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Interactions of Tom Lawson with Ross Olson
Based on Tom's Website "Reason Vs Faith"

For Version 1.0 of "Reason vs Faith" on which this discussion was based, click HERE. For the new, mutated and, of course, improved version, click HERE.

A Comprehensive Attempt To Critique The Idea That Reason And Faith Are Incompatible
  • Ross Olson 's First Response to Tom's Website 9/24/2000
  • Tom Lawson's Rebuttal 9/29/2000
  • Ross Olson's Response to Tom Lawson's Rebuttal 10/6/2000
  • Tom Lawson's Second Rebuttal 10/9/2000
  • Ross Olson's Final Response to Tom Lawson, 10/15/2000
  • Tom Lawson's Third Rebuttal 10/21/2000
  • Ross Olson's "One More Thing" to Tom Lawson
  • Tom Lawson was asked to respond to this and said that he has already answered everything and the reader can judge.

    So reader! [Hello... Hello? Is anybody out there?] Please go ahead and judge.

  • September 24, 2000

    Dear Tom,

    Our correspondence, conversations and eventually friendship goes back many years. I thank you for organizing your thoughts and placing them on a web site. I also thank you for entering into an open discussion. I think this will be helpful for creationists and Christians who need to see how an intelligent and articulate atheist /evolutionist thinks and interacts. I also hope that YOU will perhaps start to look "outside the box" in your intellectual exercises and really understand what the other side is saying.


    To begin with, I have to tease you about your choice of a background color. On my browsers it comes through as a pea soup green. Since you are an artist by trade and careful by nature, I will have to assume that you picked it on purpose. Is it a message that believers have to "eat their vegetables" and accept your contention that skepticism is good for them? Or is it a subliminal message about the "thickness" of your arguments?

    But on a more serious note, the choice of a title for your site betrays the nature of your conflict with all people of faith. I hope you will be willing to admit that most of those who oppose your ideas also use reason. It is only because of this that all the past discussions have been possible. The difference is the presuppositions of each side, which then determine which conclusions are reached using the rules of logic.

    I would hope that your perceived dichotomy does not arise simply from a misunderstanding of the word "faith." For some indeed define it as believing the irrational or the impossible. This is not the true definition of faith. Faith as it is used in the Bible involves being convinced of the existence of God and His revelation by the evidence, and then stepping out in obedience to Him, trusting Him even if we cannot see the way ahead for ourselves. It is a moving into the unknown, but based on the known.

    Faith is actually something we use everyday. If you ever ate food that you did not grow yourself and even food that has momentarily been out of your personal supervision, you did so in the faith that it was not poisoned. Your faith is bolstered by the track record of the food companies, that they do not (at least deliberately) poison people, and certainly not with quickly lethal agents. Likewise, if you have never been to Sydney, Australia, you take it on faith that the place really exists. Now, of course, you have multiple avenues of confirmation, but ultimately, you have to trust them. That is no different from the faith I have in the existence and nature of God. The evidence was so strong that I could not walk away from it. And as I have walked with God, the evidence has pile up even higher.

    Closer to the root of your most basic error in dealing with this issue is your assumption that it is never reasonable to postulate a supernatural cause for anything. You have declared that science must never give up the search for natural causes. I think you really believe that this ground rule is the only "reasonable" way to proceed But in actuality, what you have done is declare part of the playing field "out of bounds" before the game begins. And because you have done this by fiat, before looking to the evidence, if by some quirk of fate the supernatural actually exists, you would never be able to see it (or at least admit it.)


    Your treatment of free will betrays a lack of understanding of the dilemma determinism poses for the atheist. If our brains are simply pin ball machines operated by a combination of chance and natural law, facilitated by past experience (grooves made by previous pin balls) then you really could not help but produce your website. The content of that site would be pieces of your past memories (which it is), but the organization of them would not necessarily have anything to do with "truth." It would all be very concrete and mechanical.

    You claim to be happy with the idea of being an intelligent automaton, whose conscious choices are just illusions. But if that were true, your state of unbelief is predetermined, as is my state of belief, and nothing can change it. In that case, why even have a web site? (I suppose it does keep you off the streets.) For thoughtful determinism leads to fatalism and nihilism, But sensitive people usually rebel against the conclusion and question the arguments that lead down that path.

