Scientific Facts in the Bible: 100 Reasons to Believe the Bible is Supernatural in Origin is a book written by Ray Comfort, as an attempt to explain Biblical scientific foreknowledge.
The book is divided into 13 chapters, each focusing on a field of science or a specific book. The chapters contain various examples, with Bible verses shoehorned to support the example. As always, the examples only explain that the scientific statement matches what's written in the Bible rather than showing that the Bible explains the scientific basis concerning the fact.
The book is so popular that Comfort's website "Living Waters" was priced it at a whopping $6.99.
|Comfort's Scientific Facts in the Bible||RationalWiki|
|The first line of the foreword: "I hope you are skepticalds."
||This, coming from the guy whose mind remains firmly closed to anything beyond his religious bubble, while at the same time remaining utterly unskeptical of anything that fits with his religious beliefs. That is known as pseudoskepticism, not skepticism.|
|Comfort begins by dodging questions by demanding definitions for certain words.
||Comfort seems to have little interest in words or definitions. Rather, he is looking specifically for definitions that help his case, such as his particular definition of "science" to simply mean "with knowledge." While science certainly leads to knowledge, science is a process: it's a discipline of testing, verifying and falsifying. It's not just "knowing" things, which is what Comfort often implies all science is about. Furthermore, the quality of a scientific theory relies on its ability to predict future events, such as how the Theory of Relativity has been an excellent predictor of later-observed cosmological events.|
In other instances regarding words, Comfort stays as vague as he can instead of using unambiguous words. For example, he never defines "kinds" (but implying baraminology); he only gives examples what a 'kind' is. He has said there are "human kinds" and "feline kinds" (cats and tigers)… what he misses is that "human" is a classification of a species, whereas "feline" is a classification of a whole Family in Linnaean taxonomy. So if 'kind' means the same as a Family, then by Comfort's argument, humans and gorillas are the same "kind." This has been pointed out to him numerous times, but he rejects and denies all of it outright, including going as far as denying the biological fact that humans are animals.
|Comfort reminds readers that history has shown science wrong several times and what we know now may be laughed at in a hundred years.
||The best thing about science is that it is a self-correcting system. When new data and evidence are discovered, our knowledge expands and new models (hypotheses and theories) must be made to fit the evidence when the evidence contradicts the old model. Even in a hundred years, if future generations discover something unknown to us, it will be very little embarrassment to us. As we stand on the shoulders of giants right now to help us look further, all future generations will be standing on our shoulders. Laughter will be among the last things that cross their minds upon discovering something new, since it is our work that helped them look farther than we can see.|
And when history or science shows how incorrect the Bible is in the same way (not just with reality, but with other sections in the same book), believers take offense, handwave the inconsistencies, or pull a bigger escape hatch than "It's been wrong before!" altogether.
|Comfort recalls his debate with a member from American Atheists. When Comfort mentioned that medical facts existed in the Bible a hundred years before they were discovered, the audience laughed at him. Comfort thinks that if the medical facts were accurate, then that provides proof that the Bible is supernatural in origin.
||However, he doesn't check to see if these medical facts were discovered before the authors wrote about them. He also seems to forget that germ theory isn't in the Bible; in fact, passages in the Bible suggest that diseases are instead caused by demons.|
|Comfort says the Bible does not defend itself. Later, he says that other religions (Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists) have certain prophecies, but according to Comfort none of them have been proven, nor do their sacred books contain scientific knowledge (in fact they contain things that are clearly unscientific).
||Sure, but the same is true for Christianity. Christianity is unscientific by the sheer fact that it says a supernatural being created the Earth magically, and that because God is omnipotent, He is specifically untestable. Also the Bible not infrequently contradicts science, saying for instance that rabbits chew the cud, that insects have four legs, and that letting sheep see different colors in a field will affect the color of their progeny. The Bible does defend itself, stating in places that the things it says are self-evident or that only fools don't believe it. It also includes a number of prophecies which have failed to come true, not least being Jesus's prophecy that the End Times would come within the lifetime of his Disciples.|
|Before moving on, Comfort tries to provide an argument in which he must use the Bible (he says this is not circular reasoning).
||Sorry Comfort, using the Bible to prove the Bible is circular. Would you let a Muslim get away with claiming that the Qu'ran proves the Qu'ran? The Bhagavad gita 7.6-7 says that Krishna is the absolute truth (the text also says things like "Everything and everywhere is Brahman."), but claiming that the Bhagavad gita is true in all things because it says so is circular. No sacred or mythological text should be taken as true just because it says it is; what is required is independent tangible evidence.|
|Comfort asks if the reader believes in some of the stories in the Bible. Comfort says if you are an atheist, of course you don't because God "has chosen foolish, weak, base, and despised things of the world to confound those who think they are wise." (1 Corinthians 1:27)
||Basically, Comfort is claiming that his God is a deliberate deceiver. If God did design everything this way, then how can He punish his creations for acting in accordance with how they were made? Comfort and Christianity would love to have people act like children who do not use or practice critical thinking. People should cherish their intellectual ability; it's the best tool we have. It is therefore not surprising that Christianity would teach that God designed wisdom as foolish.|
Where is the evidence?
|Instead of actually presenting some evidence, Comfort uses an analogy. Imagine you are looking at a luxury liner moving through calm waters, and suddenly some people jump off the boat onto small lifeboats. The rest, including yourself, calls them foolish. Until suddenly the luxury boat sinks, then you see the fools who jumped off earlier were wise, and those who stayed on were fools. Comfort urges the readers to consider the proof of Christianity provided in this book.
||This analogy doesn't even work on its own terms. Ships don't just sink out of the blue — you would see some evidence of it, such as a giant wave, hull breach, alarm, or announcements from the crew about impending evacuations. The early lifeboat jumpers in Comfort's example unrealistically leave the ship in the absence of evidence that it's sinking; by the same logic, Comfort expects unbelievers to repent in the absence of evidence of a biblical Rapture actually being imminent. Should we sign on with Islam because someone claims that prophesies in the Quran are about to come true? Or is that silly because… we have no reason to think that's really an imminent danger?|
Chapter 1: Science and the Bible
|The Bible and Earth's Free-Float in Space Job 26:7 while the common belief of the time (1500 BCE) was the Earth sat on the back of a large animal or giant.
||This is due to a simple observation of the stars moving around the pole star due to the Earth spinning. Anyone who watches the stars on a clear night notices this. This has been known since antiquity. The common belief back then was not that the Earth rested upon some creature's back. That is a myth and Comfort provides no reference to any source to support this claim on history. Very likely, Comfort heard the Hindu myth that the Earth rests on the back of an elephant, which stood on the back of a giant turtle that swam around in the cosmic sea. Or perhaps the Greek myth of Atlas the Titan holding the sky on his back. Either way, Comfort is factually wrong and misleading his audience when he says "science back then believed X" when the truth is he is addressing what mythologies believed centuries ago, not what science and scientists proposed. Plato, in the Timaeus, provides us with an account of the creation of the universe, which includes a spherical, free-floating Earth. Aristotle made an attempt to fix the retrograde motion shown by the planets and explained why the Earth must almost certainly be spherical. Aristarchus of Samos came up with a heliocentric model of the Solar System, some 1700 years prior to Copernicus.
The Earth is held in orbit by gravity and angular momentum; it is not "free-floating." If the Earth were free-floating in space, it would be a rogue planet, and life as we know it wouldn't exist. Does the Earth does not hang upon nothing? To define "nothing" is to say not real or non-existent, but beneath the Earth (and all around it) we find empty space, cosmic dust, stars, asteroids, etc.
Finally, this passage of Job 26:7 is contradictory to Job 38:4-6, which refers to Earth having a foundation and footings. Then there is Job 26:11 which says that heaven is supported by pillars. Many verses throughout the Bible refer to a solid firmament.
|The Scriptures speak of Invisible Structure Hebrews 11:3. Science has recently discovered the universe is made of atoms, whereas scripture knew of this for 2,000 years.
||The ancient Greeks were already discussing the natural structure of the universe, including the idea of atoms; for a long time the common belief was the universe was made of four elements, but atomism emerged in the 5th century BCE with Leucippus and Democritus. Nowhere does Scripture say that matter is composed of super-microscopic particles, and in fact until the invention of the microscope by Robert Hooke, the Church insisted that nothing microscopic existed.|
|The Bible Reveals the Earth is Round Isaiah 40:22. The verse says that the Earth is a circle. Comfort says that the Hebrew word chuwg (חוּג) translates to "circuit" or "compass" indicating spherical, not flat. Comfort says that Isaiah was written between 740 and 680 BCE and at least 300 years before Aristotle's book On the Heavens.
||Isaiah and the Bible do not support a spherical Earth. Isaiah 11:12 refers to the "four quarters of the earth." A "Compass", like a circle and unlike a sphere, is flat, with an arrow connected to the disk.|
|The Bible and the Science of Oceanography Psalm 8:8. Comfort tells a story about Matthew Maury (1806–1873), who is considered the father of oceanography and discovered many things after reading this Bible verse.
||Maury was nowhere near the first to discover or write about currents; however, he was the first to unify all of these together into scientific writings and did make a lot of progress in the field. In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon described the Gulf Stream. Benjamin Franklin produced a detailed map of the Gulf Stream in 1769 (37 years before Maury was born). Even though Maury may have produced many maps of ocean currents, it is clear that the currents' existence was known well before his time and it is highly unlikely he would have been unaware of this. Maury may have been inspired by Psalms to look for more currents, but that's hardly the same as discovering a new phenomenon based on Scripture. |
|The Bible and Radio Waves Job 38:35. Comfort says this verse says says light can be sent and manifest itself in speech. He says that all electromagnetic radiation (from X-rays to radio waves) travel at the speed of light. Comfort cites James Clerk Maxwell in Modern Century Illustrated Encyclopedia 1864 (3,300 years later) who discovered that electricity and light waves were the same thing.
||Job 38:19 states, "Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof?" Notice that light is mentioned as dwelling, or staying in one place. Also, Comfort ignores the fact that the Bible treats darkness like a substance in its own right, when in fact it's the absence of light. Also, it's Job, which, once again, is a very poetic part of the Bible. Comfort also ignores Job 38:20, "That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?" Light and darkness do not have "bounds" or as the NIV translates it, places and dwellings (at least not one specific one).|
|The Bible and Entropy Isaiah 51:6, Psalm 102:25-26 and Hebrews 1:11 indicate that the Earth is wearing out, and concludes this is about the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the law of Increase Entropy) and defines it as: that in all physical process, every ordered system over time tends to become more disordered.
||This is false. The Second Law of Thermodynamic does not say that everything leads to disorder. It says that heat will not spontaneously flow from a colder body to a warmer one or, equivalently, that total entropy (a measure of useful energy) in a closed system will not decrease. This does not prevent increasing order. The bit about entropy = increasing disorder is an analogy used to help students understand the basic concept; it's not what the Second Law is really about, but it's been seized upon by creationists, and the general public. Regardless of all that, the Second Law applies only to closed systems, and the Earth isn't a closed system because it's powered by the Sun.|
|The Bible and the First Law of Thermodynamics Genesis 2:1
||Once again, we have to ask: "If this knowledge is so clear-cut, why did no Christians make these predictions before the laws of thermodynamics were established through the scientific method?" Secondly, the idea of God creating matter is a direct violation of that same law. Energy and matter are coming from nowhere, according to Genesis.|
|The Bible and Ship Dimensions Comfort uses Genesis 6 to support this, that God gave Noah the dimensions (30:5:3) that were later used in 1609 at Hoorn in Holland and then massively used in the 1900s. Comfort's source is "Lloyd's Register of Shipping" in the World Almanac.
||People have been building ships for thousands of years and boats for tens of thousands of years, so it's not unreasonable to assume they figured out the best ways to do so themselves, without having to be told by God. Also, the ideal length-to-width ratio of a ship depends on the purpose of the ship. Sailing vessels are typically built with a larger ratio; warships have a small ratio to help attain higher speeds; bulk carriers are built with a large ratio because load capacity is more important than speed (the cargo does not depreciate during the voyage). Even in Biblical times this would have applied: ancient warships (rowed, fast) were built slimmer than cargo ships (sailed, large loading capacity). |
|The Bible and Meteorological Laws Comfort tries to defend the air cycles in Ecclesiastes 1:6.
||First of all, Ecclesiastes is all about how nothing matters and nothing changes. So it poetically refers to the wind as not really changing no matter what it does, or where it blows. Secondly, Ecclesiastes 1:5 shows a geocentric worldview: "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." We now know that the Sun does not actually rise, but the Earth's rotation makes it appear that way. So why couldn't God have told us that, instead of repeating what people thought at the time? For a book that supposedly contains a lot of scientific information, it doesn't seem to have tried to correct popular misconceptions of science.|
|The Bible and Science Comfort includes a quote from Richard Wurmbrand, Proofs of God's existence, that science confirms what the Bible has been saying for thousands of years. He says the Christians hold the key to the secrets of the universe, and they should be the owners of the lock and key (that is, show there is no conflict between science and religion).
||However, as we have reviewed, none of the above 'proofs' presented are extraordinary or cannot be obtained with simple observation. With a bit of literary analysis, it's easy to make a book of stories look as you want it, but if the Bible was truly a source of scientific knowledge and science confirms what is in it, then we would expect Christians to point out in their Bible several breakthroughs in physics, medicine, chemistry, etc. that are unknown to modern science. However, we do not see this. Instead, we have science making discoveries and Christians claiming after the fact that the Bible already knew of it, citing ambiguous and/or poetic passages that might be read as fitting those discoveries. Muslims do the same thing, such as claim the Qu'ran accurately predicted the Big Bang, speed of light, reproductive systems, plate tectonics, and such, but their claims are no more credible than those of Christians shoehorning these discoveries into vague passages in the Bible.|
Chapter 2: The Incredible Book of Job
|Book of Job (1520 B.C.)—Filled with Scientific Facts Comfort provides the following: "The study of the Book of Job and its comparison with the latest scientific discoveries has brought me to the matured conviction that the Bible is an inspired book and was written by the One who made the stars.” (Source: Charles Burckhalter, Chabot Observatory)
||Charles Burckhalter (1849–1923) is an old source. Also, modern scholars give Job a composition date of 7th–4th century BCE, not (that curiously specific) 1520 BCE.|
|The Book of Job and Air Mass Only a single quote is provided for this piece: "Scripture tells us in Job 28:25 that there is 'a weight for the wind.' Long before it was recognized that the air had weight (sixteenth century), the Bible said that it did. It also tells us that water has weight. The fact that so much water covers the earth means that the effects of the sun and moon's gravity are balanced perfectly. The energy is dissipated in the water — the weight of the water is precisely measured." — Richard Gunther[note 1]
||Job 28:25 says "To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure." Once again, poetic. Secondly, Comfort ignores the passage right before this, Job 28:24, "For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven;" The Earth is round, so it doesn't have ends. Also, anyone can tell you that water has weight; that part of it is hardly an impressive bit of science. And it hardly speaks well for your position when you cite someone who says that the water covering Earth means the Sun's and Moon's gravity are balanced perfectly. Is it still balanced, for instance, when the Sun and Moon are on the same side of the Earth, such as during solar eclipses (or, really, any time you can see the Moon during the day)?|
|The Book of Job and the Earth's Rotation Comfort says the following: "For ages, scientists believed in a geocentric view of the universe. The differences between night and day were believed to be caused by the Sun revolving around the Earth. Today, we know that the Earth's rotation on its axis is responsible for the Sun's rising and setting. But 4,000 or more years ago, it was written, "Have you commanded the morning since your days; and caused the day spring [dawn] to know his place? … It [the earth] is turned as clay to the seal" (Job 38:12-14). The picture here is of a clay vessel being turned or rotated upon the potter's wheel — an accurate analogy of the Earth's rotation.
||Here is Job 38:12-14: "Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?; It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment." So it seems God could (if he wanted to) pick up the Earth by its ends and shake all the wicked people off of it? Curious that Comfort left out verse 13. Here the author of Job is saying that something is longer than the Earth. A flat Earth with ends could be compared for length, but longer has no meaning to a sphere. Also, it should be remembered here that the Church itself (not science) insisted on a geocentric universe, specifically because of its reading of the Bible. If the Bible were such a good and clear science text, surely geocentrism wouldn't have become Church doctrine in the first place.
