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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).
This is the second of a five-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.

  • "Oh, really? Which "historians" are these [who dismiss the fact that Hebrew mythology is derivative of the prevailing contemporary beliefs of the time]? Can you refer me to any of their books? If you are correct, this would certainly be a revolution in historical scholarship."
  • RE: No evidence whatsoever to support any notion that the Hebrew beliefs are *not* pure mythology.
    Why not answer it with specific facts that would demonstrate that it is incorrect? After all, showing just one such fact would prove me to be wrong. Are you up to it?"
Since you choose to advance the logical fallacy of demanding proof of non-existence rather than presenting any evidence of your own, I can safely conclude that you have no such evidence to present. As a parallel example, if you choose to advance the positive existential claim that a boogeyman is hiding under your bed, the burden of proof is on you to support that claim. You can't support it merely by saying that a skeptic can't prove that the boogeyman *isn't* there. Therefore, if you choose to claim that the Hebrews believed in something real, the burden of proof is on you to produce the relevant facts in support of that claim. Until then, the skeptical position is the stronger of the two.
(R) First, your comparison of Hebraic monotheism and boogeymen is about as ignorant and foolish as one can get.
(MB) That wasn't what I said (as can be seen above). What I said was that positive existential claims about the reality of the Hebrews' version of monotheism and the reality of a boogeyman under one's bed are comparable and require shouldering the same burden of proof before they can be logically acceptable.

(R) However, *any* claim is a positive claim. A positive claim is simply a claim that affirms something.
(MB) You have forgotten the word "existential" and that is a critical omission. A positive existential claim is a claim that affirms the existence of something. As such, it is not the same thing as a claim that simply affirms something. For example, to say "Blue is my favorite color" is to affirm something, but it is not an existential claim.

(R) To say that a boogey man does not exist, you are affirming something, therefore, you are making a positive claim.
(MB) I can see that you need to read up on basic logic, as well. Your example is not an example of a positive claim or of an affirmation. It is an example of a negative existential claim and is a denial of an proposition. If this was a subject of formal debate, your example proposition would be stated as follows: "RESOLVED: A boogeyman exists under my bed." The side advancing the proposition (the affirmant) has the responsibility to provide evidence and argument in support of the proposition. The opposing side rebuts the arguments presented in support of the proposition. The affirmant bears the burden of proof. If he fails to do so, the point must be conceded.

(R) In order to prove that Hebraic monotheism is mythology, you'd have to somehow prove that their God does not exist, and therefore, is a myth.
(MB) Nope. The positive existential claim is "The God of Hebraic monotheism exists". This proposition bears the burden of proof and the denial does not. You, as the affirmant, must provide evidence in support of the proposition. Upon such presentation, it will then be my responsibility to rebut the provided evidence. If no evidence is presented, no rebuttal is necessary and the point must be conceded. Are you up to it?

(R) Remember, to call it "mythology" is a positive claim, so you must be able to support it.
(MB) Nope. The label "mythology" applies to a story (usually with supernatural overtones) for which there is a claim of truth but for which there is no supporting evidence. As such, to call such a story "mythology" is to deny a positive existential claim that has not successfully borne the burden of proof. Once again, the onus is on the affirmant -- and that's you. If you are certain that the story is true, then there must be adundant and compelling evidence to support it and you should have no trouble presenting at least some of it.

Why else try to support it by emphasizing that Hebrew beliefs are 4000 years old?
(R) You are the one who brought up the 4,000 years-old attribute. I never used this age as an argument.
(MB) Yes, you did. Your statement can be found in Reply #27a. Do you now wish to retract this statement?