    In order to bolster your position, you counter that freedom would be chaos with completely unpredictable results. This is a poorly considered argument, for the advocate of freedom does not insist that it must be random to be free. (That would be like my son who once said he had to oppose me to prove it was his own idea.) Rather there are considerations, such as past training, knowledge of consequences, beliefs and circumstances which frame but do not determine a choice. A smoker may be powerfully motivated to smoke by the physical craving, but may still choose to quit. The deterministic view is commonly used as a cop out these days - "My genes made me do it."

    Similarly, your understanding of knowledge and control is foggy. You state that if God knows the future, then He controls it (and here I find it interesting that an atheist speaks of God - even if only to ridicule the concept). But the two are not linked except in the sense that God chose to create a world that turned out in a way He already knew it would. Within that universe, free beings make choices, which God (looking from the vantage point of eternity) sees before we (locked in time) think they occurred.


    In pointing out the existence of evil, you have touched on a problem that has troubled thinkers for millennia. But, your multiple choice solution is incomplete. In addition to the possibilities that this means God is 1) ignorant, or 2) weak or even 3) evil, there is at least one more. Perhaps we don't know what God is doing through allowing evil. This is what is implied in the Bible in the account of Job, who suffered for no reason apparent to him. We, the readers, get a glimpse of the dialogue that took place in heaven and then see how God deepened the character and ministry of this already righteous man. The Bible states that suffering and death are a result of human sin, but also shows that it does not fall only on those who deserve it. Yet through suffering, people's hearts are revealed, and either made better or made bitter. And because of sin and suffering, God was able to show the depth of His love by becoming a human being and even suffering and dying to bring us forgiveness and reconciliation with Him. God's view is an eternal one. Yours is very short term. See my poem written after the death of my son. http://rossolson.org/poetry/discipleship/if_i_made.html


    You state that to know something has been designed, we need to know the identity of the designer. Taking your "other planet" example a step further, what if you stepped off a Mars Lander and saw a perfect full size replica of Mt. Rushmore with the four carved presidents on the side of a Martian peak? Would you have any trouble confusing that with a natural formation? Aside from pinching yourself and checking the drinking water for hallucinogens, you need NOT wait to identify the sculptor before declaring it an intelligent creation. How would you know? Because it is something that does not happen by natural processes. Now, of course, with your hard-line position, you would probably invoke quantum fluctuations or chaos theory and wait patiently, to the end of your life, for confirmation.

    The very laws of nature have a regularity that is amazing, but the most incredible example of design is in living things. And it is of the type seen in computer programs and books. It does not occur by chance. Your web site or this letter did not just happen and could not just happen by any natural process. This is the fundamental evidence against your position and the piece of data you must deal with. You cannot substitute other peripheral issues for the core and you cannot appeal to your pre-emptive elimination of the supernatural from the playing field. See my paper on design. /articles/blow_whistle.html

    The "evolutionary" models of computer-generated evolution are flawed because they are pre-programmed to do certain limited tasks. First the computer and then the original program have to arise by chance for me to get interested.

    Micro-evolution is real and shows the genetic potential in living organisms. Dogs can be bred for all sorts of characteristics, but they remain dogs. They do not fly, play the violin or write books . There are genetic barriers that erect the walls on variation. Darwin did not understand genetics, but you ought to know better. To change beyond the barriers would require new information, such as the genes to make wings or fingers or a bigger brain. Natural selection does not create new information and mutations only degrade it. The so-called examples of positive mutations are exaggerated - Sickle Cell trait protects from malaria but Sickle Cell Anemia is a terrible disease. Even Sickle Cell trait sometimes causes significant problems. Antibiotic resistance is either selecting germs that already have the resistance, or their losing a structure that the antibiotic attacks. The latter makes the germ less viable overall, except when its competition is killed off by the drug, and the former tends to regress when the antibiotic is no longer in the environment.

