Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God
Richard N. Ostling, The Associated Press
San Bernardino County Sun
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - He opened the session by improvising on hymns at the piano and concluded it by accompanying a singalong on the guitar. In between, he delivered a compelling account of his unlikely conversion from atheism to evangelical Christianity.

The lanky, amiable platform personality wasn't some traveling revivalist but one of the world's leading biologists.

Francis S. Collins led the international Human Genome Project that mapped the 3.1 billion chemical-base pairs in humanity's DNA. He now directs the U.S. government program on applying that information to medical treatments.

He's also emerged as a surprise advocate for faith and for its compatibility with science.

The 56-year-old Collins addressed the clash of science and religion last weekend during a conference at Williams College sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation appropriately so, because the writings of the English literature scholar were instrumental in Collins' conversion.

He pursues the theme again next week at a Calvin College convention of the American Scientific Affiliation. The organization of scientists affirms "the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the Bible" on faith and morals. Collins is a member.

But his most complete argument for God appears in a new book, "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" (Free Press), which addresses two radically divergent audiences:

He asks scientific skeptics to investigate God with the same open-minded zeal they apply to the natural world, assuring them there's no incompatibility between belief and scientific rigor.

He tells fellow evangelicals that opposition to evolution whether the biblical literalism of creationists or "intelligent design" arguments undermines the credibility of faith. He finds the first "fundamentally flawed" and warns that the second builds upon gaps in evidence that scientists are very likely to fill in the future, among other objections.

The audience of 200 at Williams gave Collins' views a respectful reception, quite in contrast to a previous frosty reaction he got when he told a national meeting of Christian physicians the evidence for evolution is "overwhelming."

But scientists are probably the tougher audience. According to Nature, the science weekly, "many scientists disagree strongly" with Collins-style arguments and critics feel "more talk of religion is the last thing that science needs."

Surveys have indicated 40 percent of scientists are religious, Collins remarked in an interview before the conference, but "if 40 percent of my own scientific colleagues are believers in a personal God, they're keeping pretty quiet about it."

"For a scientist, it's uncomfortable to admit there are questions that your scientific method isn't going to be able to address," he said. Besides, scientists are busy and focused they often don't take the time to explore "these more profound eternal questions."

In his talk, Collins said he was raised by nonreligious parents and turned into "an obnoxious atheist." But as a medical student he wondered why patients who were suffering and dying retained faith in God.

He realized that as a scientist "you're not supposed to decide something is true until you've looked at the data. And yet I had become an atheist without ever looking at the evidence whether God exists or not."

He began looking, and early in the process read Lewis' concise classic "Mere Christianity."

"In the very first chapter," he said, "all my arguments about the irrationality of faith lay in ruins."

Yet he was besieged by doubts during two years of struggle and study. Finally, he went hiking in Oregon's Cascades Mountains and one morning, "I fell on my knees and asked Christ to be my Lord and Savior. And he has been there ever since, the past 28 years, as the rock on which I stand."

Unimpressed by denominational differences, Collins has worshipped in a variety of Protestant churches while living the itinerant life of an academic. He became a Methodist at the University of North Carolina, an American Baptist at Yale, a Southern Baptist at the University of Michigan and currently belongs to Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md.

Collins writes that "it is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit," in which the dominant voices have belonged to narrow, anti-God materialists and believers who spurn orthodox science.

He says both approaches are "profoundly dangerous. Both deny truth. Both will diminish the nobility of humankind. Both will be devastating to our future. And both are unnecessary."

"Religion is like a badly written contract - most people don't read most (much less all) of it, believe what the other party says, and execute with the best of intentions and naivety."

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

He mustn't have been a very strong atheist if he was convinced by that.


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Re: Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

StopEvangelists wrote:
Scientists should examine evidence for God

I agree. Should a shred of evidence, or even so much as a credible argument, for a god ever arise then scientists, and indeed everyone else, would be well advised to critically examine it.


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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Well, we all will be waiting a long time for that to happen!


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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Meh, quite frankly I think Collins is the one with the God complex here and wants science to be compatible with him. I mean, when he decoded the human genome, whose DNA do you think he used? When he worked on the canine genome, whose dog's DNA do you think he used?

Science is naturalistic, because parsimony and empiricism demand that it be. Deal with it.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Mr. Collins received an invitation to join us on the show and his publicist refused, claiming he doesn't do many speaking engagements because of his health.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

I have yet to read any of C.S. Lewis's works dealing with christianity (The Chronicles of Narnia, symbolism aside, exluded), but I am quite sure that there isn't an argument propsed by him that can't be torn apart by rational thought. I find it odd that when Mr. Collins looked for evidence of God, he found that it was indeed the Christian god and his son jesus christ that was supported by the evidence, and not, say Zeus and his pantheon. The only thing really worth noting is the contrast in reception that he received from his audiences, a warm one from scientists and a cold one from theists. It is important to note this observation as evidence of the willingness of the scientific community to hear out opposing beliefs and their evidence instead of simply refuting them for being different from the currently accepted ones.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Yeah, that's strange. My uncle was a large part of the Human Genome Project, but I don't recall HIM ever converting.


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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

CS Lewis's stuff is absurd. ST Joshi's book, "God's Defender's: What they believe and why they are wrong" had a chapter about him called "Mere Assertions."

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

i always shit my pants just a little, just a bit, in a rich melange of consternation, flabbergastation, amusement, and a tad of pity, when the danger-zombies launch their little statistics as some sort of supporting argument for their side. i realize i tend to get a bit more emotional about things like this than most of you, but i'm reluctant to apologize for it because i don't find it irrational to say STATISTICIANS ARE NOT MOTHER FUCKING SCIENTISTS. SHIT!!!! QUEEF!!!!
*phew* any statistic can play for either side of any debate; it can be trumped to either side depending on which variables you choose to include in the *ahem* "study". furthermore, no statistical study can possibly account for every variable applicable to the situation.
i plan on writing at length on this topic soon, so i'll save the drudgery for now, but the most common example i use are crime statistics. most cities are wont to use crime statistics to judge the effectiveness of police forces, their suitability for inhabitation, yada-yada-yada, but stop right there. on a yearly basis, more and more things become illegal through legislation. so wouldn't it stand to reason that the crime rate would rise every time something new becomes illegal?
if a law came to pass that breathing was an unlawful act, would the crime rate not rise to 100%?
conversely, if every single law were repealed, would that same crime rate not instantaneously drop to 0%?
fucking hell. whatever. i've gone off the main topic again. for that i will apologize.

