Geisler Speaks About (Atheist) Antony Flew’s Conversion

(First Posted June 2011)

This is an old podcast of Dr. Norman Geisler discussing ex-atheist Antony Flew’s book that detailed his leaving atheism. Here is a “Flewism”

  • “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.” After chewing on his scientific worldview for more than five decades, Flew concluded, “A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.” Previously, in his central work, The Presumption of Atheism (1976), Flew argued that the “onus of proof [of God] must lie upon the theist.” However, at the age of 81, Flew shocked the world when he renounced his atheism because “the argument for Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” (See my DNA post: RNA/DNA = Information | Or, What “IS” Information)

Flew’s God was: immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, omniscient, whole [one, or indivisible, perfectly good and necessary exists.

Human Zoos (Evolution’s Dehumanizing Ethos/Racism)

This is a not-too-well-known subtitle of Charles Darwin’s work. I have an introduction to this idea entitled, “Racism and Evolutionary Thought“. Stephen Jay Gould notes the affects of Darwinism on culture:

  • “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850, but they have increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory”

Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Press, 1977), 127.

Human Zoos tells the shocking story of how thousands of indigenous peoples were put on public display in America in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Above video description:

Often touted as “missing links” between man and apes, these native peoples were harassed and demeaned. Their public display was arranged with the enthusiastic support of the most elite members of the scientific community, and it was promoted uncritically by American’s leading newspapers. This award-winning documentary explores the heartbreaking story of what happened, shows how African-American ministers and other people of faith tried to push back, and reveals how some people today are still drawing on Social Darwinism in order to dehumanize others. The film also explores the tragic story of eugenics in America, the effort to breed human beings based on Darwinian principles.

Human Zoos was an official selection of the African World Documentary Film Festival and has won awards for Best Editing (Oregon Documentary Film Festival), Best in Show (Cinema WorldFest Awards) and Awards of Excellence from the Impact Docs Awards and the Hollywood Independent Documentary Awards.

Be sure to check out these other videos about social Darwinism.

Here is a small snippet from a larger audio of Carl Jackson making a point about race relations. The larger audio of Mr. Jackson filling in for Dennis Prager is here


Here Is An Older Post Originally Posted In July Of 2010


SEE MORE AT ANSWERS IN GENESIS

Skull-hunters killed Aborigines and legitimized this act asserting that they were doing it for science. The skulls of the hunted natives were sold to museums after some chemical reactions that would make them look old. The skulls with bullet holes were filled in with utmost attention. According to Creation Magazine published in Australia, a group of observers that came in from South Galler were shocked when they saw that dozens of women, children and men were killed by evolutionists. Forty five skulls were chosen among the killed Aborigines, the flesh of them were set aside and boiled. The best ten were packaged to be sent to England.

Today, thousands of skulls of Aborigines are still in the warehouse of Smithsonian Institution. Some of these skulls belong to the corpses dug from the graves where as some others are the skulls of innocent people killed to prove evolution.

There were also African victims of the evolutionist violence. The most famous one was the pigmy Ota Benga who was taken to the world of the white men to be displayed as a transitional form. Oto Benga was caught in 1904 by a researcher Samuel Verner in Kongo then a colony of Belgium. The native whose name meant friend in his native language, was married and had two kids. Yet he was chained, put into a cage and sent by a boat to the evolutionist scientists who within the same year displayed him in the St. Louis World Fair together with other monkey species as the closest transitional form to humankind. Two years later, he was taken to Bronx Zoo in New York where he was, this time displayed as one of the ancestors of human beings together with a few chimpanzees, a gorilla called Dinah and an orangutan called Dohung. Dr. William T. Hornaday, the director of the zoo who was also a fanatical evolutionist delivered long speeches about how he was proud of having such a precious transitional form. The guests, on the other hand, treated Ota Benga as an ordinary animal.  Ota Benga could not bear the treatment he received and committed suicide. (Here is a reggae song dedicated to Oto on A BITTA WORLD by BORROW SHANGO.)

From RAE:

….The many factors motivating Verner to bring Ota to the United States were complex, but he was evidently .much influenced by the theories of Charles Darwin” a theory which, as it developed, increasingly divided humankind into human contrived races (Rymer, 1992, p. 3). Darwin also believed that the blacks were an inferior race’ (Vemer, 1908a, p. 10717). Although biological racism did not begin with Darwinism, Darwin did more than any other man to popularize it among the masses. As early as 1699, English Physician Edward Tyson studied a skeleton which he believed belonged to a pygmy, concluding that this race was apes, although it was discovered that the skeleton on which this conclusion was based was actually a chimpanzee (Bradford and Blume, 1992, p. 20).

The conclusion in Vemer’s day accepted by most scientists was that after Darwin showed “that all humans descended from apes, the suspicion remained that some races had descended farther than others … [and that] some races, namely the white ones, had left the ape far behind, while other races, pygmies especially, had hardly matured at all” (Bradford and Blume, 1992, p. 20). Many scholars agreed with Sir Harry Johnson, a pygmy scholar who stated that the pygmies were “very apelike in appearance [and] their hairy skins, the length of their arms, the strength of their thickset frames, their furtive ways, all point to these people as representing man in one of his earlier forms’ (Keane 1907, p. 99). One of the most extensive early studies of the pygmies concluded that they were “queer little freaks” and

The low state of their mental development is shown by the following facts. They have no regard for time, nor have they any records or traditions of the past; no religion is known among them, nor have they any fetish rights; they do not seek to know the future by occult meansin short, they arethe closest link with the original Darwinian anthropoid ape extant” (Burrows, 1905, pp. 172, 182)….

God, Evolution And Quantum Theory

(Originally Published  March 2016)

  • “One of the things about quantum mechanics is not only can nothing become something, nothing always becomes something,” says Dr. Krauss. “Nothing is unstable. Nothing will always produce something in quantum mechanics.”

Commenting on Krauss’ central claim that particles emerging from the quantum vacuum are like creation out of nothing, Dr. Albert writes:

But that’s just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states — no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems — are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff. The true relativistic-quantum-field-­theoretical equivalent to there not being any physical stuff at all isn’t this or that particular arrangement of the fields — what it is (obviously, and ineluctably, and on the contrary) is the simple absence of the fields! The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don’t is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don’t. And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings — if you look at them aright — amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing (emphasis in the original).

[….]

A quantum vacuum, on the other hand, is something—it consists of fields of fluctuating energy from which particles appear to pop in and out of existence. Whether these particles are uncaused, or are caused but are merely unpredictable to us, is unknown. There are ten different models of the quantum level [the most accepted of those is the Copenhagen interpretation], and no one knows which is correct. What we do know is that, whatever is happening there, it is not creation out of nothing. Moreover, the vacuum itself had a beginning and therefore needs a cause.

(CROSS EXAMINED)

This is a couple page excerpt from Dr. John Polkinghorne’s chapter entitled, “God and Physics”:

GOD, EVOLUTION AND QUANTUM THEORY

The potentiality present in the laws of nature has been turned into actu­ality in the course of the 13.7 billion years of cosmic history by a variety of evolutionary processes. While the biological evolution of life on earth is the most familiar of these scenarios, evolutionary process has also been of great significance for the physical structure of the universe. In the course of the first billion years of cosmic history, the initial almost uniform ball of matter-energy turned into a world that became grainy and lumpy with stars and galaxies. Where there had been a little more matter than average, there was an additional gravitational attraction, which then drew in further matter in a kind of snowballing process. In this way the initial small inhomogeneities were enhanced to produce ultimately a starry universe.

The essence of any evolutionary process is an interplay between con­tingent variations (in this case, small fluctuations of matter density in the early universe) and lawful regularity (in this case, the force of grav­ity). A slogan way of expressing this is to talk about chance and neces­sity. It is important to recognize that in this phrase “chance” is by no means a sign of meaninglessness but stands for the contingent particu­larity of what actually happens. Even in the course of 13.7 billion years, only a tiny fraction of what could have happened has actually taken place. The formation of stars and galaxies illustrates the general scien­tific insight that regimes in which true novelty emerges are always “at the edge of chaos,” where order and openness, chance and necessity are interwoven. Too far on the orderly side of that frontier, and things are too rigid for the emergence of anything really novel to be possible; too far on the haphazard side of the frontier, and no novelty that does emerge will be able to persist.

The theist has no need to be worried by the widespread role of evolu­tionary process. God is the ordainer of nature, and God acts as much through natural processes as in any other way. Commenting on Charles Darwin’s great discovery of biological evolution, his contemporary Charles Kingsley said that we had been shown that God had not made a ready-made world but had done something cleverer than that, making a world in which creatures “could make themselves.” chance is simply creation’s shuffling exploration of divinely given fertility, by means of which potentiality is made actual. The theist will see the twin roles of chance and necessity as the gifts to creation of both independence and reliability, by a God who is both loving and faithful.

