Category Archives: Divers

Living Fossils—Here, There, and Everywhere

by Dr. Gabriela Haynes on January 1, 2020

Featured in Answers Magazine

Evolutionists like to talk about change, so how do they explain so many living creatures that look like their fossilized ancestors?

In my master’s paleontology program in Brazil, my area of expertise was wasps, ants, and bees (order Hymenoptera), which are found in many layers of the fossil record. I wanted to learn all I could about them.

My supervisor told me to study living species of Hymenoptera so I would better understand their fossil forms. We often heard during classes how fossils look like organisms we see today. My fellow students sounded surprised, but I wasn’t.

You don’t have to be a scientist to see living creatures that look like fossils. They’re everywhere. Just visit the local aquarium where you can find kids petting horseshoe crabs, listening to instructors drone about how the cousins of these so-called “living fossils” lived “450 million years ago.”

They may have different scientific names, like Limulus polyphemus or Lunataspis aurora, but they’re still horseshoe crabs. After petting them for just a few minutes at the aquarium, children can visit any natural history museum and identify horseshoe crab fossils.

How can living creatures be so similar to fossils? It’s a puzzle to scientists who believe they’ve been evolving for hundreds of millions of years, but it’s no mystery to someone who believes God created every kind of creature just 6,000 years ago.

A Puzzle for Evolutionists

The term living fossil is not a technical term. The media like to use it to sensationalize surprising discoveries of living organisms that scientists said went extinct millions of years ago. The first famous example was the 1938 discovery of a live coelacanth fish, caught off the coast of South Africa. Previously, secular scientists thought it went extinct at the end of Cretaceous around 66 million years ago. Since the coelacanth, many other astonishing examples have been discovered.

Living fossils show that in some cases no significant changes have occurred for millions of years, according to the evolutionary timeline.

Living fossils show that in some cases no significant changes have occurred for millions of years, according to the evolutionary timeline. This is why many secular scientists avoid this term and idea. Patrick Laurenti, an evolutionary biologist from France, believes the term living fossil is misleading. “Calling a given species a living fossil suggests that it has crossed time without evolving—a hypothesis that is in sharp contrast with evolutionary genetics principles.”1

Because of their evolutionary world-view, secular scientists prefer to emphasize change. Even without living fossils, they face an insurmountable challenge explaining how little changes could accumulate over millions of years to produce major changes, such as fish evolving into reptiles. The problem is that we observe only minor changes within existing kinds of creatures as they adapt to changing environments. We can’t observe and test creatures changing into completely new kinds.

Searching for Solutions

Secular scientists have proposed several reasons for why we find living fossils in the rock record. The first one is stasis, which means their body form remains the same for a long time. The argument goes that organisms undergo little change because they are well adapted to their environments. In other words, throughout the geologic record, creatures look the same for a long period of time, and then, for some reason, they suddenly experience a burst of change.

The second argument comes from the study of the genes in two of the most well-known living fossils, the tuatara (an odd lizard with a third eye) and coelacanth. The study concluded that the genes of these creatures evolve more slowly than most other creatures.

But they are not the only living fossils. The list is immense and includes creatures at every level of the fossil record.2 According to the evolutionary timeline, they all existed hundreds of thousands or millions of years with no real change. In every layer of the fossil record we find living fossils.

A Fascinating Phenomenon for Creationists

Evolutionists offer many other arguments to explain living fossils, but they all have one major fallacy.

They use the word evolution to mean two very different things (called an equivocation fallacy). Sometimes it means changes of any degree, but other times it means that all life descended from one or a few common ancestors.

The first meaning is an observed phenomenon that biologists study in the field today. The second meaning, in contrast, is a hypothesis that cannot be tested or proved in the same way. Creationists agree that creatures can change within the limits God placed in created “kinds,” but this does not support the possibility that one kind of creature could change into a completely different kind, like a fish changing into a lizard with all the genes necessary to build new structures like a tail.

Creationists have a much more reasonable explanation for change and stasis. They believe relatively minor changes are part of the Creator’s original design so creatures could diversify and fill the earth. He made their DNA adaptable so they could survive changing climates and environments. But this is not naturalistic evolution in the sense of bacteria evolving into butterflies. Natural selection and mutations do occur in nature, but they do not add new genetic information that adds novel traits; they only act on the genetic material and traits already present.

So why are some fossils so similar to living creatures? Every kind of creature has been around for only 6,000 years. So they haven’t had a lot of time to change.

Most fossils are from creatures that were buried during Noah’s flood. They reflect the diversity of creatures living at the same time in different environments all over the earth. These variations did not result from evolutionary processes; rather, the animals that God first created quickly began to reproduce after their kind and fill the earth, creating the variation we see in the fossil record.

Similarly, the land animals we see on earth today descended from the animals that got off Noah’s ark. Some variations have appeared since then, and some kinds of creatures have varied more than others (especially the insects, which I study). But they still belong to identifiable kinds. Any child can still recognize a dog, cat, or horseshoe crab.

I’m still curious to learn more about the way animals lived and changed before and after Noah’s flood. I especially want to know why some species of insects in Hymenoptera varied more than others. But the different rates of variation aren’t evidence of new kinds of creatures evolving. Rather, they are evidence of God’s design for his creatures to vary within prescribed limits.