Moreover, the image of clay under a seal has nothing to do with the turning of a potter's wheel. The image is about a master pattern (seal) being imposed on a pliable medium, leaving an impression on it. Many translations do not use "turn", but rather "change" or "transform".
|The Book of Job and Springs of the Sea Another quote from Gunther (that's it!): "Modern deep-sea-diving cameras have discovered amazing hot-water vents on the floor of the oceans — 'the springs of the sea,' which are mentioned in Job 38:16. These thermal vents release huge amounts of mineral-rich, super-heated water—springs in the darkness." — Richard Gunther
||The words of Job 38:16 are "Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?" Oooh, Job says the seas are deep. Clearly, no one could have figured that out without divine revelation. And besides the fact that this is another poetic passage, not meant to be taken literally, if it's so clear-cut, why did not a single Christian claim that there were springs in the depths before they were discovered? Better yet, instead of "springs", why didn't it say something more specific — and accurate — like "vents which put out hot water from the depths of the Earth, surrounded by life forms unlike any ye have seen"?|
|The Book of Job and Light Again, just a single quote from Gunther, "Sir Isaac Newton studied light and discovered that white light is made of seven colors, which can be 'parted' from the white (see Job 38:24), and then recombined to make white again. Science discovered this in 1650." — Richard Gunther
||The words of Job 38:24 are "By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?" Once again, they quote Job, one of the most poetic parts of the Bible. The fact that light is parted is easily observable by shining it through a prism. And light does not and cannot scatter wind. Parted light is almost always universally understood, not as scientifically split through a prism, but as in a ray of light that is seemingly split into two (still white, still full spectrum) rays due to some object. The point of the Job passage is to say that no human power can do this, not to provide scientific reference of something humans can do.|
|The Book of Job and the Way of Light Comfort says the following: "The Book of Job 38:19 asks, "Where is the way where light dwells?" Modern humans have only recently discovered that light (electromagnetic radiation) has a 'way.' In empty space this speed is approximately 186,000 miles per second."
||Job 38:19 says "Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof?" Notice they conveniently forget to mention that light is also mentioned as dwelling, or staying in one place. Also, they ignore the fact that the Bible treats darkness like it actually exists, when in actuality it is the absence of light. Also, it's Job, which, once again, is a very poetic part of the Bible. Comfort also ignores Job 38:20, "That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?" Light and darkness do not have 'bounds' or as the NIV translates it, places and dwellings (at least not one specific one).|
Also, it's quite a stretch to say that when the Bible asks "Where is the way where light dwells?" it actually means "What is the speed that light travels?".
|The Book of Job and Dinosaurs Comfort says the following: "Why did dinosaur disappear? Science can only speculate. However, the answer may be in Job 40:15-24. In this passage, God Himself speaks of a great creature called 'behemoth.' Some Bible commentators think this is a reference to the hippopotamus. However, one of the characteristics of this massive animal is that it had a tail the size of a large tree. The hippo's tail isn't like a tree; it’s more like a small twig. Here are all the given characteristics of this huge animal: It was the largest of all the creatures God made; was plant-eating (herbivorous); had its strength in its hips, and a tail like a large tree. It had very strong bones, lived among the trees, drank massive amounts of water, and was not disturbed by a raging river. He appears impervious to attack because his nose could pierce through snares, but Scripture says, 'He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.' In other words, God caused this, the largest of all the creatures He had made, to become extinct."
||The Bible says Behemoth's tail "was like a cedar." The "tail like a cedar", which creationists think indicates a large dinosaur, is not even a real tail. "Tail" was used as a euphemism in the King James version. A more likely translation for the phrase is, "His penis stiffens like a cedar". The behemoth was probably a bull, and the cedar comparison referred to its virility. Basically, Behemoth is not another dinosaur. That's another strike against this book.
Also note the requisite science-bashing: contrary to his assertion, science can do much more than speculate about how the dinosaurs went extinct. We haven't worked out all the details about how it happened yet, but the fact that science can provide details about it in the first place is a huge step ahead of Young Earth creationism (YEC), which flat-out denied dinosaurs' existence for many years, then changed gears and started to claim that they lived side-by-side with humans. In fact the truth is the opposite of what Comfort states here: YECs can only speculate about the demise of the dinosaurs, because the only source they accept is the Bible and it doesn't say anything about their extinction, notwithstanding their rather creative readings into poetic verses.|
Chapter 3: Medical Science and the Bible
|The Bible and the Laws of Hygiene Here, Comfort tries to portray Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis as the founder of the laws of hygiene and that the Bible led him to his discoveries. Comfort says that Semmelweis was horrified at the terrible death rate of women who gave birth in hospitals. As many as 30% died after childbirth. Semmelweis noted that doctors would examine the bodies of patients who died, then, without washing their hands, go straight to the next ward and examine expectant mothers. This was their normal practice, because the presence of microscopic diseases was unknown. Semmelweis insisted that doctors wash their hands before each examination, and the death rate immediately dropped to 2%. Comfort tells us to "Look at the specific instructions that God gave thousands of years ago to His people for when they encountered disease: 'And when he that has an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean'" (Leviticus 15:13). Until recent years, doctors washed their hands in a bowl of water, leaving invisible germs on their hands.
||Did Semmelweis insist the doctors wait seven days between examinations, as the passage would suggest? Or did he make the simple observation that deaths seemed to happen around childbirths when people's hands were dirty? Keep reading down to Leviticus 15; it explains how to finish this divine sterilization process: "…and bathe his flesh in running water, and he shall be clean. On the eighth day, he shall take two turtledoves, or two pigeons, and come before the Lord unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation and give them unto the priest, and the priest shall offer them, one for suffering, one for burnt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord for his issue." Semmelweis did not make his discoveries based on the Bible, because washing one's hands prior to chopping up dead burnt pigeons to appease one's god is more voodoo than medicine.
Oh, and not to mention this applied to the high priest when entering the temple/tabernacle for ritual purity, not hygiene or sterilization. Other ancient Hebrews had to use ritual baths, though the ashes of a red cow also did the trick!|
|The Bible and the Correlation of Mind and Body Comfort says the following: Medical science has come to understand that there is a strong relationship between a person’s mental and physical health. The Bible revealed this to us with these statements (and others) written around 950 BCE:
- “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy is the rottenness of the bones” Proverbs 14:30.
- “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: and a good report makes the bones fat [healthy]” Proverbs 15:30.
- “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” Proverbs 16:24.
- “A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones” Proverbs 17:22.
|These are good proverbs, and good advice. But it doesn't require divine revelation to observe that our mood tends to affect our health and that people tend to ward off disease more easily if they're happy. |
|The Bible and Bacteria Just a single quote from Gunther and nothing else: "And… neither shall you eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; you shall cast it to the dogs" Exodus 22:31. Thousands of years before modern science identified bacteria, God made provision for Israel by banning the eating of meat that may be spoiled by bacteria." — Richard Gunther
||Exodus 22:31 says "And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs." There is no scientific reason given, no mention of tiny organisms carrying diseases. There is very easy explanation for this. The Hebrew priests wanted to keep the people as far away as possible from pagan rituals, some of which likely would have involved eating wild animals found dead. Also, meat lying in the field would likely be stinking, rotten, and revolting to the senses, which common sense would say to avoid. Finally, many of the biblical kosher laws were intended to teach the people that these were once living creatures that they were eating. In order to convey that, the priests commanded that all animals be slaughtered by people within the camp, as a reminder. Therefore, acting as a scavenger and taking meat just found in the field would degrade respect toward the animals, and degrade respect to nature in general.|
|The Bible and Fat Intake Comfort says the following: The American Heart Association says, “The major kinds of fats in the foods we eat are saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fatty acids. Saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol raise blood cholesterol. A high level of cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack.”
In reference to prostate cancer, a study by the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center stated, "The fourth most common cause of cancer among men may be related to saturated fat consumption."
Saturated fats come from animals. In Leviticus 7:22-24 we are told, "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, You shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat."
|Leviticus 7:23 says, "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat." Once again, this would be impressive had the Bible said something along the lines of "Ye shall eat no fat, or ye shall suffer an attack on one's heart." But it doesn't. It simply says, eat no fat. Once again, pagan rituals might have included a ceremonial fat eating. Also, fat would have been more important as a fuel to burn, since one, there were no lights at night, and two, winter nights could get cold at a time where there was no central heating and oil would have had more ceremonial use. Also, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are actually good to consume in moderation, and have the potential to lower bad (LDL) blood cholesterol.|
It should also be noted that taken literally, the verse is impossible to follow: even lean meats contain some fat in the tissue, and even if you could remove all fats from your diet, it would lead to your death.
|The Bible and the Immune System Comfort says the following: The Bible instructs that male babies are to be circumcised on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12). Medical science has now discovered that this is the day that the coagulating factor in the blood, called prothrombin, is the highest. It reaches its peak on the eighth day, then drops. Medical science has also discovered that this is when the human body’s immune system is at its peak.
||Genesis 17:12 says "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed." Leviticus 12:3 and Luke 1:59 say pretty much the same thing. These people seem to think the Jews were idiots who were unable to make any observations on their own. They could easily have known this through trial and error. Babies died or were seriously injured more often on days that weren't the eighth, ergo, babies should be circumcised on the eighth. Scientific observation. Wrote it down on paper. Made sure that future Jewish parents did not make the same mistakes, so they made this observation look poetic and sacred. Astounding.|
|The Bible and Laws of Quarantine Comfort says the following: Long before medical science discovered the importance of quarantine of persons with infectious diseases, the Bible instigated them. In 1490 BCE, the Scriptures tell the children of Israel what to do if a man has leprosy: "All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be" (Leviticus 13:46). Laws of quarantine were not instigated by modern man until the 17th century.
Next, Comfort provides the following quote: "During the devastating Black Death of the fourteenth century, patients who were sick or dead were kept in the same rooms as the rest of the family. People often wondered why the disease was affecting so many people at one time. They attributed these epidemics to 'bad air or 'evil spirits.' However, careful attention to the medical commands of God as revealed in Leviticus would have saved untold millions of lives. Arturo Castiglione wrote about the overwhelming importance of this biblical medical law: 'The laws against leprosy in Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of sanitary legislation' (A History of Medicine).” Grant R. Jeffery, The Signature of God
|Leviticus 13:45-46 says "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." (Numbers–5) says "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell. And the children of Israel did so, and put them out without the camp: as the LORD spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel." Both of these passages have very unscientific explanations. One, biblical leprosy was reported to contaminate houses and clothing, so the people would not want to have it near them. Two, leprosy was viewed as punishment for sin, so that is an even more obvious reason; religious people would not want to surround their holiest objects with sinners. And from a scientific point of view, is it really necessary for lepers to cry "Unclean, unclean"?|
Chapter 4: Science and Genesis
|Scientists Admit Genesis is "Close to the Truth." Comfort quotes several magazines. The first one is Time from December 1976, "Most cosmologists agree that the Genesis account of creation, in imagining an initial void, may be uncannily closer to the truth." Next from Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal, "The universe suddenly exploded into being… The big bang bears an uncanny resemblance to the Genesis command." Finally, Comfort quotes from U.S. News and World Report, March 31, 1997, "New scientific revelations about supernovas, black holes, quarks, and the big bang even suggest to some scientists that there is a 'grand design' to the universe."
||Unfortunately, Comfort cannot reconcile with the Big Bang theory being discussed (likely out of context) here, as it involves the universe forming over billions, not thousands, of years. Also there is the old issue that, while the Big Bang is more compatible with Abrahamic ideas of the start of the universe, it's no more evidence that Christianity is right than it is that Hinduism or Buddhism is right and Hinduism at least gets the age of the universe approximately right (through a lucky guess, but still). Also, these quotes are from the popular press, not scientific publications, and contain several distortions of the Big Bang: it wasn't an explosion (it was an expansion of everything, including space itself, not an event that took place in preexisting empty space), etc.|
|The Bible Speaks of Specific Design Comfort quotes from two more magazines. First from Readers Digest, September 1986, by John Wheeler (Princeton University professor of physics), "Slight variations in physical laws such as gravity or electromagnetism would make life impossible… The necessity to produce life lies at the center of the universe's whole machinery and design."
||This is a repeat of the old anthropic principle.|
|The next quote is from "evolutionist" Stephen Hawking, "the universe and the law of physics seem to have been specifically deigned for us. If any of about 40 physical qualities had more than slightly different values, life as we know if would not exist: Either atoms would not be stable, or they would not combine into molecules, or the stars would not form the heavier elements, of the universe would collapse before life could develop itself, and so on…" (Source: Austin American Statesman, October 19, 1997).
||Nothing in the Austin American Statesman archives reveal any mention of Stephen Hawking. Additionally, as PZ Myers pointed out, it's no great surprise that we live in a universe that's suited to our existence; it would be much more impressive if we lived in a universe that wasn't. However, if the quote here is real, it may be a quote mine: in A Brief History of Time, Hawking says something much like this, but only as a preface to explaining the anthropic principle, which provides a potential explanation for how it is we live in a supposedly fine-tuned universe.|
|The Bible Speaks of One Common Ancestor Here, Comfort takes a quote from U.S. News and World Report Dec. 14, 1995 that 99% of all scientists agree that all humans are alike because they descend from common ancestor, traced back to one male ancestor they dubbed "Y-chromosome Adam."
||Except the Y-chromosome Adam is not a fixed individual, nor was he the only male of the species back then. The most recent common male ancestor was only one of many prehistorical humans, who just happens to be the progenitor of all Y chromosomes in living humans today, at this specific moment. As we march into the future and interbreed, the identity of the most recent common ancestor will by definition shift forward in time, too. In the Book of Genesis, in contrast, all humans explicitly descend from a single couple, which would be unviable as far as genetics are concerned (producing an inbreeding bottleneck).|
|The Bible and the Universal Flood Comfort only provides a single quote for this piece: "About 85% of the rock surface around the world is made up of sedimentary rock, indicating that at some time in the past, the world was covered by water." Peter and Paul Lalonde, 301 Startling Proofs & Prophecies
||Was it all under water at the same time? Or were the lands of the Earth under water at different stages in time that all surfaced due to plate tectonics? Science sides with plate tectonics and against the "universal flood". To this date, there is no evidence whatsoever for a global flood. |
|Law of Probabilities Confirms Genesis Comfort quotes Fred Hoyle, “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way [through evolution] is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”
“The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one out of 1040,000… It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.” Sir Fred Hoyle, professor of astronomy, Cambridge
|This claim, known as Hoyle's fallacy, is irrelevant to the theory of evolution itself, since evolution does not occur via assembly from individual parts, but rather via selective gradual modifications to existing structures. Order can and does result from such evolutionary processes. Hoyle applied his analogy to abiogenesis, where it is more applicable. However, the general principle behind it is wrong. Order arises spontaneously from disorder all the time. The tornado itself is an example of order arising spontaneously. Something as complicated as people would not arise spontaneously from raw chemicals, but there is no reason to believe that something as simple as a self-replicating molecule couldn't. From there, evolution can produce more and more complexity. Remember, evolution has had over three billion years to tinker with life forms all over the world; even if the random formation of any given protein is highly unlikely, over millions of years over such a large area one is rolling the dice so often that very unlikely events are almost certain to happen from time to time. In other words, don't think "your chance of winning the lottery today", but rather "the chance of someone winning the lottery this century".|
|Genesis Explains the Origin of Sexes Comfort states the following: "Almost all forms of complex life have both male and female — horses, dogs, humans, moths, monkeys, fish, elephants, birds, etc. The male needs the female to reproduce, and the female needs the male to reproduce. One cannot carry on life without the other. The Bible tells us that 'he who made them at the beginning made them male and female' (Matthew 19:4). But if evolution is true, which then came first according to the evolutionary theory?
If a male came into being before a female, how did the male of each species reproduce without females? How is it possible that a male and a female each spontaneously came into being, yet they have complex, complementary reproductive systems? If each sex was able to reproduce without the other, why (and how) would they have developed a reproductive system that requires both sexes in order for the species to survive?"
|The variety of life cycles is very great. It is not simply a matter of sexual vs. asexual reproduction. There are many intermediate stages. A gradual origin, with each step favored by natural selection, is possible. The earliest steps involve single-celled organisms exchanging genetic information; they need not be distinct sexes — in fact bacteria still do this today. Males and females of course don't evolve independently — that's not how evolution works. Sex, by definition, depends on both a male and a female acting together, and this can work because individuals don't evolve: populations evolve, and a situation where, over generations, some members of the group are increasingly specializing as male and others as female offers no big single break with the past as Comfort imagines it. Forthermore, there are some organisms that are hermaphroditic (e.g., earthworms) and some that have multiple sexes (e.g., Schizophyllum commune). As sex evolved, there would have been some incompatibilities causing sterility (just as there are today), but these would affect individuals, not whole populations, and the genes that cause such incompatibility would rapidly be selected against.
Many hypotheses have been proposed for the evolutionary advantage of sex. There is good experimental support for some of these, including resistance to deleterious mutation load and more rapid adaptation in a rapidly changing environment, especially to acquire resistance to parasites.|
|Genesis and the Universe Comfort says the following, "Science expresses the universe in five terms: time, space, matter, power, and motion. Genesis 1:1,2 perfectly revealed such truths to the Hebrews in 1450 B.C.: 'In the beginning [time] God created [power] the heaven [space] and the earth [matter]… And the Spirit of God moved [motion] upon the face of the waters.' The first things God tells man is that He controls all aspects of the universe."
||Anyone can do this same exact literary analysis with any sacred book, such as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The Hindu cosmology and timeline is the closest to modern scientific timelines and even more which might indicate that the Big Bang is not the beginning of everything but just the start of the present cycle preceded by an infinite number of universes and to be followed by another infinite number of universes. It also includes an infinite number of universes at any given time.