Fear out.

Fear is the mindkiller.


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article: atheist biologist studies evidence of God

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Yeah, did you have a point, benjy?


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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:
Yeah, did you have a point, benjy?

He originally posted it in the Peanut Gallery for the $666 contemporary proof of Jesus thread. :shock:

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Sapient wrote:
Yellow_Number_Five wrote:
Yeah, did you have a point, benjy?

He originally posted it in the Peanut Gallery for the $666 contemporary proof of Jesus thread. :shock:

I see. So he has no point then.

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important point in the article

This is what i found most interesting in the article:

He realized that as a scientist "you're not supposed to decide something is true until you've looked at the data. And yet I had become an atheist without ever looking at the evidence whether God exists or not."

He began looking, and early in the process read Lewis' concise classic "Mere Christianity."

"In the very first chapter," he said, "all my arguments about the irrationality of faith lay in ruins."


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Re: important point in the article

benjaminbryant wrote:
This is what i found most interesting in the article:

He realized that as a scientist "you're not supposed to decide something is true until you've looked at the data. And yet I had become an atheist without ever looking at the evidence whether God exists or not."

There is no evidence for God or the supernatural.

Quote:
He began looking, and early in the process read Lewis' concise classic "Mere Christianity."

"In the very first chapter," he said, "all my arguments about the irrationality of faith lay in ruins."

If he was convinced by C.S. Lewis, he certainly wasn't convinced by empirical evidence, which is what science deals with.

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Re: important point in the article

benjaminbryant wrote:
This is what i found most interesting in the article:

He realized that as a scientist "you're not supposed to decide something is true until you've looked at the data. And yet I had become an atheist without ever looking at the evidence whether God exists or not."

It's ashame he's about to bury himself as a scientist when he doesn't actually give universal falsifiable evidence that god exists. Maybe I'm wrong on my past statement, I'll remain open to the idea that he might have evidence. It should be noted, he refused to defend his beliefs on our show, and he hasn't submitted any evidence yet.

Quote:
He began looking, and early in the process read Lewis' concise classic "Mere Christianity."

"In the very first chapter," he said, "all my arguments about the irrationality of faith lay in ruins."

Poor Collins. I'm not sure why he snapped, but it's clear his rationality isn't all there. The first chapter of Mere Christianity doesn't do much for me. I just reread it. He must not have had any real arguments about the irrationality of faith, or maybe he was an extremely weak logician. Either way, the chapter he submitted for shattering his views, was super weak.

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sapient said collins &quot;snapped&quot;

LOL

He "snapped" because he felt the power of God

*special thanks to "positive change"!


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to sapient

oh yeah, sapient: thanks for your "rationality".....at least you're open minded to the idea he may have evidence.


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Re: sapient said collins &quot;snapped&quot;

benjaminbryant wrote:
LOL

He "snapped" because he felt the power of God

*special thanks to "positive change"!

ha ha. oh i see. so he felt the power of god from C.S. Lewis, but not from the book god supposedly wrote himself..the bible. mmhmm. i think that keeps the word snapped safely outside the jurisdiction of your cynical quotation marks.

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Re: sapient said collins &quot;snapped&quot;

benjaminbryant wrote:
LOL

He "snapped" because he felt the power of God

And by snapped I meant "lost his ability to reason properly." So we can analyze your statement to say:

He "felt the power of God" when he "lost his ability to reason properly."

LOL@ that.

Quote:
*special thanks to "positive change"!

Yahoo for Positive Change! I've seen so much positive change out of him so far. Look what he's done for you! If you see him, ask him if he wants to come on the show and defend his god belief.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

no, i don't mean he felt the power of God from that particular book. But perhaps God used it to reach him.

what about healings? I've heard of plenty of healings that have happened that the doctors could not explain.


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who God is

God is 3 persons in one: the father, the son, and the spirit.

The spirit has definitely manifested himself.


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Re: who God is

benjaminbryant wrote:
God is 3 persons in one: the father, the son, and the spirit.

Let's see a little proof.

Quote:

The spirit has definitely manifested himself.

Let's see a lot of proof.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

benjaminbryant wrote:
what about healings? I've heard of plenty of healings that have happened that the doctors could not explain.

Not being able to explain something is not evidence for God. It's only evidence that we cannot explain something. It's a logical fallacy known as an appeal to ignorance.

We don't know X, therefore God.

Sorry. Things don't work that way in science or logic.

Quote:
God is 3 persons in one: the father, the son, and the spirit.

The spirit has definitely manifested himself.

And this is scientific? There is empirical evidence for this?

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proof

healings, speaking in other languages ( in which i have heard of accounts where the person speaking it would be speaking a foreign language of someone in the room and the other person would actually understand it.)
I have also heard accounts of people being raised from the dead.


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healings

I'm talking about people being healed when prayed for in the name of Jesus Christ.

You all had better study this before you dismiss it.


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foretold

.....And the bible tells of these things as evidence and the power of having the spirit of God living within you.


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Re: healings

benjaminbryant wrote:
I'm talking about people being healed when prayed for in the name of Jesus Christ.

You all had better study this before you dismiss it.

I have studied it, and the concept has been clinically studied. Prayer does not work.

Prayer Does Not Help Heart Bypass Patients

I'm happy to tell you where you can find this study and others like it which demonstrate the concept.

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Re: proof

benjaminbryant wrote:
healings, speaking in other languages ( in which i have heard of accounts where the person speaking it would be speaking a foreign language of someone in the room and the other person would actually understand it.)
I have also heard accounts of people being raised from the dead.

Show me a SCIENTIFICALLY confirmed account.

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Re: foretold

benjaminbryant wrote:
.....And the bible tells of these things as evidence and the power of having the spirit of God living within you.

The Bible says a lot of things, none of which should be accepted at face value or literally without question.

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prayer

You have to be in the right place (spiritually) with God for prayer to work.