  • "Science reaches conclusions by examining the available evidence. Religion starts with the conclusions it desires and cares little for whether or not there is any evidence to support them. These are not "blanket stigmas". They are, respectively, short definitons of the scientific method and blind faith. Please support (in detail) your assertions that neither science nor religion works in these ways."
  • "You claimed: "There are instances of this stigmata in only isolated cases" and I asked you to detail some of those cases. No details have yet been provided."
So, where are the details? If you're so sure that evolution is wrong, there must be *some* details around to support that notion.
(R) There are plenty of details. I just disagree with you and other Darwinists that are so blind and arrogant that they reject the obvious problems presented by credible scientists such as Denton, and Behe.
(MB) I've already provided the links through which you can find critical examination of the flaws in Denton's and Behe's books. These are not a simple rejection of the arguments in those books -- as you do when you just dismiss things as being "psycho-babble" without any details of your objections or when you call people "blind and arrogant" without detailing what's actually wrong with their refutations.
    It should also be noted that you have, once again, claimed that there are "plenty of details" which show evolution to be wrong without presenting even one of them for examination. Need I even mention that you're still basing this claim upon an inaccurate understanding of what the word "evolution" means?

(R) Also, those reviews of their books didn't even discuss many of the more substantive issues that they raised against evolution.
(MB) Do you have a few examples of these "substantive issues"?

(R) Did you even read those books or do you just read the reviews?
(MB) I've read Denton's book, but not Behe's. However, I'm very familiar with Behe's "irreducible complexity" argument.

  • "What sort of evidence would satisfy your standards? Why is it that you don't apply the same rigorous standards to your own beliefs?"
The worth of a theory is not determined by who advances it, but by the quality of the scholarship that goes into producing it. Creationists are ostracized since they have never provided so much as one single argument against evolution or in favor of the religious alternative that has ever withstood scrutiny despite several decades of intensive efforts, yet they continue to hang onto all of their arguments as if they were bedrock facts.
(R) In that case, I disagree with your opinion that their research is not sound.
(MB) Why? What have Creationists ever produced in favor of their own religious alternative to evolution that has withstood scrutiny?
    Of course, you won't have anything upon which to refute the arguments against the Creationists' alternative ideas and will simply fall back upon calling such arguments "psycho-babble", right?

(R) I reject much of the evolutionary theoretical psycho-babble you present as disproof for their contentions.
(MB) Gee, imagine that. Of course, you can't provide any details about any of these arguments and why you simply reject them? So, you'll just simply blow them all off and demand more, right?

(R) If you have some other type of disproof, I'll consider it.
(MB) I guess I'm right again, eh? Why don't you present some specific Creationist evidence in favor of their religious alternative to religion? Until you do so, you haven't even begun to satisfy the burden of proof and there's nothing to be refuted.

Congratulations on getting away. I'm curious, however, as to how the JWs can be labeled as "pseudo-Christian". Could you explain?
(R) Thanks. The JW's are pseudo-Christian because they have a different Jesus and a different gospel from the ones presented in the Bible.
(MB) This is interesting. How are their Jesus and their gospel different? Why are the JWs ideas wrong and yours right?

The concept of Adam and Eve has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution in either its secular or theistic versions. In addition, since Jesus never mentions Adam or Eve by name at any point in any of the Gospels, how can you find any contradiction?
(R) Oh really? Adam and Eve have *everything* to do with evolution in theistic terms.
(MB) How does that work? What do you claim that "evolution" means in theistic terms and why is it different from "evolution" in scientific terms?

(R) If Adam and Eve were not "created from the dust," then the "*God* who created man from dust" cannot exist.
(MB) I agree completely. This is another proposition for which you bear the burden of proof. To successfully do so, you will need to show three things: (1) Dust contains all essential elements necessary to create a human being. (2) A force or process exists which can create human beings from dust. (3) Given (1) and (2), it was the Christian God who created human beings from the dust.

(R) Jesus referred to this God all the time throughout all the gospels. If that God did not exist, then Jesus was a false teacher.
(MB) Quite true. Therefore, God's existence will need to be proven in addition to the three things listed above in order to make a further claim that Jesus' teachings about God can be trusted. This may also beg two further questions about whether or not Jesus actually existed and whether or not the accounts in the New Testament are accurate.
    You are fond of putting evolution down for supposedly being based upon little more than assumptions. Yet, the preceding paragraphs show that there are at least seven assumptions that must be accepted in order to affirm a single proposition of your religious beliefs concerning the creation of Man. For your arguments to be consistent, you must reject the religious belief as thoroughly as you reject evolution.

