reject him straight away. A god going through what Jesus is supposed to have went through is simply putting on an act, I believe. He’s a god! Nothing can hurt him. So, by elimination, I, a mere flesh and blood human being, have no chance to be like him, even though he admonishes his followers to be holy like God. To feed on his body and drink his blood in order to be holy like he is.

    So, for me, Yahweh, the god of the OT and presumably Jesus’ father, is a warrior god created by the Children of Israel and is a character in a vast mythology of the Bible that has the ability to teach me a lot about who I am and who I might be if I follow the rules (Laws) and love my neighbor as myself. The Bible is a library of writings by unknown people, compiled about 500 years BCA from stories, folklore, myths, etc., told for hundreds of years by people we commonly refer to as Israelites or Jews (Actually, they called themselves Children of Israel because their common progenitor was Jacob whose name God changed to Israel. They saw themselves as his children or as children of one of his 12 sons. They did not see themselves as children of the land or nation of Israel until around 722 BCA when Assyria enslaved them and they clung to Judah as their land.)

    It is very important for me to accept the Bible and all religions, particularly Christianity, a repositories of myth, which are much more important to me than history in teaching me who I am as a person of western civilization. Myths are designed to teach. History teaches what happened, but often does not teach us why or what relevance the stories have to us. Of course, history and myth crossover often, both being teachers.

    In conclusion, religions are important to people so long as people do not try to make their stories historical or to try to proselytize that their religion is the only way to a heaven or an afterlife. Christianity is especially guilty of that. I, personally, don’t see any need for a god. This universe of which Earth is very tiny grain of sand is governed by immutable laws of science and mathematics. That will never change, I believe. But we human beings who are mostly primitive beasts that have created a technology far beyond where we are, i.e. the mouth of the cave, and are baffled by that technology, need guidance. That is where religions and their scriptures come in useful. Yes, I am an atheist, and a very comfortable one, but I have learned enormous truths from the mythologies of religions. After all, truth IS embedded in myth.

    • Ian Ross

      Myths don’t have eyewitness accounts left on historical record. Myths do not set out teachings that change the world’s history in three years of minstry. Jesus Christ is the Truth personified, The Scriptures call Him the ‘stone of stumbling and the rock of offence’ and ‘the stone which the builders rejected but is now made the cornerstone, and woe to those upon whom He falls. Atheism is a meaningless, rootless and fruitless existence, whereas all the promises of God contained in the inerrant Scriptures are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ.

      • Gaylordcat

        Well, that’s your opinion and you’re welcome to it. Thanks for responding.

        • Ian Ross

          Thank you – but It is much more than my opinion Gaylordcat. It’s God’s own revelation to everyone, I wish you every blessing.

      • Nick Gotts

        The gospels are not eyewitness accounts: they are hearsay, written down decades after the alleged events they describe. Most parts of the OT date from centuries after the alleged events they describe. But I must say, I think you and the other Hamites commenting here have a point: once it is admitted that the parts of the Bible that appear to be narratives of events, without being framed as parables – such as the account of Noah’s flood – are not literal truth, then there is no reason to trust any such parts of it. Similarly, once one admits that the Bible’s homophobia, misogyny, approval of genocide and slavery are immoral, you’ve admitted that we have to work morality out for ourselves.

        Incidentally, as an atheist, I know that my existence is not meaningless, rootless or fruitless, and it’s simply arrogant and very foolish of you to think you can tell me otherwise.

