Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Titanic Argument?

On Ray Comfort's blog (click here), which I visit periodically (because he draws the worst of the antitheists on the internet, and I like to see the arguments they are using), one of the lovely little atheists attacked a Christian's claim that the Bible is extremely historically accurate, proving Christianity to be rooted in history. He said:
So Titanic [film] was 100% true? After all, it did have Molly Brown and Captain Edward J. Smith in it and we know they existed, so by your logic so did Jack and Rose.

Give us a break Ray! So there is something historically accurate in the bible, I knew that, everyone did. But like Molly Brown and Captain Edward J Smith in Titanic, Herod and Pontius Pilate were fictional minor characters.
He apparently thinks this is persuasive, but if we use this "reasoning" against one historical document, we need to use it against all of them. Therefore, no ancient document that we haven't completely verified archaeologically (ie. almost all of them) can be considered accurate. No historical figures can be thought to have actually existed. For example, Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (racist??) mentions the Galapagos Island. But we can't be for sure that anything in the book actually happened. So just because Galapagos is there doesn't mean Darwin did anything there.

Hopefully, you can see the silliness of that argument. As William Lane Craig says, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." We happen to have good evidence that the fictional events in the Titanic film didn't actually happen. We have the testimony of the writers of the movie saying they weren't based on real events. We have common sense that Hollywood creates stories that are fiction for entertainment. Likewise, we may not have exhaustive archaeological evidence of every single event in the Bible, but we have no evidence to the contrary. In fact, every single archaeological discovery associated with the Bible verifies the Biblical account. Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist has written: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.”

So, another antitheist argument shows to be silly and based on a 1st grade mentality. I hope everyone can see where reason and logic lead...to faith.

7 comments:

bethyada said...

Herod and Pontius Pilate were fictional minor characters.

What is he saying? It sounds like he thinks Herod and Pilate were fictional. Presumably he means that they are minor historical characters in a fictional story?

bossmanham said...

I think he is. I've run into one atheist who denies the existence of Christ. They are really pretty silly people.

These online atheists apply a standard to the Bible that they apply to no other historical narrative. It's insane and totally irrational and they're almost impossible to dialog with.

ExPatMatt said...

bossmanham, (it's been a while!)

"Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (racist??) ".

Now, why would you add the '[racist??]' after citing the name of Darwin's book?

I'd be very interested in hearing your rationale behind this addition, particularly in the light of your following comment;

"These online atheists apply a standard to the Bible that they apply to no other historical narrative. It's insane and totally irrational and they're almost impossible to dialog with".

Now, it sounds here like you feel that books (any historical narrative, for that matter) should be given some kind of fair treatment that both sane and rational. Do you feel like you are applying a sane and rational standard by implying that Darwin's book is a racist one, purely from the title?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Regards,

bossmanham said...

Now, why would you add the '[racist??]' after citing the name of Darwin's book?

"Favored races." Isn't that the definition of racism?

Do you feel like you are applying a sane and rational standard by implying that Darwin's book is a racist one, purely from the title?

I was making a commentary on the title. Isn't the title of a book supposed to tell you something about the contents of the book?

ExPatMatt said...

Boss,

""Favored races." Isn't that the definition of racism?".

I guess it depends on what you mean by 'races' and what what you mean by 'favoured', doesn't it?

For instance, the first time Darwin looks at 'races' in Origin... is when he's talking about the various races of cabbage that exist.

That's right, in Victorian times the word 'race' was synonymous with 'variety'. He's saying that there are many varieties (or races) of cabbage. What a racist!

Maybe it's the 'favoured' that you take issue with? What does he mean by that?

Well, as I'm sure you already know, Darwin proposed the theory of natural selection. So 'favoured races' merely means those varieties that are best adapted to survival in a given environment.

Fairly basic biology, but in Victorian language it can sound rather odd.