    "Imperfect design" is either an example of deterioration of the original creation by the effects of sin - like loss of the ability to synthesize certain nutrients, or misunderstanding of the design. The inverted retina with nerve fibers in front of the light sensitive cells is an example of the latter. It is arranged so that the business ends of the cells are in contact with the highly vascular choroid layer to carry away the wastes and heat produced by the high metabolism of vision in warm-blooded creatures. And the nerve fibers do not interfere with sight despite the first impression that they must, for the wave lengths of light are such that the fibers are transparent. By the way, don't most people see very well? "See" http://www.trueorigin.org/retina.htm

    You do not mention "Junk DNA," but I will presumptuously bring it up because it is the argument du jour in the imperfect design category. The so called "worthless" areas on the chromosomes are equivalent to the vestigial organs of the past, once called clear remnants of an evolutionary past they now all have functions. It is actually arrogant to say "if I don't understand it, it must be useless," and no appliance repairman would last long with that attitude.

    You also feel that if miracles are possible, then science is not. Yet, this over-simplifies what actually happens in all but the simplest mechanical and chemical experiments. In biological, medical, psychological or sociological studies, there are always many unknown variables operating. Because of this, even after controlling for as much as is possible, a researcher must average out the results in a large number of subjects and look for small changes in one direction or the other that correlate with a change of the known variables.

    For example, in a large study on cancer survival, there might be a few miracles in the group, but you would not see a big change in the percentages. Yet in a study comparing two groups on the variable of prayer, you might see a difference. Could God cause a simple chemistry experiment to demonstrate a miracle? Well, I think He might turn water into wine or some such thing. Whether or not He would do it for you, I do not know, but since you would deny the existence of the miracle anyway, it sounds like a waste of time.


    In this section, you mix in a great deal of extraneous data, for example, claiming that the existence of animal morality proves that it is "natural." (Here you already assume the conclusion you are trying to prove.) You also write a lot about the intelligence of gorillas, which is also another side issue - interesting but not on the topic. A creationist could say that God created animals with behaviors and characteristics to teach us lessons, both negative and positive. In fact, the Bible does say this, such as Solomon suggesting that we can learn planning from the ant (See Proverbs 30) and Jesus teaching that the birds don't worry about things they cannot control.

    You state that enlightened self-interest, whether instinctive/unconscious as in animals, or rational as in humans, dictates that the individual will do best if the group also does well. Therefore we will practice altruistic behavior that might seem to be against our own self-interest, but really does help us in the long run.

    It sounds good in theory. The problem is that in the real world it has not worked. Materialistic worldviews, like Marxism, have produced classes that "are more equal" and assume power, then react brutally on any individual who stands is in the way of "the greater good for the greater number." Therefore, tens of millions have died because they did not agree with the system. And the systems inevitably proved them right by failing in every major test.

    And this failure is understandable when you look at it from an evolutionary point of view, for the only rewarded behaviors are survival and reproduction. Yes, it works best for all if we all fall in line and be kind to each other. But some individuals will always say, "Let all the others be sheep and get their fair share. I will be a wolf and get all I want." Thus the bullies, the victimizers and the tyrants enter any such system and are rewarded by evolution.

    But if the rules came from a Supernatural Lawgiver who is also a Righteous Judge, there is a motivator to refrain from unfair dominance, and there is also a future reward for those who suffer but grow from the experience. We have seen a decline in morality in this country that correlates with the loss of that sense of accountability to God, as well as the mirror image concept that each person can decide for himself what is right or wrong. This loss includes many characteristics that even atheists agree are necessary for a healthy society -- honesty, trustworthiness, respect, caring, self-sacrifice, etc. And it includes many that they may have shunned but ought to recognize in retrospect as crucial -- such as marriage and family.


    You seem to have the common academic view that because of human insecurity and the desire for life to go on, an afterlife was invented. Yet to turn it around, the desire for something beyond the physical is hard to explain if there is really nothing there. In fact, any philosophical rumination would be a useless sidetrack for an organism that is only a machine programmed for survival and reproduction.

    You attempt to disarm Pascal's wager by assuming that if God exists, He will excuse you for your skepticism and welcome you into His presence. Some things God will indeed excuse, but the Bible shows Him to be a God of justice as well as mercy. In Romans chapter 1 it is clearly stated that His most extreme anger is reserved for those who suppress the truth. What truth? The truth of His existence and power that have always been clear through the things He has made. (Whoops!)