        • Ian Ross

          Thanks for your comments Nick. The first point I would make is that in no way does hearsay accord with history which the Scriptures do. In what you have said you are guilty of the fallacy known as ‘chronological snobbery’ – it is not competent today because of when it was written. The God who created and observes every individual in the human race through all ages is careful that the revelation He has given supernaturally to us via his faithful servants is factual in every detail. He has also been careful to reveal His nature and character. “He has spoken to us at various times and in different ways, by the fathers and His servants the prophets, but now He has spoken to us through His Son Who is the heir of all things and by Whom also He made the worlds. Christ Jesus is God’s ultimate revelation. We ignore His claims at our peril.
          The second point I make is that I am not a Hamite, whatever that is. I am merely a sinner saved by the grace of God, through Christ, who strives to uphold the honour and glory of the name and person of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me. That is all Ken Ham is and is doing as well – and what a great job he is doing!
          The third point I make responds – and how! – to Tyler’s point elsewhere on this blog. When we, as Christians, muddle truth and fiction in God’s perfect revelation and by implication call Him a liar, not only do we tie ourselves in knots we also weaken the testimony and give so-called atheists and secularists a field day and cause for celebration. By mixing truth with fiction we undermine the Gospel of Christ.
          My last and final point Nick is that I notice you use modern buzz words – like homophobic, a term devised when people believed that homosexuality was a disease and feared catching it. Homosexuality is now considered to be a life-choice so the word has no place in modern language, except when used in its proper context. God loves all – it is the practices arising from sin in human lives He condemns. Your buzz words all indicate the results of sin. The so-called atheist (God doesn’t believe in such a person) can have no judgement on morality if he or she is faithful to his or her own worldview. Without what God has set out in His perfect revelation there can be neither logic nor morality. So beyond the day of your death Nick what is meaningful, rooted and fruitful about your life? Annihilation? Nothing? Oblivion? The Eternal God, whose Word is settled for ever in glory says to each of us – “It is appointed unto folk to die once – then to be judged by God”.

          • Nick Gotts

            1) Hearsay simply means non-eyewitness reports. The gospels are therefore hearsay.
            2) The gospels contradict each other, so it is logically impossible that they are all “factual in every detail”. For example, they differ in who went to Jesus’s tomb, who told them Jesus wasn’t there, and who Jesus appeared to. The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke also contradict each other.
            3) You say your not a “Hamite”, then shower praise on the ignorant liar Ken Ham.
            4) Homosexuality is “now considered to be a life-choice” only by the ignorant. Homosexual people no more choose their sexual orientation than I, a heterosexual, chose mine.
            5) It is extremely insulting to deny that I know what I do and do not believe, as you do. Of course I can made moral judgements – based on the likely consequences of actions and ethical principles. You make it quite clear that you simply don’t understand my worldview, and are in fact, determined not to do so.
            6) “Without what God has set out in His perfect revelation there can be neither logic nor morality.” Asserting such ridiculous nonsense does not make it true. Are you claiming that God could have made 2+2=5, or have made torturing children for fun right?
            7) “So beyond the day of your death Nick what is meaningful, rooted and fruitful about your life?” The welfare of others, of course. I have no problem at all in caring about what happens after my death – because I’m not a wholly selfish person. If you can only care about things that affect your well-being, then you’re a psychopath.

          • Ian Ross

            Hi Nick. Thanks for your reply.
            1) Your statement is not logical. Your conclusion doesn’t follow your argument.
            2) I do not agree at all that there are contradictions. In fact, Answers in Genesis did a very helpful series recently which reconciled apparent contradictions. Both the examples you note were dealt with.
            3) Ken Ham and I have some things in common, based on what I have already said. Neither being ignorant nor a liar applies to either of us, any more than they apply to you.. It is a clear sign that you unable to sustain your side of the debate when you resort to personal attacks.
            4) You appear to be saying that homosexuality IS a disease, contrary to scientific research. We have a practical example here in Scotland which bears out that it is a life-choice. A Parish Minister was happily married with a child and decided one day to declare himself homosexual. He abandoned his wife and child and took up with his male live-in lover (a religious instruction teacher) in a different Parish Church manse. His case has rocked and ruptured the national church.
            5) and 6) I am not in the business of insulting you nor is it my business what you believe or do not believe. I believe I understand your world-view very well: We are all descended from pond scum, we are merely animals evolved over billions of years, and the infinite God had no part or hand in it whatsoever. He does not exist. In such a world there are no absolutes and everyone is entitled to do that which is right in accordance with their own judgements. The axiom is: Survival of the fittest. Therefore with such a world-view (which you are fully entitled to hold) why is it important to you what Ken Ham and I are or aren’t? The simple fact is our beliefs ought not to affect you, or others with the same views, one way or another. Your world-view asserts that we live and die and have no one to answer to but ourselves. On the other hand, if (of reason, not of doubt) the principles of logic and morality have come to the human race, whether we like it or not, via the revelation of Himself by God to the world in His written word (the Bible) and the living Word (Christ Jesus) you have to borrow from that revelation to be able to sustain logic and morality.
            7) Caring about the welfare of others and being unselfish comes straight from God’s moral law and the teachings of Jesus, and are inconsistent with an atheistic world-view. In consideration of the tenderness you have expressed in your last sentence, I conclude you are not an atheist at all, nor am I a psychopath.
            Take care and keep well Nick.

