Out of the darkness: Is the secularist faith in decline?

Sometimes you get read a post that astonishes and encourages.  One such was yesterday when an old sparring partner from the Scottish Secular Society (someone who I also respect), Spencer Fildes wrote a message on his FB page stating amongst other things “Secularism is a myth” .  The fact that a former vice chair of the Secular Society could write this set me thinking – hence this week’s Christian Today article (get the original here) . Read on and you will get the full quote….

Out of the darkness: Is the secularist faith in decline?

Richard Dawkins book
Reuters

We hear a great deal about the decline of the Church and the decline of the Christian faith in today’s West. But I wonder if we are also seeing something else – the decline of the secularist faith. Now I realise that immediately those who belong to that faith will cry out ‘it’s not a faith, it’s based on science and reason and facts’, but hear me out.

What is Secular?

It all depends on what we mean by secular. If it means that society should not be governed by the Church then even most Christians would say ‘amen’. The thought of the local elders/church board/bishops’ council running the city or country is quite scary! But if secular means ‘without God’, that is where we part company. For Christians (and Muslims and others) it is impossible to do anything without God, therefore the attempt to exclude God from the public square is a self-defeating project.

However for many of the more militant atheist secularists, the term carries a whole lot more meaning. They see religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as an evil virus that needs to be expunged from society. We are ‘free’ to be religious – as long as that never intrudes into the public square. They are happy for us to exist as the equivalent of a knitting club or a Trekkie society, but Dawkins forbid that we should ever let our faith intrude into public life.

Exclusive Secularism

They want us out of education, healthcare, politics and ‘secular’ media. It’s why the humanists are currently campaigning to stop Christian worship in schools. They are the mirror atheist version of the unfair definition of Puritans as people who are supposedly miserable at the thought of someone, somewhere enjoying themselves. Despite the fact that their children don’t have to attend, they can’t bear the thought that any child anywhere would worship. Their version of secularism is that only their version of life is to be permitted.

It is SO right that anyone who disagrees with it is either an idiot or evil. They are the ‘Progressives’. Everyone else is regressive. This secular humanism is a faith – one that is based upon the unscientific notion that humans are basically good and that the only thing holding us back from a secular Nirvana is religion. It is a deep and profound faith, founded upon their experiences and emotions. Their motto is ‘ there is no God, and I hate him’.

The Secular People’s Front

For a while I was involved with the Scottish Secular Society, which now has a breakaway known as Secular Scotland….although maybe it was the other way around? One can never tell which version of the Judean Peoples Front we are dealing with! It was a revealing and sad experience. The hatred and bitterness was at times hard to take. Someone in the group once stated: “Personally, as a secularist, I hate religion and feel I have every right to, despite attempts by the Scottish government to sneak a blasphemy law round the back door by making it an offence this year to hate religion.” Just to make it clear that this was personal, he later stated concerning yours truly, “I hate organised religion, but boy, I sure do hate you more!”

A Secularist Repents

To be fair over the years some of those involved in that kind of vitriol have privately approached me and apologized. However this week a former vice-chair of the SSS wrote in public about some of his former colleagues.

“This may be hard to believe for most, atheists bug the xxxx out of me nowadays,” he said.

“They’re as much subscribed to their own prejudices as the religious people they loathe. It’s taken me a while to get to this ….but my God, they’re sometimes more insufferable than the religious people I know. They’re stuck on political dogma and are blinded by self-righteous virtue.

“As someone who once led the charge it’s now a paradigm moment for me to watch them eat themselves from the inside out.

“Secularism is a myth, nothing more than a band of aggrieved, resentful and bitter identity groups who simply use secularism to further personal grudges against anyone who challenges the secular orthodoxy.

“It was never like this and I truly feel for those who I once stood shoulder to shoulder with, but even they refuse to acknowledge that the lens is distorted.

“Good luck, like any ‘in group’ if you fail to admonish the more extreme and radical elements then you fail, it’s why I simply can no longer put my name next to you.”

The former Vice-Chair may not have seen the Light, but at least he is aware of the darkness. And his experience is not the only one. Whilst some Christians fret that we are living in an increasingly hostile secular society, some secularists are worried that we are moving into a post-secular society. The great concern is that the ‘religion/philosophy’ that will replace secular humanism, will not be as benign and tolerant as Christianity. Perhaps a renewal of Christian secularism, or Christian humanism, is what is required?

David Robertson is Director of Third Space at the City Bible Forum in Sydney, Australia.  He blogs at The Wee Flea

Churches – Where is Your Athens?