    You also misunderstand C. S. Lewis statement, "Unless I believe in God, I can't believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God." You glibly say, "The atheist has no trouble using thought not to believe in God." But Lewis' point is that aside from the supernatural, the human mind is not a reliable instrument for arriving at truth. It is merely a machine built by chance, programmed by chance, with the only purpose of increasing the survival of its genes. Its output is a result of chance and previous experience, constrained by natural selection. It is not programmed for philosophical truth but for selfishness. Thus it would more likely lie than anything else, if it did not just come up with total nonsense.

    As to the connection of the brain with the mind, the Christian believes that we are souls inhabiting bodies. While in the body we suffer the limitations of the body, including those things that affect the brain. Yet the soul can ultimately be freed from the body. Just saying that Alzheimer's Disease damages the personality does not contradict that. And besides, the Biblical record telling us about the life to come, there are intriguing glimpses, such as the very common "Near Death Experiences" which raise the possibility of something beyond. In some of these cases, the person sees things that they could not have physically seen while apparently in a coma. For instance, reporting something they said they saw in another room while floating up out of their body. I do not believe the message that many bring back is the truth, but their experiences cannot be simply waved off. See my paper on "Embraced By The Light." http://rossolson.org/new_age/eadie.html


    You begin your section on abortion with the absurd notion that every sperm and every egg and all the mathematically possible children that could be conceived must be considered equivalent to a human Zygote/Embryo/Fetus/Infant. When an egg is fertilized, the half information from each parent is combined and the blueprint for a unique individual is set. The gametes cannot survive alone. And, by the way, although you are right that the DNA may not code for all features directly but rather indirectly, by way of following from the configuration that key structures have at certain key times in development. This only shows the coding to be far more sophisticated than we can imagine. It does not mean that it can go any direction because it cannot - babies turn out to be a mixture of their parents' characteristics for sure and the way it happens is still too complex for us to fathom.

    Anyway, I hope you realize that that the cutting edge in the abortion debate is not only at the early stage, taking cells from the first few divisions which, if separated, will develop into separate individuals. (Do you know any identical twins? There is no doubt that they are separate people.) The debate is also grotesquely focused on the moment of birth, as in the case of partial birth abortion where a viable baby is grasped by the feet, pulled out until only the head remains in the uterus, and they killed in manner that animal rights activists would not let happen to a dog. A scissors is thrust through the back of the neck and into the bottom of the skull, after which a powerful vacuum sucks out the brains and collapses the skull. The dead baby is removed. Does this not bother you? (And if that were not enough, the parts are often sold to researchers). See http://www.cbn.org/newsstand/stories/991129.asp
    [Note: the story has been removed]

    You claim that lack of legal abortions will lead to increased maternal deaths by illegal abortion. Actually, the deaths from legal abortion are greatly underestimated. It is partly that the abortion provider does not follow the patients and those with complication go elsewhere. Then too, the real cause of death is often hidden in the records. A Finish study, which located all the deaths within a year of an induced abortion, found an alarming increase in mortality, especially suicide, homicide, accidents and to a lesser extent "natural causes." (Gissler, et.al., "Pregnancy Associate Deaths in Finland 1987 - 1994 - definition problems and benefits of record linkage," Acta Obstet.et Gynecol. Scandinavica 76:651- 657, 1997). See http://www.afterabortion.org/PAR/V8/n2/finland.html and http://www.afterabortion.org/PAR/V8/n2/abortiondeaths.html

    This ought to be disturbing to the abortion advocates, and would certainly bring any other medical or surgical procedure under intense scrutiny. But from the abortion industry there is not even the slightest acknowledgment of a problem.

    The grief that follows abortion is another dirty little secret that is swept under the rug, just as you do by saying it is the fault of the pro-lifers imposing their morality on everybody else. The truth is that women even mourn a miscarriage! And in the case of the induced abortion they realize that they agreed to the killing of their own child, leading to additional remorse and despair. And it is not a decision that they made with full disclosure and informed consent. There is a systematic withholding of information and a "hurry up" attitude that even opposes a 24 hour waiting period and fights the showing of ultrasounds of the baby to a mother prior to the decision, "because it may interfere with her ability to choose abortion!" (Wow! When she sees what she is doing, she may change her mind, and we sure don't want that, do we!) See my paper on the post-abortion syndrome. http://rossolson.org/abortion/not_good.html