Furthermore, a Hindu could argue that the universe is a continual cycle of creation and destruction — this ongoing cycle can symbolize motion and power, all taking place within space that takes time, all concerning the origins of matter. However, just like Comfort's argument, this proves nothing except that both (and more) mythologies include similar concepts of time, motion, matter, etc.
In any case, one might argue that a perfect revelation would be a great deal more explicit than this passing reference in Genesis.
|Genesis Differentiates Man from the Animals Comfort states the following, "The Bible tells us that animals are created “without understanding.” We are made in God’s “image.” We aren’t merely a higher form of species on the evolutionary scale. As human beings, we are aware of our 'being.' God is 'I AM,' and we know that 'we are.' We have understanding that we exist. Among other unique characteristics, we have an innate ability to appreciate God's creation. What animal gazes with awe at a sunset, or at the magnificence of the Grand Canyon? What animal obtains joy from the sounds of music or takes the time to form itself into an orchestra to create and harmonize music? What animal among the beasts sets up court systems and apportions justice to its fellow creatures? We are moral beings.
While birds and other creatures have instincts to create (nests, etc.), we have the ability to uncover the hidden laws of electricity. We can utilize the law of aerodynamics to transport ourselves around the globe. We also have the God-given ability to appreciate the value of creation. We unearth the hidden treasures of gold, silver, diamonds, and oil and make use of them for our own benefit. Only humans have the unique capability to appreciate God for this incredible creation and to respond to His love."
|So, Comfort's first proof that humans are unique is our self-awareness? Unfortunately for Comfort, other primates show signs of self-awareness. Using the mirror test, we have proven that other primates (as well as whales, dolphins, and elephants) have self-awareness. They have a much less well-developed sense of self-awareness than us, but they do have one. (Plenty of other animals don't, of course.)
Comfort's next argument is that we are unique because we appreciate music? How does he know this? Do dolphins (or any other animals) who sing not have an appreciation for music?
Finally, many animals have the ability to use (and in some cases create) tools. Humans are capable of great innovation, but that reveals our great ability to manufacture — this does not mean by definition we are not animals, just that we're exceedingly smart animals. We are very curious about our environment and universe, so we develop processes like science to help uncover the mysteries of nature and engineering to build things for us. Gold, oil, and diamonds are special to humans because we give them value. On its own, gold is just another metal, like tin. Nature does not value one over the other; we do. Other animals do possess some ability to reason and figure things out, just less so. While we have a great deal more intellectual ability than other species, it's a difference in degree, not kind.
Chapter 5: Scientists and the Bible
Scientists Who Believed the Bible
|Comfort states "Many of the great scientists of the past who founded and developed the key disciplines of science were creationists." Comfort lists the following, divided up by category.
||Make a special note that Comfort says that they were "creationists." This is why it is important: most of them lived way before evolution came around. It should also be stated that smart scientists have been and can be religious, but their work was not "discovered" or proven by the Bible. These men were not religious for scientific reasons, and when you read their work you see they made their discoveries because of natural observations and not biblical passages.|
|It should be mentioned that physics was not created by any of these men. Physics goes back to antiquity like Archimedes and Ptolemy, as well as the ancient Babylonians. Fancy that, those guys were pagans, not Christians.|
||Independent ancient civilizations produced their own versions of chemistry thousands of years before Christ. The protoscience of chemistry started with alchemy, which has its historical roots in Hellenistic Egypt.|
|While the concept of biology was created in the 19th century, biological sciences emerged around ancient Egyptian medicine and the works of Aristotle and Galen in the ancient Greco-Roman world.
Here is an interesting note: while Carl Linnaeus was a creationist, he is otherwise known as the "father of taxonomy", and he was the first to classify humans as primates, along with the other apes.|
|Developments in geology go as far back as Antiquity. Aristotle made several works documenting the slow rate of geological change.|
|Comfort then says, "These men as well as scores of others who could be mentioned, were creationists, not evolutionists, and their names are practically synonymous with the rise of modern science. To them, the scientific enterprise was a high calling, one dedicated to 'thinking God's thoughts after Him.'" (Source: Henry M. Morris and Gary Parker, What is Creation Science?)
||Remember, most of these scientists lived long before Darwin. It's not surprising that they didn't accept the theory of evolution, because it was not constructed yet.
Comfort doesn't name the scientists who made great contributions but did not believe in the Bible. Go far back to where science started to take place: the ancient Greeks. The Greeks made many scientific discoveries, and they were pagans. Move around the map, and you'll find that the ancient Babylonians invented algebra (and later developed by the Persians and Arabs), for instance.|
|Harvey, Boyle, Faraday, and Maxwell were committed Christians. Boyle was a lay preacher, Faraday read only from the Bible for a sermon, and Maxwell said "Lord, it belongs not to my care, whether I die or live. To love and serve Thee is my share, and that Thy guard must give."
||A person's private faith and devotions really have no bearing on their professional work unless they make a point of bringing the two together. These examples serve mainly to show that scientists of faith can be very good at compartmentalizing.|
It's worth contemplating that if these scientists had been Muslim, our author probably wouldn't be touting them as evidence for the supernatural origin of the Qu'ran.
|Kepler believed science was a way to discover God's handiwork, Kelvin believed life came from a creator, and modern day science is based on the works of these Bible-believing men:
- Leonardo DaVinci
- Francis Bacon
- Samuel F. B. Morse
- William Petty
- William Derham
- James Joule
- Henri Fabre
- Joseph Henry
|While all these men have done a great deal for the progress of science, they did not do any of this from revelations from the Bible. Just as we stand on the shoulders of these innovators, they stood on the shoulders of those who came before them.
- Aristotle performed numerous dissection and vivisection experiments in animal anatomy and physiology — composing the most scientific range of zoological works then known.
- His successor, Theophrastus, extended this work to botany and plant physiology, and produced the first known works in pyrology, mineralogy, and other fields.
- Theophrastus' successor, Strato of Lamsacus, extended their experimental method to machines and physics — by which many of Aristotle's physical theories had been altered or abandoned.
- A research institute was built in Alexandria, Egypt in the 3rd century BCE, in which Ctesibius and Philo completed the first known scientific works in experimental pneumatics.
- Eratosthenes invented the science of cartography and was one of the first in history to measure the diameter of the Earth (he was off by 15% — not bad), and he analyzed the effect of the Moon on the tides.
- Herophilus became the first scientist to dissect human cadavers, and became known as "the Father of Anatomy". Also, he and his pupil Erasistrus originated neurophysiology, establishing with detailed experiments that the mind is a function of the brain and that specific mental functions were controlled by specific areas of the brain, and they distinguished motor from sensory nerves and mapped them throughout the body. Altogether, their study of the human body and its bones, muscles, and organs was so thorough that we still use much of their anatomical terminology.
- In Sicily, their colleague Archimedes was advancing sciences of mechanics and hydrostatics, and discovering, describing, or explaining the first mathematical laws of physics.
- Aristarchus of Samos began measuring the distances of the Moon, Sun and planets, and proposed the first heliocentric theory.
- In Rhodes, Hipparchus discovered and measured celestial precession, made the first scientific observation of a supernova, established the first detailed scientific star charts, made numerous advances in planetary theory, and developed the first scientific system for predicting lunar and solar eclipses.
- Seleucus of Babylon discovered the effect of the Sun on the tides (not just the Moon), and developed the first mathematical lunisolar tide theory.
During the Roman Empire, science reached its pinnacle of achievement in antiquity, producing works not exceeded until the scientific revolution. Just to name a few,
The point is this: huge scientific contributions predate Christianity. The ancient Greeks (who let's not forget were pagans) were the first to use science; in fact they invented reason (in the very sense he means, developing the formal sciences of logic, philosophy, mathematics, and rhetoric). The reason why the scientists that Comfort quotes were "Bible believers" is because they came from a time when scientific inquiry that contradicted scriptures was prohibited, so they had to meld their work with spirituality or risk losing their career, freedom, or life. The Christian religion dominated the whole of the Western world from the 5th to the 15th century CE, and yet in all those thousand years there was no scientific revolution. Nor did any scientific revolution occur in the Eastern Christian world, such as the Byzantine Empire, even though the East was just as prosperous and was largely peaceful for five centuries.
- Dioscorides in botany, mineralogy, and pharmacology
- Hero in mathematics, pneumatics, and theatrical robotics
- Ptolemy in astronomy, cartography, optics, and harmonics
- Galen in anatomy, physiology, and medicine
Arthur H. Compton
|Compton said, "Science is the glimpse of God's purpose in nature. The very existence of the amazing world of the atom and radiation points to a purposeful creation, to the idea that there is a God and an intelligent purpose back of everything… An orderly universe testifies to the greatest statement ever uttered: 'In the beginning God…'." Nobel Prize winner in Physics
||Nobel Prize winners tend to be a smart bunch, but like having a Ph.D., being a Nobel winner is no guarantee of being an authority on anything outside one's field, or even things that touch on one's field of expertise, as in this case. Compton was tacking his religious preconceptions onto what he knew of physics — which doesn't detract from his work in the field, but doesn't add to it either. Basically, his scientific findings didn't lead him to a belief in God, and his belief in God didn't add to his scientific findings; it simply colored the language that he used to describe them. (See also Nobel disease.) |
Sir Isaac Newton
|Newton combined his work with his theology, believing that theology was more important.
|| Newton, though a great scientist, believed many things that we would shake our heads at today — including alchemy.|
|Comfort gives a short bio of Lister: "Joseph Lister (1827–1912) founded antiseptic surgical methods. Lister's contributions to medical science have probably led to more lives being saved through modern medicine than the contributions of anyone else except Pasteur. Like Louis Pasteur, Lister was a Christian. He wrote, 'I am a believer in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.'" (No source provided)
||There's nothing wrong with Lister being a Christian — but again, critically, he based his contributions on the discovery of microorganisms made by Pasteur; he didn't develop antiseptic surgical methods because of what he read in the Bible. In fact, a biblical-based approach would have had him trying to cast out demons from the sick.|
|Comfort provides the following: "Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) was one of history's greatest mathematicians. He laid the foundations for hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, differential calculus, and the theory of probability. He is famous for the 'Wager of Pascal,' paraphrased as follows: 'How can anyone lose who chooses to be a Christian? If, when he dies, there turns out to be no God and his faith was in vain, he has lost nothing — in fact, has been happier in life than his non-believing friends. If, however, there is a God and a heaven and hell, then he has gained heaven and his skeptical friends will have lost everything in hell!'"
||Not a great example, as Pascal's Wager has been shown to be fallacious on a number of counts. |
Sir John Frederick Herschel
|Comfort provides the following, "Sir John Frederick Herschel, an English astronomer who discovered over 500 stars, stated: 'All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truths that come from on high and are contained in the Sacred Writings.' His father, Sir William Herschel, also a renowned astronomer, rightly insisted, 'The undevout astronomer must be mad.'"
||A religious scientist finds a sense of wonder in his subject matter, and attributes it to the god he was brought up to believe in. It's common enough, but it doesn't really prove anything. Would Comfort have found it a convincing argument for Islam if Herschel had happened to be Muslim?|
|Comfort says, "Einstein was not an atheist as some claim, but admits that Einstein did not believe in the Bible." However, Comfort says "…but he wasn’t a fool. He knew that there was a Creator. Look at his words about faith and science: 'Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith.'"
||This quote is taken out of context. Look what Einstein said afterwords:
Comfort is right to point out that Einstein has been falsely labeled an atheist. However contrary to Comfort's claim, Einstein also explicitly stated that he did not believe in a personal God. His religious beliefs were more complex (or more nebulous?) than many would lead you to believe; if anything he was probably a pantheist — this was not really a good source for Comfort to cite as evidence for either atheist or Christian beliefs.
Though I have asserted above that in truth a legitimate conflict between religion and science cannot exist, I must nevertheless qualify this assertion once again on an essential point, with reference to the actual content of historical religions. This qualification has to do with the concept of God. During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man's own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favor by means of magic and prayer
. The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes.
|Comfort writes, "Dr. James Simpson, born in 1811, was responsible for the discovery of chloroform's anesthetic qualities, leading to its medical use worldwide. He also laid a solid foundation for gynecology and predicted the discovery of the x-ray. Dr. Simpson was president of the Royal Medical Society and Royal Physician to the Queen, the highest medical position of his day. He stated, 'Christianity works because it is supremely true and therefore supremely livable. There is nothing incompatible between religion and science.' When asked what his greatest discovery was, Dr. Simpson replied: 'It was not chloroform. It was to know I am a sinner and that I could be saved by the grace of God. A man has missed the whole meaning of life if he has not entered into an active, living relationship with God through Christ.'"
||A Google search for the words "therefore supremely livable" (quotes included) as written in the quote returns no original source for the quote, making it impossible to tell where, when or even if Simpson actually said this. A further search for the second part of the quote, "A man has missed the whole meaning of life", gives nine hits, of which five are in books credited to Comfort. None gives an original source for this either. This would not be the first time that Comfort has played fast and loose with quotes that he wants to use in support of his position.
Given that we can't see any of the context in which Simpson allegedly said this, and it may be that he never said it at all, this is a naked appeal to authority. In any case it doesn't really matter, because again, we have a scientist who didn't use the Bible to make his discoveries, but instead attributed what he discovered through the scientific method to the God he was taught to believe in.|
Chapter 6: Biology and the Bible
|The Bible and Plant Life Comfort states that plants need water, sunlight and minerals to survive. If one is missing, they cannot produce chlorophyll. Comfort notes the chronological order of events in Genesis. 1) God created light first 2) next God created water and finally 3) God created plants.
||Nearly all plants require sunlight, not light in the general sense. This is why we expose plants to ultraviolet light. Note that according to Genesis, the Sun was created on the fourth day (along with the moon and stars), but plants were created on the third day — so God created plants before sunlight came to be. Of course, if the light Comfort mentions Genesis 1:3 included ultraviolet, this could have worked even without the Sun putting out light — but still, this passage would be much more impressive if Genesis had mentioned something to the effect that God's light included invisible types of light that plants need.|
|Bible Statements Consistent With Biology Here, Comfort argues that historically people dealt with health issues by bleeding the patients out, but Leviticus 17:11 reveals that blood is the essence of life. Comfort then goes into detail how blood affects the human body, and concludes that the Bible verse is correct that blood is the essence of life.
||The view of blood as the essence for life predates the Bible. The Code of Hammurabi from Mesopotamia (about 1727 BCE, before Leviticus) has a phrase which translates "to pour out his life-blood like water." In the Enuma Elish, blood was an essential ingredient that mankind was created from. Ugaritic and Egyptian sources also note the importance of blood.
That blood is essential to life is not hard to figure out, especially for people who slaughter livestock (or each other).
Blood is not the essence of life. We would not survive long without lungs, lymph, muscles, nerves, etc. either. Our bones produce blood, but bones are nowhere mentioned or credited in the equation. Some animals are alive without blood at all (jellyfish, sponges, etc.) and plants themselves are alive but do not have blood. Therefore, blood is not the essence of life. Rather, living things are all made of cells, which, when alive, collectively form a living organism.
|The Bible and Biogenesis Comfort argues that the Bible is consistent with the law of biogenesis: that living organisms develop from other living organisms. Comfort quotes Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, and 25. Comfort points out the phrase "according to its kind" when the animals reproduce they bring forth after their "kind".
||Actually, if you look closely, you will notice that the Bible contradicts the law of biogenesis. Remember, the law of biogenesis says living organisms develop from other living organisms. Reading the Bible verses provided by Comfort, note the multiple phrases that say "Let the Earth bring forth…" and from the Earth came certain creatures. That is, the nonliving material of Earth produced living material.
Also, Comfort does not define the word 'kind'. He did however, finally, describe what 'kind' means on his blog;
Comfort eventually removed the blog, but here we get to see him claiming that "kinds" refer to families or genera (Comfort also admits that certain intermediate fossils exist between species). Unfortunately for Comfort, there are also transitional fossils in between families and genera.