Still think it's racist? Perhaps you shouldn't judge a book by its cover (title) and should read it instead? I hear Ray Comfort's giving them away, so you're in luck!


Regards,

bossmanham said...

Ex Pat,

I knew you would say that, because I'm aware of the meaning of races at that time (and it still retains the same meaning, although it's not used as much). However, Darwin could not escape the repercussions his view on nature had on the human race as well. Furthermore, if there is no God, then it's obvious that humanity is not created equal and that we need to be weeding out defective genes.

Darwin said in the Descent of Man, "At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla" (1874, p. 178).

And:

"Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Everyone who has had the opportunity of comparison must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes."

Thomas Huxley (Darwin's bulldog) said:

"No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathus relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out on by thoughts and not by bites (1871, p. 20)."

So, there is ample evidence to question whether or not Darwin was a racist. If one holds to his theory, there's no reason not to be one. The very well could be things that make one race better than another if God doesn't exist.

Darwin, Charles (1874), The Descent of Man (New York: A.L. Burt Co.), second edition.

Huxley, Thomas H. (1871), Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (New York: Appleton).

ExPatMatt said...

Boss,

"...I'm aware of the meaning of races at that time (and it still retains the same meaning, although it's not used as much)".

So you knew he was talking about varieties but you called him racist anyway?

"However, Darwin could not escape the repercussions his view on nature had on the human race as well".

This is very true, and one of the reasons that he sat on his theory for nigh-on 20 years before publishing - he was concerned about how it would be received despite the fact that he had been convinced by the evidence.

"Furthermore, if there is no God, then it's obvious that humanity is not created equal and that we need to be weeding out defective genes".

I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about biology! Where did God come from?
Not only that, but this is one heck of a non-sequitor; I can't think of any species in nature that actively 'weeds out' defective genes in it's own population, so why would that be something that humans should do?

"Darwin said in the Descent of Man...".

Er, how are the Native Americans doing these days? Aboriginal Australians; are they getting on well? Native S. Americans? Africans?

When all of these groups of humans were encountered by Europeans they were considered to be savages and their land was taken from them and they were treated like animals. All of this happened before Darwin published Origins...so what's your point?

He also talks about the 'anthropomorphous apes' becoming extinct in the not-too-distant future. Well, chimps and gorillas are both now endangered species in the wild, so he was spot-on there too.
The point of the statement as a whole was that it is much easier to see relationships when you have all the players present (in his, Victorian view, that meant from European whites at one end to baboons at the other) - what he's saying is that if you took out some of the forms from the middle, it would be hard to see the relationship between the two at either end.

And this is true, otherwise creationists wouldn't always be harping on about transitional forms!

He's not saying that there's an evolutionary progression from baboon, through Negro until finally we reach Caucasian; he's looking at the set as a whole and pointing out that you need to look at all the family members to see how it all works together.

He probably would be considered a racist by today's standards, as would most Victorian white men - so what?
I'm sure Newton would be too, but we don't hold that against him when talking about gravity, do we?

You've not quite admitted that you've not read Origins... but I'm fair certain you haven't read Descent... so I'm wondering, did you just do a search for 'Racist Darwin' or something?

Try reading Descent in it's entirety, you'll get a whole different picture of the man (and the theory as well, probably).

I don't really care what Huxley had to say about anything, to be honest.

"So, there is ample evidence to question whether or not Darwin was a racist".

He was no doubt as racist as the next man of his time. No impact on the theory of evolution though.

"If one holds to his theory, there's no reason not to be one".

What do you mean 'holds to his theory'?

"The[sic] very well could be things that make one race better than another if God doesn't exist".

The theory of evolution states that all races of man are descended from a common ancestor and are all as equally evolved as each other. Differing only due to centuries of geographical isolation.

This is just fact, it impinges no ideological belief upon anyone who accepts it, it's just a description of why humans from different places look different. Don't you have a similar story starting with the son's of Noah?

Cheers,