You're right if you mean that any old joe blow's prayer doesn't work.
God does not answer prayers of the unrighteous.


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Re: prayer

benjaminbryant wrote:
You have to be in the right place (spiritually) with God for prayer to work.

You're right if you mean that any old joe blow's prayer doesn't work.
God does not answer prayers of the unrighteous.

That's a convienient and meaningless excuse. Tell that to the heart patients in the study I cited.

So, if I pray and I live, God did it! If I pray and I die, it's my fault, because I wasn't in the right place spiritually.

Are you kidding me? You don't see the ridiculous circular logic here?

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Oh, and these weren't any old Joe's prayers, if you'd actually take the time to read the article I posted:

Quote:
Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications'' for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:
Oh, and these weren't any old Joe's prayers, if you'd actually take the time to read the article I posted:

Quote:
Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications'' for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

You should see the comment "PositiveChange" left in our profile about the prayer study. He even misinterpreted something we said and tried to use it against us. I referred to a non-scientific study on MSNBC while talking about the scientific study demonstrating that prayer doesn't work, and he said:

POSTED IN OUR COMMENTS:

Quote:

http://www.myspace.com/rationalresponse
POSITIVE CHANGE

Jul 23, 2006 4:14 PM

I hope you know that survey of prayer is ridiculous. Like you say it's isn't scientific. There's a lot of people who think they are right with God and who pray but they're prayers have no effect. Why don't you do a survey on the prayers that have healed the sick and brought the dead back to life? that would be interesting. thank you.

13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.[c] 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
16"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?"[d] But we have the mind of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 2

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Wow. Just. Wow.

Get this kid to come on the show. He needs help.


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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

i think if you guys brought this poor creature on the show it would be the end of you. as a matter of fact, i would challenge the rational response squad to have an intervention with this guy and a) keep your voices at a calm, level, and respectful tone, and b) remain in your seats, with no fist clenching, reaching for blunt objects, or setting of booby traps.
y'all are always very good at that, but the density of this one.....i dunno...i mean his entire argument thus far has been adamantly based on hearsay....

Fear is the mindkiller.


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Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources

Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources
Written by Michael Gleghorn
Evidence from Tacitus

Although there is overwhelming evidence that the New Testament is an accurate and trustworthy historical document, many people are still reluctant to believe what it says unless there is also some independent, non-biblical testimony that corroborates its statements. In the introduction to one of his books, F.F. Bruce tells about a Christian correspondent who was told by an agnostic friend that "apart from obscure references in Josephus and the like," there was no historical evidence for the life of Jesus outside the Bible.{1} This, he wrote to Bruce, had caused him "great concern and some little upset in [his] spiritual life."{2} He concludes his letter by asking, "Is such collateral proof available, and if not, are there reasons for the lack of it?"{3} The answer to this question is, "Yes, such collateral proof is available," and we will be looking at some of it in this article.

Let's begin our inquiry with a passage that historian Edwin Yamauchi calls "probably the most important reference to Jesus outside the New Testament."{4} Reporting on Emperor Nero's decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . .{5}

What all can we learn from this ancient (and rather unsympathetic) reference to Jesus and the early Christians? Notice, first, that Tacitus reports Christians derived their name from a historical person called Christus (from the Latin), or Christ. He is said to have "suffered the extreme penalty," obviously alluding to the Roman method of execution known as crucifixion. This is said to have occurred during the reign of Tiberius and by the sentence of Pontius Pilatus. This confirms much of what the Gospels tell us about the death of Jesus.

But what are we to make of Tacitus' rather enigmatic statement that Christ's death briefly checked "a most mischievous superstition," which subsequently arose not only in Judaea, but also in Rome? One historian suggests that Tacitus is here "bearing indirect . . . testimony to the conviction of the early church that the Christ who had been crucified had risen from the grave."{6} While this interpretation is admittedly speculative, it does help explain the otherwise bizarre occurrence of a rapidly growing religion based on the worship of a man who had been crucified as a criminal.{7} How else might one explain that?
Evidence from Pliny the Younger

Another important source of evidence about Jesus and early Christianity can be found in the letters of Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan. Pliny was the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. In one of his letters, dated around A.D. 112, he asks Trajan's advice about the appropriate way to conduct legal proceedings against those accused of being Christians.{8} Pliny says that he needed to consult the emperor about this issue because a great multitude of every age, class, and sex stood accused of Christianity.{9}

At one point in his letter, Pliny relates some of the information he has learned about these Christians:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food--but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.{10}

This passage provides us with a number of interesting insights into the beliefs and practices of early Christians. First, we see that Christians regularly met on a certain fixed day for worship. Second, their worship was directed to Christ, demonstrating that they firmly believed in His divinity. Furthermore, one scholar interprets Pliny's statement that hymns were sung to Christ, as to a god, as a reference to the rather distinctive fact that, "unlike other gods who were worshipped, Christ was a person who had lived on earth."{11} If this interpretation is correct, Pliny understood that Christians were worshipping an actual historical person as God! Of course, this agrees perfectly with the New Testament doctrine that Jesus was both God and man.

Not only does Pliny's letter help us understand what early Christians believed about Jesus' person, it also reveals the high esteem to which they held His teachings. For instance, Pliny notes that Christians bound themselves by a solemn oath not to violate various moral standards, which find their source in the ethical teachings of Jesus. In addition, Pliny's reference to the Christian custom of sharing a common meal likely alludes to their observance of communion and the "love feast."{12} This interpretation helps explain the Christian claim that the meal was merely food of an ordinary and innocent kind. They were attempting to counter the charge, sometimes made by non-Christians, of practicing "ritual cannibalism."{13} The Christians of that day humbly repudiated such slanderous attacks on Jesus' teachings. We must sometimes do the same today.
Evidence from Josephus

Perhaps the most remarkable reference to Jesus outside the Bible can be found in the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. On two occasions, in his Jewish Antiquities, he mentions Jesus. The second, less revealing, reference describes the condemnation of one "James" by the Jewish Sanhedrin. This James, says Josephus, was "the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ."{14} F.F. Bruce points out how this agrees with Paul's description of James in Galatians 1:19 as "the Lord's brother."{15} And Edwin Yamauchi informs us that "few scholars have questioned" that Josephus actually penned this passage.{16}