"Kind," in creationist jargon, generally refers these days to groups larger than a species but still thought to be related by common descent, such as entire genera or families (e.g. the "cat kind"). There are "species-to-species" transitions in the fossil record (e.g. Stephen Gould described a sequence of transitional fossils between two species of the snail genus Cerion), but presumably if you bothered to consider that rather than simply regurgitate your standard list of slogans, you dismiss this example as "they're still snails" (which of course is on some other creationist's list of standard slogans). Since "kind" is undefined, it's difficult to find a good example of a "kind-to-kind" transitional series… The fault isn’t with the definition of the word "kind." It hasn't changed in the slightest. One more time; here’s the definition: dog-kind, cat-kind, horse-kind, snail-kind, human-kind, etc. The atheist's difficulty is with the so-called evidence for evolution. There isn't any."
|"Natural Kinds" Validate the Bible Comfort provides just a quote, "This notion of species as 'natural kinds' fits splendidly with creationist terms of a pre-Darwinian age. Louise Agassiz even argued that species are God's individual thoughts, made incarnate so that we might perceive both His majesty and His message. Species, Agassiz wrote, are 'instituted by the Divine Intelligence as the categories of his mode of thinking.' But how could such a division of the organic world into discrete entities be justified by an evolutionary theory that proclaimed ceaseless change as the fundamental fact of nature?" — Stephen J. Gould
||This is a typical creationist quote mine of Stephen J. Gould, which was exposed in 1984 in an article, "Scientific Creationism: The Art of Distortion" by Laurie R. Godfrey that appeared in a book chapter. Within the chapter, Gould is not saying (as the creationists would have it) that creationism better explains the evidence. While the "common sense" notion that species are real "natural kinds" is well suited to creationism, there are at least three possible resolutions of the apparent (but not substantial) difficulty with evolutionary theory that arises when it is viewed as requiring constant change.
A more detailed explanation of this quote mine can be found on talk.origins All of this points to the shallowness of creationist use of quotes. In scholarly work, the use of quotations is intended to show an understanding of the relevant literature and is, in effect, a representation on the part of the person using the quote that she or he is intimately familiar with the author's work and positions. Not only are the people using this quote unfamiliar with the article that it came from or Gould's work in general, they are even unfamiliar with the literature on the creationism/evolution conflict. Either that… or this is deliberate dishonesty.|
Chapter 7: The Bible's 100% Accurate Prophecies
|Comfort argues that the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible testify to its truth and validity, such as the Bible predicting that empires like Greece and Rome would fall in Daniel 2:39-40 and predicting that the destruction of Tyre and Sidon (Zidon) in Isaiah 23:12:1 and Isaiah 23:17:1.
||None of these prophecies are significant or convincing. There are several mundane ways in which a prediction of the future can be fulfilled:
There are no prophecies in the Bible that cannot easily fit into one or more of those categories. The prophecies from Daniel were written after the event took place, and it is inevitable that civilizations rise and fall. Finally, Comfort is pleased to present that Isaiah 23 was fulfilled when Alexander the Great conquered it. The sad thing is that Ezekiel 26:6-14 predicts that Nebudchadnezzar would destroy Tyre and make it "as a bare rock". Best of all, biblical scholars are in agreement that this book was written hundreds of years before Tyre was destroyed. Yet we know from history that it was Alexander the Great, not Nebudchadnezzar, who destroyed Tyre (Tyrus).
- Retrodiction. The "prophecy" can be written or modified after the events fulfilling it have already occurred.
- Vagueness. The prophecy can be worded in such a way that people can interpret any outcome as a fulfillment. Nostradamus' prophecies are all of this type, at best. Vagueness works particularly well when people are motivated to believe the prophecies.
- Inevitability. The prophecy can predict something that is almost sure to happen, such as the collapse of an empire. Since nothing lasts forever, the empire is sure to fall someday. You'll note that prophecies of the fall of an empire, when they do seem to come true, were never specific about when they would occur (thus including the vagueness aspect). If it has not (yet), it can be said that according to prophecy, it will.
- Denial. One can claim that the fulfilling events occurred even if they have not. Or, more commonly, one can forget that the prophecy was ever made, or claim that it did come to pass, but in a symbolic way, or some other way that's not falsifiable as the original prophesy was. This happened with Harold Camping's predictions of the end of the world, for instance.
- Self-fulfillment. A person can act deliberately to satisfy a known prophecy. The restoration of Israel is a good example.
|The Bible's Prediction of the Middle-East Conflict Comfort says that in Genesis 16:12 that the descendants of Ishmael are the Arabs, and the Bible says the descendants will be men and every man would be against them while they [the Arabs] dwell in the midst of their 'brethren'. Comfort says the Jews are the Arabs' brethren.
||See above about vagueness and inevitability.|
|The Bible's Messianic Prophecies Comfort quotes Micah 5:2 (born in Bethlehem), Isaiah 7:14 (born of a virgin), Zechariah 11:12-13 (betrayed for 30 pieces of silver), Psalm 22 (died of crucifixion), and Isaiah 53:9 (buried in a rich man's tomb).
||Let's go in order.
- The gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:5-6) claims that Jesus' birth in Bethlehem fulfills this prophecy. But this is unlikely for two reasons.
- "Bethlehem Ephratah" in Micah 5:2 refers not to a town, but to a clan: the clan of Bethlehem, who was the son of Caleb’s second wife, Ephrathah (1 Chronicles 2:18, 1 Chronicles 2:50-52 and 1 Chronicles 4:4).
- The prophecy (if that is what it is) does not refer to the Messiah, but rather to a military leader, as can be seen from Micah 5:6. This leader is supposed to defeat the Assyrians, which, of course, Jesus never did. It should also be noted that Matthew altered the text of Micah 5:2 by saying: "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah" rather than "Bethlehem Ephratah" as is said in Micah 5:2. He did this, intentionally no doubt, to make this verse appear to refer to the town of Bethlehem rather than the family clan.
- Isiah 7:14 does not say "virgin." The Hebrew word used is almah which means "young woman." Almah does not mean virgin: virgins are called out specifically (the word is bethula). Some have argued that almah may mean virgin, but this is not the case. Almah is used about nine different times in the old Testament, each one not referring to a virgin.
- Zechariah 11: Matthew says that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Jeremiah, but Jeremiah has no verse that is even similar to the words given in Matthew. Matthew confused Jeremiah with Zechariah. Zechariah 11:12-13 – "So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD." To make things worse, Zechariah is predicting about a false prophet.
- Psalm 22:16: Fundamentalists have always claimed that the latter part of Psalm 22:16 "They pierced my hands and my feet" (which we shall designate as Psalm 22:16b) is a direct prophecy of the crucifixion, with the "piercing" referring to the nails going through Jesus' hands and feet. Although this is not the reading found in the Hebrew Masoretic text, support is claimed from the readings found in a Dead Sea Scroll fragment and in ancient versions of the Bible such as the Septuagint and the Vulgate. This claim is false, for a few reasons:
The Hebrew Text Behind the King James Version: Despite the claims of its accurate rendition of the original text, the Hebrew equivalent for "they pierced" was not found in the manuscripts available to the translators of the King James Version. Indeed the word rendered in those manuscripts means "like a lion".
The Dead Sea Scrolls: The evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls is ambiguous at best. The word found there, kaaru, has no known meaning and may actually be meaningless.
Ancient Versions: Before looking at the readings of the ancient versions, it is important to know some preliminary background information about them first. A careful analysis of the readings given in the ancient versions does not support "they pierced" as the correct translation. Indeed the analysis shows that there were two extant readings in the Hebrew text, one being kaari (like a lion) and the other kaaru. The very fact that translators did not translate the latter word consistently showed that even by that time, the meaning of that word was unknown.
Use of Psalm 22:16b by the Early Christians: No early Christian writer, including the evangelists and Paul, until the time of Justin around the middle of the 2nd century CE, made any explicit reference to the word "piercing" in Psalm 22:16b in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus although there were ample opportunities to do so. A consideration of the various internal evidence favors "like a lion" as the correct rendering of the word found in Psalm 22:16b. We can conclude with certainty that there is no reference to the crucifixion in Psalm 22:16b and with some probability that the correct reading there remains "like a lion".
Finally, Isaiah 53 is not about a suffering messiah.
|The Bible Predicted the Birth of a Nation[note 2] Comfort argues that Isaiah 66:7-8 predicted the foundation of Israel.
||As mentioned above, this is an example of self-fulfillment — Israel was created because the Bible predicted it. |
|The Bible Predicts Russia's Attack of Israel Comfort uses Ezekiel 38 (written approximately 600 BCE) prophesies in the "latter days" Russia (referred to as the "Prince of Rosh" Ezekiel 38:2 in the New King James Version]; see Smith's Bible Dictionary, p. 584) will join forces with Iran, Libya (in Hebrew called "Put") and "communistic" Ethiopia (in Hebrew called "Cush") and attack Israel (vv. 5-8). Comfort says this will happen after peace treaties have been achieved in Israel (v. 11).
Comfort says that verses Ezekiel 38:10-15 give the reasons why Russia will attack Israel (but does not provide them). Comfort says the Bible also shares the location of the battle: Armageddon (Revelation 16:16 — meaning the mountain of Megiddo). Comfort quotes Readers Digest in explaining that Russia had a large holding in the Middle East, "The Soviets are entrenched around the rim of the Middle East heartland, in Afghanistan, South Yemen, Ethiopia, and Libya" (Source: Reader's Digest, May 1982)
|Signs of the Times Verify the Bible Comfort says the following signs reveal the Bible is correct about the coming end of days. They are:
- There will be false Christs
- Wars and rumors of wars; Nation rising against nation
- Famines, disease (pestilence), and there will be earthquakes in various places
- False prophets who will deceive many
- Lawlessness (forsaking of the Ten Commandments)
- The gospel will be preached in all the world.
- Signs from heaven (in the sun, moon, and stars)
- Persecution against Christians in all nations
- Men’s hearts will fail them for fear of the future; they will be selfish, materialistic, arrogant, proud.
- Homosexuality will increase
- There will be blasphemy; cold-heartedness; intemperance; brutality; rebellious youth; hatred of those who stand up for righteousness; ungodliness; pleasureseeking; much hypocrisy.
- False Bible teachers will have many followers, be money-hungry, and slander the Christian faith (see 2 Peter 2:1-3).
- Men will scoff and say that there was no such thing as the flood of Noah and that these 'signs' have always been around. Their motivation for hating the truth will be their love of lust (2 Peter 3:1-7). Comfort says "The Scriptures tell us that they make one big mistake. Their understanding of God is erroneous. They don't understand that God's time frame is not the same as ours. They think (in their ignorance) that God's continued silence means that He doesn't see their sins. In truth, He is merely holding back His wrath, waiting for them to repent and escape the damnation of hell. Jesus warned that the sign to look for was the repossession of JerusalemN by the Jews. That happened in 1967, after 2,000 years, bringing into culmination all the signs of the times. (These are combined from Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Timothy 4; and 2 Timothy 3.)"
|Seriously!? These are the "tell-tale" signs of the last days?
At what point in history has there not been earthquakes, famines, and diseases? There have always been those who break laws, ever since the Sumerians. This is why we create laws, to protect each other, and there is the saying "laws are meant to be broken."
Besides which, we're missing a big one, Christians being persecuted in all nations. While there certainly are countries where Christians are persecuted, they're a distinct minority. Sorry Comfort (and other evangelicals), you're not persecuted in the United States; on the contrary Christianity is a strongly privileged religion here. Losing some of that special privilege doesn't constitute persecution and, frankly, makes you look like whiners when you claim persecution as a result of it.
|Bible and Armageddon Comfort says, "Joel 2:1-10 relates a striking account of the coming Battle of Armageddon, the greatest of all battles. As this vision (which seems to entail flame-throwing tank warfare) was given to him approximately 2,800 years ago, the prophet relates it to the only thing he has seen in battle—horse-drawn chariots. Think of modern warfare and compare: fire goes before them (v. 3); they burn what is behind them (v. 3); they destroy everything in their path (v. 3); they move at the speed of a horse (30–40 mph, v. 4); their rumbling sounds like the noise of many chariots and the roar of a fire (v. 5); they climb over walls (v. 7); they don’t break ranks (v. 7); the sword can’t stop them (v. 8); they climb into houses (v. 9); and they make the earth quake (v. 10)."
||Here, Comfort is quoting the Tanakh, not the Bible. The Tanakh is a textual source of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament.|
|The Bible and Nuclear War Comfort says, "Ezekiel 39, written over 2,500 years ago, speaks of God's judgment upon the enemies of Israel. Verses 12–15 describe what will happen after what many see as the Battle of Armageddon: 'And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land… And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. And the passengers that pass through the land, when any sees a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog.' Before the days of nuclear warfare, this portion of the Bible would have made no sense to the reader. We are told that even the weapons left by the enemy will have to be burned (Ezekiel 39:9). So many will die that it will take those specially employed for the purpose seven months to bury the dead (v. 14). The Scriptures are very specific about the method of burial. When even a bone is found by searchers, a special marker is to be placed near the bone until the buriers have buried it. This would seem to be a clear reference to radioactive contamination after nuclear war. This thought is confirmed in Joel 2:30, which speaks of 'pillars of smoke.'"
||This passage still makes little sense, even with current knowledge of nuclear warfare. Not only would bodies and weapons be sources of contamination, but so would tools, buildings, vehicles, etc. In fact burying wouldn't be enough because the ground itself would be contaminated. If you want a clear visual of what the aftermath of a total nuclear war is likely to look like, see the 1984 movie Threads.|
|The Book of Peter and Nuclear Weapons Comfort says, "The Bible suggests the effects of nuclear weaponry. This is certainly not something that could have been explained in 67 A.D. using known scientific principles (when Peter wrote the following verse): 'But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.' (2 Peter 3:10)."
||2 Peter 3:10:12 says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat." Once again, this is a loose interpretation applied well after facts are known. Fire was probably the most destructive weapon the Hebrews knew of, so it's not surprising they would predict the world to end in fire.|
Bear in mind, the Bible contains many failed prophecies, such as Isaiah 19:5 predicting that the Nile River would dry up (which it never has).
Chapter 8: Astronomy and the Bible
|The Bible and Lights Here, Comfort uses Genesis 1:14, which says that God created the 'lights' in the heavens "for signs, for seasons, for days and for years." Next, he explains that astronomy has calculated the length of a year, a month, and when seasons should occur. Comfort says that it can only be divine revelation that Moses 3,500 years ago could know that "lights" were determining factors of year's length.
||What Comfort does not take into account is that the Sumerians, thousands of years before Moses, already figured it out (as well as the 24-hour cycle) without the help of divine revelation or the Book of Genesis.|
|The Bible and the Stars Jeremiah 33:22: Comfort says that this was written 2,500 years ago "when no one knew how vast the stars were, since only 1,100 of them were visible." Comfort says we now know that there are billions of stars, but they cannot be numbered. Comfort also says that 1 Corinthians 15:41 tells us that each star is unique. Close inspection shows a difference in light spectra.
||Comfort does not provide any source that shows that only 1,100 stars were visible or explain if only that many were visible in one sector of the earth. (Actually up to 10,000 or so stars can be seen over the course of the year under ideal conditions; on any given night, without light pollution, one can see around 3,000 stars.) The stars can be and are being numbered, but the count is incomplete and difficult as stars are always being born and/or dying. 1 Corinthians only says that glory varies between different stars; it does not specify that each star is unique. A simple observation of the night sky, not divine revelation, could reveal that different stars have different brightnesses or special positions, and even different colors.|
|The Bible and Outer Space Comfort argues before the Hubble Space Telescope, the Deuteronomy 10:14 talked about 'the heavens' and 'the highest heavens'. Comfort says we now know how vast the universe is.
||This is quite a stretch of interpretation. Remember the bit about "vagueness" back in chapter 7 and note how the web-like large scale structure of the Universe is not mentioned at all. Also, astronomers knew before the Hubble telescope that the galaxies out there are very far away; in fact it was partly in order to see them more clearly that Hubble was constructed.|
|The Bible and the Sun's Circuit Comfort uses Psalm 19:6. Comfort notes that many people criticized this verse for supporting geocentrism. Comfort says that scientists at the time (~800 BCE) thought that the Sun was stationary. Now, science tells us that the sun moves at great speeds. Comfort argues the "circuit" in the Bible verse supports this.
||Psalm 19:4-6 refers to the Sun making a circuit around the Earth. It claims (or strongly implies) geocentrism, not heliocentrism. Otherwise, why would the Church have insisted for so many centuries on geocentrism?|
|The Bible and the Revolving Earth Comfort argues that Jesus Christ will come back (faster than the speed of light — Luke 17:24) while some are asleep at night and others awake during their daytime activities. Comfort concludes this must mean that the Bible knew that the Earth revolved, since day and night existed on Earth at the same time. Comfort also argues that science did not discover this until the 15Superscript textth century.
||Luke 17:24 says, "For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day." Is this really saying he will return faster than the speed of light? Lightning doesn't travel faster than light, after all.|
|The Bible and the Expanding Universe Comfort says that that the Bible mentions about seven times that God "stretches out the heavens like a curtain" but he only notes Psalm 104:2. Comfort says that only recently has science understood that the universe is expanding.
||Curtains don't expand; they're fixed in length. And "stretch[ing] out the heavens like a curtain" sounds very much like a reference to the "firmament", the solid dome of the sky above the Earth as the Israelites saw it, rather than an enormous three-dimensional universe expanding to billions of parsecs in all directions.|
|Astronomy Confirms the Bible "In 1964, Drs. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of Bell Labs discovered a noise coming from all directions, permeating the universe. This was hailed by physicists as 'the radio echo of creation.' Penzias said that the best data to go by, if he had nothing else to go on, are the five books of Moses. He also said that 'the creation of the universe is supported by all the observable data astronomy has produced so far.'"
||"The radio echo of creation" is the sort of metaphorical stuff that scientists and the press sometimes use without meaning it to be taken literally, like "Y-chromosomal Adam", "Mitochondrial Eve", and "the God particle". Also Penzias's statement is no more meaningful than others who make religious claims for nonreligious discoveries; there are those who ascribe things to the Bible that aren't there, because they're predisposed to believe that kind of thing. It's worth noting that he didn't discover the microwave background radiation because of accurate scientific knowledge he found in the Bible — he read that into it after the radiation was discovered (see "retrodiction" and "vagueness" above).|
Chapter 9: Historical Figures and the Bible
|Sir Isaac Newton Believed the Bible Comfort calls Newton the father of modern science. Comfort then quotes Newton claiming that he found the Bible more historically authentic than any other.
||Newton also believed in alchemy and claimed it was the key to great understanding of nature, but one man's personal beliefs do not give any special credence to alchemy or the Bible.|
|Samuel Morse Believed the Bible Morse created the telegraph, who claimed four years before his death that the closer he approached death, the more he saw the divine origin in the Bible.
||An inventor who was also religious… this sounds a bit like the whole thing with creationist engineers.|
|Napoleon Believed the Bible Comfort provides a quote from Napoleon who found the Bible very enjoyable and read it daily.
||Napoleon was neither a man of science nor a great moral example to follow. There's nothing wrong with him enjoying reading the Bible, but it doesn't prove anything.|
|Woodrow Wilson Believed the Bible
||Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States (1913-1921) may have believed in the Bible, but what Comfort does not share is that Wilson also believed in the theory of evolution:
Furthermore, Wilson was also a racist and a eugenicist. He is not really a good example to cite.
