Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 10:44:25 -0500
To: Eddie McDougall
From: Andrew Arensburger <arensb@cfar.umd.edu>
Subject: Darwin fishes etc.

	Sorry I haven't responded to your earlier message. A pile of
stuff came up and I haven't had time. Besides, this discussion is
going pretty much the way I was afraid it would.
	In your first message to me, you made such statements as

> If you're going to offer an explanation that is to be accepted by an honest,
> rational, thinking human being, then you'll have to find another theory.

and

> Your comrads are fond of saying things like "support science."  Well, I do.
> It proves there is a God and that He is the God of the Christian Bible. No
> other information source has the proven integrity, accuracy and
> unfalsifiability of the Word of God and science proves it.

	Since then you've failed to provide any substantial support
for these assertions, preferring instead to attack the theory of
Evolution.
	As I've pointed out to you before, merely disproving Evolution
would not prove Genesis. Even if you argue that "creation" and
"evolution" are the only alternatives, I can give you a hundred
creation scenarios. You still need to show why yours is correct.
	Insofar as you've argued in favor of creation, your argument
has basically been that it's true because it says so in the Bible, and
the Bible is the inspired word of God and is to be taken literally.
You've given a few arguments to support this, none of which are very
convincing:
	1) The Bible makes a number of predictions, all of which came
true.

> With
> the established integrity of the bible, given its prophecies and (now)
> historic fulfillments, it would be hard to reject anything preserved
> therein.  There simply is no information source that compares to it.

	Unfortunately, if a book claims that X will happen, and later
claims that X did happen, that doesn't mean anything. "The Lord of the
Rings" also makes predictions which come true. That doesn't mean it
really happened.
	You need to show evidence that a) the predictions did come
true, and b) that the original predictions were made before the event.
Obviously, this evidence should not come from the Bible.

	2) The Bible, in all its many sequential translations, has
never changed its meaning.

> When I was in
> sixth grade or so, we did the whisper test.  The first student had a word
> whispered in his ear by a teacher.  Each student turned to his neighbor and
> passed on the word in the same fashion.  By the time it got to the last
> student and was repeated out loud, it was nothing like the word that
> originated.  This is what we would expect, (and do), see with the work of
> men.  Many contradictions, changes and biases are typical.  This is not what
> we see with the Bible and considering all of the men and years that were
> necessary to preserve it,

	This is, in a word, false. I'll grant you that, given the
nature of the work, copyists through the ages may have felt tremendous
pressure to make exact copies, but changes still abound, and one can
find any number of contradictions. In particular, I believe that
someone is offering a $1000 prize to anyone who can come up with a
chronology of Easter that's consistent with all four of the gospels.
	If the text of the Bible had remained intact in all of its
myriad versions, as you claim, why would anyone need or want a
concordance? Why would the authors of the NIV and other modern
translations make such a big deal out of going back to the oldest
available manuscripts?

	3) Archeology supports the Bible (this next quote immediately
follows the previous one).

> (and archaeology has proven more than once that
> the info has been kept intact almost to the letter, but certainly to the
> word).

	Without a doubt, the Bible has been invaluable to
archeologists, since it describes cities and kings, and generally
provides hints as to where to dig. But the same is true of the epic of
Gilgamesh and any number of other documents.
	But you can't say that this proves that *everything* in the
Bible is true. Otherwise, you could take Anne Rice's "Interview With
the Vampire," notice that its description of 18th century New Orleans
is quite accurate, and conclude that vampires must exist as well.
	If you want to show to an "honest, rational, thinking human
being" that God exists, I'm afraid you're going to have to come up
with something more concrete.

	You've mentioned the argument from design, namely "biological
systems are complex, therefore they must have been designed." This is
just a variant on the argument from personal incredulity: "I don't see
how X could have happened, therefore it didn't." I hope you'll forgive
me if I don't find this terribly convincing.

	In brief--and I'm sorry for having gone on at such length, but
I didn't want you to think that I'm taking you lightly, since you're
more intelligent and polite than some people I've talked to--it
doesn't seem as if you have anything new to contribute to the
discussion. You believe in the inerrant, literal truth of the Bible,
and you're free to do so. You see a conflict between Genesis and
conventional science, and choose to dismiss the latter. You are free
to do so, of course, but without some objective evidence to back up
your views, please don't expect me to accept them.
	If you want to continue this discussion, you may want to take
a look at the talk.origins FAQs at http://www.talkorigins.org/ . I
doubt this'll change your mind, but at least it'll tell you what "the
opposition" believes, and why; not to mention what is expected of
Creationism if it is to be taken seriously as a scientific theory.

-- 
Andrew Arensburger, Systems guy         Center for Automation Research
arensb@cfar.umd.edu                     University of Maryland
	      Internal sysadmin overflow. System halted.

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