As interesting as this brief reference is, there is an earlier one, which is truly astonishing. Called the "Testimonium Flavianum," the relevant portion declares:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.{17}

Did Josephus really write this? Most scholars think the core of the passage originated with Josephus, but that it was later altered by a Christian editor, possibly between the third and fourth century A.D.{18} But why do they think it was altered? Josephus was not a Christian, and it is difficult to believe that anyone but a Christian would have made some of these statements.{19}

For instance, the claim that Jesus was a wise man seems authentic, but the qualifying phrase, "if indeed one ought to call him a man," is suspect. It implies that Jesus was more than human, and it is quite unlikely that Josephus would have said that! It is also difficult to believe he would have flatly asserted that Jesus was the Christ, especially when he later refers to Jesus as "the so-called" Christ. Finally, the claim that on the third day Jesus appeared to His disciples restored to life, inasmuch as it affirms Jesus' resurrection, is quite unlikely to come from a non-Christian!

But even if we disregard the questionable parts of this passage, we are still left with a good deal of corroborating information about the biblical Jesus. We read that he was a wise man who performed surprising feats. And although He was crucified under Pilate, His followers continued their discipleship and became known as Christians. When we combine these statements with Josephus' later reference to Jesus as "the so-called Christ," a rather detailed picture emerges which harmonizes quite well with the biblical record. It increasingly appears that the "biblical Jesus" and the "historical Jesus" are one and the same!
Evidence from the Babylonian Talmud

There are only a few clear references to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between approximately A.D. 70-500. Given this time frame, it is naturally supposed that earlier references to Jesus are more likely to be historically reliable than later ones. In the case of the Talmud, the earliest period of compilation occurred between A.D. 70-200.{20} The most significant reference to Jesus from this period states:

On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald . . . cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy."{21}

Let's examine this passage. You may have noticed that it refers to someone named "Yeshu." So why do we think this is Jesus? Actually, "Yeshu" (or "Yeshua"Eye-wink is how Jesus' name is pronounced in Hebrew. But what does the passage mean by saying that Jesus "was hanged"? Doesn't the New Testament say he was crucified? Indeed it does. But the term "hanged" can function as a synonym for "crucified." For instance, Galatians 3:13 declares that Christ was "hanged", and Luke 23:39 applies this term to the criminals who were crucified with Jesus.{22} So the Talmud declares that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover. But what of the cry of the herald that Jesus was to be stoned? This may simply indicate what the Jewish leaders were planning to do.{23} If so, Roman involvement changed their plans!{24}

The passage also tells us why Jesus was crucified. It claims He practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy! Since this accusation comes from a rather hostile source, we should not be too surprised if Jesus is described somewhat differently than in the New Testament. But if we make allowances for this, what might such charges imply about Jesus?

Interestingly, both accusations have close parallels in the canonical gospels. For instance, the charge of sorcery is similar to the Pharisees' accusation that Jesus cast out demons "by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."{25} But notice this: such a charge actually tends to confirm the New Testament claim that Jesus performed miraculous feats. Apparently Jesus' miracles were too well attested to deny. The only alternative was to ascribe them to sorcery! Likewise, the charge of enticing Israel to apostasy parallels Luke's account of the Jewish leaders who accused Jesus of misleading the nation with his teaching.{26} Such a charge tends to corroborate the New Testament record of Jesus' powerful teaching ministry. Thus, if read carefully, this passage from the Talmud confirms much of our knowledge about Jesus from the New Testament.
Evidence from Lucian

Lucian of Samosata was a second century Greek satirist. In one of his works, he wrote of the early Christians as follows:

The Christians . . . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.{27}

Although Lucian is jesting here at the early Christians, he does make some significant comments about their founder. For instance, he says the Christians worshipped a man, "who introduced their novel rites." And though this man's followers clearly thought quite highly of Him, He so angered many of His contemporaries with His teaching that He "was crucified on that account."

Although Lucian does not mention his name, he is clearly referring to Jesus. But what did Jesus teach to arouse such wrath? According to Lucian, he taught that all men are brothers from the moment of their conversion. That's harmless enough. But what did this conversion involve? It involved denying the Greek gods, worshipping Jesus, and living according to His teachings. It's not too difficult to imagine someone being killed for teaching that. Though Lucian doesn't say so explicitly, the Christian denial of other gods combined with their worship of Jesus implies the belief that Jesus was more than human. Since they denied other gods in order to worship Him, they apparently thought Jesus a greater God than any that Greece had to offer!

Let's summarize what we've learned about Jesus from this examination of ancient non-Christian sources. First, both Josephus and Lucian indicate that Jesus was regarded as wise. Second, Pliny, the Talmud, and Lucian imply He was a powerful and revered teacher. Third, both Josephus and the Talmud indicate He performed miraculous feats. Fourth, Tacitus, Josephus, the Talmud, and Lucian all mention that He was crucified. Tacitus and Josephus say this occurred under Pontius Pilate. And the Talmud declares it happened on the eve of Passover. Fifth, there are possible references to the Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection in both Tacitus and Josephus. Sixth, Josephus records that Jesus' followers believed He was the Christ, or Messiah. And finally, both Pliny and Lucian indicate that Christians worshipped Jesus as God!

I hope you see how this small selection of ancient non-Christian sources helps corroborate our knowledge of Jesus from the gospels. Of course, there are many ancient Christian sources of information about Jesus as well. But since the historical reliability of the canonical gospels is so well established, I invite you to read those for an authoritative "life of Jesus!"

Notes

1. F. F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 13.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Edwin Yamauchi, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), 82.

5. Tacitus, Annals 15.44, cited in Strobel, The Case for Christ, 82.

6. N.D. Anderson, Christianity: The Witness of History (London: Tyndale, 1969), 19, cited in Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus (Joplin, Missouri: College Press Publishing Company, 1996), 189-190.

7. Edwin Yamauchi, cited in Strobel, The Case for Christ, 82.

8. Pliny, Epistles x. 96, cited in Bruce, Christian Origins, 25; Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 198.

9. Ibid., 27.

10. Pliny, Letters, transl. by William Melmoth, rev. by W.M.L. Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935), vol. II, X:96, cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 199.