"May it not suffice for me to say … that of course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised." — Woodrow Wilson
|Thomas Jefferson Believed the Bible
||More accurately, he believed parts of the Bible. Jefferson was a deist, who eventually created his own Bible (called the Jefferson Bible). Jefferson stripped it of all its miracles and every instance when and where Jesus claimed to be divine. If Comfort remained consistent with himself, he would label Jefferson an "idolater" — that is making a "god in his own image." Comfort accused Hitler of doing the same thing, and claimed that was Hitler's greatest crime, because in so doing, Hitler's version of God permitted the genocide of millions. Indeed, Jefferson also studied parts of the Qu'ran, and was a strong supporter of religious tolerance. In fact, he's the one who coined the term "Separation of church and state".|
|Herbert Hoover Believed the Bible
||Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States (1929-1933), came from a family of Quakers. Hoover was a firm defender of religious tolerance:
"I come of Quaker stock. My ancestors were persecuted for their beliefs. Here they sought and found religious freedom. By blood and conviction I stand for religious tolerance both in act and in spirit." — Herbert Hoover
|John Quincy Adams Believed the Bible
||He also believed that the Earth was hollow. Again, a great person's professional accomplishments don't necessarily lend credibility to their personal beliefs.|
|Robert E. Lee Believed the Bible
||He was the General for the Confederate Army in the American Civil War. Like Napoleon, not a great moral or scientific leader.|
|Ulysses S. Grant Believed the Bible
||Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union Army in the American Civil War, 18th POTUS, may have been a Christian, but he also had some views that Comfort might take exception to. For instance, he was a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state, and he supported the taxation of church property:
"In 1850, I believe, the church property in the United States, which paid no tax, amounted to $87 million. In 1900, without a check, it is safe to say, this property will reach a sum exceeding $3 billion. I would suggest the taxation of all property equally." - Ulysses S. Grant
|Sir Winston Churchill Believed the Bible
||Winston Churchill was also behind some not very moral activity (e.g., Bengal famine), But again, arguments from authority are a poor indicator of what's true.|
|Charles Dickens Believed the Bible
||Dickens also did not like missionaries. He said, "Missionaries are perfect nuisances and leave every place worse than they found it." — Charles Dickens, quoted from Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness, Chapter VI.|
|John Adams Believed the Bible "The Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more than all the libraries I have ever seen."
||Know what else John Adams said? "Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind." — John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88) Adams also wrote the Treaty of Tripoli, which included confirmation that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."|
|Ronald Reagan Believed the Bible
||Ronald Reagan promoted the National Day of Prayer, which has recently been ruled in court as unconstitutional. He believed in teaching creationism in science classrooms and believed that God was the source of all knowledge. Reagan also believed that he was living in end times. "We may be the generation that sees Armageddon." — Ronald Reagan So far, no "end times" in sight.|
|George Washington Believed the Bible
||George Washington may have been a Christian, perhaps more likely a deist, but above all things he was a secularist. Several other quotes that Comfort did not share cast doubt on Washington's views as Comfort tries to portray them.|
|Dwight Eisenhower Believed the Bible
||A plain and simple argument from authority again. Dwight Eisenhower was no scientific expert.|
|Albert Schweitzer Believed the Bible
||Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) was a French philosopher, physician, and musician who founded (1913) and spent much of his life at a missionary hospital in present-day Gabon. However, did Albert Schweitzer believe the Bible? He entirely disputed the picture of Jesus in the classical Christian creeds:
In his book Quest for the Historical Jesus, Schweitzer proposes that Jesus was a Jewish apocalyptist who believed that cataclysmic events ending human history as we know it were shortly about to occur.
"There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb." — Albert Schweitzer
|Calvin Coolidge Believed the Bible
||Not only was Coolidge a poor authority on such matters, but an odd choice of authorities to bring up, since nobody particularly looks up to him.|
|Christopher Columbus Believed the Bible
||Let's take a look at how much of a good Christian Columbus was. Upon arriving in North America, he immediately began enslaving the natives. Among the first things to follow was a genocide much greater then that of the Holocaust. It should also be noted that Columbus was convicted in a Spanish court of "Crimes of Brutality" — which translates today as genocide. The original population under Columbus's direct control was 8 million in 1493, which was reduced to 3 million by 1496, many as a result of having their hands cut off and bleeding to death as punishment for failing to pay taxes (tribute). By the time he was arrested and returned to Spain in 1500 the population was reduced to 100,000 — by 1514 no more than 200 were left alive. Independent sources indicate that Columbus killed about 14,000,000 people, whereas Hitler was a paltry 10,000,000.|
Columbus' description of the Native Americans (who were not Christians) was: "They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will… they took great delight in pleasing us… They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal… Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people… They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing." How can these "ungodly" people be worse than the Christians who brutalized them?
|Abraham Lincoln Believed the Bible
||This is disputed. While Lincoln was known to read the Bible, it was one of the few books he had access to as a child. Despite this, evidence suggests that he was a deist or an agnostic throughout his life. He was never part of any organized church, and never mentioned Jesus in any known speech. Accounts from his friends and bodyguards indicate that at some points in his life he was skeptical of religion. Furthermore, Lincoln accepted the theory of evolution, even though it was a newly-proposed theory at that time.|
|Congress and the Bible Comfort says, "The Bible is the Word of God according to the United States Congress. In a joint resolution requesting the President proclaim 1983 as the 'Year of the Bible,' it declared: '…the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people … Deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our nation … Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (Public Law 97-280).'"
||Congress is a body of representatives elected by the American people, who are overwhelmingly Christian and who often would refuse to vote for someone who doesn't profess Christianity. So it's unsurprising that Congress would make statements favorable to the Bible, since its membership is self-selecting.|
Here are some other historical figures who also believed the Bible, but Comfort prefers not to cite:
- Adolf Hitler
- The Nazi Party
- The Ku Klux Klan
- George W. Bush
- Dick Cheney
- Popes. Every single one of them (presumably), from the beginning to the end of the Roman Catholic Church
- Fred Phelps
- Henrich Kramer & James Sprenger, authors of the Malleus Maleficarum
- Vlad the Impaler
- Ivan the Terrible
- Hernán Cortés and many other conquistadors
- Kamini Debbarma of the NLFT, a Christian terrorist group in India
- Joseph Kony
Needless to say, this chapter in Comfort's book is entirely based on argument from authority (argumentum ad verecundiam); in other words, if some famous people are Christians, Christianity must be accurate. It should go without saying (but too often doesn't) that arguments from authority are problematic.
Chapter 10: Archaeology and the Bible
|Archaeology and History Attest to the Bible The first section of this chapter was written by Richard Fales, PhD, who has been described as a professor of Archaeology, Greek, and Apologetics at the unaccredited, and now defunct, diploma mill Pacific International University.
Manuscript Evidence Fales makes the following argument, "Aristotle's Ode to Poetics was written between 384 and 322 B.C. The earliest copy of this work dates A.D. 1100, and there are only forty-nine extant manuscripts. The gap between the original writing and the earliest copy is 1,400 years. There are only seven extant manuscripts of Plato's Tetralogies, written 427–347 B.C. The earliest copy is A.D. 900—a gap of over 1,200 years. What about the New Testament? Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30. The New Testament was written between A.D. 48 and 95. The oldest manuscripts date to the last quarter of the first century, and the second oldest A.D. 125. This gives us a narrow gap of thirty-five to forty years from the originals written by the apostles. From the early centuries, we have some 5,300 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Altogether, including Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic, we have a whopping 24,633 texts of the ancient New Testament to confirm the wording of the Scriptures. So the bottom line is, there was no great period between the events of the New Testament and the New Testament writings. Nor is there a great time lapse between the original writings and the oldest copies. With the great body of manuscript evidence, it can be proved, beyond a doubt, that the New Testament says exactly the same things today as it originally did nearly 2,000 years ago."
|Elsewhere, it has been claimed that Fales' credentials are completely fictitious.
The section does make a valid point that the gap of a few decades between the events in the New Testament and when they were written down is relatively short in comparison to other works.
However, Fales misdates the oldest manuscripts by upwards of half a century and he continues with the demonstrably false claim that "it can be proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the New Testament says exactly the same thing today as it originally did nearly 2,000 years ago." Fales also ignores the fact that all of the oldest manuscripts are fragments, typically smaller than a credit card and the first complete book of the New Testament was written no earlier than 200 CE. It's also known that numerous translation errors have crept in as the Bible made it into other languages.
|Corroborating Writings Next Fales sets up the straw man that critics claim "there are no ancient writings about Jesus outside the New Testament". Fales names (Titus) "Flavius Josephus (A.D. 93), the Babylonian Talmud (A.D. 70–200), Pliny the Younger's letter to the Emperor Trajan (approx. A.D. 100), the Annals of Tacitus (A.D. 115–117), Mara Bar Serapion (sometime after A.D. 73), and Suetonius’ Life of Claudius and Life of Nero (A.D. 120)."
"Another point of contention arises when Bible critics have knowingly or unknowingly misled people by implying that Old and New Testament books were either excluded from or added into the canon of Scripture at the great ecumenical councils of A.D. 336, 382, 397, and 419. In fact, one result of these gatherings was to confirm the Church's belief that the books already in the Bible were divinely inspired. Therefore, the Church, at these meetings, neither added to nor took away from the books of the Bible. At that time, the thirty-nine Old Testament books had already been accepted, and the New Testament, as it was written, simply grew up with the ancient Church. Each document, being accepted as it was penned in the first century, was then passed on to Christians of the next century. So, this foolishness about the Roman Emperor Constantine dropping books from the Bible is simply uneducated rumor."
|While Fales does list a number of extra-biblical sources that refer to Jesus or simply to Christians, Fales falsely claims that these other sources confirm Jesus' "birth, ministry, death and resurrection". This is followed by an extremely vague and extremely short history of the biblical canon. Fales claims that "Each document, being accepted as it was penned in the first century, was then passed on to Christians of the next century," obviously ignoring the "documents" written by Christians in the first century that didn't make it into the canon (i.e., the Apocrypha). Further, those extra-biblical references either don't refer to Jesus at all (only to Christians) or, where they do mention him, those references are remarkably shaky.|
|Modern Archaeology Confirms the Bible This is a quote by Jeffery L. Sheler, "Is the Bible True?" Reader’s Digest, June 2000, "In extraordinary ways, modern archeology is affirming the historical core of the Old and New Testaments, supporting key portions of crucial biblical stories."
||Here, Sheler is dead wrong. Comfort does not include anything by Sheler to present his arguments, and archeology does not support the Bible as much as Comfort would like. In fact, due to the increasing contrary evidence against Biblical stories, the term 'biblical archaeology' has been discarded by professional archaeologists.|
There are no records that Herod slaughtered thousands of infants in search of the one prophesied to be the messiah; the Roman census in the gospels is a complete fiction; there is no evidence for the Exodus; the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites was a legend intended to explain the ruined cities and forts of the area. William Denver, an archaeologist normally associated with the more conservative end of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, has labeled the question of the historicity of Exodus as "dead". Israeli archaeologist Ze'ev Herzog provides the current consensus view on the historicity of the Exodus, "The Israelites were never in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction — made in the seventh century [BCE] — of a history that never happened."
|The Dead Sea Scrolls Bear Out the Bible This section is written by archaeologist and biblical scholar William F. Albright, who received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.  The following will be quoted exactly as it is written in the book.
||Despite the relatively harmless claims, Albright has been highly criticized with comments like "historical interpretation can make no claim to be objective, proceeding as it does from a methodology which distorts its data by selectivity which is hardly representative". In short, this section only serves to demonstrate that what we currently have in the Old Testament is likely to be the same as what was present 3000 years ago. Also, it should be remembered that the Dead Sea Scrolls are writings of the Old Testament, and are not a source to support the New Testament.|
|Dating the Manuscripts "Carbon-14 dating is a reliable form of scientific dating when applied to uncontaminated material several thousand years old. Results indicated an age of 1917 years with a 200-year (10 percent) variant. Paleography (ancient writing forms) and orthography (spelling) indicated that some manuscripts were inscribed before 100 B.C. Albright set the date of the complete Isaiah scroll to around 100 B.C. — 'there can happily not be the slightest doubt in the world about the genuineness of the manuscript.'"
||It's interesting that Comfort accepts Carbon-14 as a legitimate method of dating when it supports his case, but whenever it is used in support of evolution it is automatically a 'flawed' dating method and should be discarded.|
|Archeological Dating "Collaborative evidence for an early date came from archaeology. Pottery accompanying the manuscripts was late Hellenistic (c. 150–63 B.C.) and Early Roman (c. 63 B.C. to A.D. 100). Coins found in the monastery ruins proved by their inscriptions to have been minted between 135 B.C. and A.D. 135. The weave and pattern of the cloth supported an early date. There is no reasonable doubt that the Qumran manuscripts came from the century before Christ and the first century A.D."
||That's a start. |
|Significance of the Dating. "Previous to the DSS, the earliest known manuscript of the Old Testament was the Masoretic Text (A.D. 900) and two others (dating about A.D. 1000) from which, for example, the King James version of the Old Testament derived its translation. Perhaps most would have considered the Masoretic text as a very late text and therefore questioned the reliability of the Old Testament wholesale. The Dead Sea Scrolls eclipse these texts by 1,000 years and provide little reason to question their reliability, and further, present only confidence for the text. The beauty of the Dead Sea Scrolls lies in the close match they have with the Masoretic text — demonstrable evidence of reliability and preservation of the authentic text through the centuries. So the discovery of the DSS provides evidence for the following:
- Confirmation of the Hebrew Text
- Support for the Masoretic Text
- Support for the Greek translation of the Hebrew
Text (the Septuagint). Since the New Testament often quotes from the Greek Old Testament, the DSS furnish the reader with further confidence for the Masoretic texts in this area where it can be tested. (Generated from Norman Geisler, 'Dead Sea Scrolls,' Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics)"
|True, the Dead Sea Scrolls have shown that later versions of the Tanakh were truer to earlier copies than many in the skeptic community had supposed. We accept that. Of course it should be remembered that this has little bearing on the accuracy of the New Testament, and isn't a wholesale endorsement of the Old Testament, which has some changes from the Tanakh introduced by Christian writers.|
|Archaeological Discoveries and the Bible
"Archaeology has confirmed countless passages which have been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts … Yet archaeological discoveries have shown that these critical charges … are wrong and that the Bible is trustworthy in the very statements which have been set aside as untrustworthy … We do not know of any cases where the Bible has been proved wrong." — Dr. Joseph P. Free
|Joseph P. Free (1911–1974) died before new archeological evidence revealed the exact opposite of what he held to be true. Prior to the 1970s one could be forgiven for thinking that archeology was the handmaid of the Bible — for one archeological dig after another seemed to confirm it. But this is no longer true. Scholars are questioning the whole paradigm of 'biblical archaeology', which starts with the assumption that the Bible is a reliable guide for field research. Indeed, there is now so much evidence against the historical accuracy of the Bible that the term 'biblical archaeology' has been discarded by professional archaeologists and "Syro-Palestinian archaeology" has been suggested by some practicing in the field as a more appropriate term.|
|Archaeology’s Amazing Findings
"It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries." — Dr. Nelson Glueck
|Nelson Glueck (1900–1971) is another example of an archeologist who died before new evidence came to light revealing the historical bankruptcy of the Bible.|
|Archaeological Data Corroborates the Bible "Following the 1993 discovery in Israel of a stone containing the inscriptions 'House of David' and 'King of Israel,' Time magazine stated, 'This writing—dated to the 9th century B.C., only a century after David's reign — described a victory by a neighboring king over the Israelites … The skeptics' claim that David never existed is now hard to defend.' Time, December 18, 1995.