“I Hate Organised Religion, But Boy, I sure do Hate you More”! – Farewell to the Scottish Secular Society

50 thoughts on “Out of the darkness: Is the secularist faith in decline?

  1. It suggests the importance of never writing anybody off, the importance of sustaining dignity, kindness and respect (as to re-spectate) in matters of spiritual relationships.

    Hope Australia is going well – I bet you’re thriving on it, the thickness of the “juicy steaks” they have there!

  2. Secular Scotland – I wonder what they will change their name to in time so that they don’t have the initials “SS” just as the “SSS” did. But seriously, it seems does it not that the church in Scotland has set a precedent for splits and break off factions? So it seems that there is something not uncommon to both organised secularism and Christianity in this.

    I can honestly say that there are people that have bugged the xxxx out of me in both Christian and religious circles. However, I would say it hurts more in Christian circles and the wounds go deeper there because I have had my guard down more somewhat with the assumption of there being a body in Christianity following the precedent to “love the lord your God with all your heart mind soul and strength and your neighbour as yourself” whereas the SS or SSS or whatever have no such mandate.

    So, I have to say Christianity is not always “benign and tolerant”. However I would draw a distinction between the “visible church” and the “invisible church”. The “invisible church” being the body of Christ. And I can buy into that being “benign and tolerant”.

    So “post-secular society” I think will best thrive with both secularism and Christianity reforming and parts of both dying out.

    “The branches that bear fruit will be pruned so they produce more fruit and the branches that don’t produce fruit will be thrown into the fire” – isn’t that how it goes?

    1. Last time I looked, my body was very visible. Perhaps too visible. And to people who saw Jesus his body was very visible, both before and after the Resurrection.

      1. Thanks for your reply Mike – you might be interested in taking a look at what Martin Luther spoke of with the “visible” church and the “invisible” church or this book introduced in Amazon as “for anyone who is concerned about Church decline, Steve Aisthorpe offers an essential blueprint for building God s whole community in the coming years.”

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Church-Aisthorpe/dp/0861539168

  3. If ‘secularism’ is the class of people without God, then it is fair to say ‘secularism’ includes also people that have concocted their own god like, for example, the non-existent god worshipped in the ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS) branche of evangelism.

    In my view, within a Christian publication, ‘secularism’ really needs to be studied more rigorously nearer to home before examining it in circles consisting of people admitting up-front that they are without God.

  4. David,
    as is my way, I’ve tried to map out how an idealistic movement can get itself into such a mess so quickly. It strikes me that there are steps down into the abyss that are distinguishable to those who are able to see.
    • Atheism: the claim that atheism has no agenda is happily repeated by so many who are keen to belong to an agenda-rife secularism. It seems obvious that secularism’s media-atheist heros are at the oposite end of John Gray’s atheist spectrum to those who — like Gray himself — might claim to have no agenda. Self-deception is a poor start to any allegience.
    • Religion/Faith: the central thesis of anti-religious secularism is that faith is something other than the reasonable trust that believers experience. When opponents do not accept the secularist definition, secularists can be visibly flummoxed.
    • Liberal causes: when approval of behaviour is shown by any virtue-signalling third party, that eventually must seem worthless beside the genuine love of parents — for example — who don’t approve of the behaviour. Similarly, the modern secular concept of Liberalism as meaning ‘everyone agrees’ is at odds with protecting the right to disagree that used to be Liberalism.
    • Evidence: not only is secularism in denial about the mountain of evidence that the Bible writers knew what they were talking about, it has failed to see the mountain move; as with such discoveries as that there must have been a beginning.
    • Argument: I thought that atheists would have better arguments but I am downright astonished by the inability to let go failed arguments even when they get in the way of more plausible anti-Christian ideas.
    • Grievance: the adoption of an agrieved posture has the insidious effect that sooner or later every alleged slight, however ludicrous, is treated as an outrage of infamous proportion and secularists en masse lose the plot.
    • Autocannibalism: ?
    Yours,
    John/.

    1. Evidence: not only is secularism in denial about the mountain of evidence that the Bible writers knew what they were talking about, it has failed to see the mountain move; as with such discoveries as that there must have been a beginning.

      I wonder, John if you could provide us with this evidence, if not the whole mountain then perhaps a tor?