    In your attempt to show that human embryos are sub-human, you copy Ernst Haeckel's drawings of comparative embryology which were shown to be fraudulent over 100 years ago. (And I thought science was self-correcting.) (11/2002 insertion, see http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/380.asp and http://zygote.swarthmore.edu/evo5.html ) Then you claim that the increasing nerve connections equal increased humanity. I hope you realize that after age 1 - 2 we lose connections. Unused synapses atrophy. Does that mean you are less human than a two year old? And since you put in the picture of a 6 week embryo's face and imply that since it looks "ugly" it is not human, don't forget that you once looked like that. Also, would you want to go to the mother of a child horribly disfigured by burns and say, "Since your child has a face only you can love, we declare him sub-human and expendable?"

    And, by the way, my paper on post-abortion syndrome also deals with the fact that it does not significantly decrease the numbers of babies to the single mothers because there are often "replacement babies," conceived in an effort to undo the abortion. Child abuse does not go down but up. And respect for life has not increased. In fact, we now have the push for physician-assisted suicide, which is promoted as a right, with the scare tactic of portraying the only other course as intolerable pain. The truth is that the ill are subtly being pressured to get out of the way to save money and resources and the most sensitive and caring may just quietly do it, even when there might potentially be many years of productive life ahead.


    Much has been written on the Flood. In very simple form, the rock layers of the earth with their multitudes of fossils are much more easily explained by a global flood than by slow deposition on lands that sink, then rise, then sink, then rise, etc. In the Grand Canyon, there is a 200 million year gap in the layers with the Mississippian and Cambrian inter-bedded, indicating that they were laid down continuously, not 200 million years apart. (Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 23, March 1987, pp 160 - 167). See abstracts at

    Also there is also pollen preserved in the Pre-Cambrian levels of the Canyon, a layer that is supposed to predate all pollen-bearing plants by eons. (Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 23, December 1986, pp 99 - 104; Vol. 23, March 1987, pp. 151 - 153; Vol. 24, March 1988, pp. 173 - 182 ). See abstracts at http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/abstracts/sum23_3.html and
    http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/abstracts/sum23_4.html and http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/abstracts/sum24_4.html

    As far as the number of animals on the Ark, the number is much lower, for many "species" are actually varieties of a basic kind. John Woodmorappe, in his comprehensive book, "Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study" (check "Suggested Reading" on the TCCSA Web Site http://www.tccsa.tc) has calculated that there were probably only 2000 basic kinds of air breathing land animals needed, but even if it were 16,000, there was plenty of room for the creatures and all their supplies. And don't come back with an objection based on huge dinosaur sizes - young ones would have been taken.

    Your dating "coup" is not as conclusive as you think. It is far beyond the scope of a short paper to discuss that in detail, but it is naive to think that the issue is settled by finding a table that dates ancient civilizations as existing during the time when everything should have been under water according to the chronology of the flood. There are a great number of assumptions involved in any sort of dating including the tendency of competing civilizations to exaggerate their history.

    One very intriguing archeological study involved the alignment of ancient Egyptian Temples, which were designed so that on the Summer Solstice, the rising sun would shine through a tunnel 1/3 of a mile long and shine on the Pharaoh as he emerged, supposedly proving that he was the sun god. The ruins of the Temple at Karnak indicates that it had to be reconstructed when this no longer worked due to alteration of the tilt of the earth's axis.

    Analysis of these structures and their dates by the late South Australian Government Astronomer, George Dodwell, indicates a catastrophic event at about 2345 BC causing a major change in the tilt of the Earth's axis from which there was at first a rapid then a slow recovery, following a geometric curve. This fits the data better than the standard formula of Simon Newcomb which assumes a straight line change in the tilt of the earth. That assumption pushes the Egyptian Temple reconstruction back to 4000 BC while Dodwell's data put it at about 2045 BC. (First reported by Barry Setterfield, see William Overn, "The Tilt of the Earth's Axis" in Proceedings of the 1992 Twin Cities Creation Conference, pp. 83 - 87) Contact Bill Overn for reprints Bill{at}phoneguy.net or via TCCSA website


    Your centerpiece of this section is the fact that Bats are classified in the Bible together with birds. But the Hebrew words did not necessarily distinguish as we do on the basis of a physiological classification, but rather that they were flying creatures. And saying that the rabbits "chew the cud" was actually probably referring to the fact that they eat their first-pass fecal pellets.