"'During the past four decades, spectacular discoveries have produced data corroborating the historical backdrop of the Gospels. In 1968, for example, the skeletal remains of a crucified man were found in a burial cave in northern Jerusalem . . . There was evidence that his wrists may have been pierced with nails. The knees had been doubled up and turned sideways and an iron nail (still lodged in the heel bone of one foot) driven through both heels. The shinbones appeared to have been broken, perhaps corroborating the Gospel of John.' — Jeffery L. Sheler, 'Is the Bible True?' Reader’s Digest, June 2000"
|The story of the united kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon also seems to be unraveled by archeology. According to the Bible, David's kingdom consisted of a united Israel and Judah along with other kingdoms he conquered — Syria and Hamath to the north; Moab, Ammon to the east; Philistine to the west; and Edom to the south (2 Samuel 8:3-13; (2 Samuel 10:1-19). Surely such a sizable empire would have left immense archaeological evidence of its existence. The date normally ascribed to King David's reign is 1005-970 BCE. And although no one doubts the existence of King David, there is no archaeological evidence for his kingdom beyond his existence. As archaeologist John Laughlin noted, "[T]here is little in the overall archaeological picture of the tenth century BC that can be connected with David." Whatever evidence there is points to the the story about the grandeur of David’s empire being a myth of a fictional golden age created by later writers. David's 'vast' empire is a myth. If David was indeed king, he never ruled over the vast regions described in the Bible.
Regarding the skeleton discovered, it would indeed make more sense for nails to be driven through the wrists and ankles rather than the hands and feet, but given that the Romans crucified tens of thousands of people, it's quite a stretch to leap from "a body that looks like it was probably crucified" to "this specific person who's said to have been crucified back then."|
|The Bible and the Hittite Empire "The Scriptures make more than 40 references to the great Hittite Empire. However, until one hundred years ago there was no archaeological evidence to substantiate the biblical claim that the Hittites existed. Skeptics declared that the Bible was in error, until their mouths were suddenly stopped. In 1906, Hugo Winckler uncovered a huge library of 10,000 clay tablets, which completely documented the lost Hittite Empire. We now know that at its height, the Hittite civilization rivaled Egypt and Assyria in its glory and power."
||Biblical Hittites have not been ascertained to have been related to the Hittite Empire. The Hittites weren't Caananites, and didn't have Semitic names (i.e., the names weren't of the languages spoken by the Caananites and the Israelites). They were instead Indo-European language speakers. They lived north of the Israelites, in what is modern-day Turkey. The Bible states that the Hittites advanced to Jerusalem, contradicting the fact that the Hittites never got further south than Biblios in Northern Caanan.|
|Excavations Confirm the Bible "A hidden burial chamber, dating to the first century, was discovered in 1990 two miles from the Temple Mount. One bore the bones of a man in his sixties, with the inscription 'Yehosef bar Qayafa' — meaning 'Joseph, son of Caiaphas.' Experts believe this was Caiaphas, the high priest of Jerusalem, who was involved in the arrest of Jesus, interrogated him, and handed Him over to Pontius Pilate for execution. A few decades earlier, excavations at Caesarea Maritama, the ancient seat of Roman government in Judea, uncovered a stone slab whose complete inscription may have read: 'Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.' The discovery is truly significant, establishing that the man depicted in the Gospels as Judea’s Roman governor had the authority ascribed to him by the Gospel writers. Jeffery L. Sheler, 'Is the Bible True?' Reader's Digest, June 2000"
||This does not prove the existaence of Jesus of Nazareth nor does it prove the resurrection. All it establishes is the burials of a rich man and a prefect — but it is important to note that the stone slab says "prefect" and not "governor" as stated in the gospels.|
Chapter 11: The Bible's Historical Accuracy
|The Bible's Historical Accuracy This is a quote from apologist John McRay, who, as in other places is quoting in praise of Luke being a "scrupulously accurate historian." While ignoring the contradictions in Luke's account to other Gospel writers and other contemporary historians, McRay mentions Luke's claim to fame as being "references to thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities and nine islands, finding not a single mistake."
||So McRay (along with a number of other people) believes that being able to accurately record the places one visits makes them a historian.
Does Luke not make "a single mistake"? How about the fact that the city of Nazareth did not exist until the 4th century, while Luke was written in the 2nd?
Also, why does McRay ignore the historical embarrassment by the other Gospel authors, such as Mark being wrong multiple times regarding Palestinian geography?
|History Attests to Scripture In this section, Comfort maintains that the bible is historically accurate because both Matthew and Luke refer to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
||It is no wonder that Comfort ignores the fact that most critical scholars, including Raymond Brown, a Catholic priest, date both of these Gospels to after the destruction of the temple. It should be no surprise that they would have gotten it right.|
|Historian Attests to the Account of Jesus This is a full quote of Josephus' reference to Jesus in his "The Wars of the Jews".
Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works — a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal man amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.
|This truly appears to give historical confirmation for the existence of Jesus. But is it authentic? Most scholars admit that at least some parts, if not all, of this paragraph cannot be authentic, with even the Catholic Encyclopedia concurring. Many are convinced that the entire paragraph is a forgery, an interpolation inserted by Christians at a later time. Even Christian scholars consider the paragraph to be an overenthusiastic forgery.[note 3][note 4][note 5]
- The paragraph is absent from early copies of the works of Josephus. For example, in Origen's 2nd century Origen Contra Celsum, wherein Origen fiercely defends Christianity against the heretical views of Celsus, he quotes freely from Josephus to prove his points, but never once uses this paragraph, which would have been the ultimate ace up his sleeve. The paragraph does not appear at all until the beginning of the 4th century, at the time of Constantine, who was eager to demolish Gnostic Christianity and replace it with literalistic Christianity. Bishop Eusebius, a close ally of the emperor, was instrumental in crystallizing and defining the version of Christianity that was to become orthodox, and he is the first person known to have quoted this paragraph of Josephus. Eusebius once wrote that it was permissible "medicine" for historians to create fictions[note 6] — prompting historian Jacob Burckhardt to call Eusebius "the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity." Many scholars believe Eusebius was the source of the paragraph on Jesus.
- Josephus would not have called Jesus 'the Christ' or 'the truth'. Whoever wrote these phrases was a believing Christian. Josephus was a messianic Jew, and if he truly believed Jesus was the long-awaited messiah (Christ), he certainly would have given more than a passing reference to him. Josephus never converted to Christianity. Origen reported that Josephus was "not believing in Jesus as Christ."
- The passage is out of context. Book 18 ("Containing the interval of 32 years from the banishment of Archelus to the departure from Babylon") starts with the Roman taxation under Cyrenius in 6 CE and discusses various Jewish sects at the time, including the Essenes and a sect of Judas the Galilean, to which he devotes three times more space than to Jesus; Herod's building of various cities, the succession of priests and procurators, and so on. Chapter 3 starts with sedition against Pilate, who planned to slaughter all the Jews but changed his mind. Pilate then used sacred money to supply water to Jerusalem. The Jews protested; Pilate sent spies into Jewish ranks with concealed weapons, and there was a great massacre. Then in the middle of all these troubles comes the curiously quiet paragraph about Jesus, followed immediately by, "And about the same time another terrible misfortune confounded the Jews …" Josephus would not have thought the Christian story to be "another terrible misfortune". It is only a Christian (someone like Eusebius) who might have considered Jesus to be a Jewish tragedy. Paragraph three can be lifted out of the text with no damage to the chapter; in fact, it flows better without it.
- There was no "tribe of Christians" during Josephus' time; Christianity did not get off the ground until the second century.
- Josephus appears not to know anything else about the Jesus outside of this tiny paragraph and an indirect reference concerning James, the “brother of Jesus” (see below). He does not refer to the gospels now known as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or to the writing or activities of Paul, though if these stories were in circulation at that time he ought to have known about them and used them as sources. Like the writings of Paul, Josephus' account is silent about the teachings or miracle of Jesus, although he reports the antics of other prophets in great detail. He relates much more about John the Baptist. He lists the activities of many other self-proclaimed messiahs, including Judas of Galilee, Theudas the magician and the Egyptian Jew Messiah. He makes no mention of the earthquake or eclipse at the crucifixion, which would have been universally known in that area if the events had truly happened. He adds nothing to the Gospels' narratives and says nothing that would not have been believed by Christians already, whether in the 1st or 4th century.
- The paragraph mentions that the "divine prophets" foretold the life of Jesus, but Josephus neglects to mention who these prophets were or what they said. In no other place does Josephus connect any Hebrew prediction with the life of Jesus.
- The hyperbolic language of the paragraph is uncharacteristic of a careful historian: "… as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him …" This sounds more like sectarian propaganda — in other words, more like the New Testament — than objective reporting. It is very unlike Josephus.
|The Bible's Harmony Attests to Its Inspiration As the title indicates, in this section Comfort claims that the consistency allegedly maintained throughout the Bible is proof of its divine inspirations. This entire section is a quote from Josh McDowell:
The authors, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
… wrote on hundreds of controversial subjects with absolute harmony from the beginning to the end. There is one unfolding story from Genesis to Revelation: the redemption of mankind through the Messiah — the Old Testament through the coming Messiah, the New Testament from the Messiah that has come. In Genesis, you have paradise lost, in Revelation you have paradise gained. You can't understand Revelation without understanding Genesis. It's all interwoven on hundreds of controversial subjects.
Now here's the picture: 1,600 years, 60 generations, 40-plus authors, different walks of life, different places, different times, different moods, different continents, three languages, writing on hundreds of controversial subjects and yet when they are brought together, there is absolute harmony from beginning to end … There is no other book in history to even compare to the uniqueness of this continuity.
|Comfort obviously fails to mention all of the biblical contradictions that need to be often addressed by various authors with typically different explanations. Easy examples include the two stories of Creation given in Genesis, which have different things created in different orders; and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which disagree on a number of points, such as how many people saw Christ when he emerged from his tomb. The Bible may be a source of inspiration for many, but it's a piss-poor example of "absolute harmony".|
Chapter 12: Evolution and the Bible
|Comfort begins this chapter with "If you have read through this book with an open mind, you may be wondering how the theory of evolution is compatible with the Bible. The answer is they are not."
||This coming from someone who has no interest in honestly learning about evolution, and calls his own biases "honest". For instance, in the conclusion to Comfort's other book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think, he talks about the four major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity). Comfort then goes through them to decide which one people should choose. Comfort assesses them with the preconception that Christianity is true. He faults Buddhism for not solving the "problem of sin and the reality of Hell" (never mind the problem of evil and Christianity). He faults Hinduism for not solving the problem proposed in Christianity (which, since Hinduism is older, is equivalent to criticizing Christianity for not solving a problem proposed by Islam). This bias and presupposition has been made clear to Comfort, but yet he still believes he never had a presupposition and was being totally honest.
As for evolution and the Bible being compatible, that really depends of the individual's perception of faith. Hundreds of millions of Christians accept evolution as true; even numerous Popes have stated that the theory of evolution and Christianity are not incompatible. However, to Comfort (a biblical literalist) if evolution is true then the Bible must be false. To save much trouble, evolution is true (that is a fact as well as a theory), but Comfort will never accept that and would rather live a life of fantasy and delusion rather than accept an observable reality.
Comfort's reason for why the Bible is true is because the Bible states that every animal brings forth after its own "kind" but he does not define what "kind" means. What separates humans from the other animals? The Bible says that the "flesh" of humans is different from the "flesh" of beasts. This is blatantly not true. Humans are a species of primate, which is a category of mammal, which is a category of vertebrate, which is a category of animal. This was known more than 2000 years ago, and is obvious given that top predators have no trouble eating human flesh when given the opportunity.
|Comfort says that he accepts 'microevolution', or as he terms it, "variations within a species." Comfort states the following, "But there is no scientific evidence for 'macroevolution' — one species evolving into another."
||This last statement is the opposite of true. We have observed and documented hundreds of instances when species split into new species. Comfort says the claim that humans evolved from primates is an example of macroevolution — however it is actually microevolution, since humans are primates.|
|Philosophy Professor Convinced In this section, Comfort tries to convince the reader that belief in the Bible is justifiable because of a man named Derek Prince, who claimed to be a philosophy professor at Cambridge University, who said, "Prior to believing the Bible I have studied many other attempts to explain man's origin and found them all unsatisfying and in many cases self-contradictory. I turned to study the Bible as a professional philosopher — not as a believer — and I commented to myself, 'At least it can't be any sillier than some of the other things I've heard,' and to my astonishment, I discovered it had the answer."
||This is a fallacy known as appeal to authority. Anyone can find a quote or a testimony from an academic who read the Bible and numerous other sacred texts, and still find no evidence for God or any significant answers. There is actually no evidence that Prince was a philosophy professor. While he was a student at Cambridge, he had a position of 'reader' in Classics, a rank below professor.|
|Evolution: Fact or Fiction? Comfort says that evolution provides more questions than answers.
||This one is problematic not so much because it's false as because it's deceptive. It tries to imply that the basics of evolution are in question, but the truth is that the basics — that evolution occurs, the basics of how it occurs, etc. — are well settled and heavily supported by the evidence. Further, it's not a bad thing that a branch of science generates a lot of questions — that's what science does, answer questions and find more questions to ask. This is what science is all about: it's a good thing, not a weakness. As Dara Ó Briain pointed out, "Science knows it doesn't know everything; otherwise, it'd stop. But just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you."|
|The reason why evolution seems illogical is because Comfort does not know the answer to such questions like what was the first bird. Here are his questions:
Did the bird breathe? Did it breathe before it evolved lungs? How did it do this? Why did it evolve lungs if it was happy surviving without them? How did it know that it needed to be evolved if its brain hadn't been evolved yet? Did the bird have a mouth? How did it eat before it evolved a mouth? Where did the mouth send the food before the stomach evolved? How did the bird have energy if it didn't eat (because it didn't yet have a mouth)? How did the bird see what there was to eat before its eyes evolved? Evolution is intellectual suicide. It is an embarrassment.
|The only real embarrassment here is this list of misleading questions Comfort asks, which are not even wrong. Birds didn't appear without all those organs and then evolve them; those organs came about in the birds' distant ancestors. Dinosaurs had them, Triassic reptiles had them before that, and so on. This is much like Comfort's insistence (even though he's been corrected on the subject) that males and females must have somehow evolved separately.|
|Comfort then goes on to quote several people. He first quotes Prof. Louis Bounoure, Director of Research, National Center for Scientific Research, "Evolution is a fairy tale for grown ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless."
||However, Comfort and other creationists have taken this quote out of context. This quote comes from 1984, but it did not come from Bounoure. The "fairy tale for adults" line is not from Bounoure but from Jean Rostand (way back in 1959), who did not even say "Evolution" but "transformation." Rostand did say the following, "Transformism may be considered as accepted, and no scientist, no philosopher, no longer discusses [i.e., questions] the fact of evolution." Rostand was an atheist, and he clearly defended evolution, calling it a "fact". Bounoure was never Director or a member of the CNRS; he expressed his distaste at those in his day who argued over the "principles" of evolution, "how" it took place, whether via Lamarckian or Darwinian.|
|Second, Comfort quotes Michael Ruse, "An increasing number of evolutionists… argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory is no genuine scientific theory at all… Many of the critics have the highest intellectual credentials."
||Why the spaces in between phrases? This is a clear sign of creationist quote mining. Even the original (which does support evolution, though not the mainstream view of it) can be taken with a large grain of salt due to the lack of credibility that Ruse has in this domain.
Comfort claims to cite Ruse's book here, "Darwin's Theory: an Exercise in Science", but there is no such book; it is an article in the popular science magazine New Scientist, which often includes speculative material.
|Thirdly, Comfort quotes Dr. T. N. Tahmisian of the Atomic Energy Commission, "Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever." (1974)
||Since when is an atomic scientist an authority on the subject of biological evolution? Would you take it seriously if a biologist expressed disbelief about atomic theory? Plus this quote is decades old; scientists have made many discoveries since then.|
|Finally, Comfort quotes British journalist and philosopher Malcolm Muggeridge, "I am convinced myself that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it has applied, will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has." (1981)
||Comfort has already demonstrated that Muggeridge doesn't have the correct credentials to make authoritative statements on the subject of evolution, biology, or science. Also, Muggeridge was not a philosopher.|
|The Evolution of the Theory Comfort tries to explain the story of how the concept of evolution came to be by quoting a story from Our Times: The Illustrated History of the 20th Century.|| |
|Comfort lists several hoaxes, like Piltdown Man and Heidelberg Man. Comfort argues that Neanderthals were not evidence for evolution, because it has been discovered that Neanderthal Man died of exposure to disease and was "fully human, not ape" (baraminology jargon).
||The British museum touted the "Piltdown Man" as authentic, but the American Museum of Natural History displayed it only as a "mixture of ape and man fossils", which is what it eventually turned out to be.