      1. You do realise, John,
        that you have just implied that unbelief makes secularists blind to the evidence‽ Thus you add your own stone to the cairn because your remark is itself evidence that the Bible authors knew what they were talking about. C.f. [2 Corinthians 4:3f.] – ‘And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’
        Yours,
        John/.

      2. Of course, Ark.
        When the discovery of the background radiation sealed the deal — so to speak — that there must have been a beginning, the mountain of evidence that the Bible authors knew what they were talking about shifted inexorably. And the secular world never noticed.
        Big mistake.
        Yours,
        John/.

      3. Strictly speaking, the Bible writers actually did not know what they were writing about except that they knew God, and trusted God knew precisely what He intended which, with hindsight, is the redemption of human nature and creation from the tragic consequences of sin.

        Now, and since the Bible was completed some 2000 years ago, the Bible describes fully the basis on which human nature and creation are being redeemed from sin and its consequences of which death and wanton destruction are inescapable ones.

        Thus the Bible is not so much for focusing on the beginning. Rather, it is for focusing on the ending and, in the meantime, on righting human nature voluntarily.

        If, however, you Arkenaten are seeing a more promising alternative to the basis offered by the Bible for redeeming human nature and creation from the tragic consequences of sin on a voluntary basis, that is; without any self-interest whatsoever, then please help me to see this more promising alternative which you are seeing – go on, don’t be selfish.

        That said; with how things are do not be offended if upon seeing what you are seeing I continue nonetheless to trust in nothing but God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

      4. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, Plainerrata!
        Yes, only God ‘knows the end from the beginning’; yes, Paul could compare our present experience of seeing ‘dimly, as in a mirror’ with the future experience of seeing ‘face to face’; and yes, ‘the Bible is not so much for focusing on the beginning. Rather, it is for focusing on the ending.’ But the human abilities of the authors and their experiences were made use of by the Holy Spirit who inspired and these are not ‘cunningly devised myths.’
        The mountain of evidence that is being added to constantly is evidence that the Bible authors knew what they were talking about.
        Yours,
        John/.

      5. It simply isn’t true, or fair, to accuse me of choosing to close my eyes to the evidence of the truth of (a) god . I have posted on here previously as to how much time I have spent listening to and reading both sides of the debate.

        None of what is purported to be “evidence” for the existence of a supernatural being who created the world convinces me. None of it.

      6. John,
        the ‘mountain’ that you were accused of closing your eyes to is the growing mountain of evidence that both the Old and New Testament records are reliable. That mountain is there for examination whether you believe in its clear implication — God exists and rewards those who seek him — or not. (And it is evident that atheists and secularists are not all one and the same thing: the Bolsheviks were atheists but they were not secularists in any positive sense.)
        Yours,
        John/.

  5. “Secularism is a myth.”

    According to one person. It has a dictionary definition – people espouse it. People pursue it. You might as well say Anabaptism is a myth.

    Sorry if I prefer to have my own opinion on such nonsense.

  6. @ Plainerrata

    If, however, you Arkenaten are seeing a more promising alternative to the basis offered by the Bible for redeeming human nature and creation from the tragic consequences of sin on a voluntary basis, that is; without any self-interest whatsoever, then please help me to see this more promising alternative which you are seeing – go on, don’t be selfish.

    My pleasure.
    Secular humanism, where humans can relate and coexist without the highly divisive and negative traits inculcated upon society by religious doctrines.

    1. @Arkenaten
      “My pleasure.
      Secular humanism, where humans can relate and coexist without the highly divisive and negative traits inculcated upon society by religious doctrines.”

      I was expecting something different, something of a much higher order. Not something perfectly insignificant and incapable of existence without belonging to the crowd: to the crowd that believes blindly in the irresistible (destructive) force of its decadent system, in the power of central supervision, its police and of its opinion shaping media.

      Sorry Arkenaten, but that to which you relate and coexist with does not answer the question ‘What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?’ impartially, that is without you magnifying yourself far above, and over, everyone else.

      Might I suggest you try again but from a different vantage point than of someone whose faith rests exclusively on a system designed for unmitigated human and animal slavery?

      1. I have tried but our host refuses to release my comments.
        I shall try once more.
        Let me offer a quote from Thomas Paine.