    The age of the earth has not been conclusively determined to be ancient. Even the prized radiometric dating techniques are rejected as contaminated when they come up with a "wrong" age, such as the millions or even hundreds of millions of years for rocks from known eruptions of Mt. St. Helens and the Hawaiian Islands. And even "little things" speak of a young age, such as the saltiness of the ocean (it would have been saturated with salt if the ocean were hundreds of millions of years old) and the pressure in oil wells (it would have dissipated in thousands of years.)

    It is true that the education of American children lags behind other countries. This is because of educational fads and ideological battles in the classroom. The gifted are held back and the unwilling are dragged along because we want equality of result not just equality of opportunity. Also, the sexual liberationists, thinking that sexual freedom is the solution for all human problems, sexualize children and distract them from the tasks of childhood. Finally, lack of exposure to the evidence against evolution means that indoctrination is used instead of training in critical thinking. Why did academia go ballistic when Kansas just wanted both sides taught? Because evolution cannot win in a fair fight! Rather, students are taught to accept paradoxes, like complexity arising from chaos, and that sort of thing does not work in the real world of technology and engineering.

    You mention that the Greeks, not Jewish or Christian theists, were the first to explore the mysteries of the Universe. They were indeed. They made astronomical and physical observations and mathematical deductions. But experimental science did not take off. This is apparently because of the nature of Greek thought. Plato spoke of the "ideal" as primary and "real," with the physical or material as only a reflection of it. The Greeks tended towards arm chair theorizing, feeling that reason, being from that realm of ideals, must necessarily give the right answers.

    Many of Aristotle's misconceptions were accepted without even being checked out, some persisted for centuries. For example, he taught that women had fewer teeth than men and that their blood was black, not red as was men's. He taught that the direction of the wind at conception determined the gender of the baby. Further, he taught that the heart was the seat of intelligence and was a source of heat that needed to be cooled by air and "cool humors of the brain." The "heart-strings", the cords that hold the valves in place, he taught were connected to the tendons of the whole body and the source of all its movement. Plato believed in four elements: earth, air, fire and water. He also accepted reincarnation and said that experimentalists (those who did experiments) came back as birds. He called them "dim-witted but harmless."

    Regardless, Greek civilization self destructed, although parts of its thought continued. It was not until the Christian era that the experimental method was developed and new truths could be detected that "common sense" denied. For example, can garbage spontaneously generate maggots or microbes? "Everyone" knew it to be true. But with a carefully designed experiment, Pasteur proved that it took flies laying eggs or air-borne bacteria to do the trick.

    This experimental approach grew out of a Biblical view of the Universe -- that we as humble creatures cannot expect to know instantly and intuitively what the Creator has made. Yet, because we are made as reflections of that Creator ("in His image,") we can begin to think the thoughts of God after Him. The creation is rational and not capricious, because of the nature of God Who is not fickle.

    In contrast, the animist believes that all events are under the control of spirits and cannot be predicted, only influenced. Why study that? The Eastern Mystic believes that all which his senses seem to tell him is only an illusion, and that recognizing this in the process of enlightenment will free him from the cycle of desire and suffering. Why try to experiment with phantoms?


    Can a thinking, self-conscious machine be made? I really doubt it, but if it were made, it would only prove that it had to be done by another self-conscious thinking being. There is no doubt that thought is accompanied by electrical-chemical activity in the brain, but the ability to choose (which, of course, you deny - and, by the way, that's a choice right there!) cannot be explained by those processes alone.

    I agree that some "miracles" are poorly authenticated and that a person's state of mind can strongly affect the course of a disease, but showing that does not rule out the reality of all claims of miracles. I also do not know why the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge has not been collected. But I also know that for you personally, I do not necessarily want to convince you of a miracle. Rather I want to get you to recognize that the design in life can NEVER be accounted for by natural means and IS reason enough for you to go back and reject your ground rule against the supernatural.

    As far as unreasonable faith is concerned, you have shown the very same unbending blindness that you decry in the false believers in paranormal powers. You just believe that the natural will explain all, to the point that even if you saw a miracle right in front of your face, you would not accept it.