The physicist may well see this interweaving of order and openness reflected in the character of quantum physics and speculate that at the subatomic level this has been an important property in allowing the uni­verse to be biofertile. While quantum physics is only capable of assign­ing probabilities for a number of possible results of a measurement, the range of these possibilities is also constrained by the actual character of the wave function describing the system. It is certainly not the case that anything might happen. The wave function itself evolves in time accord­ing to the Schrodinger equation, which is a deterministic differential equation. According to the widely accepted indeterministic interpreta­tion of quantum theory, it is only when the definite form of the wave function is used to calculate the consequences of a measurement that probabilities enter the theory. Most physicists understand measurement to be the irreversible macroscopic registration of a state of affairs in the subatomic system, and it is not necessarily associated with the direct influence of a conscious observer. In other words, surely quantum pro­cesses had actual outcomes over the many billion years of cosmic history in which there were no observers present in the universe.

The interpretation of quantum theory is still a contentious issue, with a variety of incompatible points of view being advocated, but the notion of “observer-created reality” is very much a minority position. At most, “observer-influenced reality” (in laboratory experiments affected by choices of what measurements to make) is as much as should be said.

Quantum theory has also contributed to a growing recognition that nature is deeply relational and that atomism is only part of the picture. Once two quantum entities have interacted with each other, they can retain a power of mutual influence that is not diminished by spatial sep­aration. Acting on one here will have an immediate effect on the other, even if it is now “beyond the moon,” as we conventionally say. Einstein was the first to recognize the possibility of quantum entanglement, but he thought it was “too spooky” to be true. He considered that its predic­tion must show that there was something wrong with conventional quantum mechanics. However, experiments have abundantly confirmed the phenomenon. The instantaneous character of the influence conveyed does not contradict special relativity, since it turns out that it cannot be used to transmit information faster than the velocity of light. Nature, it seems, rebels against a crass reductionism: even the subatomic world cannot be treated atomistically. The theist who is a trinitarian thinker will not be surprised to learn that created reality is relational.

Finally, physicists can not only peer into the universe’s past but also foresee aspects of its future. The timescales are very long, but in the end the prediction is that it will all end badly. As far as the earth is concerned, in about five billion years the sun will have consumed all its hydrogen fuel. It will then turn into a red giant, burning to a frazzle any life then left on the earth. By then life might well have migrated elsewhere in the galaxy; that, however, would only be a temporary reprieve. Over immensely long timescales, the universe itself will die, most probably by continuing to expand and becoming ever colder and more dilute. Carbon-based life will certainly prove to have been a tran­sient episode in the history of the universe.

Eventual futility lies at the end of science’s “horizontal” story, ex­trapolating physical process into the distant future. However, theism has a different, “vertical” story to tell, based on the everlasting faithful­ness of God. For the religious believer, the last word lies not with death but with God. That is a conviction that goes beyond anything that phys­ics can speak about, either for or against.

FOR FURTHER READING

  • Holder, Rodney. God, the Multiverse and Everything. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2004.
  • Polkinghorne, John. Belief in God in an Age of Science. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
  • _________Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • _________Quantum Physics and Theology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
  • Smolin, Lee. The Trouble with Physics. London: Allen Lane, 2006.

Here as well is an article from my Study Bible:

  • Jeremy Royal Howard, “Does the ‘New Physics’ Conflict with Christianity?,” in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1306–1307.

The Bible portrays God as a rational Being who created the world from nothing and rules over it as Sovereign. Logic, order, purpose, natural law—these qualities are etched into the universe as reflections of the will and mind of God. Moreover, God made humans in His own image, which means our minds are equipped to operate according to God’s rationality. Finally, since God is the author of the world and humanity, we are intellectually ready-made to understand truth about God and the world He made.

Some people say quantum mechanics (QM) refutes these beliefs. QM studies the bits of matter that are the size of atoms and smaller. It was long assumed that these micro-objects would follow the physical laws Newton described, but modern research shows that quantum entities behave far differently than the objects of our everyday experience. For example, photons (light) can take the form of particles or waves. However, the problem is that waves and particles are contrary things. Waves cover a wide zone, but particles can only be at one tiny place at a time. Physicists are baffled that photons can do both. Next, tests reveal that in laboratory settings, quantum particles separated by a vast expanse can still affect one another as if they are in direct contact. This is like scratching someone’s back from two thousand miles away. Finally, experiments suggest that quantum entities behave lawlessly, meaning there are no “rules” for their actions.

These oddities prompt some observers to conclude that QM overturns natural law and rationality, leaving us with an incomprehensible, uncreated universe. Standard physics says matter can be neither created nor destroyed by natural means, but some scientists (falsely) claim that quantum particles naturally pop in and out of existence. From this, leading atheists claim the whole universe “sprang” into existence naturally. No Creator necessary. Furthermore, they say that even if God exists and created the universe, QM shows He made a world He cannot control. Once He uncorked this world, not even God knows what will come of it. Theologians who favor science fads over Scripture conclude the same thing: QM implies God cannot govern creation or know the future.

Scientists have historically taken the appearance of mystery or irrationality in nature as a sign that they do not yet know enough about the object under study. However, following the lead of Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation (CI) of QM, many physicists refuse to count their inability to understand or predict quantum action as a sign of ignorance. Rather, they claim QM is basically a finished science that reveals a genuinely lawless and irrational world—a brooding cauldron of chance actions and purposeless conclusions. This fits well with non-Christian concepts of the universe. In fact, Bohr and his colleagues enthusiastically asserted that QM endorses Eastern worldview images. Today, popular science opinion is captive to Bohr’s CI, and thus holds that QM supports New Age or atheistic worldviews.

I suggest the following starting points for the Christian response: First, for all the wild attributes that may hold true in QM, we note that macroscopic reality behaves in a predictable, law-like fashion and everywhere presents us with evidence of its fundamentally rational construction and operation. So even if quantum particles could do lawless things like pop in and out of existence naturally, no such thing happens in the realm of everyday objects. Quantum oddities, whatever you make of them, are detained at the door to the larger realities we experience.

Second, many of the astounding behaviors attributed to QM occur only in highly artificial laboratory settings. There is no certainty that these things can actually happen in real-world settings. Thus, we are justified in casting an indifferent eye on many of the zany headlines coming from physics laboratories.

Third, science’s ability to penetrate the microphysical world is still very rudimentary. This leaves room for exceptionally high degrees of speculation and error. In this light, Christians should join the chorus of noteworthy scientists (like Einstein) who have insisted that QM should not be the basis for worldview assertions. This problem will apparently not be fully alleviated in the future, for scientists acknowledge that the mega-scale facilities and energies required to verify the most important claims of QM will forever lie outside our reach.

Fourth, science would be impossible if this world were not created by a personal, rational Being who designed both physical reality and human beings to reflect His rationality. Any scientific theory that supports non-rational worldviews is self-defeating. After all, the deliberations involved in reaching the conclusion that “this world is fundamentally irrational” have relied on the very rationality whose legitimacy is denied in the conclusion.

Finally, a growing body of experts believes the CI will someday fall out of scientific favor, thus shifting the dominant paradigm of QM to models supporting rationality and natural law. Whether or not this happens, Christians can rest assured that this world is the creation of a rational God who rules as Sovereign over all things, including the wily objects of the quantum realm.

Besides QM, some suggest Chaos Theory and Special Relativity impinge on the Christian worldview. Special Relativity shows there are no fixed reference points in the universe. All motion or apparent non-motion is relative to a specific frame of reference. Some have imagined that this undermines our ability to form fixed judgments that apply universally, but of course our inability to do this in physics is irrelevant to our assurance about unalterable, universal truths revealed by God. As for Chaos Theory, the name itself is deceptive. Properly understood, it only says that many deterministic physical systems are so sensitive to initial conditions that we cannot fully predict their future behaviors unless we perfectly comprehend all of those conditions. Hence it is our ignorance, not creation itself, which sets up the appearance of chaos in physics.

In summary, the new physics highlights human finitude but does nothing to overturn God as Author and Ruler of creation.

And Frank Turek answers the issue in a manner that uses science and experience via science. In other words, while scientists do not know all the ins-n-outs of the quantum theory on it’s “sub-atomic level,” there is NOTHING to suppose the laws of science or logic are undermined. None:

Some atheists will appeal to the quantum level to question the law of causality. But just because we can’t predict cause and effect among subatomic particles, doesn’t mean that there is no cause and effect. That could be a matter of unpredictability rather than uncausality. In other words, the limits of our knowledge of the quantum level might be the issue.

Moreover, any conclusion the atheist makes about the quantum level would use the very the law of causality he is questioning. That’s because his observations of the quantum level and his reasoning about it use the law of causality! While it is possible that causality does not apply at the quantum level, given the fact that the law seems universal everywhere else and the scientist uses it in all of his conclusions, why would anyone conclude it’s more plausible to believe that causality does not apply at the quantum level? Could it be because it helps one avoid God?

Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 233-234; Does Causality Apply Outside of Space and Time? (Cross Examined).