11. M. Harris, "References to Jesus in Early Classical Authors," in Gospel Perspectives V, 354-55, cited in E. Yamauchi, "Jesus Outside the New Testament: What is the Evidence?", in Jesus Under Fire, ed. by Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), p. 227, note 66.

12. Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 199.

13. Bruce, Christian Origins, 28.

14. Josephus, Antiquities xx. 200, cited in Bruce, Christian Origins, 36.

15. Ibid.

16. Yamauchi, "Jesus Outside the New Testament", 212.

17. Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64, cited in Yamauchi, "Jesus Outside the New Testament", 212.

18. Ibid.

19. Although time would not permit me to mention it on the radio, another version of Josephus' "Testimonium Flavianum" survives in a tenth-century Arabic version (Bruce, Christian Origins, 41). In 1971, Professor Schlomo Pines published a study on this passage. The passage is interesting because it lacks most of the questionable elements that many scholars believe to be Christian interpolations. Indeed, "as Schlomo Pines and David Flusser...stated, it is quite plausible that none of the arguments against Josephus writing the original words even applies to the Arabic text, especially since the latter would have had less chance of being censored by the church" (Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 194). The passage reads as follows: "At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders." (Quoted in James H. Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1988), 95, cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 194).

20. Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 202-03.

21. The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, 281, cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 203.

22. Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 203.

23. See John 8:58-59 and 10:31-33.

24. Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 204. See also John 18:31-32.

25. Matt. 12:24. I gleaned this observation from Bruce, Christian Origins, 56.

26. Luke 23:2, 5.

27. Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13, in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, transl. by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), vol. 4., cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 206.


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Re: Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources

benjaminbryant wrote:
Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources
Written by Michael Gleghorn
Evidence from Tacitus

One cut and paste deserves another:

Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "christus" who is Jesus

Tacitus: "But neither the aid of man, nor the liberality of the prince, nor the propitiations of the gods succeeded in destroying the belief that the fire had been purposely lit. In order to put an end to this rumor, therefore, Nero laid the blame on and visited with severe punishment those men, hateful for their crimes, whom the people called Christians. He from whom the name was derived, Christus, was put to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, checked for a moment, broke out again, not only in Judea, the native land of the monstrosity, but also in Rome, to which all conceivable horrors and abominations flow from every side, and find supporters. First, therefore, those were arrested who openly confessed; then, on their information, a great number, who were not so much convicted of the fire as of hatred of the human race. Ridicule was passed on them as they died; so that, clothed in skins of beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or committed to the flames, and when the sun had gone down they were burned to light up the night. Nero had lent his garden for this spectacle, and gave games in the Circus, mixing with the people in the dress of a charioteer or standing in the chariot. Hence there was a strong sympathy for them, though they might have been guilty enough to deserve the severest punishment, on the ground that they were sacrificed, not to the general good, but to the cruelty of one man." (Annals XV, 44)

It would be utterly ridiculous to use this, but still, some do.