There was no way to adequately examine such things back in 1915. Chemical tests – common today — didn't yet exist and the practice of radiometric dating was still in its infancy. Before the first australopiths were discovered, we didn't know exactly what to expect of the links that were then still missing between humans and the other apes known at that time. But as we began filling in the gaps in human evolution with thousands of legitimate fossils, a pattern emerged which left Piltdown as an increasingly obvious anomaly. Consequently, it was taken off display and stored away almost continuously for decades. It lost importance in most discussions because, in light of everything else we discovered over the next few decades, it just never fit, and was eventually dismissed from the list of potential human ancestors for that reason.
As the years wore on, criticism arose against everyone who ever promoted the Piltdown collection because there seemed to be so much wrong with it. Finally, in the 1950s, it was taken back out of the box and scrutinized via more modern means. First, fluorine dating revealed that it was much too recent, and it was shown to have been chemically treated to give a false impression of its age and mineral composition. Then it was finally determined that the jaw must have come from an orangutan, and that it had been deliberately reshaped with modern tools in a well-crafted and deliberate forgery. So this fraud was exposed by scientists, not theologians.
Homo heidelbergensis was "quite human" because he was a human (Homo genus), just not the same species we are. And it was never known from a single jawbone either, but from more than 4,000 bones representing nearly 30 individuals found in one site alone, and there are still dozens more. Their evident descendants, the Neanderthals, weren't "just an old man with arthritis" either. We've found hundreds of Neanderthal men, women, and children, and even their DNA, which has provided proof that they were genetically distinct from modern humans.
One hoax does not show the inferiority of conventional archeology, because creationists have several of their own, including Paluxy footprints, the Calaveras skull, Moab Man and Malachite Man, and others. More telling is how people deal with these hoaxes. When Piltdown was exposed, it stopped being used as evidence. The creationist hoaxes, however, can still be found cited as if they were real. Piltdown has been over and done with for decades, but the dishonesty of creationist hoaxes continues.
|The Religion of Evolution Comfort wonders if there is no evidence for evolution, why is it widely treated as if it does? Comfort then quotes Sir Arthur Keith, who wrote the Foreward to the Origin of Species, that "evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable." Finally, Comfort quotes physics Prof. H. S. Lipson, "In fact, evolution became a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to 'bend' their observations to fit it."
Comfort agrees with Lipson that evolution is a religion. Comfort explains how the acceptance of evolution happens: a believer tells it to a nonbeliever. The nonbeliever does not have to turn from sin, just drop the biblical creation, and thus believes evolution without a shred of evidence.
|However, if evolution is a religion, then so is gravity. In all seriousness, evolution is not a religion at all, and creationists know that. Evolution as religion has even been rejected by the United States courts: "Assuming for the purposes of argument, however, that evolution is a religion or religious tenet, the remedy is to stop the teaching of evolution, not establish another religion in opposition to it. Yet it is clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause."[note 7]|
It should also be noted that our author conjures up a false dichotomy. The choice isn't between evolution and (as implied) Christian YEC creationism. Islam, Hinduism, and dozens of indigenous religions have their own creation stories. So even if we struck evolution as a viable explanation for the diversity of life, that doesn't leave us with Genesis as the default. As always, it's not enough to poke holes in your opponent's explanation—you have to provide evidence for yours or yours can be safely ignored.
|Comfort claims that believers in evolution accept there is a missing link out there somewhere, but to this day (according to Comfort) we have never found the missing link.
||This is a huge lie. The "missing link" has not remained undiscovered. Hasn't been for a long time now. There was a missing link in 1859 when there were only two species of humans yet known in the fossil record, and no intermediate fossils to link them with any of the other apes we knew of at that time. Since then, we've found the fossils of thousands of individuals of dozens of hominid species, many of which provide a definite link to the other apes. But there were two particular pieces predicted to complete the puzzle:
First, it was never supposed that we evolved from any ape species still alive today. Instead the theory held that chimpanzees and humans were sibling species, daughters of the same mother. So the first link we needed to find was an ancient ape apparently basal to either of us – to prove there was a potential progenitor of both groups. We had already found that link in Europe five years before Darwin went public. So we already had an evident 'chain' of transitional species from which only one more 'link' was needed.
The theory then required that another extinct hominid be found in strata chronologically between the Miocene Dryopithecus fontana and the earliest known human species, which from 1891 to 1961 was Homo erectus. We've found lots of candidates, as many as fifty species of apes, which are now all extinct. But more than that, the theory also demanded that we find one partway between humans and other apes in terms of morphology. We found exactly that too, way back in 1974! Australopithecus afarensis proved to be a fully bipedal ape whose hands, feet, teeth, pelvis, skull, and other physical details were exactly what creationists challenged us to find, yet they're still pretending we never found it.
But worse than that, we didn't just find that one. In 1977, three years after we discovered the no-longer-missing link in the human evolutionary lineage, Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould mentioned an "extreme rarity" of other clear transitions persistent in the fossil record until that time, and his comment — taken out of context — remains a favorite of creationist quote-miners to this day. But in the more than 30 years since then, there has been a paleontological boom, such that we now have way more transitional species in many more lineages than we ever needed or hoped for.
Now the problem for evolution is that there are too many contenders, while a compounding problem for creationists is that not even one of them should exist if their story was true. Despite their complaints to the contrary, the intermediate gradations in the human evolutionary line are now so fine that paleoanthropologists can't always agree whether they're all different species or merely mildly modified varieties of the same ones, such that there are no more links needed for human evolution any more.
But creationists still say we've never found anything that was "half-ape and half-human". Adhering always to black or white absolutes, and being thus unwilling to admit any degree of variance other than 100% or zero, they make sure to divide every find into one of two boxes even when they can't make up their minds which side of that imaginary partition each one belongs to.
Demanding an "ape-man" is actually just as silly as asking to see a mammal-man, or a half-human, half-vertebrate. How about a half-dachshund, half dog? One is a subset of the other. One may as well insist on seeing a town halfway between Los Angeles and California. Because the problem with bridging the gap between humans and apes is that there is no gap because humans are apes. The word "ape" doesn’t refer to a species, but to a parent category of collective species (superfamaily Hominoidea), and we're included. This is no arbitrary classification like the creationists use. It was first determined via meticulous physical analysis by Christian scientists a century before Darwin, and has been confirmed in recent years with new revelations in genetics. Furthermore, it is impossible to define all the characters exclusively indicative of every known member of the family of apes without describing our own genera as one among them. Consequently, we can and have proven that humans are apes in exactly the same way that lions are cats, and iguanas are lizards, and whales are mammals. So where is the proof that humans descend from apes? How about the fact that we're still apes?
|Comfort ends this section with a brief explanation about the validity of Genesis. Comfort claims that the theory of evolution came from the minds of people who do not know God and have conjured up something to explain human origins. Comfort says that scientists speak "in the language of speculation" — that is, they never speak with absolute certainty whereas the Genesis account does.
||However, the reason for this is because science must remain falsifiable. As new data comes in, theories and facts may change or be disproven. So scientists speak with caution and try their best to be accurate and open-minded. Speaking with absolute certainty doesn't make you right or change the facts to suit your assertians. As already seen through the review of this book, the supposed "facts" in the Genesis account are not facts at all! For a book to speak in such absolute terms while pretending to be infallible is laughable when some of those claims have been proven wrong.|
|Never-Changing Bible, Ever-Changing Science Comfort lists several vague news reports of scientists finding new discoveries that altered their previous views. For instance, NBC reports a discovery in Australia in August 1999 that life had originated there, but the date was a billion years earlier than scientists previously thought.
||While this may seen as a jump, never once has science estimated the Earth is anywhere close to 6,000 years old. If you and your colleagues had to measure the length of a football field with a ruler, you would each come up with a different figure due to measuring errors. One or two might even be significantly off, due to losing count or whatever — but none of that would make it reasonable to conclude that the football field was six inches long. |
|Another report on CBS News in October 1999 that a 40 million-year-old fossil was found in Asia that changed the scientist's mind of where humans had originated. "This changed scientific minds as to where man first originated. Scientists once believed that primates evolved in Africa, but now they think they may be wrong, and that man's ancestors may have originated in Asia."
||However, this is a false reporting. The prediction that humans originated from Africa still remains true.|
|Finally, "USA Today (March 21, 2001) reported, 'Paleontologists have discovered a new skeleton in the closet of human ancestry that is likely to force science to revise, if not scrap, current theories of human origins.' Reuters reported that the discovery left 'scientists of human evolution… confused,' saying, 'Lucy may not even be a direct human ancestor after all.'"
||Nothing on the internet has revealed such a report. As for Lucy (an Australopithecus fossil), she is and remains a human ancestor (along with a dozen or so discovered fossils). Australopithecus might not be our direct ancestor, but that would just mean another species would be; it wouldn't call into question the whole theory of evolution.|
|Comfort quotes Charles Spurgeon in an attempt to make the claims of scientists seem foolish and faith-based.
We are invited, brethren, most earnestly to go away from the old-fashioned belief of our forefathers because of the supposed discoveries of science. What is science? The method by which man tries to hide his ignorance. It should not be so, but so it is. You are not to be dogmatical in theology, my brethren, it is wicked; but for scientific men it is the correct thing. You are never to assert anything very strongly; but scientists may boldly assert what they cannot prove, and may demand a faith far more credulous than any we possess. Forsooth, you and I are to take our Bibles and shape and mould our belief according to the ever-shifting teachings of so-called scientific men. What folly is this! Why, the march of science, falsely so called, through the world may be traced by exploded fallacies and abandoned theories. Former explorers once adored are now ridiculed; the continual wreckings of false hypotheses is a matter of universal notoriety. You may tell where the supposed learned have encamped by the debris left behind of suppositions and theories as plentiful as broken bottles.
|It turns out Spurgeon is no smarter than Comfort hismelf. Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher, is factually wrong about many things. Going in order:
- Science is not a method to hide in ignorance — it's a method to overturn ignorance. Undiscovered knowledge is out there, and we have to find it. Science is a tool to help us discover the unknown, not to keep us from knowing.
- Science is not dogmatic, nor do scientists assert things that they cannot prove. As Comfort and his colleague Kirk Cameron love to advertise, science has been wrong before as new evidence is discovered and new models are developed. In science, everything must be tentative and falsifiable, because future data could reveal current models to be false. This is why scientists avoid absolute terms, and Comfort knows this. He loves to point out the lack of absolute terms as part of what he calls the "language of speculation". So even Comfort understands that scientists aren't dogmatic.
- Science does not demand faith. Evidence is always provided, and everything is peer-reviewed carefully. A theory has to be tested indefinitely. It demands understanding instead of belief. So, it must be based on verifiable evidence; it must explain related observations with a measurable degree of accuracy; it must withstand continuous critical analysis in peer review, and it must be falsifiable. If it doesn't fulfill all these conditions, then it isn't science. If it meets none of them, it may be religion.
Chapter 13: Science and Evolution
|Comfort tells the reader that if they still think there is evidence for evolution, they should go to Comfort's website (www.raycomfort.com) which links to Kent Hovind's $250,000 prize to anyone who can prove evolution, and mentions that no one has claimed the prize.
||Why hasn't anyone taken the prize? Because the challenge is deliberately set up to make it impossible to get. This challenge doesn't care if evolution is true or not. Hovind requires proof that "evolution … is the only possible way the observed phenomena could have come into existence." It is impossible to prove a universal negative. Not to mention that the challenge demands evidence for evolution in completely different fields, like cosmology and abiogenesis, and all must be done while excluding the possibility of God. However, evolution does not exclude the possibility of God.
Additionally, the judges are handpicked by Hovind and are entirely unfair. Several people have tried to collect on his challenge, only to get a runaround or to be ignored.
James Randi (1928–2920), illusionist well-versed in the angles used in supernatural pseduoscience, has — for ten years — offered a million-dollar prize to anyone who can show testable evidence of the things we should expect would be true if there were etherial entities influencing things with molecular structures. In that time, he has exposed a few frauds (plus many, such as dowsers, who were sincere but misguided). But to date, no one has ever produced any actual evidence for faith healing, telepathy, psionics, precognitive psychic friends with astral bodies, past life remembrance, or spectral manifestations of any kind.
|Comfort then claims that evolution is a religion. While using Funk & Wagnall's dictionary, which defines religion as "a set of beliefs concerned with explaining the origins and purposes of the universe." Comfort says that scientists even speak in a language of religion: "We believe, perhaps, maybe, probably, could've, possibly." Comfort says that Charles Darwin is the founder of the faith and its god is "nature" (often referred to as 'Mother Nature').
||Evolution is not a religion any more than gravity is. Simply finding a definition of religion in a dictionary doesn't prove the point. Religions have rituals, describe the place and role of humans within ultimate reality, include reverence for and/or belief in a supernatural power or powers, and much more. Evolution does not fulfill any of these.
Evolution as religion has been rejected by the courts, as noted above. |
|More Dictionary Definitions Comfort defines the following words: fact, evolution, and creation.
- Fact n. "Something that actually exists or has occurred."
- Evolution n. "'The theory that all forms of life originated by descent from earlier forms' (notice the word 'theory')."
- Creation n. "'God's bringing of the universe into existence' (reread the definition of 'fact')."
After giving these definitions, Comfort immediately says, "According to the dictionary, evolution is merely a theory, while creation is a fact."
|Interestingly, Comfort does not once define the word 'theory'. Of course, it is obvious that he interprets it as 'speculation' or 'belief', which is a common creationist gambit, conflating the popular definition of 'theory' with the scientific definition. The word theory, in the context of science, does not imply uncertainty. It means "a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena." And in science, 'fact' means something observed, not just anything true.
Evolution is both a scientific theory and a fact. Here's the truth of the matter: It is a fact that evolution happens, that biodiversity and biological complexity do increase, that both occur naturally only by evolutionary means. These are facts in the scientific sense, meaning that they've been observed.
- It is a fact that alleles vary with increasing distinction in reproductive populations and that these are accelerated in genetically isolated groups.
- It is a fact that natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift have all been proven to have predictable effect in guiding this variance, both in the scientific literature and in practical application.
- It is a fact that significant beneficial mutations do occur and are inherited by descendant groups, and that multiple independent sets of biological markers exist to trace these lineages backwards over many generations.
- It is a fact that birds are a subset of dinosaurs in the same way that humans are a subset of apes, primates, eutherian mammals, and vertebrate deuterostome animals.
- It is a fact that the collective genome of all animals has been traced to its most basal form through reverse sequencing, and that those forms are also indicated by comparative morphology, physiology, and embryological development as well as chronologically correct placement of successive stages revealed in the geological column.
- It is a fact that everything on Earth has definite relatives either living nearby or evident in the fossil record.
- It is a fact that the fossil record holds hundreds of definitely transitional species of humans even according to its strictest definition of that term.
- It is a fact that both microevolution and macroevolution have been directly observed and documented dozens of times both in the lab and in natural controlled conditions in the field, and that instances have all withstood critical analysis and peer review.
- It is also a fact that evolution is the only explanation of biodiversity with both evidential support and scientific validity and no alternative notion has ever met even one of the criteria of being a theory.
Evolution is a fact!
Notwithstanding that creationists will deny just about everything in this list (sincere rank-and-file do so out of not understanding the issue, while the big names in creationism simply lie), these are the facts of evolution, meaning each of these points has been observed — thus it is a matter of knowledge rather than mere belief.
Are there any facts supporting creationism? No. All the available evidence points to descent with modification from a common ancestor over a very long time span. The instance that Comfort just provided in order to "prove" his position is a feeble and rather pathetic argument that no reasonable person should use.
|Comfort says that the theory of evolution is a belief, but that belief in the Bible is not based on faith. He repeats his argument that a building proves there was a builder and a painting proves there was a painter, therefore creation proves there is a creator, "I couldn't want better proof that a Creator exists than to have the 'fact' of creation in front of me. I don’t need faith to believe in a Creator; all I need are eyes that can see and a brain that works" and he goes on to quote Romans 1:20.
However, Comfort then says "If, however, I want the builder to do something for me, then I need to have faith in him." Comfort says nothing more, just moves on to say the same thing applies to God and quotes Hebrews 11:6.
|What Comfort is doing here is simply asserting and assuming that we live in a creation without any verification or justification. His only and best response to this is "common sense". However, common sense may also suggest things which would be inconvenient for Christians, such as that there is something inherently implausible about a loving God who allows Hell. It seems that common sense applies only in ways that Comfort likes and common sense should be disregarded whenever he and/or other fundamentalist Christians dislike the conclusions.