The next time you see a horseshoe crab—or any other so-called living fossil—praise the Lord for such clear reminders of the Creator. Even “little children” can recognize his design of original kinds, while their origin remains a mystery to “the wise” of this world (Matthew 11:25).

Far from Oddities

Living Fossils Timeline

Living fossils are found throughout the fossil record. If environments and animals have been changing for hundreds of millions of years, the deeper we go in the fossil record, the fewer living fossils we should find.

But that is not the case. In fact, almost every living animal has a representative from the same kind deep in the fossil record. This makes sense if each kind had the same amount of time to diversify after the flood.

Dr. Gabriela Haynes earned her PhD in geology with a focus on paleontology. She pursued her master’s degree research in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and as a Brazilian, she worked in the Santana Formation and identified new species of fossil insects. She also translates and reviews material for AiG’s Portuguese ministry

(original link)

God versus Science

Now begins the blogging of the November 13th cover story of Time Magazine.

God vs. Science

We revere faith and scientific progress, hunger for miracles and for MRIs. But are the worldviews compatible? TIME convenes a debate
By DAVID VAN BIEMA

There are two great debates under the broad heading of Science vs. God. The more familiar over the past few years is the narrower of the two: Can Darwinian evolution withstand the criticisms of Christians who believe that it contradicts the creation account in the Book of Genesis? In recent years, creationism took on new currency as the spiritual progenitor of “intelligent design” (I.D.), a scientifically worded attempt to show that blanks in the evolutionary narrative are more meaningful than its very convincing totality. I.D. lost some of its journalistic heat last December when a federal judge dismissed it as pseudoscience unsuitable for teaching in Pennsylvania schools.

I have reviewed the Pennsylvania decision and in my opinion it was entirely boneheaded and unscientific. I also think that we can immediately see from the phrase, “very convincing totality” that this article is being written with a definite pro-evolution slant. But that is to be expected from Time.

But in fact creationism and I.D. are intimately related to a larger unresolved question, in which the aggressor’s role is reversed: Can religion stand up to the progress of science?

This statement flies in the face of the fact that most early scientists were not only believers in God, but their belief that God was both orderly and logical and good allowed them to trust in certain rules of testing and evidence that remain in use today. Life is not random. Also, belief in God exists outside of one’s opinion about origins even if it may be related.

This debate long predates Darwin, but the antireligion position is being promoted with increasing insistence by scientists angered by intelligent design and excited, perhaps intoxicated, by their disciplines’ increasing ability to map, quantify and change the nature of human experience.

Now the writer is gushing! He might want to consider writing advertising copy instead of a supposedly scientific treatise.

Brain imaging illustrates–in color!–the physical seat of the will and the passions, challenging the religious concept of a soul independent of glands and gristle. Brain chemists track imbalances that could account for the ecstatic states of visionary saints or, some suggest, of Jesus. Like Freudianism before it, the field of evolutionary psychology generates theories of altruism and even of religion that do not include God.

The above is speculative, of course, and when it comes to Jesus it is downright insulting to believers. The writer suggests to an extent that Jesus was simply experiencing chemical brain imbalances!!!!! Makes you wonder why those with imbalances these days don’t heal the sick, raise the dead and provide a basis for moral behavior for Western Civilization, right?

Something called the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology speculates that ours may be but one in a cascade of universes, suddenly bettering the odds that life could have cropped up here accidentally, without divine intervention. (If the probabilities were 1 in a billion, and you’ve got 300 billion universes, why not?)

This is also remarkably speculative and doubtless thought up primarily because the odds against the creation of the Universe, life and other tenets of naturalistic thinking are so insurmountable otherwise. This is why odds against those things are no longer anything I pay much attention to, since evolutionists will just pull the multiverse thing out of their back pocket and the discussion can no longer continue. Once life was established on earth, though, the odds do pertain, but that is another discussion.

Roman Catholicism’s Christoph Cardinal Schönborn has dubbed the most fervent of faith-challenging scientists followers of “scientism” or “evolutionism,” since they hope science, beyond being a measure, can replace religion as a worldview and a touchstone. It is not an epithet that fits everyone wielding a test tube. But a growing proportion of the profession is experiencing what one major researcher calls “unprecedented outrage” at perceived insults to research and rationality, ranging from the alleged influence of the Christian right on Bush Administration science policy to the fanatic faith of the 9/11 terrorists to intelligent design’s ongoing claims.

Really, I am surprised that evolutionists aren’t tearing their clothes and rioting in the streets! That this author ties Christians with murdering terrorists and then brings in ID in the same breath reveals that he is more than against God, he is downright hostile to God and all who believe. Intelligent Design makes many claims that evolutionists have made only the most pathetic and futile inroads against. School boards can be flummoxed by the problems involved but real scientists, at the very least, agree that there are uncounted ID problems that evolution has no good answer for, not the least of which is the process known as photosynthesis.

Some are radicalized enough to publicly pick an ancient scab: the idea that science and religion, far from being complementary responses to the unknown, are at utter odds–or, as Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has written bluntly, “Religion and science will always clash.” The market seems flooded with books by scientists describing a caged death match between science and God–with science winning, or at least chipping away at faith’s underlying verities.