  1. (1) It is extremely improbable that a special report found by Tacitus had been sent earlier to Rome and incorporated into the records of the Senate, in regard to the death of a Jewish provincial, Jesus. The execution of a Nazareth carpenter would have been one of the most insignificant events conceivable among the movements of Roman history in those decades; it would have completely disappeared beneath the innumerable executions inflicted by Roman provincial authorities. For it to have been kept in any report would have been a most remarkable instance of chance.
  2. (2) The phrase "multitudo ingens" which means "a great number" is opposed to all that we know of the spread of the new faith in Rome at the time. A vast multitude in 64 A.D.? There were not more than a few thousand Christians 200 years later. The idea of so many just 30 years after his supposed death is just a falsehood.
  3. (3) The use of the Christians as "living torches," as Tacitus describes, and all the other atrocities that were committed against them, have little title to credence, and suggest an imagination exalted by reading stories of the later Christian martyrs. Death by fire was not a punishment inflicted at Rome in the time of Nero. It is opposed to the moderate principles on which the accused were then dealt with by the State.
  4. (4) The Roman authorities can have had no reason to inflict special punishment on the new faith. How could the non-initiated Romans know what were the concerns of a comparatively small religious sect, which was connected with Judaism and must have seemed to the impartial observer wholly identical with it.
  5. (5) Suetonius says that Nero showed the utmost indifference, even contempt in regard to religious sects. Even afterwards the Christians were not persecuted for their faith, but for political reasons, for their contempt of the Roman state and emperor, and as disturbers of the unity and peace of the empire. What reason can Nero have had to proceed against the Christians, hardly distinguishable from the Jews, as a new and criminal sect?
  6. (6) It is inconceivable that the followers of Jesus formed a community in the city at that time of sufficient importance to attract public attention and the ill-feeling of the people. It isn't the most popular way to convert and bring people into their religion.
  7. (7) The victims could not have been given to the flames in the gardens of Nero, as Tacitus allegedly said. According to another account by Tacitus these gardens were the refuge of those whose homes had been burned and were full of tents and wooden sheds. Why would he risk burning these by lighting human fires amidst all these shelters?
  8. (Cool According to Tacitus, Nero was in Antium, not Rome, when the fire occurred.
  9. (9) The blood-curdling story about the frightful orgies of Nero reads like some Christian romance of the Dark Ages and not like Tacitus. Suetonius, while mercilessly condemning the reign of Nero, says that in his public entertainments Nero took particular care that no lives should be sacrificed, "not even those of condemned criminals."
  10. (10) It is highly unlikely that he mingled with the crowd and feasted his eyes on the ghastly spectacle. Tacitus tells us in his life of Agricola that Nero had crimes committed, but kept his own eyes off them.
  11. (11) Some authorities allege that the passage in Tacitus could not have been interpolated because his style of writing could not have been copied. But this argument is without merit since there is no "inimitable" style for the clever forger, and the more unususal, distinctive, and peculiar a style is, like that of Tacitus, the easier it is to imitate. Moreover, as far as the historicity of Jesus is concerned we are, perhaps, interested only in one sentence of the passage and that has nothing distinctively Tacitan about it.
  12. (12) Tacitus is assumed to have written this about 117 A.D., about 80 years after the death of Jesus, when Christianity was already an organized religion with a settled tradition. The gospels, or at least 3 of them, are supposed to have been in existence. Hence Tacitus might have derived his information about Jesus, if not directly from the gospels, indirectly from them by means of oral tradition. This is the view of Dupuis, who wrote: "Tacitus says what the legend said." In 117 A.D. Tacitus could only know about Christ by what reached him from Christian or intermediate circles. He merely reproduced rumors.
  13. (13) In no other part of his writings did Tacitus make the least allusion to "Christ" or "Christians." Christus was a very common name, as was Jesus, in fact Jospehus lists about 20 in the time Jesus was supposedly said to have existed.
  14. (14) Tacitus is also made to say that the Christians took their denomination from Christ which could apply to any of the so-called Christs who were put to death in Judea, including Christ Jesus.
  15. (15) The worshippers of the Sun-god Serapis were also called "Christians." Serapis or Osiris had a large following at Rome especially among the common people.
  16. (18) The expression "Christians" which Tacitus applies to the followers of Jesus, was by no means common in the time of Nero. Not a single Greek or Roman writer of the first century mentions the name. The Christians who called themselves Jessaeans, Nazoraeans, the Elect, the Saints, the Faithful, etc. were universally regarded as Jews. They observed the Mosaic law and the people could not distinguish them from the other Jews. The Greek word Christus (the anointed) for Messiah, and the derivative word, Christian, first came into use under Trajan in the time of Tacitus. Even then, however, the word Christus could not mean Jesus of Nazareth. All the Jews without exception looked forward to a Christus or Messiah. It is, therefore, not clear how the fact of being a "Christian" could, in the time of Nero or of Tacitus, distinguish the followers of Jesus from other believers in a Christus or Messiah. Not one of the gospels applies the name Christians to the followers of Jesus. It is never used in the New Testament as a description of themselves by the believers in Jesus.
  17. (19) Most scholars admit that the works of Tacitus have not been preserved with any degree of fidelity.
  18. (20) This passage which could have served Christian writers better than any other writing of Tacitus, is not quoted by any of the Christian Fathers. It is not quoted by Tertullian, though he often quoted the works of Tacitus. Tertullian's arguments called for the use of this passage with so loud a voice that his omission of it, if it had really existed, amounted to a violent improbability.
  19. (21) Eusebius in the 4th century cited all the evidence of Christianity obtained from Jewish and pagan sources but makes no mention of Tacitus.
  20. (22) This passage is not quoted by Clement of Alexandria who at the beginning of the 3rd century set himself entirely to the work of adducing and bringing together all the admissions and recognitions which pagan authors had made of the existence of Christ Jesus or Christians before his time.
  21. (23) Origen in his controversy with Celsus would undoubtedly have used it had it existed.
  22. (24) There is no vestige or trace of this passage anywhere in the world before the 15th century. Its use as part of the evidences of the Christian religion is absolutely modern. Although no reference whatever is made to it by any writer or historian, monkish or otherwise, before the 15th century (1468 A.D.), after that time it is quoted or referred to in an endless list of works including by your supposed historian.
  23. (25) The fidelity of the passage rests entirely upon the fidelity of one individual (first published in a copy of the annals of Tacitus in the year 1468 by Johannes de Spire of Venice who took his imprint of it from a single manuscript) who would have every opportunity and inducement to insert such an interpolation.
  24. (26) In all the Roman records there was to be found no evidence that Christ was put to death by Pontius Pilate. If genuine, such a sentence would be the most important evidence in pagan literature. How could it have been overlooked for 1360 years?
  25. (27) And lastly, the style of the passage is not consistent with the usually mild and classic language of Tacitus

- Brian Sapient


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benjaminbryant
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more on my Lord Jesus

sapient said: The execution of a Nazareth carpenter would have been one of the most insignificant events conceivable among the movements of Roman history in those decades

but you also said that because of Jesus' miracles, that it would have been so extraordinary that it would have been written. The truth is that the gospels is a historical account of it along with the mentions of the secular ones.

Also, if Jesus doesn't exist, then why do you also have an article saying that jesus walked on ice, not water? if he didn't exist then there's no reason to say he didn't walk on water. Obviously the guy with that theory doesn't doubt Jesus' existence but only the supernatural Jesus.

You know, I can accept if you choose not to believe in the supernatural Jesus but it bothers me that you try to undermine Jesus the man. History has recorded Jesus.


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Re: more on my Lord Jesus

benjaminbryant wrote:

Also, if Jesus doesn't exist, then why do you also have an article saying that jesus walked on ice, not water? if he didn't exist then there's no reason to say he didn't walk on water. Obviously the guy with that theory doesn't doubt Jesus' existence but only the supernatural Jesus.

So you're argument is because someone on this message board posted something that makes you think that person believed Jesus existed, then it's impossible for me to doubt the existence of Jesus? Notice you noted that the guy with walking on ice story had a "theory." One that I could accept, were I to think Jesus ever existed.

Quote:
History has recorded Jesus.

Not until many years after he supposedly died. That troubles quite a few people, not just myself.

Notice the evidence you presented for Jesus is Tacitus, who likely got his evidence from the people who had already been peddling the Jesus myth story (not a good source!):

Sapient wrote:

(12) Tacitus is assumed to have written this about 117 A.D., about 80 years after the death of Jesus, when Christianity was already an organized religion with a settled tradition. The gospels, or at least 3 of them, are supposed to have been in existence. Hence Tacitus might have derived his information about Jesus, if not directly from the gospels, indirectly from them by means of oral tradition. This is the view of Dupuis, who wrote: "Tacitus says what the legend said." In 117 A.D. Tacitus could only know about Christ by what reached him from Christian or intermediate circles. He merely reproduced rumors.

- Brian Sapient


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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

This article is about examining scientific evidence. Have you got any, benjy?

Before you anwer, consider this:

Quote:
He [Collins] tells fellow evangelicals that opposition to evolution whether the biblical literalism of creationists or "intelligent design" arguments undermines the credibility of faith. He finds the first "fundamentally flawed" and warns that the second builds upon gaps in evidence that scientists are very likely to fill in the future, among other objections.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Re: Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

StopEvangelists wrote:
Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God
Richard N. Ostling, The Associated Press
San Bernardino County Sun
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - He opened the session by improvising on hymns at the piano and concluded it by accompanying a singalong on the guitar. In between, he delivered a compelling account of his unlikely conversion from atheism to evangelical Christianity.