          • Nick Gotts

            1) I am simply giving the definition of hearsay. Look it up.

            2) I have pointed out obvious contradictions. You have not even attempted to refute them.

            3) Ken Ham is an ignorant liar as I said. He routinely lies about the state of scientific knowledge of the history of the earth and life, and quote-mines the statements of genuine scientists to give a false impression of their views. He also lies about his qualifications, pretending to have a doctorate when he does not – honorary doctorates do not count. He lies about saying that people rode dinosaurs. He lies about evolutionary biologists, claiming that they lie.

            4) No, I am not saying homosexuality is a disease, and I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that you are being dishonest in suggesting that I am, since you must know that many people, including most of the medical profession and most homosexual people themselves, consider it neither a disease nor a lifestyle choice. To what extent it is innate, and to what extent determined by early experience, is not known, but it is a non-pathological variant of human sexuality. It is absurd of you to say that a man was happily married if he left his wife for another man – evidently he was not happily married, or he would have stayed with his wife. Many homosexual people, unfortunately, do marry, in the false belief that this will change their fundamental sexual orientation; this is a result of homophobes like you convincing them in their early life that their homosexuality is something they should suppress; this causes great misery, both to them, and to their unfortunate spouses.

            5) and 6) No, you do not understand and clearly do not wish to understand my worldview. I will just point out a few of the false statements about my worldview you make here:
            a) No, we are not descended from pond scum.
            b) No, everyone is not entitled to do that which is right in accordance with their own judgements: moral judgements can and should be rationally debated, and agreements or compromises reached.
            c) No, there is no such “axiom” as “the survival of the fittest”. That is a somewhat misleading aphorism coined by Herbert Spencer to describe the evolutionary process. It most emphatically does not mean that those who are physically strongest or most ruthless either do, or should, survive.
            d) No, my view is not that we answer to no-one but ourselves: we answer to each other.

            You can believe what you like, but when lies are employed to propagate those beliefs, and to try and force them into schools, then it is indeed my business.

            7) Once again you demonstrate that you do not understand my world view, and are determined not to do so. No, being unselfish is not inconsistent with an atheistic world-view: that is a wicked lie, which you have made no attempt to support.

          • I appreciate Nick’s response here to Ian’s homosexuality comments (you were quicker than me). Please note that, as owner of this website and moderator of the discussions, I will not allow any further description of same-sex attraction as a “disease.” It is not only grossly inaccurate, but needlessly offensive and may be hurtful to some readers.

          • Nick Gotts

            Thank you Tyler; and let me take this opportunity to thank you for your hospitality to someone who disagrees with you profoundly. (But nonetheless recognises and appreciates your intelligence and good intentions.) I am away for the next week, so Ian is welcome to the last word in our argument. I will just say to Ian: the fact that I don’t fit your image of an atheist does not mean I am not an atheist – which, since I do not believe any gods exist, I am; it means your image is an ignorant and insulting caricature. Atheists, like Christians, differ greatly among themselves.

          • Ian Ross

            I really don’t want the last word in the debate we have had, Nick, other than to relate to Tyler what I have said. No one is responsible to me in this life. I leave you with the words of the wisest man who ever lived (apart from the Lord Jesus Christ): “After all this, there is only one thing to say: ‘Have reverence for God, and obey His commands, because this is all that human beings were created for. God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret'” (The Holy Bible, Good News Translation). So Nick – until eternity.

          • Thank you Tyler; and let me take this opportunity to thank you for your hospitality to someone who disagrees with you profoundly. (But nonetheless recognises and appreciates your intelligence and good intentions.)

            What a kind thing to say; thank you, Nick. And likewise.

          • Ian Ross

            With respect Tyler, I, and many others like me are labelled ‘homophobe’ (see Nick’s last post) and that label is just not appropriate under any circumstance, because of the word’s origin. This noun and its corresponding adjective are being applied today loosely with meanings which they will not bear and are just not tenable or acceptable anymore.
            On your website, Ken Ham and I have been called liars. I am 74 years old and I have only been called a liar once before Nick’s accusation and that was by another so-called atheist. So ‘lies’ and ‘liars’ seems to be a tenet of the religions of atheism and evolutionism and the term is applied to anyone who happens to disagree with what you believe, write and say.
            I thank you sincerely Tyler for allowing me to take part on your website, and I wish you and all your participants well. May you all experience the quickening touch of the living Christ. Finally, I plead with you to take it easy on Ken – your country may be grateful to him one day sooner than you think. Until eternity fare ye well.