There are plenty of God-believers who also believe in evolution, and there are those who don’t buy either one. Christianity and evolution are not mutually exclusive. In my view, a careful consideration of evolution will bring you to a need to choose sides at some point but that is just me.

Finding a spokesman for this side of the question was not hard, since Richard Dawkins, perhaps its foremost polemicist, has just come out with The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin), the rare volume whose position is so clear it forgoes a subtitle. The five-week New York Times best seller (now at No. 8) attacks faith philosophically and historically as well as scientifically, but leans heavily on Darwinian theory, which was Dawkins’ expertise as a young scientist and more recently as an explicator of evolutionary psychology so lucid that he occupies the Charles Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science at Oxford University.

Does anyone else find it funny that the author chooses a non-scientist to represent “Science” in his article while a genuine scientist takes the other side? In fact, the discussion is ongoing with scientists being on both sides. The actual title should be “Godless Science versus Science with God”, were the author being both honest and balanced.

Dawkins is riding the crest of an atheist literary wave. In 2004, The End of Faith, a multipronged indictment by neuroscience grad student Sam Harris, was published (over 400,000 copies in print). Harris has written a 96-page follow-up, Letter to a Christian Nation, which is now No. 14 on the Times list. Last February, Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett produced Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, which has sold fewer copies but has helped usher the discussion into the public arena.

If Dennett and Harris are almost-scientists (Dennett runs a multidisciplinary scientific-philosophic program), the authors of half a dozen aggressively secular volumes are card carriers: In Moral Minds, Harvard biologist Marc Hauser explores the–nondivine–origins of our sense of right and wrong (September); in Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (due in January) by self-described “atheist-reductionist-materialist” biologist Lewis Wolpert, religion is one of those impossible things; Victor Stenger, a physicist-astronomer, has a book coming out titled God: The Failed Hypothesis. Meanwhile, Ann Druyan, widow of archskeptical astrophysicist Carl Sagan, has edited Sagan’s unpublished lectures on God and his absence into a book, The Varieties of Scientific Experience, out this month.

Fine, and I can find you plenty of books on Scientology, too. Or Astrology. Whatever. The sheer volume of books that are pro-evolution and hostile to God doesn’t make them right. The loudest voice isn’t necessarily the best.

Dawkins and his army have a swarm of articulate theological opponents, of course. But the most ardent of these don’t really care very much about science, and an argument in which one party stands immovable on Scripture and the other immobile on the periodic table doesn’t get anyone very far.

The above statement is either remarkably ignorant or deliberately false. There are hundreds of respected scientists who are pro-Creation and anti-evolution as anyone who has studied the subject or even simply read this blog would know without doubt.

Most Americans occupy the middle ground: we want it all. We want to cheer on science’s strides and still humble ourselves on the Sabbath. We want access to both MRIs and miracles. We want debates about issues like stem cells without conceding that the positions are so intrinsically inimical as to make discussion fruitless. And to balance formidable standard bearers like Dawkins, we seek those who possess religious conviction but also scientific achievements to credibly argue the widespread hope that science and God are in harmony–that, indeed, science is of God.

Well, my research indicates that the majority of the great scientists of the past, like Newton, were actually believers in a created Universe and believed that science was the study of God’s creation. More propaganda from the author. I am really looking forward to the dialogue between the two protagonists so that more than one point of view gets presented. Good grief!

Informed conciliators have recently become more vocal. Stanford University biologist Joan Roughgarden has just come out with Evolution and Christian Faith, which provides what she calls a “strong Christian defense” of evolutionary biology, illustrating the discipline’s major concepts with biblical passages. Entomologist Edward O. Wilson, a famous skeptic of standard faith, has written The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, urging believers and non-believers to unite over conservation. But foremost of those arguing for common ground is Francis Collins.

Uh-oh! Are we actually going to have a debate between an ardent evolutionist and an ardent Creationist or is this going to be black versus off-white?

Collins’ devotion to genetics is, if possible, greater than Dawkins’. Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute since 1993, he headed a multinational 2,400-scientist team that co-mapped the 3 billion biochemical letters of our genetic blueprint, a milestone that then President Bill Clinton honored in a 2000 White House ceremony, comparing the genome chart to Meriwether Lewis’ map of his fateful continental exploration. Collins continues to lead his institute in studying the genome and mining it for medical breakthroughs.

He is also a forthright Christian who converted from atheism at age 27 and now finds time to advise young evangelical scientists on how to declare their faith in science’s largely agnostic upper reaches. His summer best seller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press), laid out some of the arguments he brought to bear in the 90-minute debate TIME arranged between Dawkins and Collins in our offices at the Time & Life Building in New York City on Sept. 30. Some excerpts from their spirited exchange:

Okay, maybe he will be okay…tomorrow we begin the actual debate between the two men concerning this issue. But look at how long this very slanted prologue went on! The author was determined to preconfigure the audience to take his side in the debate. Bad form, that! Furthermore, one side is represented by a non-scientist who just wrote a book, “The God Delusion” that by it’s very title is dismissive and arrogant. Meanwhile the God side seems to be represented by a balanced, non-hostile scientist. Knowing that this very slanted journalist is going to pick and choose portions of the debate between the men, one might expect that the result is going to favor evolution whether or not the actual discussion went quite that way. But curiosity drives us to review it anyway.