(R) So theistic evolution flies in the face of the teachings of Jesus. So a theistic evolutionist who is also a "Christian," is a contradiction in terms.
(MB) This statement depends on a flawed definition of theistic evolution and on the aforementioned series of unsupported assumptions.

So, what caused your conversion to Christianity? Certainly, there's no empirical evidence to support its doctrines.
(R) Actually it was empirical facts. Facts that stem from archeology, Hebrew history, manuscript evidences for the Bible, evidence of predictive prophecy, the science of statistical probability, legal evidences, among many more.
(MB) You said almost exactly the same thing once before and didn't provide any examples when asked for them. Perhaps you'll do better this time. Please provide at least one example of an empirical fact from each of the categories you listed (including ones falling under "among many more") along with the details of how they support Christian doctrine.

  • "I think you need to define and support "true Christian" and explain why the Pope may not qualify."
I think you've missed a show-stopper of a point here. Let's assume that evolution is conclusively disproved and that the Christian God is accepted as the reason why everything is the way it is.
(R) There's the false premise right there. Everything the way it is now is not the result of God's moral or valitional action.
(MB) Please give examples of things that came to be the way they are without being the results of God's actions. While attempting to do so, please remember that nothing can be any other way than how God wants it to be if God exists and is all-powerful and all-knowing.

(R) The premise of my point was that God's creative "method" was not evolution.
(MB) Noted. Then, what was it? And, why does all the available evidence point to a "creative method" that most certainly *looks* like evolution? In fact, if a perfect God created everything, why would anything even similar to evolution exist at all?

What will have changed on Earth? Won't living things still die? Won't they still use each other for food? Won't the strong still survive longer while the weak die sooner? Won't snakes still kill their prey by such cruel methods as constriction and poisoning? Won't lions still kill their prey by burying their teeth into their victim's neck and hanging on until it slowly asphyxiates or bleeds to death? Won't humans still suffer from all make and manner of diseases and depredations caused by precisely-adapted microbes and other small creatures?
(R) In the Christian world-view, all of these things are not the product of God's creative method, but rather, the result of the curse that God pronounced on Adam's home as a result of his disobedience. God's creative method was not natural.
(MB) The answers to my questions do not depend on any given method you might care to advance. If God is responsible for life on planet Earth, then everything about those living beings is God's doing.
    According to Genesis, the only living creatures that were cursed by God were humans and the serpent. So, how does your attempted argument apply to any other living things? If the terrible things I listed above are a result of God pronouncing a curse, then they are God's will. It cannot be denied that all of those terrible things certainly exist no matter how they came to be. If evolution doesn't exist and if all these things come from God's will, then it is God himself who is (using your previous description of evolution) "bloody, cruel, nasty and downright evil". It is God's will that creatures be "terminated cruelly and then replaced". It is God's will that life is "ruled by death, extinction, and obsolescence". Therefore, to paraphrase your previous conclusion, "if one wants to believe in God; fine, just don't blame evolution for it".

The only "facts" upon which Christianity is built are the stories written in the Bible. There is no physical or extra-Biblical evidence to support any part of Christian dogma. Please give examples of what you think *does* support the existence and divinity of Jesus. Quoting the Bible is not sufficient as that would be using circular reasoning.
(R) Extra-biblical sources that support Christianity do exist. For example, the writings of historians such as Josephus, Irenaeous of Lyons, and Erasimus all provide information which confirms the reliability of the historical accounts upon which Christian doctrine has been formed.
(MB) This is a common claim of apologists, but none have ever been able to produce the actual support that they claim from these authors. Can you do better? Please give detailed examples of how each of those authors confirms the historical accounts which support Christian doctrine.