          • newenglandsun

            The synoptic gospels include hearsay but overall are based off of the same exact written account (the hypothetical Q-source). This is largely suspected by scholars because of their close connection of concepts and sayings of each other. Historically speaking, the synoptics contain the most trustworthy history. That’s not to say that each author didn’t bring his own ideas into the writings. You are right that they are not eyewitness accounts. Oh, and LGB people are not your lab rats. We are people. That’s not to say that our orientation is perceived by us as a choice. That’s to say we’d prefer people to just leave us out of areas of research explaining why we aren’t heterosexuals and that we can deconvert to heterosexuality.

    • Will

      Gaylord……that is your opinion and you are welcome to it. You are wrong, but you are welcome to believe anything you want. That is how God has determined it to be. Better that you believe in Jesus and be saved tho for how shall you escape if you neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 12:2. There is a coming Judgement you will need to give an account of what you did with the life God gave you. Matthew 12:36 and Romans 14:12 and 1 Peter 4:5. If you reject His Son you will suffer damnation if you accept His Son you will receive eternal life. The choice is yours. Many decievers are out there trying to tell you to believe lies that will destroy you. Dont fall for them!!

      • Gaylordcat

        Well, thank you for being concerned with my soul. If you are right, then I’m in trouble. But, I’ve never been one to believe something just so I can hedge my bet. I call that hypocrisy. I’ll take my chances. I’m very comfortable in my atheism for better or for worse. Thanks again.

    • Zachary Lawson

      That is a rather unique view that seems to be much more nuanced and polite than much of the vitriol that seems to come from the internet atheists. I have a few questions though on some of what you have to say.

      First, you say that you are an atheist, which, I presume, means that you think it is objectively true that there is/are no God(s) in existence. Then, you go on to say that you think myths are important for shaping cultures and things of that nature. It seems to me that you’re comfortable with an entire group of people being defined by something that is false. How would you characterize your views concerning the relationship between cultural definition and the search for objective truths about the world? Follow up: If you are okay with cultures being defined by false ideas, why do you think it is wrong for someone to proselytize?

      Second, you say that “as an atheist [you] cannot accept the stories in any scripture as historic.” It seems from your phrasing that you presuppose atheism and then reject the scriptures in virtue of that. The same goes for your later statement about miracles. I don’t think this is what you are saying, so can you expound and clear up my confusion?

      Third, you say “[you]
      believe sincerely that the Jesus of Nazareth we meet in the New
      Testament is a myth and was never a historic human being.” I’m curious to know how you came to this conclusion. From what little I know of the scholarship in this area, the historical existence of Jesus is practically equivalent to that of Julius Caesar. In fact, the famous skeptic/agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman goes so far as to put deniers of the the existence of Jesus on the level of quackery. Consider this quote from an article of his from HuffPo: “These views [that deny the existence of Jesus] are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the
      real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job
      in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is
      likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.” (Full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html)
      Can you elaborate on what convinced you to embrace what appears to be a radical, dare I say, fringe view? I sincerely don’t intend to appear rude; it just seems, at first blush, that what you’re proposing falls way outside the mainstream of contemporary scholarship.

      Fourth, in relation to how you view the universe as being governed by the immutable laws of math and science: I’m curious to know if you are a realist or an antirealist when it comes to the existence of numbers (and other mathematical constructs). If the former, it seems that your position is counter-intuitive. Mary Leng is credited with the consideration that the fact the universe lines up with the timeless, spaceless, necessary constructs of mathematics so precisely is just a “happy coincidence”. This is what I would be inclined to think as well. Moreover, it seems to me that saying the laws of math somehow govern the universe would almost necessitate that mathematical constructs are causally active. But, this view seems to fly in the face of the universal consensus that mathematical constructs are causally inert. The number 42, for example, can’t cause anything. Yet, it seems that, prima facie, you think that not only are mathematical constructs able to be causes but they are the supreme cause of the universe. It seems the only way to escape from this conundrum would be to either assert the universe exists inexplicably or assume antirealism. But to say the universe exists inexplicably is grossly antiscientific. You would be saying that all of material reality came into existence uncaused and unexplained out of nothingness. Such a bold assertion completely dismisses the entire field of cosmology as frivolous. Since I highly doubt an intellectual like you would essentially piss all over science like that, in my view, your only option is to assume antirealism. Still, antirealism doesn’t seem to behoove you either. Such a position would reduce your view that math governs the universe to math simply mirrors the universe. Would you help me clear up my understanding of your view on the nature and existence of numbers/mathematical constructs?