Now continues the blogging of the November 13th cover story of Time Magazine.

TIME: Professor Dawkins, if one truly understands science, is God then a delusion, as your book title suggests?

DAWKINS: The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no.

Ah, the naturalist is given a leading question. He cannot perceive God by naturalistic methods, with a worldview that cannot see the supernatural, so it is no surprise he wants to assert that there is no God.

TIME: Dr. Collins, you believe that science is compatible with Christian faith.

COLLINS: Yes. God’s existence is either true or not. But calling it a scientific question implies that the tools of science can provide the answer. From my perspective, God cannot be completely contained within nature, and therefore God’s existence is outside of science’s ability to really weigh in.

Good answer. Science cannot either prove or disprove the existence of God, nor is it supposed to do so. Unfortunately people like Darwin and Dawkins have tried to use science to eliminate the concept of God and many laymen have been so deceived.

TIME: Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard paleontologist, famously argued that religion and science can coexist, because they occupy separate, airtight boxes. You both seem to disagree.

COLLINS: Gould sets up an artificial wall between the two worldviews that doesn’t exist in my life. Because I do believe in God’s creative power in having brought it all into being in the first place, I find that studying the natural world is an opportunity to observe the majesty, the elegance, the intricacy of God’s creation.

DAWKINS: I think that Gould’s separate compartments was a purely political ploy to win middle-of-the-road religious people to the science camp. But it’s a very empty idea. There are plenty of places where religion does not keep off the scientific turf. Any belief in miracles is flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science.

So Dawkins asserts here that there are no miracles. Hmmm. He must believe that the miracles performed by Jesus didn’t happen. The problem is that even the non-Christian Jews, who considered Jesus to be a problem, recorded that He had performed miracles. There were hundreds of witnesses to most of the miracles of Jesus and just because they are all dead now doesn’t change things. Dawkins wants us to ignore the New Testament scriptures and hundreds of witnesses and the witness of the non-believing Jews and claim that miracles are “flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science.”

TIME: Professor Dawkins, you think Darwin’s theory of evolution does more than simply contradict the Genesis story.

DAWKINS: Yes. For centuries the most powerful argument for God’s existence from the physical world was the so-called argument from design: Living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer. But Darwin provided a simpler explanation. His way is a gradual, incremental improvement starting from very simple beginnings and working up step by tiny incremental step to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection. Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years, you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain and the rain forest. It should warn us against ever again assuming that because something is complicated, God must have done it.

Darwin provided a simpler explanation largely because he had no concept of how complex life really is. Early 19th century scientists had just begun to absorb the work of pioneers like the Pasteurs, just begun to see that the makeup of living organisms consisted of far more complexity than previously imagined.

I have posted many times about a multitude of problems with Darwinian theory, and the ID argument is just one of them. There is no evidence of macroevolution ever being observed, by the way, so Dawkins is speaking of things that are speculative and not observed or proven.

COLLINS: I don’t see that Professor Dawkins’ basic account of evolution is incompatible with God’s having designed it.

ALARM! DIVEDIVEDIVE! Now here comes yet another problem with this article. I believe I have established that the author of this piece is predisposed to take the Darwin side of the question. But now we discover that the scientist he has chosen to take the Creation side isn’t acutally a pure Creationist! We aren’t being presented with black versus white, but rather as I feared it is black versus off-white.

TIME: When would this have occurred?

COLLINS: By being outside of nature, God is also outside of space and time. Hence, at the moment of the creation of the universe, God could also have activated evolution, with full knowledge of how it would turn out, perhaps even including our having this conversation. The idea that he could both foresee the future and also give us spirit and free will to carry out our own desires becomes entirely acceptable.

DAWKINS: I think that’s a tremendous cop-out. If God wanted to create life and create humans, it would be slightly odd that he should choose the extraordinarily roundabout way of waiting for 10 billion years before life got started and then waiting for another 4 billion years until you got human beings capable of worshipping and sinning and all the other things religious people are interested in.

Oh boy. Now I find myself agreeing with Richard Dawkins! I agree that such a view is a cop-out indeed. Collins runs away from the argument entirely.

COLLINS: Who are we to say that that was an odd way to do it? I don’t think that it is God’s purpose to make his intention absolutely obvious to us. If it suits him to be a deity that we must seek without being forced to, would it not have been sensible for him to use the mechanism of evolution without posting obvious road signs to reveal his role in creation?

Come on! Why would God come up with a way to bring about all current living things by producing untold generations of organisms dying and failing and struggling to adapt to a cruel world? That is a loving God? Plus, if the Genesis account of the Bible is not reliable, then doesn’t that mean that the Bible itself is unreliable? If we cannot believe that the Bible reveals God, then what good is it and how do we then know what God wants us to know?

TIME: Both your books suggest that if the universal constants, the six or more characteristics of our universe, had varied at all, it would have made life impossible. Dr. Collins, can you provide an example?