Ravi Zacharias (RPT’s Tribute)

(Almost all the videos or audios below are from my YouTube Channel. I recovered many of them from my Vimeo account and my MRCTV account. Enjoy, I have worked all day on fixing audio and video to make them more presentable)

  • If C.S. Lewis was the greatest Christian expositor of the 20th century, Ravi Zacharias might well go down in history as the greatest of the 21st century. Both are often described as “apologists,” but that sounds defensive to the modern ear. (WASHINGTON TIMES)
  • “To my friend, my mentor and a great hero of the faith [Ravi Zacharias] — Thank you,” Tim Tebow wrote. “I know I’ll see you again and I look forward to that day. Love you brother.” (PJ-MEDIA)

First, let me say, I am a fan of Ravi Zacharias. A huge fan. He has impacted me in countless ways, and thus, he has impacted my family. As a three-time felon, I benefited from his insights into what a Christian worldview should look like, and how a Christian should present himself. But he is a man — in need of a savior and prone to missteps and falls. Like any of us. His statement via CHRISTIANITY TODAY makes note of this:

  • “I have learned a difficult and painful lesson through this ordeal,” Zacharias said. “I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues.”

Ravi, like many a person I know (myself included), will always make claims not in line with reality to lift ourselves up to a greater status in life to impress others. It is almost a default of our prideful nature. I acknowledge all these faults in Ravi, and in my own life — it is a long and complex life filled with spiritual falls, scrapes, wounds, and battles. Ravi’s message of how the Christian worldview is coherent whereas others are not is not changed by his faults and missteps. God’s truth is unchangeable. As imperfect vessels, we imperfectly reflect His perfection. As you can see one of Ravi’s misstatements is made in the following video… but that retelling of flawed history by Ravi has no impact on the truth of his response in showing the self-deleting assumption of the questioner:

With that being said, Ravi passed from this place to the next. In March 2020, it was revealed that Zacharias had been diagnosed with a malignant and rare cancer within his spine. If one wants a book by him that shows the elegance of his thought and skills as a writer, his book “The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives” is the book I recommend the most. A portion of this book in audio form has been used by myself in a presentation while filling in at an adult Bible study at church (Grace Baptist). the Below is an older post of mine (updated a bit) discussing this section of the book where God’s design of our life doesn’t end with Him knitting us together in the womb — along with the mentioned audio:


BEAUTY IS MORE THAN SKIN DEEP


In this presentation Ravi Zacharias takes his time explaining a talk he was present at where Dr. Francis S. Collins (WIKI) compares a cross section of DNA to a stained-glass Rose window from Yorkminster Cathedral. The design is apparent and Collins mentions it a huge boost to his faith.

At The Veritas Forum at Caltech, Francis Collins shares two images representing the scientific worldview and the spiritual worldview. He asks whether there is a way to merge science & faith, and suggests that his experience is that these two perspectives are not in conflict. (The full presentation can be seen HERE):

RAVI WRITES:

“The picture (of the DNA) did more that take away one’s breath; it was awesome in the profoundest sense of the term – not just beautiful but overwhelming. And it almost mirrored the pattern of the Rose windowThe intricacy of the DNA’s design, which pointed to the Transcendant One, astonished those who are themselves the design and who have been created semitranscendant by design. We see ourselves only partially, but through our Creator’s eyes, we see our transcendence. In looking at our own DNA, the subject and the object come together.”

TO WIT…

 


END of POST


I have other uploads as well I have used in conversation over the years as well that are instructive to the armchair apologist. Here they are (some recently imported from my VIMEO account:


AUDIO/VIDEO


Ravi Zacharias responds with “precise language” to a written question. With his patented charm and clarity, Ravi responds to the challenge of exclusivity in Christianity that skeptics challenge us with.

A student asks a question of Ravi Zacharias about God condemning people [atheists] to hell. This Q&A occurred after a presentation Ravi gave at Harvard University, and is now one of his most well-known responses in the apologetic sub-culture. This is an updated version to my original upload. I truncated the beginning as well as editing the volume of the initial question. I also added graphics and text quotes into the audio presentation.

A Muslim student at Michigan University challenges Ravi Zacharias on Christianities seemingly lack of ability in keeping the “law” like Islam and Judaism do so well. How can Christianity be true if it isn’t doing that which God demands? (I have recently enhanced, greatly, the audio in the file from my original VIMEO upload… and reconfigured slightly the visual presentation.)

 

(February 12, 2014) This is for a group of men that are going through Gregory Koukl’s book, “Tactics.” Often times a person merely need to ask his accuser questions to better open up what they mean by their questioning.

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” AND WHEN HE HAD SAID THIS, HE WENT OUT AGAIN…. (NASB – emphasis added)

One example of this “Socratic Method” can be seen here: “Socratic Method ~ Falling On Their Own Sword (Origins Myths)” The students start out sounding like experts and often times the Christians will shy away from conversation when in fact the person is basing their assumptions on a self-refuting idea[s], and all that is needed to bring it out are a few questions.

(March 31, 2013) Ravi Zacharias does a great job in explaining what pornography does to shame, the Holy, and the insatiable fire of not being able to satisfy men’s archetype they build in their minds eye.

(February 11, 2014) A quick witted response brings a light heart to a serious subject. This comes from an event today from the University of Pennsylvania, titled, “Is Truth Real?” Ravi Zacharias International Ministry has the longer version here.

 

“She Bear” (Short Version)

I truncated a much longer response and isolated my original thinking in the area of a common atheist charge of evil towards the Judeo-Christian God. I want Prager to read it!

2Kings 2:23-25

He [Elijah] went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

Here the skeptic posits God’s wrath on 42 children, presumably innocent in that their greatest offense was calling someone a “bald-head.” It would be similar to a guy being called “four-eyes” by a bunch of kids and then whipping out an AK-47 and mowing them down… and then expecting you to view him as a moral agent. In accessing the following books,

✦ The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times;
✦ Manners and Customs in the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Daily Life in Bible Times;
✦ An Introduction to the Old Testament;
✦ The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament;
✦ Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament;
✦ A Popular Survey of the Old Testament;
✦ New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties;
✦ Hard Sayings of the Bible;
✦ When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties.

I noticed something was missing. That is, a bit more of what is not said in the text, but we can assume using and accessing what any historical literary critic would with the principles that predate Christ — mentioned in the above “latte” link. Mind you, many of the responses in my home library that I came across were great, and, in fact they made me dig a bit further. (I do not want the reader to think that I place myself on a higher academic level that these fine theologians and professors.)

[…..]

This crowd of persons was older than what is typically posited by skeptics. Secondly, this group was a very bad lot. But didn’t explain why bald-head was egregious enough for God to call 42 scurvy bastards to judgement. To be fair, I sympathize with the skeptic here. That being said, there is more to the story.

I want us to view some artistic drawings of historical figures from Israels history: priests, prophets, spiritual leaders, and even Flavius Josephus.

What did you notice above in the cover to an A&E documentary? Yup, a turban as well as a cloak which covers the heads of the priests and prophets. Take note of the below as well.

I posted multiple images to drive a point home in our mind. The prophet Elisha would have had a couple cultural accoutrements that changes this story from simple name calling to an assault. He wouldn’t have been alone either, in other words, he would have had some people attached to him that would lay down their lives to protect him. And secondly, he would have had a head covering on, especially since he was returning from a “priestly” intervention. So we know from cultural history the following:

  1. He would have had a head dressing on — some sort of turbin;
  2. and he would have had an entourage of men to dissuade any attack or mistreatment of a priest of Israel on a journey.

One last point before we bullet point the complete idea behind the Holy and Rightful judgement from the Judge of all mankind. There were 42 persons killed by two bears. Obviously this would require many more than 42 people. Why? What happens when you have a group of ten people and a bear comes crashing out of the bushes in preparation to attack? Every one will immediately scatter! In the debate I pointed out that freezing 42 people and allowing the bears time to go down the line to kill each one would be even more of a miracle than this skeptic would want to allow. So the common sense position would require a large crowd and some sort of terrain to cut off escape. So the crowd would probably have been at least a few hundred.

Also, this holy man of God was coming back from a “mission,” he would have had an entourage with him ~ as already mentioned, as well as having some sort of head-covering on as pictured above ~ as already mentioned.

QUESTION:
So, what do these cultural and historical points cause us to rightly assume?

ANSWER:
That the crowd could not see that the prophet was bald.

Which means they would have had to of gotten physical — forcefully removing the head covering. Which means also that the men with the prophet Elisha would have also been overpowered. So lets bullet point the points that undermine the skeptics viewpoint.

✔ The crowd was in their late teens to early twenties;
✔ they were antisemitic (this is known from most of the previous passages and books);
✔ they were from a violently cultic city;
✔ the crowd was large;
✔ the crowd had already turned violent.

These points caused God in his foreknowledge to protect the prophet and send in nature to disperse the crowd. Nature is not kind, and the death of these men were done by a just Judge. This explains the actions of a just God better than many of the references I read.

[May I also add here that there is a bit of “free-will” actions here that could have contributed greatly — although this is still an example of God intervening with nature. I suppose that these mother bears may have minded their own business while keeping their cubs safe. But the ruckus created by this large crowd caused alarm enough in these mother bears to roust their natural instinct to protect their own. That is all. If this crowd had not done the above, everyone could have gone their own way on their respective journeys and “survived.” So while I think God DID intervene, miraculously, the actions natural or Divine were based on the violence of men]

Believing In God Is Natural ~ Atheism is Not (Updated)

(ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL OF 2016 | UPDATE ADDED)


We ARE programmed to believe one way and through the creative power (and infinite genius) of God, get to choose this natural tendency or to cover it up with our sinful, selfish nature that Romans 1 alludes to by numbing our faculties with an whole array of options.