      Fifth, related to my previous question, can you expound on your views of the causal relation mathematical objects and the related scientific laws have with the universe? I’m having difficulty seeing how impersonal, timeless entities (that, additionally, I think are causally inert) can be adequate for explaining the existence and beginning of the universe.

      Thank you for your time reading and responding both the GOE article and to my questions. I really hope that I haven’t come across as rude. You have a fascinating perspective and I’d like to have a more robust understanding of it.

      • Gaylordcat

        Thank you for reading my post in all seriousness. You did not reject my thoughts out-of-hand, and I appreciate that; it’s taken 68 years for me to get where I am regarding religion.

        I sense that you consider myths to be false. I hope I am interpreting that correctly. Since I am a devotee of Joseph Campbell, I must use his interpretation of myth. Campbell said myths have four functions:

        *The Metaphysical Function: Awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being.

        *The Cosmological Function: Explaining the shape of the universe.

        *The Sociological Function: Validate and support the existing social order.

        *The Pedagogical Function: Guide the individual through the stages of life.

        Finally, “Campbell believed that if myths are to continue to fulfill their vital
        functions in our modern world, they must continually transform and
        evolve because the older mythologies, untransformed, simply do not
        address the realities of contemporary life, particularly with regard to
        the changing cosmological and sociological realities of each new era.”

        My view is that myth is a means by which we ignorant human beings can make some sense out of absolute mysteries that cannot be defined with words or images. As Campbell said, “myths are ‘being statements’ and the experience of this mystery can be had only through a
        participation in mythic rituals or the contemplation of mythic symbols
        that point beyond themselves. Mythological symbols touch and exhilarate
        centers of life beyond the reach of reason and coercion…. The first
        function of mythology is to reconcile waking consciousness to the mystery tremendum et fascinans of this universe as it is.”

        So, it follows that rites practiced in religious ceremonies are re-enactments of scenes that the faithful believe are historic. Eucharist is one example. Most Christians believe the Last Supper took place in Jerusalem on the first evening of Passover, and that Jesus actually did what is described. Now, today the celebrant dons the attire Jesus is supposed to have worn that evening. All the accoutrements of the Mass symbolize the myth of the Last Supper, and I say myth because what actually happened on that evening is not verifiable, as is most of the events surrounding Jesus are not verifiable. But, that does not mean they did not happen, but only that they were not cataloged. Myth expresses it best because of the awe surrounding the event, which must have frightened the disciples as well as fascinated them. Can you imagine what they thought when he told them to drink the wine as his blood? Jews abhorred the blood of animals, and to be admonished to drink Jesus’ blood must have blown them away.

        Indeed, that’s where myth comes in. I can accept that a flesh and blood man named Yeshua ben Yosef, Latinized Jesus, son of Joseph, did exist and made an indelible impression on his followers. He was charismatic to an extraordinary degree, perhaps incredibly intelligent, a fascinating speaker, and a good person who believed that his mission was to assist and teach (love them) people how to live loving lives. I can also accept that he was killed by the economic, political power of the community, represented by Rome and the small Jewish hierarchy of the time, all combined to represent religion. (After all, Caesar was the son of god, savior of mankind, and immortal. Can’t have two claiming the same status. For the Romans religion was part of the crucifixion.) That’s what crucified him. I cannot accept that he physically rose from the dead, but I am in agreement with Marcus Borg that he “lived” and “lives” in the hearts of his followers precisely because he influenced and influences their lives. Whether the tomb was empty or not is not important because his spirit, if you will, continues to guide and direct Christians.

        What Professor Borg calls metaphor I call myth. They are linked. Borg sees many stories in the Gospels, especially those of Easter, as metaphorical renderings of history. Like “tremendum et fascinans” Campbell refers to regarding a function of myth, metaphorization of history is an expression of awe; what people have experienced frightens them as well as fascinates them. Storm chaser, for example, are very fearful of tornadoes but fascinated by them and drawn to them. Likewise, god-stuff, as I call it, is like severe storms.

        Myths and/or metaphorical history is really true, but they are not literal. We need them because we have no other ways to express the awe we feel from certain events that are not supported by science.

        Now, why do I not like proselytization? Precisely because that which proselytizers proselytize is their personal take on tremendum et fascinans, and although I may be interested in their views, I do not need to be made to feel guilty for believing the way I do.