COLLINS: The gravitational constant, if it were off by one part in a hundred million million, then the expansion of the universe after the Big Bang would not have occurred in the fashion that was necessary for life to occur. When you look at that evidence, it is very difficult to adopt the view that this was just chance. But if you are willing to consider the possibility of a designer, this becomes a rather plausible explanation for what is otherwise an exceedingly improbable event–namely, our existence.

Weak example. Dr. Hugh Ross lists 154 examples of the incredibly narrow parameters required to allow life on Earth alone, as I have listed previously, and the list grows when you consider requirements for the existence of the Universe.

That Dr. Collins is a Big-Banger and also that he allows for evolution being driven by God means that he really doesn’t make a good debate opponent for Dawkins. Dr. Ken Ham is one of many hundreds of far better candidates. Alas, we have what we have for now.

DAWKINS: People who believe in God conclude there must have been a divine knob twiddler who twiddled the knobs of these half-dozen constants to get them exactly right. The problem is that this says, because something is vastly improbable, we need a God to explain it. But that God himself would be even more improbable. Physicists have come up with other explanations. One is to say that these six constants are not free to vary. Some unified theory will eventually show that they are as locked in as the circumference and the diameter of a circle. That reduces the odds of them all independently just happening to fit the bill. The other way is the multiverse way. That says that maybe the universe we are in is one of a very large number of universes. The vast majority will not contain life because they have the wrong gravitational constant or the wrong this constant or that constant. But as the number of universes climbs, the odds mount that a tiny minority of universes will have the right fine-tuning.

I am curious as to why Dawkins can assert that the existence of God is improbable and that statement goes unchallenged? The rules of logic dictate that the simplest explanation is the best and the existence of a Creator God is far and away the simplest explanation for the Universe and all of life having come about. You must being bringing in corrolary assumptions when you dismiss God. Dawkins in this case is counting on those 300 billion universes or whatever the theory is this week. Is there any real evidence for this, or was it thought up just out of necessity?

COLLINS: This is an interesting choice. Barring a theoretical resolution, which I think is unlikely, you either have to say there are zillions of parallel universes out there that we can’t observe at present or you have to say there was a plan. I actually find the argument of the existence of a God who did the planning more compelling than the bubbling of all these multiverses. So Occam’s razor–Occam says you should choose the explanation that is most simple and straightforward–leads me more to believe in God than in the multiverse, which seems quite a stretch of the imagination.

Yeah. Like I said. So why, Francis, not apply Occam’s to the evolution versus Creation question, too?

DAWKINS: I accept that there may be things far grander and more incomprehensible than we can possibly imagine. What I can’t understand is why you invoke improbability and yet you will not admit that you’re shooting yourself in the foot by postulating something just as improbable, magicking into existence the word God.

Gee, Dawk old boy, the idea of God was around a long time before either you or Collins were born. No “magicking” was involved. God was the first explanation for our existence, and the simplest and most logical. You simply can’t grok.

COLLINS: My God is not improbable to me. He has no need of a creation story for himself or to be fine-tuned by something else. God is the answer to all of those “How must it have come to be” questions.

DAWKINS: I think that’s the mother and father of all cop-outs. It’s an honest scientific quest to discover where this apparent improbability comes from. Now Dr. Collins says, “Well, God did it. And God needs no explanation because God is outside all this.” Well, what an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain. Scientists don’t do that. Scientists say, “We’re working on it. We’re struggling to understand.”

Ah, but when Creation is the logical explanation, and more so as we learn more about life, then to me those who deny God are the ones who are doing the evading. Dawkins comes from the “ohnonotGod” school of thought, wherein God cannot be the answer no matter what. Meanwhile, believing scientists study to learn more about life without being hindered by such a prejudice.

COLLINS: Certainly science should continue to see whether we can find evidence for multiverses that might explain why our own universe seems to be so finely tuned. But I do object to the assumption that anything that might be outside of nature is ruled out of the conversation. That’s an impoverished view of the kinds of questions we humans can ask, such as “Why am I here?”, “What happens after we die?”, “Is there a God?” If you refuse to acknowledge their appropriateness, you end up with a zero probability of God after examining the natural world because it doesn’t convince you on a proof basis. But if your mind is open about whether God might exist, you can point to aspects of the universe that are consistent with that conclusion.

Hey, go ahead and study anything and everything that interests you! We all benefit from good research. Collin’s belief in God, which Dawkins sees as anti-science, has led to several great achievements. I quote from the National Human Genome Research Institute site: His research has led to the identification of genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchison-Gilford progeria syndrome.

Dawkins has been credited with discoveries advancing the study of evolution, primarily. He is so hostile to God that it pretty well exhudes from his very pores. Allow me to give you an example:

Standing in the pulpit of the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Richard Dawkins introduced his “sermon” this way:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

The 600 people in attendance laughed and applauded, clearly excited to hear the author read from his new book, The God Delusion.

Dr. Dawkins has come to America to promote his book and expand the ranks of the “new atheists”—those who unashamedly “come out of the closet” to proclaim their atheism. According to Wired magazine’s Gary Wolf, they are “a band of intellectual brothers … mounting a crusade against belief in God.”

In my estimation, Collins has done more for mankind than Dawkins despite his “handicap” of belief.