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.

Blaise Pascal (Pensees 10.148)


Deborah Keleman studies cognitive development in children and Josh Rottman is a PhD student working with her. In a chapter in “Science and the World’s Religions.” they write (p. 206-207):

  • religion primarily stems from within the person rather than from external, socially organised sources …. evolved components of the human mind tend to lead people towards religiosity early in life.

Before continuing I just want to make a point, none of them by myself but brought here to review by myself. It has to do with merely assuming the evolutionist position, if true, makes theism true and atheism anathema to the survival of the species. For instance, Patricia Churchland notes what the brains primary chore is:

And this is the main point… okay… if I assume evolution is true, then, out of the choices of “religion” and “non-religion” — which of the two provide a better survival rate of the species? To wit:

Even Darwin had some misgivings about the reliability of human beliefs. He wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

Given unguided evolution, “Darwin’s Doubt” is a reasonable one. Even given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures—even creatures like us—would ever develop true beliefs. In other words, given the blindness of evolution, and that its ultimate “goal” is merely the survival of the organism (or simply the propagation of its genetic code), a good case can be made that atheists find themselves in a situation very similar to Hume’s.

The Nobel Laureate and physicist Eugene Wigner echoed this sentiment: “Certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.” That is, atheists have a reason to doubt whether evolution would result in cognitive faculties that produce mostly true beliefs. And if so, then they have reason to withhold judgment on the reliability of their cognitive faculties. Like before, as in the case of Humean agnostics, this ignorance would, if atheists are consistent, spread to all of their other beliefs, including atheism and evolution. That is, because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.

This will be an unwelcome surprise for atheists. To make things worse, this news comes after the heady intellectual satisfaction that Dawkins claims evolution provided for thoughtful unbelievers. The very story that promised to save atheists from Hume’s agnostic predicament has the same depressing ending.

It’s obviously difficult for us to imagine what the world would be like in such a case where we have the beliefs that we do and yet very few of them are true. This is, in part, because we strongly believe that our beliefs are true (presumably not all of them are, since to err is human—if we knew which of our beliefs were false, they would no longer be our beliefs).

Suppose you’re not convinced that we could survive without reliable belief-forming capabilities, without mostly true beliefs. Then, according to Plantinga, you have all the fixins for a nice argument in favor of God’s existence For perhaps you also think that—given evolution plus atheism—the probability is pretty low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. In other words, your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. Your argument, then, would go something like this: if atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.

Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. That’s just what atheists do. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort, or at least in a supernatural realm. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefits for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence—on the atheist’s own terms—that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or, alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.

You’ve got to wonder.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith: To the Head (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 44-45.

While I am not a fan of Charisma… as of late they have posted a few good articles. This being one of them:

Science Proves Your Brain Recognizes the Reality of God, Researchers Say

Remember, there was much discussion about destroying or harming parts of the brain that decrease belief in God:

This has to be embarrassing… if you’re an atheist. A new study performed at the University of York used targeted magnetism to shut down part of the brain. The result: belief in God disappeared among more than 30 percent of participants.

That in itself may not seem so embarrassing, but consider that the specific part of the brain they frazzled was the posterior medial frontal cortex—the part associated with detecting and solving problems, i.e., reasoning and logic.

In other words, when you shut down the part of the brain most associated with logic and reasoning, greater levels of atheism result.

You’ve heard the phrase, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”? Apparently we can now also say, “I have too many brains to be an atheist.”

(Via my previous post on targeted magnetism)

I also posit that person’s who use illicit drugs, such as marijuana, are less likely to believe in the Judeo-Christian God due to deterioration/destruction of sections of the brain. Parts of the brain most affected are memory and cognitive or parts of the brain that use logic and reason). Whereas,  it seems, we see that a healthy brain is ready to receive faith:

In a piece for the Washington Post, atheist Elizabeth King writes that she cannot shake the idea of God’s existence.

★ “The idea of God pesters me and makes me think that maybe I’m not as devoted to my beliefs as I’d like to think I am and would like to be. Maybe I’m still subconsciously afraid of hell and want to go to heaven when I die. It’s confusing and frustrating to feel the presence of something you don’t believe in. This is compounded by the fact that the God character most often shows up when I’m already frustrated,” King writes.

Neurotheologian Newberg says this is because science does back the reality of religious experiences.

(CHARISMA)


HOWEVER, the key quote in my mind’s eye is this, from Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN — the BRAIN BLOGGER:

  • The question of whether religion has been “hardwired” into our brains or an evolutionary adaptation has been debated for decades, however, more recently we have uncovered scientific underpinning for both possibilities.

In other words, evolution (if one believes in that exclusively) has hard wired our brains for faith. Not for non-faith.

See also: 

National Geographic contacted Neuroscience News and invited us to take part in a virtual roundtable discussion to help promote an upcoming episode of Brain Games called The God Brain. (Brain Games: The God Brain premieres Sunday, February 21, at 9 pm ET on National Geographic Channel).

(NEURO SCIENCE NEWS)


This supports another study of Japanese kids raised with no thoughts of a monotheistic God

For example, researchers at Oxford University (at which Dawkins himself was until recently the holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science) have earlier reported finding children who, when questioned, express their understanding that there is a Creator, without having had any such instruction from parents or teachers. As Dr Olivera Petrovich, who lectures in Experimental Psychology at Oxford, explained in an interview with Science and Spirit:

My Japanese research assistants kept telling me, ‘We Japanese don’t think about God as creator—it’s just not part of Japanese philosophy.’ So it was wonderful when these children said, ‘Kamisama! God! God made it!’—Dr Olivera Petrovich, Oxford University.

“I tested both the Japanese and British children on the same tasks, showing them very accurate, detailed photographs of selected natural and man-made objects and then asking them questions about the causal origins of the various natural objects at both the scientific level (e.g. how did this particular dog become a dog?) and at the metaphysical level (e.g. how did the first ever dog come into being?). With the Japanese children, it was important to establish whether they even distinguished the two levels of explanation because, as a culture, Japan discourages speculation into the metaphysical, simply because it’s something we can never know, so we shouldn’t attempt it. But the Japanese children did speculate, quite willingly, and in the same way as British children. On forced choice questions, consisting of three possible explanations of primary origin, they would predominantly go for the word ‘God’, instead of either an agnostic response (e.g., ‘nobody knows’) or an incorrect response (e.g., ‘by people’). This is absolutely extraordinary when you think that Japanese religion — Shinto — doesn’t include creation as an aspect of God’s activity at all. So where do these children get the idea that creation is in God’s hands? It’s an example of a natural inference that they form on the basis of their own experience. My Japanese research assistants kept telling me, ‘We Japanese don’t think about God as creator — it’s just not part of Japanese philosophy.’ So it was wonderful when these children said, ‘Kamisama! God! God made it!’ That was probably the most significant finding.”

Today, nearly a decade since Petrovich’s study, there is now a “preponderance of scientific evidence” affirming that “children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them”.

(CREATION.COM)

I often hear atheists exude confidence in natural selection and evolution and all that it entails. However, when natural belief in God emerges… they reject this as fantasy rather than a superior survival mechanism. It is important to understand that I am not arguing for evolution but showing that it is self-referentially false:

  • NOTE: if you believe in evolution and are an atheist, you would root for and support neo-Darwinian evolutionary “natural selection” in choosing religious belief as superior to that of non-belief!

In a debate during the Q&A session between a theist and atheist/evolutionist, a student asked this great question… and while he did not have the answer to Dr. Pigliucci’s challenge, I do:

Assuming the validity of the “underlying instinct to survive and reproduce” then, out of the two positions (belief and non-belief) available for us to choose from which would better apply to being the most fit if the fittest is “an individual… [that] reproduces more successfully…”?[1]  The woman that believes in God is less likely to have abortions and more likely to have larger families than their secular counterparts.[2]  Does that mean that natural selection will result in a greater number of believers than non-believers?[3]


Footnotes


[1]  From my son’s 9th grade biology textbook: Susan Feldkamp, ex. ed., Modern Biology (Austin, TX: Holt, Rineheart, and Winston, 2002), 288; “organisms that are better suited to their environment than others produce more offspring” American Heritage Science Dictionary, 1st ed. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), cf. natural selection, 422; “fitness (in evolution) The condition of an organism that is well adapted to its environment, as measured by its ability to reproduce itself” Oxford Dictionary of Biology, New Edition (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), cf. fitness, 202; “fitness In an evolutionary context, the ability of an organism to produce a large number of offspring that survive to reproduce themselves” Norah Rudin, Dictionary of Modern Biology (Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1997), cf. fitness, 146.