        As for being an atheist, that story takes too much time. Short version: I became a Christian at six because my grandmother, with whom I lived, wanted me to have a church, Baptist in my case. So, I joined. I found kindred people and I was devout. Even considered holy orders at one time. But, I always doubted the validity and the need for a god. As I grew older and studied a lot of science, I saw that I agreed with Dawkins and other scientists that there is no need for a god. The universe is doing quite nicely and it needs no supernatural entity to help it along.

        Indeed, I do believe, as I stated in my original piece, that gods in terms of mythology are important because they (myths) are very important parts of our cultural history, Campbell’s sociological function: Validation and support of the existing social order, i.e. who we are.

        If I continue now, this post may become a tome, a euphemistic term for long-winded, the operative word being “winded.” Just let me say this: I am no theologian, or a Biblical scholar, or any kind of scholar. I’m am just curious about myriad stuff and religion is one. I am no scientist or mathematician, and when I talk about such subjects, I really am ignorant. What I am is an old guy, retired teacher of theatre and acting, and now a novelist.

        Finally, I am comfortable with my atheism as I was never comfortable being a Christian. I do have some essays on my website at http://www.frederickfuller.com that may interest you.

        Thanks again for your interest and seriousness in replying to my post. Let me know, please, what you think.

  • Scott Thormaehlen

    I feel this statement to be very accurate…”the scriptures were written, copied over thousands of years and eventually assembled into a canon by fallible people, while still trusting that the same Spirit of God I believe originally inspired the authors also protected the essential truths of the text from being corrupted or lost over the millenia.”

    The Bible mentions many books that do no longer are with us. The truth about scripture is very simple, it exists because God personally called those people to write. We wouldn’t have scripture if it weren’t for the “spoken word”, or the authority of His prophets and Apostles.

    Today such a faith system exists with living prophets and apostles. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists as primitive Christianity in modern form. Yes, with a polygamist past just like the Bible. With the metal plates, additional scripture, angelic visitations (Revelation 14), and the whole bit right down to controversy, imperfect servants, and everything you would find in a Biblical faith. I recently wrote a book, Day of Defense: Positive Talking Points for the Latter Days. I hope you look into to at www(period)scott-thormaehlen(dot)com.

  • J.R. Morales

    An interesting question, I think, would be: “If the Bible had NEVER existed, would God/Jesus/Christianity cease to be true?”

    A lot of people who talk about inerrancy have never taken a textual criticism course. They would freak out. That said, I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant – it is infalible, though. The message has stayed intact despite the tens of thousands of errors (ranging from grammar and spelling to added verses) and copies.

    So, while I do agree with Tyler in this aspect, I believe his approach could use a little tenderness 🙂

    It IS your website, though, so…

    Anywho, my two cents. Thanks for reading! 🙂

    • Hey J.R.! Great to hear from you, and thanks for your thoughts.

      An interesting question, I think, would be: “If the Bible had NEVER existed, would God/Jesus/Christianity cease to be true?”

      I think this is a terrific question to consider, however obvious you might think the answer is. One thing I wonder sometimes is if there will be Bibles in heaven. I don’t think so. Why would we need them at that point?

      And, I know my approach can be a little…abrasive at times, but only when I think it’s warranted. I can be nice, too! 🙂

      • J.R. Morales

        It’s an interesting question, I believe, because God had no need to reveal Himself through written word. Like you mentioned in a reply to someone, there’s thousands of believers who believed without access to a Bible who share in this revelation – but Natural Theology is for another post.

        Great work on the website, by the way!

  • batmanfanforever08 .

    Here’s what I believe concerning biblical inerrancy, I think the Bible is inerrant and totally true. I do take of it as literal truth, I just don’t believe in a young earth or a young universe. No you don’t have to believe in YEC to take the Bible literally and regard it as totally true and inerrant. This is where my belief in progressive creationism and trust in ministries like Reasons to Believe (RTB) come in handy.

    I hated that *Ham vs. Nye* debate & I really hope there is a *Ross vs. Nye* debate in the future. I would also like to see a *Ross vs. Ham* debate in the future as well. Those debates would be much more interesting. I think I’ll go beat myself over the head with a 2×4 until I forget that idiots like Ken Ham exist now, lol.

    • Yeah, I agree that a TE or progressive creationist vs. young-earther would provide a much more valuable and constructive debate than atheist vs. young-earther.