COLLINS: Certainly science should continue to see whether we can find evidence for multiverses that might explain why our own universe seems to be so finely tuned. But I do object to the assumption that anything that might be outside of nature is ruled out of the conversation. That’s an impoverished view of the kinds of questions we humans can ask, such as “Why am I here?”, “What happens after we die?”, “Is there a God?” If you refuse to acknowledge their appropriateness, you end up with a zero probability of God after examining the natural world because it doesn’t convince you on a proof basis. But if your mind is open about whether God might exist, you can point to aspects of the universe that are consistent with that conclusion.

This is an idea I have expressed before and it seems like a powerful one: that when one refuses to consider the supernatural he automatically eliminates a subset that may include the answers to the questions being asked. Those who demand only naturalistic solutions may miss the actual solution entirely.

We go forward…

DAWKINS: To me, the right approach is to say we are profoundly ignorant of these matters. We need to work on them. But to suddenly say the answer is God–it’s that that seems to me to close off the discussion.

TIME: Could the answer be God?

DAWKINS: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.

COLLINS: That’s God.

DAWKINS: Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Martians or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small–at the least, the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that’s the case.

The onus is on who? Why not put the onus on Dawkins to show that God can’t apply to a situation? In fact, why put any special requirement on an argument from either God or not-God, but rather let suppositions stand or fall on their own.

When it comes to science, the idea is to seek truth not to justify a belief system. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is plausible to allow scientific discoveries to be applied to your belief systems. But when you do scientific research, the idea is to look for the answer. If the answer is that God created, there is no special requirement to get a note from your mother in order to say it.

To me, at the bottom of it all you either think Goddidit or chancedidit. Okay, either way, the job of most disciplines of science is to figure out how things work and how we can apply it to our lives more so than concentrating on which didit didit. Right?

TIME: The Book of Genesis has led many conservative Protestants to oppose evolution and some to insist that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

COLLINS: There are sincere believers who interpret Genesis 1 and 2 in a very literal way that is inconsistent, frankly, with our knowledge of the universe’s age or of how living organisms are related to each other. St. Augustine wrote that basically it is not possible to understand what was being described in Genesis. It was not intended as a science textbook. It was intended as a description of who God was, who we are and what our relationship is supposed to be with God. Augustine explicitly warns against a very narrow perspective that will put our faith at risk of looking ridiculous. If you step back from that one narrow interpretation, what the Bible describes is very consistent with the Big Bang.

This is why Collins is a bad choice to oppose Dawkins. He and Dawkins agree from the get-go on certain issues such as this one. There are plenty of believing scientists who don’t believe the Genesis account is incorrect.

DAWKINS: Physicists are working on the Big Bang, and one day they may or may not solve it. However, what Dr. Collins has just been–may I call you Francis?

COLLINS: Oh, please, Richard, do so.

DAWKINS: What Francis was just saying about Genesis was, of course, a little private quarrel between him and his Fundamentalist colleagues …

COLLINS: It’s not so private. It’s rather public. [Laughs.]

DAWKINS: … It would be unseemly for me to enter in except to suggest that he’d save himself an awful lot of trouble if he just simply ceased to give them the time of day. Why bother with these clowns?

COLLINS: Richard, I think we don’t do a service to dialogue between science and faith to characterize sincere people by calling them names. That inspires an even more dug-in position. Atheists sometimes come across as a bit arrogant in this regard, and characterizing faith as something only an idiot would attach themselves to is not likely to help your case.

A bit arrogant? The situation in Iraq is a bit sticky. Boxing is a bit violent.

TIME: Dr. Collins, the Resurrection is an essential argument of Christian faith, but doesn’t it, along with the virgin birth and lesser miracles, fatally undermine the scientific method, which depends on the constancy of natural laws?

Dumb question, incredibly slanted. Counsel is leading the witness, your honor!

COLLINS: If you’re willing to answer yes to a God outside of nature, then there’s nothing inconsistent with God on rare occasions choosing to invade the natural world in a way that appears miraculous. If God made the natural laws, why could he not violate them when it was a particularly significant moment for him to do so? And if you accept the idea that Christ was also divine, which I do, then his Resurrection is not in itself a great logical leap.

Well, duh. If God made the laws, any way in which He works is natural. Trust me, evolutionists depend on the idea that conditions on earth today have not always been the same and so do Creationists. We keep finding that there are addendums to the “Laws of Nature” as we learn more and more. Newtonian physics yielded to Einstein and Quantum Theory. The speed of light, we have recently discovered, is apparently NOT a constant.

TIME: Doesn’t the very notion of miracles throw off science?

COLLINS: Not at all. If you are in the camp I am, one place where science and faith could touch each other is in the investigation of supposedly miraculous events.

DAWKINS: If ever there was a slamming of the door in the face of constructive investigation, it is the word miracle. To a medieval peasant, a radio would have seemed like a miracle. All kinds of things may happen which we by the lights of today’s science would classify as a miracle just as medieval science might a Boeing 747. Francis keeps saying things like “From the perspective of a believer.” Once you buy into the position of faith, then suddenly you find yourself losing all of your natural skepticism and your scientific–really scientific–credibility. I’m sorry to be so blunt.