The lanky, amiable platform personality wasn't some traveling revivalist but one of the world's leading biologists.

Francis S. Collins led the international Human Genome Project that mapped the 3.1 billion chemical-base pairs in humanity's DNA. He now directs the U.S. government program on applying that information to medical treatments.

He's also emerged as a surprise advocate for faith and for its compatibility with science.

The 56-year-old Collins addressed the clash of science and religion last weekend during a conference at Williams College sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation appropriately so, because the writings of the English literature scholar were instrumental in Collins' conversion.

He pursues the theme again next week at a Calvin College convention of the American Scientific Affiliation. The organization of scientists affirms "the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the Bible" on faith and morals. Collins is a member.

But his most complete argument for God appears in a new book, "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" (Free Press), which addresses two radically divergent audiences:

He asks scientific skeptics to investigate God with the same open-minded zeal they apply to the natural world, assuring them there's no incompatibility between belief and scientific rigor.

He tells fellow evangelicals that opposition to evolution whether the biblical literalism of creationists or "intelligent design" arguments undermines the credibility of faith. He finds the first "fundamentally flawed" and warns that the second builds upon gaps in evidence that scientists are very likely to fill in the future, among other objections.

The audience of 200 at Williams gave Collins' views a respectful reception, quite in contrast to a previous frosty reaction he got when he told a national meeting of Christian physicians the evidence for evolution is "overwhelming."

But scientists are probably the tougher audience. According to Nature, the science weekly, "many scientists disagree strongly" with Collins-style arguments and critics feel "more talk of religion is the last thing that science needs."

Surveys have indicated 40 percent of scientists are religious, Collins remarked in an interview before the conference, but "if 40 percent of my own scientific colleagues are believers in a personal God, they're keeping pretty quiet about it."

"For a scientist, it's uncomfortable to admit there are questions that your scientific method isn't going to be able to address," he said. Besides, scientists are busy and focused they often don't take the time to explore "these more profound eternal questions."

In his talk, Collins said he was raised by nonreligious parents and turned into "an obnoxious atheist." But as a medical student he wondered why patients who were suffering and dying retained faith in God.

He realized that as a scientist "you're not supposed to decide something is true until you've looked at the data. And yet I had become an atheist without ever looking at the evidence whether God exists or not."

He began looking, and early in the process read Lewis' concise classic "Mere Christianity."

"In the very first chapter," he said, "all my arguments about the irrationality of faith lay in ruins."

Yet he was besieged by doubts during two years of struggle and study. Finally, he went hiking in Oregon's Cascades Mountains and one morning, "I fell on my knees and asked Christ to be my Lord and Savior. And he has been there ever since, the past 28 years, as the rock on which I stand."

Unimpressed by denominational differences, Collins has worshipped in a variety of Protestant churches while living the itinerant life of an academic. He became a Methodist at the University of North Carolina, an American Baptist at Yale, a Southern Baptist at the University of Michigan and currently belongs to Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md.

Collins writes that "it is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit," in which the dominant voices have belonged to narrow, anti-God materialists and believers who spurn orthodox science.

He says both approaches are "profoundly dangerous. Both deny truth. Both will diminish the nobility of humankind. Both will be devastating to our future. And both are unnecessary."

I comepletely and totally AGREE!! I would love evidence that God exists or doesnt exist.

I am Republican. But I am not what you think that is.


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Re: Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

StopEvangelists wrote:

Francis S. Collins led the international Human Genome Project that mapped the 3.1 billion chemical-base pairs in humanity's DNA. He now directs the U.S. government program on applying that information to medical treatments.

But his most complete argument for God appears in a new book, "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief" (Free Press), which addresses two radically divergent audiences:

MORE ABOUT THE ARGUMENTS OF COLLINS:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/07/francis_collins_doofus_for_the.php#more

Francis Collins, doofus for the Lord

Category: Godlessness ? Science
Posted on: July 26, 2006 7:56 PM, by PZ Myers

I just watched the Francis Collins/Charlie Rose interview (it starts at about 35 minutes on that clip), and although I struggled manfully to appreciate the fellow's accomplishments and status in science, I failed. All I could see is that he was illogical, irrational, and downright goofy?all the symptoms of a severe affliction with a bad case of religion. That video ought to be a warning to scientists: even a prestigious scientist can suffer Christian mind-rot.

He started by telling us about his godless youth, when atheism meant he "wasn't responsible to anyone but me." Barely a few minutes into the interview, and he'd already said something stupid: no, that's not what atheism means. Atheists are responsible members of their community, and care just as much for others as the most devout believers. He might have been shallow and selfish, but that does not mean that all atheists are.

Then we got his conversion story. He was doing medical work in the South, and he experienced first-hand that "good North Carolina people were afflicted with terrible diseases that they'd done nothing to bring down upon themselves," and they were dying, and they were all religious, and these good people faced death with serenity and courage. Meanwhile, all the dying atheists were running around in circles, screaming for their mommies, crapping their pants and making embarrassments of themselves.

Oh, wait?that last bit? He didn't say it. He must have been thinking it, though, because otherwise why would the calm acceptance of dying Christians impress him at all? I suspect that dying atheists are just as dignified as dying Christians, myself?finding strength in the face of despair is something people do, not just members of specific cults, so Collins drew an invalid conclusion by associating that strength with their religion. Since they were all North Carolinians, he might just as legitimately have concluded that South Carolinians, Canadians, and Australians must all also lack that special spark that coming from that particular state confers.

From that flawed emotional argument, he then claims to have considered faith rationally, from the perspective of a scientist, and evaluated the evidence, and come to the conclusion that there is a god. What evidence, you might ask? He doesn't give any. He says he read Mere Christianity, that glib and extraordinarily shallow bit of hokum from C.S. Lewis. He does this several times in the interview, telling us that science and evidence led him to his faith, but when push comes to shove, he just dangles some pathetic bit of irrelevant nonsense in front of us and runs away from any evidence.