[2]  Dinesh D’Souza points to this in his recent book, What’s So Great About Christianity:

  • Russia is one of the most atheist countries in the world, and abortions there outnumber live births by a ratio of two to one. Russia’s birth rate has fallen so low that the nation is now losing 700,000 people a year. Japan, perhaps the most secular country in Asia, is also on a kind of population diet: its 130 million people are expected to drop to around 100 million in the next few decades. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand find themselves in a similar predicament. Then there is Europe. The most secular continent on the globe is decadent in the quite literal sense that its population is rapidly shrinking. Birth rates are abysmally low in France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Sweden. The nations of Western Europe today show some of the lowest birth rates ever recorded, and Eastern European birth rates are comparably low.  Historians have noted that Europe is suffering the most sustained reduction in its population since the Black Death in the fourteenth century, when one in three Europeans succumbed to the plague. Lacking the strong religious identity that once characterized Christendom, atheist Europe seems to be a civilization on its way out. Nietzsche predicted that European decadence would produce a miserable “last man’ devoid of any purpose beyond making life comfortable and making provision for regular fornication. Well, Nietzsche’s “last man” is finally here, and his name is Sven. Eric Kaufmann has noted that in America, where high levels of immigration have helped to compensate for falling native birth rates, birth rates among religious people are almost twice as high as those among secular people. This trend has also been noticed in Europe.” What this means is that, by a kind of natural selection, the West is likely to evolve in a more religious direction. This tendency will likely accelerate if Western societies continue to import immigrants from more religious societies, whether they are Christian or Muslim. Thus we can expect even the most secular regions of the world, through the sheer logic of demography, to become less secular over time…. My conclusion is that it is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation. Atheism is a bit like homosexuality: one is not sure where it fits into a doctrine of natural selection. Why would nature select people who mate with others of the same sex, a process with no reproductive advantage at all? (17, 19)

Some other studies and articles of note: Mohit Joshi, “Religious women less likely to get abortions than secular women” (last accessed 9-6-2016), Top Health News, Health News United States (1-31-08); Anthony Gottlieb, “Faith Equals Fertility,” Intelligent Life, a publication of the Economist magazine (winter 2008) [THIS LINK IS DEAD] most of the original Economist article can be found at the WASHINGTON TIMES as well as The Immanent Frame (both accessed 9-6-2016); W. Bradford Wilcox, “Fertility, Faith, & the Future of the West: A conversation with Phillip Longman” (last accessed 9-6-2016), Christianity Today, Books & Culture: A Christian Review (5-01-2007); Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 3-32, esp. 24-29 — I recommend this book for deep thinking on the issue.

  • And churchgoing women have more children than their nonreligious peers, according to the Center for Disease Control’s National Survey of Family Growth, an ongoing survey spanning 2011-2015. The survey involves about 5,000 interviews per year, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 who attend religious services at least weekly have 1.42 children on average, compared with the 1.11 children of similar-age women who rarely or never attend services. More religious women said they also intend to have more kids (2.62 per woman) than nonreligious women (2.10 per woman), the survey found. (Baby Boom: Religious Women Having More KidsLIVESCIENCE)
  • In fact, Blume’s research also shows quite vividly that secular, nonreligious people are being dramatically out-reproduced by religious people of any faith. Across a broad swath of demographic data relating to religiosity, the godly are gaining traction in offspring produced. For example, there’s a global-level positive correlation between frequency of parental worship attendance and number of offspring. Those who “never” attend religious services bear, on a worldwide average, 1.67 children per lifetime; “once per month,” and the average goes up to 2.01 children; “more than once a week,” 2.5 children. Those numbers add up—and quickly. Some of the strongest data from Blume’s analyses, however, come from a Swiss Statistic Office poll conducted in the year 2000. These data are especially valuable because nearly the entire Swiss population answered this questionnaire—6,972,244 individuals, amounting to 95.67% of the population—which included a question about religious denomination. “The results are highly significant,” writes Blume: “…women among all denominational categories give birth to far more children than the non-affiliated. And this remains true even among those (Jewish and Christian) communities who combine nearly double as much births with higher percentages of academics and higher income classes as their non-affiliated Swiss contemporaries.” (God’s little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN)
  • Another value that is both measurable and germane to fertility is the importance of religion. People who are actively religious tend to marry more and stay together longer. To the extent that time spent married during reproductive years increases fertility, then religion would be a positive factor in fertility rates. For example, in Canada women who had weekly religious attendance were 46 percent more likely to have a third child than women who did not. (The Northern America Fertility Divide — HOOVER INSTITUTE

[3] Adapted from a question by a student at a formal debate between Dr. Massimo Pigliucci and Dr. William Lane Craig. The debate is entitled “Craig vs. Pigliucci: Does the Christian God Exist?”  (DVD, Christian Apologetics, Biola University, apologetics@biola.edu ~ Category Number: 103000-400310-56107-Code: WLC-RFM014V).


UPDATE


The AMERICAN SPECTATOR published a wonderful article. And it in large part supports the above contention that belief in God is a natural (in born) position… and that atheism is the REAL product of environment. Read on to see:

University of Oxford developmental psychologist Dr. Olivera Petrovich has spent years researching a single question: Are children predisposed to belief in a transcendent being?

This research, much deserving of greater exposure, intrigued me, since I have engaged atheism’s most prominent modern proponents. I chaired three of atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’s debates with his Oxford University colleague, the mathematician and Christian John LennoxI debated Christopher Hitchens on stage, chaired a number of his debates, and wrote a book about those encounters. And I debated Tufts University cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett on Al Jazeera television with a Muslim tossed into the mix. I even had a lively exchange with agnostic John Stossel on the “God question” on Fox News.

In each of these discussions, much was made out of the evidence — or, as some would have it, the lack of evidence — for God’s existence. Belief in God (or a god, if you prefer), they say, is a product of environment, wishful thinking (like belief in fairies or Santa Claus), or a “mental virus.”

“Part of what I want to say,” writes Richard Dawkins in his bestseller The God Delusion, “is that it doesn’t matter what particular style of nonsense infects the child brain. Once infected, the child will grow up and infect the next generation with the same nonsense, whatever it happens to be.”

But as Dawkins’s archrival, the aforementioned mathematician John Lennox, has said, “Not every statement made by a scientist is a scientific statement.” This appears to be just such an instance. According to Dr. Petrovich, Dawkins’ statement lacks scientific evidence. On the contrary, her research strongly suggests that children are “hardwired” to believe in God.

In a cross-cultural study of British and Japanese children who were shown photographs of manmade and natural objects and then asked to explain how those objects came into existence, children predominantly chose the theological explanation. Dr. Petrovich told me,

The pattern of responding among Japanese children is highly significant in this context seeing that those children live in a culture that does not in any way encourage a belief in God as creator. Yet, the most common reply given by Japanese preschoolers about natural objects’ origins was “Kamisama [God]! God made it.” Whilst there is growing research evidence that children from across different religious and cultural backgrounds consistently attribute to god the existence of natural objects, what is so interesting about the Japanese participants is that this particular causal inference is not a product of their education but a natural development in their understanding of the world.

(READ IT ALL)

Another aspect that shows the increased natural selective nature of belief and longevity (the opportunity to leave more offspring) is the POSITIVE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION:


Social Sciences Agree

~ Religious More “Fit” ~


Via my post on family values: A Family Values [Atheist] Mantra Dissected: Nominal vs. Committed

SOCIAL SCIENTISTS AGREE

  • Religious Belief Reduces Crime Summary of the First Panel Discussion Panelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures. The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk.
  • Dr. Larson laid the foundation for the discussion by summarizing the findings of 400 studies on juvenile delinquency, conducted during the past two decades. He believes that although more research is needed, we can say without a doubt that religion makes a positive contribution.
  • His conclusion: “The better we study religion, the more we find it makes a difference.” Previewing his own impressive research, Dr. Johnson agreed. He has concluded that church attendance reduces delinquency among boys even when controlling for a number of other factors including age, family structure, family size, and welfare status. His findings held equally valid for young men of all races and ethnicities.
  • Gary Walker has spent 25 years designing, developing and evaluating many of the nation’s largest public and philanthropic initiatives for at-risk youth. His experience tells him that faith-based programs are vitally important for two reasons. First, government programs seldom have any lasting positive effect. While the government might be able to design [secular/non-God] programs that occupy time, these programs, in the long-term, rarely succeed in bringing about the behavioral changes needed to turn kids away from crime. Second, faith-based programs are rooted in building strong adult-youth relationships; and less concerned with training, schooling, and providing services, which don’t have the same direct impact on individual behavior. Successful mentoring, Walker added, requires a real commitment from the adults involved – and a willingness to be blunt. The message of effective mentors is simple. “You need to change your life, I’m here to help you do it, or you need to be put away, away from the community.” Government, and even secular philanthropic programs, can’t impart this kind of straight talk.
  • Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, “The Faith Factor,” Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
  • Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.
  • Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. “Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century,” The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
  • Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: “Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches.” The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
  • Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., “Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy,” Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: “Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.
  • The presence of active churches, synagogues… reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., “Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being,” RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
  • People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, “Correcting the Welfare Tragedy,” The Center for Public Justice, 1994.
  • Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.
  • Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, “Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?” Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being
  • Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* “Church attendance and health.”* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.
  • Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* ” The Impact of religion on men’s blood pressure.”* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* “Diet, Hypertension and Stroke.” in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.
  • People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.
  • Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* “God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control” in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: “Psychotherapies on the Clergy” in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.
  • Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* “Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior.” * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O’Malley:* “Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use.”* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* “Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes.”* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were replicated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.