        “Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”
        ― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

      2. Arkenaten, although Thomas Paine (Jan. 29, 1737 – Jun. 8, 1819) believed in a Supreme Being, ‘Age of Reason’ was for opposing organised religion. But unfortunately, what Paine failed to reason within himself is the humanly unsurmountable impossibility of opposing organised religion effectively without the invention, and forced imposition, of another organised religion which, in the long-run at least, does not also avail itself to be ‘more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing which’ successively has been called, Catholicism, Protestantism, Communism, Socialism and now is called Humanism. ‘Too absurd for belief, too’ contradictory ‘to convince, and too inconsistent for practice’, organised religions produce only atheists (people without God) or fanatics so that after all the wicked, that is the organizers of organised isms, and all the nations that forget God are turned into hell.

        Unfortunately, it is so that faith in organised religion very often is confused with the faith of Christians but they are, in fact, entirely separate and therefore quite distinguishable from each other. Of course, religious zealots will say that the former is impossible without the latter but do not believe it or them; for in all evidence, and as you know there never is no lacking of it, the former enslaves whereas the latter frees; the former persecutes whereas the latter is persecuted; the former does not benefit from the Comforter whereas the latter does.

        If each of these two separate things I am telling you of, namely; faith in organised religion and faith in the LORD, were not utterly foreign and eminently distinguishable from each other, Jesus Christ would not have said; ‘I will build my church’. Rather, Jesus Christ would have said; ‘you build my church’. Nor would Jesus Christ have said:
        Jn. 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
        Jn. 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
        Jn. 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
        Jn 15:21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
        Jn. 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
        Jn 15:23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
        Jn 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
        Jn 15:25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
        Jn. 5:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
        Jn. 15:27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

        Finally, let me close with this suggestion: Cease from being distracted by organised religion because there are far too many of them and, more crucially, because life is much too short for that, but instead ‘seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD’ (Isa. 55: 6 – 8).

      3. If you could prove that 1) Jesus existed and 2) He said the things you claim he did we might have some time for you.

        1 is debateable and 2 is beyond confirmation.

      4. Many things can be proven absolutely. I will pleased if you don’t lecture me but do provide evidence that convinces.

      5. Many things can be proved absolutely.Dont presume to lecture me but please feel free to present your evidence

  7. @ John K

    the mountain of evidence that the Bible authors knew what they were talking about shifted inexorably.

    It would help tremendously if you could provide some of this evidence.
    Thanks

    1. Certainly, Ark,
      Let’s just take the chariots of iron references at Joshua 17:16-18 and Judges 1:17-19. Now Matt Dillahunty once chose Judges 1:19 as a key verse to mock the omnipotence of God for how could God be omnipotent if he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron? But if we read that text in its immediate context:

      And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath and devoted it to destruction. So the name of the city was called Hormah. Judah also captured Gaza with its territory, and Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. And the LORD was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.

      we can see quite clearly that it was the tribe of Judah and not the LORD that could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain. Such a glaring oversight might just explain why neither the mountain nor its movement are observed by secularists.
      That (almost) by the way. More importantly, fairly recent archaeological discoveries provide an explanation for neither the people of Joseph nor the tribe of Judah being able to drive out inhabitants in possession of iron chariots. We now know that Egyptians were in possession of Canaan during the late bronze age but that they were reduced to three outposts by the early iron age. Iron chariots were obviously an iron-age innovation and two of the Egyptian-occupied sites {Gaza and Bethshan} are precisely where the Israelites could not go because of the iron chariots. (The third site, Joppa, was needed to provide access from the sea to Bethshan and perhaps nothing is said about iron chariots there because the tribe of Dan don’t seem to have even tried to take the area around Joppa allocated to them.)
      There is every reason to believe that the mention of iron chariots was a diplomatic way of talking about the Egyptians and the Israelites were not able to drive out Canaanites because of the presence of Egyptians to whom the Israelites owed a dept to hospitality.
      This is fairly recent demonstration that the authors of Joshua and Judges knew what they were talking about.
      Yours,
      John/.

      1. Yes, I read your comments to John Z over on my blog on this subject.
        In what way does this ‘evidence’ demonstrate the veracity of the tale?
        It most certainly does not add any credence for your god Yahweh.

        There is every reason to believe that …..etc

        Really? Using a phrase such as ”Every reason” sounds like a plea rather than a demonstration of evidence.
        What do historians/archaeologists say regarding your ”every reason”?

        Perhaps you would like to demonstrate ”the mountain of evidence that the Bible authors knew what they were talking about shifted inexorably” …. regarding Adam and Eve ,The Flood, the resurrection of the characters Lazareth and Jesus of Nazareth?