For instance, another of his rationales is that evolution doesn't explain where "moral law" comes from, which he claims is universal. He seems to think it requires some supernatural agent to infuse us with altruism, because otherwise there is no explanation for why we would be kind to strangers. I think, though, that that kindness to strangers is not universal at all, but more a function of a general prosperity that allows us to be generous, and a generalized empathy and social sense of reciprocity. For all of his defense of evolution, when he claims that complex behaviors with indirect or accidental properties cannot arise from it, he is perpetuating a simple-minded creationist caricature of how evolution works.

His arguments do not get any better as the interview goes on. They get worse.

He claims that "faith is the most rational of all choices," and gives a peculiar demonstration that I'll paraphrase. Imagine a table top represents the sum of all human knowledge. Now mark off the part that represents what you know?it would be a tiny circle. Now ask, where is the knowledge of the existence of god. Isn't it irrational to assume that it falls within your tiny circle, when there is so much you don't know?

This isn't just an argument from ignorance, it's an argument for ignorance. You can argue for anything with that excuse: Bigfoot, UFOs, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Jesus, green bug-eyed Martians, that PZ Myers has a completely different genome from what Francis Collins sequenced. What he is doing is playing a disingenuous game, pushing his god question off into the gaps in what we know, and at the same time implying that this all-powerful cosmic being that created and maintains the universe does not in any way impinge on our teeny-tiny circle of knowledge. If it's not dishonest, it's stupid.

Then, in his next breath, he completely undercuts his own argument. He claims that within our circle of knowledge is evidence of the existence of some supernatural being. So, he wants to argue away the atheists by saying they can't know, and the evidence is out there somewhere?just not in our circle. At the same time, though, he says that that knowledge is here in our circle, and that's why he believes. Again, though, he doesn't say what this evidence is. He's a scientist, trust him.

Rose gently hammered on him a little bit, showing a clip of a prior interview with Richard Dawkins in which he protests that faith is a false shortcut that teaches people, and especially children, to suspend their facilities for critical thinking and believe without evidence. Once again, Collins does his patented two-faced double back-flip. He agrees with Dawkins that we should teach people to seek the evidence, explains vaguely that his faith is supported by the evidence, and then turns around and argues that science is incomplete and only finds evidence of natural phenomena, but cannot detect the supernatural. In other words, evidence is great, and he has evidence, only he can't show it to us, and it's not scientific evidence?it's not the same kind of thing Dawkins was talking about at all.

I always wonder, what kind of evidence is not scientific? There's nothing magical about the word "scientific"?it just means testable, weighable, observable evidence that has some empirical and logical weight, you know. By saying his evidence isn't scientific, he's really admitting that he's got no evidence at all.

The subtitle for his new book is "A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief." Truth in advertising ought to compel him to admit that his definition of "evidence" is something peculiar and non-standard, and that since he is saying it is removed from scientific evaluation, his credentials as a scientist are utterly meaningless in this context.

I'm going to have to read that awful book sometime, and I'm not looking forward to it. It sounds like it's going to be equivalent to Ann Coulter's crap, with the hate stripped out but the same vacuous airheaded twaddle inside.

- Brian Sapient


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Yellow_Number_Five
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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Thanks for posting that, sapient, it confirms what I suspected: he has no evidence.

He wants us to consider the evidence, but won't tell us what it is, where we can find it - he's simply got the same crappy logical fallacy laden tripe theists have been shoveling for the last 400 years.

I almost feel sorry for him.

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:
Thanks for posting that, sapient, it confirms what I suspected: he has no evidence.

Agreed.

Quote:
He wants us to consider the evidence, but won't tell us what it is, where we can find it - he's simply got the same crappy logical fallacy laden tripe theists have been shoveling for the last 400 years.

I almost feel sorry for him.

I do feel sorry for him. How he bought some of the dumbest arguments theists have to offer is ridiculous. I actually watched the interview. I think I'll isolate sound clips from the interview and we can have him on the show in "spirit."

P.S. He looked great, healthwise. Eye-wink

- Brian Sapient


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Re: healings

benjaminbryant wrote:
I'm talking about people being healed when prayed for in the name of Jesus Christ.

You all had better study this before you dismiss it.


I have looked into this and fully endorse Sapient's assessment.

All sorts of diseases and injuries have been known to heal in remarkable ways at times, the complexities of the human immune system and other repair mechanisms can occasionally work exceptionally well in particular circumstances in particular individuals. I think you will find such instances happen whether they were prayed for or not.

'Coming back from the dead' instances also beg the question that they were really dead, not just in some level of deep unconsciousness or coma, with no appropriately qualified doctor available to check this.

Of course, if they were prayed for, which happens fairly often, naturally, then it is held up as proof of the 'power of prayer'.

The other cases, where they weren't prominently prayed for, simply don't register on the believers' consciousness.

Now if they can point to some clearly documented case where someone recovered from some serious physical injury, like massive head trauma, or grew back a whole limb, then you might have a case.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

A recent study at Harvard - by a theist LOOKING to show the power of prayer - fell flat:
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/04.06/05-prayer.html


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The Scientist That Cracked the Human Genome: There Is A God!

Interesting. Seems like another version of the "god of the gaps" and wishful thinking, but I still want to read the book he has coming out in September.

The Link o' Theism

Excerpts

Quote:

THE scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome is to publish a book explaining why he now believes in the existence of God and is convinced that miracles are real...

...His book, The Language of God, to be published in September, will reopen the age-old debate about the relationship between science and faith. ?One of the great tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war,? said Collins, 56.

?I don?t see that as necessary at all and I think it is deeply disappointing that the shrill voices that occupy the extremes of this spectrum have dominated the stage for the past 20 years.? ...

...?When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can?t survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can?t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God?s mind.?...

...Among Collins?s most controversial beliefs is that of ?theistic evolution?, which claims natural selection is the tool that God chose to create man. In his version of the theory, he argues that man will not evolve further....

I already see areas I'm going to disagree with the guy, but that won't stop me from reading the book and seeing what he's got to say.

-=Grim=-

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

Not this shit again.

We've discussed it pretty in depth. He has no actual evidence, I think he's lost his mind.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=755&start=0

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Biologist: Scientists should examine evidence for God

It's getting merged.

- Brian Sapient


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