Too bad. The world wasn’t made to accomodate one man’s view of how scientific methods must be carried out. Belief in God didn’t stop Newton from making discoveries, or Crick, or Pasteur. Dawkins may see it as a hindrance but in fact history says that it is not.

COLLINS: Richard, I actually agree with the first part of what you said. But I would challenge the statement that my scientific instincts are any less rigorous than yours. The difference is that my presumption of the possibility of God and therefore the supernatural is not zero, and yours is.

Collins reiterates that very good point that Dawkins has failed to address.

TIME: Dr. Collins, you have described humanity’s moral sense not only as a gift from God but as a signpost that he exists.

COLLINS: There is a whole field of inquiry that has come up in the last 30 or 40 years–some call it sociobiology or evolutionary psychology–relating to where we get our moral sense and why we value the idea of altruism, and locating both answers in behavioral adaptations for the preservation of our genes. But if you believe, and Richard has been articulate in this, that natural selection operates on the individual, not on a group, then why would the individual risk his own DNA doing something selfless to help somebody in a way that might diminish his chance of reproducing? Granted, we may try to help our own family members because they share our DNA. Or help someone else in expectation that they will help us later. But when you look at what we admire as the most generous manifestations of altruism, they are not based on kin selection or reciprocity. An extreme example might be Oskar Schindler risking his life to save more than a thousand Jews from the gas chambers. That’s the opposite of saving his genes. We see less dramatic versions every day. Many of us think these qualities may come from God–especially since justice and morality are two of the attributes we most readily identify with God.

DAWKINS: Can I begin with an analogy? Most people understand that sexual lust has to do with propagating genes. Copulation in nature tends to lead to reproduction and so to more genetic copies. But in modern society, most copulations involve contraception, designed precisely to avoid reproduction. Altruism probably has origins like those of lust. In our prehistoric past, we would have lived in extended families, surrounded by kin whose interests we might have wanted to promote because they shared our genes. Now we live in big cities. We are not among kin nor people who will ever reciprocate our good deeds. It doesn’t matter. Just as people engaged in sex with contraception are not aware of being motivated by a drive to have babies, it doesn’t cross our mind that the reason for do-gooding is based in the fact that our primitive ancestors lived in small groups. But that seems to me to be a highly plausible account for where the desire for morality, the desire for goodness, comes from.

I have a highly plausible bridge to sell you, in Brooklyn. Dawkins is inventing genetic characteristics and predispositions out of whole cloth. It is clever obfuscation but it remains baseless speculation (BS for short)!

COLLINS: For you to argue that our noblest acts are a misfiring of Darwinian behavior does not do justice to the sense we all have about the absolutes that are involved here of good and evil. Evolution may explain some features of the moral law, but it can’t explain why it should have any real significance. If it is solely an evolutionary convenience, there is really no such thing as good or evil. But for me, it is much more than that. The moral law is a reason to think of God as plausible–not just a God who sets the universe in motion but a God who cares about human beings, because we seem uniquely amongst creatures on the planet to have this far-developed sense of morality. What you’ve said implies that outside of the human mind, tuned by evolutionary processes, good and evil have no meaning. Do you agree with that?

Stay tuned until tomorrow for the last part of this article. Collins leaves us with a great question, which Dawkins has presented to us in the midst of his assertions. Is there such a thing as good and evil? By what justification do those who believe in evolution assert that good and evil even exist? For in their world we are random beings formed by the workings of random and unthinking processes and neither good nor evil should be considered to exist, right?

How does one explain the inherent knowledge within the great majority of people that there is good and evil? How about the understanding inherent within normal folks that individual life has value? Only the few mutant souls among us are born without such knowledge and we call them sociopaths, moral monsters who easily become serial killers or totalitarian rulers. Yet evolution provides no evidence that such inherent knowledge should have ever come about.

(original link)

Are New Testament Books Historically Relevant?

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

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

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

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

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

Gijs van den Brink on Matthew

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

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand–then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”.

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

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

CARM.ORG

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

When were the gospels written and by whom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew

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

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

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

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

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

Mark

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

Luke

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

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

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

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

John

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew as parody

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

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

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

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

So to scholars the dating is important.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praise and pronouncements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Conclusion

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

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

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

(original link)

Poor Design of Eyes Claim Refuted by Evolutionists Also

Evolutionists, especially atheists, try to point out various features in biology and say that if there was a Creator, he certainly botched things. (The expensive word for that is dysteleology.) Therefore, evolution. 

Meanwhile, these owlhoots use biomimetics to imitate what is observed in nature for human use, but never achieving the perfection. (One time I pointed this out to a misotheist, and he replied that such things were perfected by evolution over millions of years. Evolution perfects, but things are “poorly designed?” You cannot have it both ways, old son.) A favorite area of attack is the design of the eye in vertebrates.

Dysteleology is a frequent tactic by atheopaths like their high priest Clinton Richard Dawkins. His followers have an attitude like, “Dawkins said it, I believe it, that settles it”. Well, Dawkins is not an ophthalmologist, and his argument is really from personal opinion, not science. By saying it shows there is no Creator, it is also a theological argument. Dawkins and others who make such claims also argue from ignorance. All of their arguments are ridiculous.