(From a post entitled “Love“)

(Also see 52 REASONS TO GO TO CHURCH) These indicators are also mentions in a HERITAGE FOUNDATION article, “Why Religion Matters: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability

More Stats

…A survey of 1,600 Canadians asked them what were their beliefs about God and what moral values they considered to be “very important.” The results of the survey are shown below:

o-CANADA-FLAG-facebook

Although the differences between theists and atheists in the importance of values such as honesty, politeness, and friendliness are generally small, moral values emphasized by religious beliefs, such as Christianity, including patience, forgiveness, and generosity exhibit major differences in attitudes (30%+ differences between theists and atheists). (Source)

  • The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
  • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
  • Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
  • Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
  • The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
  • In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
  • Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one’s chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.

So we can see that the above are important factors in a healthy, stable, family which would have the highest percentage or chance in a family situation to create “family values.” What about divorce rates and the 2009 data. This is dealt with well at CHRISTIAN ACTION LEAGUE, and shows how Barna and the Government can miss-categorize whole swaths of people and their affiliations:

Wright did his own research using the General Social Survey; a huge study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that folks who identify as Christians but rarely attend church have a divorce rate of 60 percent compared to 38 percent among people who attend church regularly. More generally, he found that Christians, similar to adherents of other traditional faiths, have a divorce rate of 42 percent compared with 50 percent among those without a religious affiliation.

And his is not the only research that is showing a link between strong faith and increased marriage stability.

University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, concluded that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce than are those with no faith affiliation. He used the National Survey of Families and Households to make his analysis.

[….]

Glenn Stanton, the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., has been writing articles to spread the truth about the lower divorce rate among practicing Christians.

“Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples — enjoy significantly lower divorce rates that mere church members, the general public and unbelievers,” Stanton wrote in the Baptist Press early this year.

At issue in Barna’s studies is how he defined “Christian” and to what other groups he compared the “Christian” divorce rate. Apparently, his study compared what he termed “born-again” Christians — those who described their faith in terms of “personal commitment,” “accept as savior” and other evangelical, born-again language to three other groups, which included self-identified Christians who do not describe their faith with those terms, members of other, non-Christian religions and people of no religious beliefs.

Because his second group would have included many Catholics and mainline Protestants, Wright points out that Barna was, in many ways, “comparing Christians against Christians.” No wonder the rates were similar….

In USA TODAY, David Kinnaman, Barna’s president, said that “the statistical differences reflect varied approaches, with Wright looking more at attendance and his research firm dwelling on theological commitments.” Duh! The bottom line seems to be that the more seriously couples take their faith, the less likely they are to get a divorce.  That seems like a self-evident truth, but it appears there is also evidence for it. In other words, this is a nominal, vs. committed Christian vs. secular person battle.

I can go on-and-on, but lets shorten what we have learned, and it all revolves around this:

  • “There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life.”

I realize that much of this can be classified broadly as  “The Ecological Fallacy” — but it is an amassing of stats to show that in fact the committed Christian understands the totality of “family values” and commits to them more than the secular person.


1a) Those who attend church more are to be found in the Republican Party;
1b) Those who do not, the Democratic Party;
2a) Those in the Republican Party donate much more to charitable causes;
2b) Those in the Democratic Party, are much more stingy;
3a) Republicans earn less and give more;
3b) Democrats earn more and give less;
4a) Conservative Christians and Jews (people who believe in Heaven and Hell) commit less crimes;
4b) Liberal religious persons (universalists) have a higher rate of crime;
5a) Regular church attendees have a lower drug use rate;
5b) Irreligious persons have a higher rate;
6a) Moral “oughts” are answered in Christian theism (one “ought” not rape because it is absolutely, morally wrong);
6b) Moral “oughts” are merely current consensus of the most individuals, there is no absolute moral statement that can be made about rape;
7a) Republicans are happier than Democrats;
7b) Democrats are more depressed;
8a) The sex lives of  married, religious persons is better/more fulfilling — sex is being shown to be a “religious” experience after-all;
8b) The sex lives of the irreligious person is less fulfilling;
9a) The conservative is more likely to reach orgasm [conservative woman I assume];
9b) The liberal woman is not;
10a) They are less likely to sleep around, which would also indicate lower STDs;
10b Democrats are more likely to have STDs through having more sex partners;
11a) Republicans are less likely (slightly, but this is so because of the committed Christians in the larger demographic) to have extra-marital affairs;
11b) Democrats more likely;
12a) Republicans over the last three decades have been reproducing more…
12b) Democrats abort more often and have less children through educational/career decisions
13a) Christians are more likely to have children and impact the world;
13b) Skeptics replace family with pleasure and travel.


Forty-three percent of people who attend religious services weekly or more say they’re very happy, compared to 26 percent of those who go seldom or never. The Pew analysis does not answer the question of how religion, Republicanism and happiness might be related, however.

[….]

Most young people start out as naive, idealistic liberals. But as they get older, that changes. They get more conservative, usually because they grow up. But just imagine that you never get out of that liberal mindset. You go through your whole life trying to check people into a victim box, always feeling offended, always trying to right all of the wrongs in the world, and always blaming government for it. It’s no wonder you’d end up miserable when you get older! Going through your entire life feeling like that would make you a very angry, bitter, jealous, selfish person — and often, that describes aging liberals to a T.

All in all, being a Republican gives you a 7% edge in the happiness department, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a greater factor than race, ethnicity, or gender. And just a reminder — Republicans have the advantage across all class lines as well, from upper class to middle class to lower class. Lower class Republicans are happier than lower class Democrats. Middle class Republicans are happier than middle class Democrats. And upper class Republicans are happier than upper class Democrats.

And I’ll say it again. It’s because of the difference in world view.

(RIGHTWING NEWS)

THE BLAZE helps set up some of the following media presentations:

The organization also released the results of a survey that it conducted among its members. That poll, commissioned online between June and December 2015, garnered 8,000 responses, finding that 96 percent respondents are registered to vote. It should be noted that the results are restricted to member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and may not be representative of atheists more broadly.

Secular members were asked to identify their political persuasion, with 29 percent selecting “Democratic” and 36 percent selecting “progressive/liberal.” While that totals 65 percent, 21 percent selected Independent. On the flip side, only 1 percent identified as Republicans, with 3 percent selecting “Socialist/Marxist” and 3 percent selecting “Green.”

MORE MEDIA…

Democrats often think of themselves as kind and caring, and of Republicans as callous and mean-spirited. But why? Are Progressive policies more likely to raise people out of poverty than conservative ones? And what really counts as “kind”: supporting policies that feel good? Or supporting policies that do good? William Voegeli, Senior Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, explains.

AEI President Arthur C. Brooks explains how we can win the fight for free enterprise by articulating what’s written on our hearts. “We have to see that we’re not in an economic battle for the future of America,” Arthur says. “We’re in a moral battle.”

Dennis talks Arthur Brooks, professor of public administration at Syracuse University, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. (Originally broadcast December 28, 2006)

[…..]

. . . Survival of the Fittest!

“Since women that believe in God are less likely to have abortions, does that mean that natural selection will result in a greater number of believers than non-believers.” Assuming the validity of the “underlying instinct to survive and reproduce” then, out of the two positions (belief and non-belief) available for us to choose from which would better apply to being the most fit if the fittest is “an individual… [that] reproduces more successfully…”?  The woman that believes in God is less likely to have abortions and more likely to have larger families than their secular counterparts.  Does that mean that natural selection will result in a greater number of believers than non-believers?

Also,

  • Divorce. Marriages in which both spouses frequently attend religious services are less likely to end in divorce. Marriages in which both husband and wife attend church frequently are 2.4 times less likely to end in divorce than marriages in which neither spouse attends religious services.1
  • Mother-Child Relationship. Mothers who consider religion to be important in their lives report better quality relationships with their children. According to mothers’ reports, regardless of the frequency of their church attendance, those who considered religion to be very important in their lives tended to report, on average, a higher quality of relationship with their children than those who did not consider religion to be important.2
  • Father-Child Relationship. Fathers’ religiosity is associated with the quality of their relationships with their children. A greater degree of religiousness among fathers was associated with better relationships with their children, greater expectations for positive relationships in the future, investment of thought and effort into their relationships with their children, greater sense of obligation to stay in regular contact with their children, and greater likelihood of providing emotional support and unpaid assistance to their children and grandchildren. Fathers’ religiousness was measured on six dimensions, including the importance of faith, guidance provided by faith, religious attendance, religious identity, denominational affiliation, and belief in the importance of religion for their children.3
  • Well-Being of High School Seniors. Among high school seniors, religious attendance and a positive attitude toward religion are correlated with predictors of success and well-being. Positive attitudes towards religion and frequent attendance at religious activities were related to numerous predictors of success and wellbeing for high-school seniors, including: positive parental involvement, positive perceptions of the future, positive attitudes toward academics, less frequent drug use, less delinquent behavior, fewer school attendance problems, more time spent on homework, more frequent volunteer work, recognition for good grades, and more time spent on extracurricular activities.4
  • Life Expectancy. Religious attendance is associated with higher life expectancy at age 20. Life expectancy at age 20 was significantly related to church attendance. Life expectancy was 61.9 years for those attending church once a week and 59.7 for those attending less than once a week.5
  • Drinking, Smoking and Mortality. Frequent religious attendance is correlated with lower rates of heavy drinking, smoking, and mortality. Compared with peers who did not attend religious services frequently, those who did had lower mortality rates and this relationship was stronger among women than among men. In addition, frequent attendees were less likely to smoke or drink heavily at the time of the first interview. Frequent attendees who did smoke or drink heavily at the time of the first interview were more likely than nonattendees to cease these behaviors by the time of the second interview.6
  • Volunteering. Individuals who engage in private prayer are more likely to join voluntary associations aimed at helping the disadvantaged. Individuals who engaged in private prayer were more likely to report being members of voluntary associations aimed at helping the elderly, poor and disabled when compared to those who did not engage in private prayer. Prayer increased the likelihood of volunteering for an organization that assisted the elderly, poor and disabled, on average, by 20 percent.7
  • Charity and Volunteering. Individuals who attend religious services weekly are more likely to give to charities and to volunteer. In 2000, compared with those who rarely or never attended a house of worship, individuals who attended a house of worship nearly once a week or more were 25 percentage points more likely to donate to charity (91 percent vs. 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer (67 percent vs. 44 percent).8
  • Voting. Individuals who participated in religious activities during adolescence tend to have higher rates of electoral participation as young adults. On average, individuals who reported participating in religious groups and organizations as adolescents were more likely to register to vote and to vote in a presidential election as young adults when compared to those who reported not participating in religious groups and organizations.9
  • Ethics in Business. Business professionals who assign greater importance to religious interests are more likely to reject ethically questionable business decisions. Business leaders who assigned greater importance to religious interests were more likely to reject ethically questionable business decisions than their peers who attached less importance to religious interests. Respondents were asked to rate the ethical quality of 16 business decisions. For eight of the 16 decisions, respondents who attached greater importance to religious interests had lower average ratings, which indicated a stronger disapproval of ethically questionable decisions, compared to respondents who attached less importance to religious interests.10