    (I have hopped and skipped quickly through several of your sections. You will undoubtedly complain that I could not answer your arguments, but I want to stick to the core issues and most important responses. If I am right that design requires a designer, then your quibbles on many of those other issues are irrelevant.)


    You assume that the times in which Jesus lived were such that he may have been raised to think he was the Son of God. But the Jews rebelled at the idea that God had a Son and that was the basis for some of the persecution he encountered. In your "false prophecies" of Christ's return admit that the instance before the transfiguration could have been referring to that event when the disciples saw him "in his glory." But the time after that (see Matthew 16) the context shows that he was recounting the signs of the end for his disciples and then said that the generation that saw these things would not pass away before the end. Indeed the signs were not definitive and even Paul thought that the Lord was returning in his own lifetime. God wants us to live in expectancy, motivated to do good now rather than later and ready at any time for Christ's return..

    As to the "discrepancies" of the account of the resurrection (and other events), this is typical of multiple people seeing, remembering and recording a complex event. The stories will always differ and that helps give a ring of truth to these accounts. Certainly this was not the work of a gang of shrewd conspirators who set out to fabricate an account. And the accounts can indeed be harmonized.

    I recall a true story of an accident with two seemingly incompatible accounts. One said, "A man was walking, struck by a car and died later." The other said, "A man was riding in a car, struck by a truck and died instantly." The full account was that after being struck by a car, the driver of the vehicle put the victim in the back seat to drive to the hospital but on the way was struck by a truck and the man was killed instantly.

    Just as you never give up on natural explanations, I never give up on harmonizing the Scripture. And, too, at one time the story of Joshua and Jericho was thought to be made up (because the Exodus was misdated.) When the correct strata were examined, the evidence was just as Joshua indicated, the walls fell so the Israelites could walk in, it was harvest time, the city was not looted and there was evidence of the human sacrifice and ritual prostitution for which God had called for the destruction of that people.

    The claim that Jesus was homosexual is a common distortion of the present era. You realize that to make this accusation on the basis of the Scripture, you are at least to some degree accepting the validity of the records themselves. And doing so brings with it a lot of other events and sayings you will have to alter or remove to keep your viewpoint. The sense of "lying on Jesus breast" referring to "sitting on the right hand" could very well have come about like the following. As they reclined to eat, each lying down, leaning on the left elbow, diagonally facing the table, eating with the right hand, the one on the right would be indeed in front of the breast of the one on his left.

    But I think this accusation also reveals something else, a deeper insight into the nature of "gay" psychology. For there is a loss of the concept of affection and care unless it is linked with sexuality. This was not a difficult concept to past generations but seems to be unfathomable to many now.

    The cases of mistaken death you cite (and there are modern cases of people awakening as their organs were being harvested for transplant) are interesting but do not automatically disprove either the claim of raising Lazarus or the resurrection of Jesus himself. Likewise the cases (which you did not cite) of deceased cult leaders whose followers declare them alive -- either by calculated deception or enthusiastic misapprehension - do not prove that Jesus did not rise.

    And by the way, the disciples, who had nothing to gain by making up a story, died as martyrs because of it. Yet, despite persecution, the followers of Jesus increased rapidly in number. There were religious leaders who were highly motivated to discredit the whole movement and would have done so most definitely if they could, by, for example, displaying the body.

    With your method for always looking to find a natural explanation, what if you had been present at the Crucifixion? What if you had personally confirmed that Jesus was dead, seen Him put in the tomb and watched the stone being placed? What if you had then seen the angels roll away the stone, discovered the tomb to be empty and later seen the resurrected Jesus walk through doors and walls, yet eat and drink, finally to rise up into the clouds? Would you have said, "Well, I am sure there must be a natural explanation for all this and I refuse to give up?" I am afraid that you would.

    It is sad that one with so much knowledge and such a gentle nature refuses to see and fails to understand why. God really does love you and wants to welcome you into His Kingdom. He forgives all the years of quiet but stubborn rebellion. He can take it all away because of what Jesus has done on the cross. He breaks the power of the master deceiver who has put the fog before your eyes, by personally paying sin's penalty. He demonstrates the validity of the agreement with powerful evidence that He alone has power over death. It all is waiting for your decision. Your heroes, Sagan and Asimov, now know the truth and if they could send you a message, they would do so with tears.




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