Woman’s Eye, Pexels / Mark Arron Smith

When showing biblical creation science material that scientifically and medically refutes the claim that the human eye was the product of poor design, atheists and evolutionist resort to the genetic fallacy (rejecting something because they don’t like the sources) to disregard them, and persist in spreading untruths. Such attitudes are actually anti-science, if you study on it. I think they are cowards.

To go further, they claim that the eyes of cephalopods are correct. So, evolution got that one right, but botched the eye of all vertebrates? Biased personal opinions are the sine qua non of science, right?

Since they illogically reject material if it comes from creationists or the Intelligent Design community, mayhaps they’ll listen to their own people? Once in a while, there are mavericks in the secular science industry that buck the prevailing views and reexamine some of the dogmas. Although fundamentalist evolutionists, the writers of a paper show that it’s not the vertebrate retina that is backward, but the arguments. In fact, they not only show that both vertebrate and cephalopod eyes are optimal in their own environments, they mention design several times. Unfortunately, secularists use Darwin as a shield to avoid facing the truth that the Master Engineer should be credited for his design work (Romans 1:18-23).

One of the most common claims against creationists has long been the allegation that the human body is ‘poorly designed.’ And one of the most popular examples of this poor-design claim is the so-called backward vertebrate retina. The retina is the thin organ located at the back of the eyeball containing the light-sensitive rods and cones.  The claim is made that the vertebrate eye is functionally suboptimal in a significant way. The reason for this claim is that the photoreceptors in the retina are oriented not toward, but away, from incoming light.  Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins considers this an example of poor design because. . . 

. . . 

Two evolutionists have now turned the tables on this claim. Tom Baden and Dan-Eric Nilsson write in Current Biology that vertebrate “eyesight is a compelling testimony to creative design.”

To read the entire article, see “Evolutionists Refute ‘Poor Design’ Claim for Human Eye.”

(Thanks to Radaractive)

WHY’S THE MT. EBAL CURSE TABLET SO IMPORTANT?

Here are the top 3 reasons why this discovery is important.

1. IT WAS DISCOVERED AT MT. EBAL

The tablet was found by sifting through the dump piles of the Mt. Ebal dig site.

The Hebrew inscription reflects the same language found in the bible about what happened at Mt. Ebal when Joshua entered the Promised Land.

He put half the tribes on Mt. Ebal and half on Mt. Gerizim. The tribes on Mount Gerizim declared blessings would come if the nation kept the covenant. The tribes on Mt. Ebal declared curses would come they disobeyed the covenant. This is found in Deut. 27, 28 and Joshua 8.

Not only was it found at Mt. Ebal, but at a location called Joshua’s Altar which is mentioned in Joshua 8.

2. IT’S THE EARLIEST MENTION OF THE NAME OF ISRAEL’S GOD IN HEBREW.

Here’s what the tablet says:

“Cursed, cursed, cursed – cursed by the God YHW.

You will die cursed.

Cursed you will surely die.

Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed.”

The pottery found with the tablets can be dated as far back as 1400 BC. If these dates are accurate, this would be the earliest time in history where we see the name YHW in Hebrew outside the Bible.

3. IT PROVES MOSES COULD BE THE AUTHOR OF THE FIRST 5 BOOKS OF THE BIBLE.

Now, if you’ve been following me, you probably already believe the Old Testament is reliable.

So when it says in Deuteronomy 31 Moses wrote down the law, then you believe it.

But liberal critical scholars don’t believe Moses existed. They believe the Jews made up Moses and the Old Testament stories around 586 BC. There’s no way a guy named Moses could have written down the Law they say because Hebrew didn’t exist as a written language yet.

This little tablet delivers a HUGE blow to that theory because it contains a very early form of Hebrew called proto-Hebrew. 

And if the early dates are accurate, it shows that Moses himself could be the author of the Torah just as the Bible describes.

When you put all three points together—it’s location at Mt. Ebal—that it contains the name Yahwew—in the earliest known Hebrew ever discovered—this is a compelling case that the Bible is accurate. And the Exodus and Conquest really did happen as the Bible describes.

FORTHCOMING REPORT

The team reporting the discovery is promising to release a peer-reviewed article by the end of 2022. We will have to wait and see how other archaeologists counter these claims. But it is something to watch for!

BIBLIOGRAPHY

– “ABR Researchers Discover the Oldest Known Proto-Hebrew Inscription Ever Found.” Associates for Biblical Research. Last modified March 24, 2022. Accessed April 2, 2022. https://biblearchaeology.org/current-events-list/4896-abr-researchers-discover-the-oldest-known-proto-hebrew-inscription-ever-found

– Law, Steve. “Hebrew Tablet Deciphered – Mentions Israel’s God.” Patterns of Evidence. Last modified April 1, 2022. Accessed April 2, 2022. https://patternsofevidence.com/2022/04/01/hebrew-tablet-deciphered-mentions-israels-god/

– Oldest Known Proto-Hebrew Inscription From Mount Ebal Discovered. Associates for Biblical Research, 2022. Accessed April 2, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUzBXZdpfLo&t=0s

(original link)

Uber Gay Bible Interpretation

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