Footnotes

  1. Vaughn R. A. Call and Tim B. Heaton, “Religious Influence on Marital Stability,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36, No. 3 (September 1997): 382-392.
  2. Lisa D. Pearce and William G. Axinn, “The Impact of Family Religious Life on the Quality of Mother-Child Relations,” American Sociological Review 63, No. 6 (December 1998): 810-828.
  3. Valerie King, “The Influence of Religion on Fathers’ Relationships with Their Children,” Journal of Marriage and Family 65, No. 2 (May 2003): 382-395.
  4. Jerry Trusty and Richard E. Watts, “Relationship of High School Seniors’ Religious Perceptions and Behavior to Educational, Career, and Leisure Variables,” Counseling and Values 44, No. 1 (October 1999): 30-39.
  5. Robert A. Hummer, Richard G. Rogers, Charles B. Nam, and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality,” Demography 36, No. 2 (May 1999): 273-285.
  6. William J. Strawbridge, Richard D. Cohen, Sarah J. Shema, and George A. Kaplan, “Frequent Attendance at Religious Services and Mortality over 28 Years,” American Journal of Public Health 87, No. 6 (June 1997): 957-961.
  7. Matthew T. Loveland, David Sikkink, Daniel J. Myers, and Benjamin Radcliff, “Private Prayer and Civic Involvement,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 44, No. 1 (March 2005): 1-14.
  8. Arthur C. Brooks, Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide, (New York: Basic Books 2006), 31-52.
  9. Michelle Frisco, Chandra Muller and Kyle Dodson, “Participation in Voluntary Youth-Serving Associations and Early Adult Voting Behavior,” Social Science Quarterly 85, No. 3 (September 2004): 660-676.
  10. Justin Longenecker, Joseph McKinney, and Carlos Moore, “Religious Intensity, Evangelical Christianity, and Business Ethics: An Empirical Study,” Journal of Business Ethics 55, No. 4 (December 2004): 371- 384.

An Old Response To a Skeptic…

…another conversation I had with Countess that I kept was THIS ONE. This conversation was, however, from 12/2001 that I am only now uploading… (found it buried in my Microsoft Word files. Enjoy:


Responding to a Skeptic


Countess, you mentioned that “we have no way to quantify the power of God, or his ability to disturb the balance of the universe,” to quote you. I find this to be a patently false statement. However, I see it as such not because you meant it to be, but because you are not defining your terms and quantifying your thoughts. I will explain how we can apply attribute to the Necessary Being through logic and nature (I will do so by explaining it to a non-theist). This next section is taken primarily from the book Why I Am A Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe, pp. 62-64, edited Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman. (books referenced with the asterisk, *, are in my home library – which, for those keeping track over the years, is now well over 1,800.)

Have you ever asked yourself where the universe came from? Why everything exists instead of nothing? Typically, atheists have said the universe is just eternal, and that’s all. But surely this is unreasonable. If the universe never had a beginning, that means the number of past events in the history of the universe is infinite. But mathematicians recognize that the idea of an infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Mathematically, you get self-contradictory answers. If you subtract all the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, … from all the natural numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, …, how many numbers do you have left? An infinite number. So infinity minus infinity is infinity. But suppose instead you subtract all the numbers greater than 2 – how many are left? Three. So infinity minus infinity is 3! It needs to be understood that in both of these cases we have subtracted identical quantities from identical quantities and come up with self-contradictory answers. In fact, you can get any answer you want from zero to infinity! This shows that infinity is just an idea in one’s mind, not something that exists in reality. David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of this century, states, “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea” (*David Hilbert, “On the Infinite,” in Philosophy of Mathematics, edition with an introduction by Paul Benacerraf and Hillary Putnam, pp. 139, 141). Therefore, the series of past events can’t go back forever; rather, the universe at some point must have begun to exist. [Which the theist and deist both believe.]

This conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. The astrophysical evidence indicates that the universe began to exist in a great explosion called the big bang. Physical space and time were created in that event, as well as all matter and energy in the universe. Therefore, as Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle points out, the big bang theory requires the creation of the universe from nothing. This is because, as one goes back in time, he reaches a point at which, in Hoyle’s words, the universe was “shrunk down to nothing at all” (*Fred Hoyle, Astronomy and Cosmology, p. 658). Thus, what the big bang model requires is that the universe began to exist and was created out of nothing.

This tends to be very awkward for the atheist, for as Anthony Kenny of Oxford University urges, “A proponent of the big bang theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the … universe came from nothing and by nothing” (Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence, p. 66). But surely that doesn’t make sense. Out of nothing, nothing comes [law of nature]. In every other context, atheists recognize this fact. The great skeptic David Hume wrote, “But allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a Proposition as that anything might arise without a cause” (*David Hume, The Letters of David Hume, p. I:187. I own a more recent compilation than the one quoted here). The contemporary atheist philosopher Kai Nielson gives this illustration: “Suppose you suddenly hear a loud bang… and ask me, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply, ‘Nothing, it just happened.’ You would not accept that. In fact you would find my reply quite unintelligible” (*Kai Neilson, Reason and Practice, p. 48). But what’s true of the little bang must be true of the big bang as well. So why does the universe exist instead of just nothing? Where did it come from? There must have been a cause that brought the universe into being. As the great scientist Sir Arthur Eddington said, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural” (*Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe, p. 124).

We can summarize the argument thus far as follows:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Given the truth of the first two premises, the third necessarily follows.

From the very nature of the case, as the cause of space and time, this supernatural cause must be uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being that created the universe. The being must be uncaused because we’ve seen that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes [a necessary being is demanded by science and logic]. It must be timeless and therefore changeless because it created time. Because it created space, it must transcend space as well and therefore be immaterial, not physical.

Moreover, I would argue, it must also be personal, for how else could a timeless cause give rise to a temporal effect such as the universe? If the cause were a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then the cause could never exist without effect. For example, water freezes because the temperature (the cause) is below 0 degrees C. if the temperature were below 0 degrees from eternity past, then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze just a finite time ago. So if the cause is timelessly present, then the effect should be timelessly present as well. the only way for the cause to be timeless and the effect to begin in time is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time without any prior determining conditions. For example, a man sitting from eternity could freely will to stand up. Thus, we are brought not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe but to its personal Creator.

Some Updated Biblical Manuscript Evidences (Apologetics)

Here are some recent discoveries discussed:

Daniel Wallace, “Recent Discoveries of NT Manuscripts” (Nov 9, 2013 at Birch Cove Baptist Church)

FIRST CENTURY (80’s) piece of Mark. The 2014 Apologetics Canada Conference was held at Northview Church in Abbotsford, BC and Willingdon Church in Vancouver, BC Canada on March 7-8.

CSNTM:

Is Truth Relative? (Ravi Zacharias and Crew)

(This is recovered audio from Vimeo*) While this is an older audio, it really is timeless… the topic in fact has been renewed every generation in the annals of human history since Grecian times and even waay back to the Garden when the Serpent said, “did God say…”?

*My Vimeo account was terminated; this is a recovered audio from it. (Some will be many years old, as is the case with this audio.)

Truth Cannot Be Known with Any Certainty

In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner offers a number of brief, rhetorically powerful responses to the objection: “Truth Cannot Be Known with Any Certainty.” Even if some claims are objectively true, how can we be sure – given our limited ability as finite humans – we can know the truth with any certainty? Isn’t it arrogant to claim you know something is true, to the exclusion of all other views and opinions? These Quick Shot responses are designed to help you remove intellectual obstacles when talking about God with your friends and family members. They are also available on the Cold-Case Christianity Phone App so you can access them as you are interacting with others.