- Have we seen a building made without a builder? How about a bridge? Actually, yes we have seen bridges form without a builder. Look at this one.
- Likewise, we have seen traps form on their own. Remember the Venus fly trap? It's a plant that traps flies, and we know how it evolved; it is certainly not the product of special creation.
- How about a motor that was made without a motor engineer? Absolutely, behold the bacterial flagellum. The Matzke Model explains and demonstrates the steps to how the flagellum evolved naturally.
- How about artworks of lines and patterns? Take a look at designs in sand dunes.
- Forget paintings, have we ever seen a sculpture form without a sculptor? Look at the rock formation in Maui's Iao Valley State Park that bears a striking resemblance to President John F. Kennedy in profile; the eroded mountain on Mars that under coarse-grained resolution looks like a face; or the eagle rock off the 134 freeway in Southern California that overlooks the town Eaglerock.
- Have we seen other human-like faces pop up naturally in nature? Sure, Christians have made a big deal of seeing Jesus' face appear in such things as grilled cheese sandwiches. Same thing with Mother Teresa or the Virgin Mary. As eager as Christians sometimes are to claim such apparitions as evidence for their faith, it should be mentioned that the same sort of thing happens to members of other faiths, such as the Gonesha potato.</ref>
All of these things occur naturally without us (necessarily) needing to invoke an intelligent designer. Since the human brain is hard-wired to detect patterns (pareidolia), we think of nature as designed based on our experience of human artifacts. We see patterns in clouds, crystals, and snowflakes, but we already know that they all manifest naturally. We can test and prove that snowflakes, while having many geometrical patterns, form naturally in the clouds under certain conditions. We also know that evolution of living organisms can develop characteristics that give the illusion of design. The point is, all these things were made naturally. Comfort presupposes that everything around him is designed, particularly life. The issue here is that he does not distinguish between naturally-made objects and artificially-made objects; rather he seems to assume they are all the same thing. This is why he compares human-made buildings to naturally-living things that do not need a designer. This is going way beyond comparing apples and oranges (or perhaps bananas).
Also, Comfort's logic fails when one asks certain questions, such as if everything requires a creator, this raises the question who created God? Comfort's response to this question can be seen in his book School of Biblical Evangelism: "No person or thing created God. He created 'time,' and because we dwell in the dimension of time, reason demands that all things have a beginning and an end. God, however, dwells outside of the dimension of time." However, when Comfort states that "reason" demands that everything had a beginning and end, and yet he presents something that does not have a beginning and end, then clearly reason never did demand such a thing, or that God is himself a created being. Can't have it both ways, dude.
|Next, Comfort provides the following quotes:
- Sir Isaac Newton once said, "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."
- Louis Pasteur said, "The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator."
- Evolutionist Stephen Hawking wrote, "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us" (A Brief History of Time). He also stated: "Then we shall … be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God."
|Regarding the quote by Hawking, Comfort is quote-mining him. As best as it can be "put in context", Hawking is mocking when he writes, "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us." Since this game is so much fun, anyone can play. From a few pages earlier in the same chapter: "These laws may have originally been decreed by God, but it appears that he has since left the universe to evolve according to them and does not now intervene in it."
As for Newton and Pasteur, it's hardly surprising they presumed the universe was created by (the locally popular) God, since science didn't then have the in-depth understanding of the universe that it has now — there simply weren't good naturalistic explanations for how everything came to be.|
|The Mind of God Comfort says, "We can get a glimpse of the incredible mind of God simply by looking at His creation." He uses the human mind as an example. He starts to provide various details about the human brain and all its networks. Right afterward, he starts sharing some of the details of the vast Andromeda and quotes Psalm 19:1.
||Comfort must think that simply sharing these huge complicated numbers for the human brain and galaxy must imply some kind of link between them. But that's a non sequitur.|
|The Bible Gives the Reason for Suffering Comfort shares all the bad that is included about this planet: most of it is uninhabitable; weeds; diseases; etc. According to him, all of this is the fault of human beings from when Adam and Eve sinned. None of these things that cause suffering (even death) existed before sin (he says it was heaven on earth). All of this is because we live in a "fallen creation".
||This is all based on the unsubstantiated blind-faith-based presupposition that the Bible is true without any evidence to back it up. Besides, even assuming that people can be held guilty for things their ancestors did, what did the animals do to deserve suffering?|
|The Bible Gives the Reason for Death Comfort begins with "The Scriptures answer questions that science cannot. It tells us why we die and how each of us can conquer the power of death.
||Science can indeed tell us why we die. Strike another gap for his God to hide in. As for conquering the power of death, that's not really a matter for science.|
|Before Comfort shares the secret, he gives the statistics of how many murders there were in the United States and how many of the murderers were captured. The numbers show a lot of murders, but about half of the murderers were caught. Comfort says that we demand justice for all crimes, but that we all will face a day of judgment after we die and the wicked will be punished.
Comfort ends this book by repeating his old "are you a good person?" tactic and a small prayer for the "skeptics" who wish to convert.||Have you noticed that strongly religious countries like the United States have large numbers of murders, while highly-secular countries like Sweden tend to have very low murder (and crime) rates? He also gives no evidence to back up the assertion that evildoers will be judged in the afterlife, or any reason to believe they go to the Christian afterlife and not, say, the Muslim one.|
- ↑ Ray Comfort's cartoonist — no shit!
- ↑ No, not that The Birth of a NationThe Birth of a Nation
- ↑ Bishop Warburton:
“”If a Jew owned the truth of Christianity, he must needs embrace it. We, therefore, certainly conclude that the paragraph where Josephus, who was as much a Jew as the religion of Moses could make him, is made to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, in terms as strong as words could do it, is a rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too.
- ↑ The Rev. Dr. Giles, of the Established Church of England wrote:
“”Those who are best acquainted with the character of Josephus, and the style of his writings, have no hesitation in condemning this passage as a forgery, interpolated in the text during the third century by some pious Christian, who was scandalized that so famous a writer as Josephus should have taken no notice of the gospels, or of Christ, their subject. But the zeal of the interpolator has outrun his discretion, for we might as well expect to gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as to find this notice of Christ among the Judaizing writings of Josephus. It is well known that this author was a zealous Jew, devoted to the laws of Moses and the traditions of his countrymen. How, then, could he have written that Jesus was the Christ? Such an admission would have proved him to be a Christian himself, in which case the passage under consideration, too long for a Jew, would have been far too short for a believer in the new religion, and thus the passage stands forth, like an ill-set jewel, contrasting most inharmoniously with everything around it. If it had been genuine, we might be sure that Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Chrysostom would have quoted it in their controversies with the Jews, and that Origen or Photius would have mentioned it. But Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian (I, ii), is the first who quotes it, and our reliance on the judgment or even honesty of this writer is not so great as to allow our considering everything found in his works as undoubtedly genuine.
- ↑ Rev. S. Baring-Gould wrote:
“”The passage is first quoted by Eusebius (fl. A.D. 315) in two places, but it was unknown to Justin Martyr (fl. A.D. 140), Clement of Alexandria (fl. A.D. 192), Tertullian (fl. A.D. 193), and Origen (fl. A.D. 230). Such a testimony avouIcI certainly have been produced by Justin in his Apology, or in his Controversy with Trypho the Jew, had it existed in the copies of Josephus at his time. The silence of Origen is still more significant. Celsus in his book against Christianity introduces a Jew. Origen attacks the argiiments of Celsus and his Jew. He could not have failed to quote the words of Josephus, whose writings he knew, had the passage existed in the genuine text.
He, indeed, distinctly affirms that Josephus did not believe in Christ.
- ↑ "How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived." (translation by Gibbon, who really didn't like Eusebius)
- ↑ The court cases Epperson v. Arkansas, Willoughby v. Stever, and Wright v. Houston Indep. School Dist. are cited as precedent in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education]] (1982)
- ↑ Scientific Facts in the Bible: 100 Reasons to Believe the Bible is Supernatural in Origin by Ray Comfort (2001) Bridge-Logos Publishers. ISBN 0882708791.
- ↑ Scientific Facts in the Bible Item #122 Living Waters (archived from February 24, 2010).
- ↑ Confronting Ray Comfort: Debunking "Evolution VS God" by King Crocoduck (Nov 13, 2013) YouTube.
- ↑ Jowett, Benjamin (1871). Timaeus by Plato. Fairfield, IA: Akasha Publishing. ISBN 9781605125190
- ↑ Burnet, John, ed (1905) (in Greek). Platonis Opera: Tomus IV, Tetralogiam VIII Continens. Oxford: Clarendon Press
- ↑ Weinberg, Steven (2015). To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 9780241196625
- ↑ Heath, Thomas Little (1913). Aristarchus of Samos: The Ancient Copernicus. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- ↑ Russell, Bertrand A. W. (1946). History of Western Philosophy. London: Routledge Classics. ISBN 9780415325059
- ↑ Argument # 5: The Bible is the word of God because it agrees with science and contains scientific facts. Debunking the Arguments of Christian Fundamentalists and Apologists (archived from November 28, 2009).
- ↑ An Introduction to the Bible by Robert Kugler & Patrick J. Hartin (2009) Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802846365.
- ↑ Ray Comfort’s Personal Cartoonist by boxbrown (March 2, 2011) Mad Art Lab.
- ↑ The Book of Job by Stephen Mitchell (1987) North Point Press. ISBN 086547270X. p. 85.
- ↑ Facts about polyunsaturated fats reviewed by Meagan Bridges & David Zieve (Review Date 5/26/2020) MedlinePlus.
- ↑ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_poisoning
- ↑ A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen W. Hawking (1988) Bantam Books. ISBN 0553052438.
- ↑ 301 Startling Proofs and Prophecies: Providing that God Exists by Peter Lalonde & Paul Lalonde (1996) Cloud Ten Pictures. ISBN 0968075819.
- ↑ "Evolutionary genetics of life cycles" by Alexey S. Kondrashov (1997) Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28: 391-435.
- ↑ "Why sex and recombination?" by N. H. Barton & B. Charlesworth (1998) Science 281:1986-1990.
- ↑ "High frequency of cryptic deleterious mutations in Caenorhabditis elegans." by E. K. Davies, A. D. Peters & P. D. Keightley (1999) Science 285: 1748-1751.
- ↑ "Transitions to asexuality result in excess amino acid substitutions" by Susanne Paland & Michael Lynch (2006) Science 311:990-992. See also: "Why sex?" by Rasmus Nielsen (2006) Science 311:960-961.
- ↑ "Simulated coevolution in a mutating ecology" by J. S. Sá Martins (2000) Physical Review E 61(3):R2212-R2215.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Algebra.
- ↑ Theophrastus Encyclopedia.com.
- ↑ History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand A. W. Russell (1946) Routledge Classics. ISBN 9780415325059. p. 206.
- ↑ Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon L. Singh (2004) HarperCollins. ISBN 9780007162208 p. 1-15.
- ↑ To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Steven Weinberg (2015) Allen Lane. ISBN 9780241196625. p. 75-76.
- ↑ "Greek anatomist herophilus: the father of anatomy"
Noel Si-Yang Bay1 & Boon-Huat Bay (2010) Anat. Cell Biol. 43(4):280–283. doi:10.5115/acb.2010.43.4.280.
- ↑ Archimedes Famous Scientists.
- ↑ Newton the Alchemist (November 14, 2005) PBS: Nova.
- ↑ Out of all those quotes attributed to Einstein which ones are really his? How can you tell? by Mark Eichenlaub (Last updated October 10, 2017) Quora.
- ↑ The Signature of God by Grant R. Jeffrey, reviewed by Stephen Meyers (2000) IBSS Page Where is the Gospel? (archived from December 2, 2001).
- ↑ Genesis on Trial (April 26, 2011) Athiest Central (archived from September 11, 2011).
- ↑ Transitional Fossils and Evolution The Virtual Fossil Museum.
- ↑ "Scientific Creationism: The Art of Distortion" by Laurie R. Godfrey (1984) In: Science and Creationism, edited by Ashley Montagu. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195032527. pp. 167-181.
- ↑ The Quote Mine Project: Or, Lies, Damned Lies and Quote Mines. Gould, Eldredge and Punctuated Equilibria Quotes (2004-2006) talk.origins.
- ↑ Why Isaiah 53 is Not About Jesus by Taylor (December 31, 2009) Godlesss Haven.
- ↑ A Dictionary of the Bible, Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, NaturalHistory by William Smith (1880s) Fleming H. Revell Co.
- ↑ 9,096 Stars in the Sky — Is That All? by Bob King September 17, 2014) Sky & Telescope.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Firmament.
- ↑ letter to an academic, August 29, 19222000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People With the Courage to Doubt by James A. Haught (1997) Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573920673.
- ↑ New Day (1928) p. 36, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
- ↑ John Quincy Adams Once Approved an Expedition to the Center of the Earth: He believed a man who said the Earth was hollow by Marissa Fessenden (May 7, 2015) Smithsonian Magazine.
- ↑ Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief
- ↑ Adrienne Koch, ed, The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society (1965) p. 258, quoted from Ed and Michael Buckner, "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church"
- ↑ Reagan Recants: His Path From Armageddon to Detente by Daniel Schorr (Jan. 3, 1988; 12 AM) Los Angeles Times.
- ↑ George Washington's Silent Lack of Theism Positive Atheism (archived from October 11, 2000).
- ↑ The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1968), p. 19
- ↑ Bogus Dr Fales by Ronnie Bennett Aubrey-Bray (c. 2013) Yorkshire Tales (archived from February 27, 2019).
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on List of New Testament papyri.
- ↑ Archaeology and the Bible by John C. H. Laughlin (2007) Routledge. ISBN 0415159946. p. 92.
- ↑ It Ain't Necessarily So: Investigating the Truth of the Biblical Past by Matthew Sturgis (2001) Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0747245061. p. 74.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on William F. Albright.
- ↑ Abraham and the Iron Age: Reflections on the New Patriarchal Studies by John Tracy Luke (1977) Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 4:35-47. doi:10.1177/030908927700200403.
- ↑ Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond E. Brown (1997). Doubleday. ISBN 0385247672. pp. 226.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on The Jewish War.
- ↑ Josephus and Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Question by Peter Kirby, Early Christian Writings.
- ↑ "Flavius Josephus." Catholic Encyclopedia. "Attempts have been made to refute the objections brought against this passage both for internal and external reasons, but the difficulty has not been definitively settled. The passage seems to suffer from repeated interpolations."
- ↑ The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled by Acharya S/D.M. Murdock, Truth Be Known (archived from December 26, 2016).
- ↑ Eusebian fabrications: the Testimonium Flavianum by Ken Olsen, Mountain Man.
- ↑ The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, D. D. With a Life (1838) W. Ball. Volume 6, p. 496
- ↑ Hebrew and Christian Records: An Historical Enquiry Concerning the Age and Authorship of the Old and New Testaments by John Allen Giles (1877) Trübner. 62.
- ↑ Lost and Hostile Gospels:The Toledoth Jeschu, and the Petrine and Pauline Gospels of the First Three Centuries of Which Fragments Remain by S. Baring-Gould (1874) Williams and Norgate.
- ↑ Miscellaneous works of Edward Gibbon, Esquire (1796) A. Strahan et al. Volume 2, p. 618.
- ↑ 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent by Douglas Theobald (2012) TalkOrigins Archive Version 2.89.
- ↑ Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CB910 by Mark Isaak (2007) TalkOrigins Archive.
- ↑ About Derek Prince Derek Prince Ministries (archived from November 11, 2020).
- ↑ Prince, (Peter) Derek 1915-2003 Encyclopedia.org.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Derek Prince.
- ↑ Dara Ó Briain (2008) Dara Ó Briain Talks Funny: Live in London via Wikiquote.
- ↑ 70.0 70.1 Cretinism or Evilution? No. 3: Old, Out of Context Quotations from French Scientists Part 2 by E.T. Babinski (c. 1999) TalkOrigins Archive.
- ↑ "Darwin's Theory: an Exercise in Science" by Michael Ruse (June 25, 1981) New Scientist.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Malcolm Muggeridge.
- ↑ Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CA610 by Mark Isaak (2004) TalkOrigins Archive.
- ↑ McLean v. Arkansas Bd. of Ed. (Jan 5, 1982) Casetext.
- ↑ People in India Worship a Potato! Jesus Is Savior.com.
- ↑ The School of Biblical Evangelism: 101 Lessons. How to Share Your Faith Simply, Effectively, Biblically — the Way Jesus Did by Kirk Cameron & Ray Comfort (2004) Bridge-Logos Publishers. ISBN 0882709682. p. 478.
- ↑ Sex and the Origins of Death by William R. Clark (1998) Oxford University Press. ISBN 019510644X.
- ↑ Are you a good person? Iron Chariots.org (archived from March 30, 2012).