(R) In order for you to tell me I can't quote from the Bible to support an event it claimed occurred, you'd have to show how and why the Bible fails as a reliable source of the events it contains. In one sentence: the support for Jesus' divinity lies in the immutable fact of his resurrection.
(MB) You've just given a shining example of how the Biblical accounts can't be trusted. In fact, there is a standing prize of $1,000 for anybody who can harmonize all four Gospel accounts of the resurrection into a consistent and coherent chronology and accounting of the events associated with the purported resurrection of Jesus. Can you accomplish this? If not, it will be a clear demonstration of where the Bible fails as a reliable source of information for even something so important as a major point of Christianity. Then, we could go from there to the well-known problems with the genealogy of Jesus as given in the contradictory and erroneous accounts of Matthew and Luke. These fail so utterly that Jesus cannot even be said to qualify as the Messiah under Jewish tradition.
    Finally, what's so special about the resurrection? Jesus was not the only person to have been recorded as rising from the dead -- even if we accept the ludicrous idea that a divine Jesus could have "died" at all.

  • "At this point, I provided the first of several examples documenting Creationist misquoting and other intellectual chicanery. Since none of these examples have been challenged, it is safe to assume that any further anti-evolution "quotations" will be equally suspect."
How? All you've done is copy selected excerpts from a Creationist web site. How do you check the validity of those excerpts?
(R) Thats not all I have done. I have researched this issue for a while now,...
(MB) Oh? Approximately how long is a "while"?

(R) ...and have made many trips to libraries, bookstores, and museums to formulate my beliefs. I could care less if you believe this or not. I don't feel compelled to constantly convince you of my personal investment into these issues.
(MB) It's not a matter of what you claim or what I believe. The only evidence that can be used to make a judgment is what you say here. The only things you should feel compelled to do is to present any details that are requested in support of your arguments and to answer the questions that have been asked of you. So far, this has been so poorly addressed that the only judgment that one could likely arrive at concerning your position would be an unfavorable one.

If so, then why do you set limits as to how far that this variation can go or on what it could eventually produce? And, this still wouldn't explain why there are so many extinct species that are only known from the fossil record and why there are so many current species for which there are either no fossils at all or for which the only fossil examples are very young. If evolution didn't cause this, then you are going to have to support the notion of there having been multiple creation events.
(R) (See earlier response about genetical variation)
(MB) I did. All it says is "variation has limits". It doesn't say *why* or what those limits are. It also doesn't address the other shortcomings I pointed out above. Can you rectify this?

  • "To dispute this [the chain of natural events that leads to living organisms], you will have to attack each link in the chain and show precisely why it could not occur. How will you succeed in doing this when the arguments you will copy off that Creationist web site have already failed?"
Let me suggest a couple of places where you could start. First, please define "life" and how "living matter" differs from "dead matter". I would also be interested in your explanation of the difference between "dead matter" and "abiotic matter" as well as the difference between "abiotic" matter and "biotic" matter.
(R) Life: The quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and *inanimate matter,* manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli.
(MB) That's not sufficient as it fails to state just what that "quality" is. You've listed some effects, but they are neither sufficient nor exclusive to living organisms. For example, crystals certainly grow but are most certainly not "alive". Fire behaves in ways that are very similar to metabolism and reproduction, but it is not "alive", either. Finally, almost anything (whether "living", "dead", or "inanimate") will respond to external stimuli of various kinds.

(R) Living matter: Matter that possesses the quality of life. Dead matter: Matter that does not possess the quality of life.
(MB) These are derivative from your inadequate definition of "life". Until that problem is cleared up, the difference between "living" and "dead" matter will remain unclear. Furthermore, by these definitions, wouldn't "inanimate" matter be the same as "dead" matter?

(R) (I think the difference between abiotic and biotic matter is self-evident by the terms.)
(MB) The exact opposite is actually the case. The only way they could be self-evident is if "abiotic" and "biotic" are circularly defined in terms of each other. Clearly, that would be insufficient.

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