Photographing Auras In “The New Age”

Richard Feynman once said  that the “first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” In my lifetime I have encountered the truth of this “law” more than a few times. My deep dive into believing the conspiratorial view of history for many years and my eventual tri-fecta causing me to reevaluate the truth of what I previously held as truths.

  • What happened was (1) Y2K, (2) I started listening to and being challenged by Michael Medved’s “Conspiracy Show,” which lead me to try and (3) follow AND confirm the many references to historical positions made in these books, which failed miserably. (RPT)

So I come at this with sympathy for the gullibility of our human nature. Which leads me to a recent conversation with a gentleman I respect, but, is a bit young in his “critical skills.” A classic in debunking — though many years old – is of James Randi debunking an Aura Reader. But the purpose of this post is to deal with why Kirlian photography is explained completely by natural processes and has nothing to do with metaphysics and auras.

WHAT IS KIRLIAN PHOTOGRAPHY?

STALKING LIGHT explains the process for us:

Kirlian photography, although the study of which can be traced back to the late 1700s, was officially invented in 1939 by Semyon Davidovitch Kirlian.  The Kirlian photographic process reveals visible “auras” around the objects photographed.  These photographs have been the subject of much myth and controversy over the years.  Interestingly, much of which was initially put forth to explain the Kirlian photography phenomena was put forth by the inventor himself, along with his wife.

The process of taking a Kirlian photo is a fairly simple one and does not even require the use of a camera.  First, a sheet of photographic film is placed on top of a metal plate.  Then, the object that is to be photographed is placed on top of the film.  To create the initial exposure, high voltage current is applied to the metal plate.  The electrical coronal discharge between the object and the metal plate is captured on the film.  The Kirlian photograph, which shows a light, glowing silhouette around the photographed object, becomes visible as a result of developing the film.

NEW AGE “CONFIRMATIONS”

The technique became popular in the 70’s, with the influx of New Age and susceptibility to wanting to believe in something beyond “us” that is still driven and centers on the “inner divinity” — as part of the rejection of the Judeo-Christian tradition that the “counter-culture” was rejecting. Drugs also played a part in the susceptibility of a generation.  It is a human construct (history teaches us this) to worship ourselves in some way, and New Age religions offer this in spades:

(See for responses: Issues ETCPastor Dennis Ingolfsland | Probe Ministrties | Mama Bear Apologetics)

This always the outcome of the New Age movement, self divinity. It is the oldest lie in the Book.

  • When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything. ~ G. K. Chesterton

The urge to believe in something and the ease we can fool ourselves at times combine to anesthetize our critical thinking.

TRICKS OF THE TRADE

And often times it is the simple practicing of simple psychological tricks and perception and planted words that help the aura reader do his “magic.” (The aura reader can slightly change the outcome of the aura as well, depending on the “vibe” he is getting from the client. More on this later.) This “reading” is similar to other New Age practices like crystal ball readings, tarot cards, and the like:

I must say that the practice of revealing the hidden by reading one’s palm still fools thousands of people who are unaware of the simple tricks used. The more personalized secrets the palm reader or crystal ball gazer is able to reveal, the more one is inclined to believe that palm reading is actually a skill rather than a trick. While some readings are done by collecting information on the client beforehand or use known principles of psychology that apply to nearly everyone. and is referred to as a hot reading, others are preformed by what is known as a cold reading. This is when the crystal ball or palm reader uses both his clever intuition or insight into a persons personality or character traits to give the reading. Sometimes he is also able to extract lots of information from his client by observing him very carefully and listening to his answers. (FRUMSCAMS)

So now we get into some hints that the claims of us having an aura are actually better explained by the processes used to “capture” it. For instance, the early “leaf” experiments were later challenged and when reproduced properly, did not repeat the effects:

CLAIMS TESTED

The same is true for the effect the Kirlian’s saw when they cut off part of a leaf and then placed the leaf back on the photographic film and took another photograph. They claimed that the leaves showed up whole, as though the missing part had never been cut away – and they pointed to this as evidence that Kirlian photography could photograph the “life force” or aura of living things.

This effect was likely due to the fact that the Kirlians did not change the glass plate used to photograph the leaf, so the residual moisture left from the part of the leaf that had been cut off still remained. This allowed the electronics corona discharge to still occur on that part of the leaf – because the electrons were still flowing through the moisture on the plate, even though that portion of the leaf had been cut off.

This scientific fact was later proved by researchers at Drexel University, who noticed that the “cut leaf” effect did not occur when they replaced the glass with a new one before photographing the freshly cut leaf. 

(TOP SECRET WRITERS [more from TSW below*] | CRYSTALINKS)

researchers at Drexel University have recreated the famous cut leaf experiment that the Kirlians stood by, and decided it was erroneously conducted, which led to false results.

The team photographed a whole leaf on a glass plate, then changed it before producing an image of the cut one. The leaf appeared as it was, namely halved, which demonstrated that the only reason why Semyon and Valentina made their discovery was due to a buildup of residual energy that caused inaccuracies in their tests.

Therefore, the metaphysical explanation is off the table. So, what causes the effect produced by Kirlian photography? The general consensus among scientists is that the images are created by a high voltage corona effect. The same process can be observed at the level of other sources of high voltage, SUCH AS TESLA COILS, OR THE VAN DE GRAAFF GENERATOR

(PIXSY)

Not only is this similar to the Tesla coil, but pictures of the various colors surrounding people is also easily explained:

  • Living thingsare moist. When the electricity enters the living object, it produces an area of gas ionization around the photographed object, assuming moisture is present on the object. This moisture is transferred from the subject to the emulsion surface of the photographic film and causes an alternation of the electric charge pattern on the film. (SKEPDIC)

CREATIVE PHOTO CONNECT explains more the above:

However, all these claims no longer stand, as science explains that the variations in color are produced by quantifiable factors. The glowing shapes appear due to the water content in the subject, which makes the air around the object become ionized when exposed to high-voltage current. If the surrounding air contains any moisture, the resulting picture will contain a colorful silhouette around the object, a phenomenon scientifically called corona plasma discharge.

Even if there is nothing supernatural, paranormal or psychic about the Kirlian photography, most photography enthusiasts will get a kick out of experimenting with this technique.

[….]

Kirlian photography is still fascinating for scientists and photographers, even after the myth of auras was debunked. Even if the surrounding New Age theories were proven wrong, this technique was not abandoned.

Many people do not realize that the subjects taking the photograph have their hands on an electrocharged plate:

The film merely picks up the ionized air and the moisture. Slight changes in voltage, moisture, film, and gullibility of the client combined with hints picked up by the reader in demeanor, reactions to discussion, and the likecan cause someone to put their faith in a neat photographic trick as more than just that. WIRED MAGAZINE notes the industry that cropped up around these natural forces. The cost of the AuraCam6000 at the date of the article was $10,000 new.

The New Age is not a new subject to me… (some examples)…

“WE” UNITE ALL THE ABOVE

But what unites all the above ~ the cults, the occult, world religions, and even my own faith and it’s aberrant ruminations (word faith, positive confession, televangelists, and the like — see my eulogy at my dads funeral for an example) ~ is the human need for controlling one’s circumstances and outcomes. Combined with ultimately, fooling ourselves. What helped me out of my aberrant view of history were common sense facts. So here are some quick refutations to show straight forward thinking to knock others out of their malaise.

AURAS IN EVERYTHING?

First, auras are in living things — supposedly. But Kirlian photography show them in non-living things:

Here one can see the set-up that causes what we are seeing:

BULLET POINTED REFUTATIONS

Obviously the above is easily explained… as are similar aspects of “aura photography.” Many paranormal enthusiasts still claim that the aura captured by Kirlian photography is some sort of “life force”. However, this is easily debunked (MEDIA COLLEGE):

  • Kirlian photographs can be taken of anything moist or conductive, including coins, paper clips, etc.
  • Kirlian photographs taken in a vacuum (where no ionized gas is present) show no aura.
  • Some people claim that a living object slowly loses its aura after it dies. This is more easily explained by the fact that it loses its moisture.

But not easily debunked to people who are vested in (emotionally and financially) such constructs.


TSW CONTINUED


*TOP SECRET continues with another “experiment” explained well by natural (moisture and temperature) changes:

“When a man was photographed before taking a drink of alcohol, his fingertip was black; after the drink, the tip was literally ‘lit up’.”

It is human nature to apply extraordinary explanations to such an event. The author would have you believe that the calming effects of alcohol enlivened the aura of the man, and led to his fingertip “lighting up” with the energies created by his intoxication. The truth, however, is far more mundane. In holding the cold glass of alcohol, likely with a fresh film of condensation on the outside of it, the man successfully dampened his dry finger and increased its conductivity, making it an ideal object for the flow of electrons during the coronal discharge.

It is a perfect example of how the lack of scientific understanding about an event can lead to all sorts of wild and erroneous conclusions, and how that can also lead to the start of an elaborate and fraudulent meme that lives on in society, long after the original inventors are gone.