        Interested in your thoughts on this JK:

      2. Inexorable shifts in evidence available, Ark?
        • Adam and Eve: the similarities between the chimp genome and the human genome.
        • The Flood: plausible explanation of the Yucatan Peninsula Asteroid catastrophe.
        • Lazarus: no mention of Lazarus in gospels compiled when he was supposedly still alive but great detail — including the determination to kill him — in John’s gospel, written later.
        • Jesus of Nazareth: the general abandonment of ‘whig’ interpretations of history.
        Of course, there’s more but that should be quite enough for you to chew on.
        Yours,
        John/.

      3. Oh dear ….
        The HGP put the Adam and Eve tale to bed, yet, it seems you still refuse to accept the science.
        Because of all the other considerations that you glibly ignore, I will not even bother to respond to your rather silly Flood explanation as I am afraid that before long you are going to cite some YEC nonsense .
        I asked for the evidence you have for the raising from the dead of the characters Lazarus and Jesus of Nazareth that would support your rather outlandish claim regarding the ”mountain of evidence that the Bible writers knew what they were talking about, ”

      4. Is this man seriously proposing the Yucatan impact as the reason for the “flood”?

        Sure there will have been at least a semi-global tsunami – possibly global but it would not have been contemporaneous with Old Testament characters whose existence is seriously in question.

      5. Actually, Mark,
        no, this man is neither seriously ‘proposing the Yucatan impact as the reason for the “flood”’ nor even suggesting it as a reason in jest. I was asked — presumably as a time-wasting exercise — to give examples of how the mountain has moved, so to speak, w.r.t. evidence for Adam and Eve; the Flood; and Resurrection.
        The Flood is not a plausible explanation of the Yucatan Peninsula Asteroid catastrophe. (How could it be?) However, if you care to look at it. The achievement of a plausible explanation of the Yucatan Peninsula Asteroid catastrophe silences many of the arguments that have been posited against the very possibility that there was a Flood. That constitutes a shift in the mountain of evidence.
        Yours,
        John/.

      6. Actually, Ark,
        the outlandish claim that you were asking about is that the mountain of evidence moves and you never seem to see it.
        I’ve never even been able to find the basis for your repeated claim that the genome project shows that Adam and Eve never existed so it remains a puzzle to me how you are so set on it. Be that as it may, I’ve never heard you deal with the disconcerting similarity between the chimp and human genomes and surely that’s a different matter?
        Thank you for not bothering to respond to what never claimed to be an explanation of the flood in the first place! It gets tedious though when you are reduced to sneering at things I haven’t said.
        Yours.
        John/.

      7. I’ve never even been able to find the basis for your repeated claim that the genome project shows that Adam and Eve never existed

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/

        Thank you for not bothering to respond to what never claimed to be an explanation of the flood in the first place!

        I will remind of your initial claim:
        ”mountain of evidence that the Bible writers knew what they were talking about, ”
        When asked for evidence for the Biblical flood story you suggested the Yucatan impact.
        Mark also thought this was what you were implying.
        Perhaps, in the future, you need to reconsider the way you phrase your responses?

        As per you initial claim, I also asked for evidence regarding the resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus of Nazareth.
        Still waiting for evidence for this.
        Regards
        Ark.

      8. Ark,
        maybe you didn’t mean to but instead of asking me about the mountain, you asked me about the mountain having shifted. The Chimp genome shifts the evidence for Adam and Eve. The explanation of the Yucatan Peninsula Asteroid event shifts the evidence for the Flood. A good reason being given for the absence of the raising-of-Lazarus narrative from the synoptic gospels shifts the evidence for his raising.
        A generation ago, historians were still writing history on the basis that those who in some way anticipated where we are now were the good guys and those who in some way opposed progress were the bad guys. Consequently, there were a string of ‘Lives of Jesus’ that read their authors’ pecadillos back into hachetted texts with grotesque results. The abandonment of academic respect for such efforts has obliterated the possibility of just ignoring evidence unpalatible to the historian such as the ungainsayable eyewitness testimony of those who saw the Risen Christ.

        Thank you for the link to Why Evolution is True; I now know why you make the claim you do. Coyne overstates his case, as is his way, but it seems to me that he — like Richard Dawkins — is always in most danger of scuppering his own argument when he tries to leverage it to show how stupid is anyone who might disagree with him. You are entitled to say that Jerry Coyne thinks that ‘The HGP put the Adam and Eve tale to bed’ but that’s not the whole nine yards.
        (For the record, descent of all living humans from one man is what the Bible says has happened because of the Flood, so Noah was the individual geneticists call our ‘Y-chromosomal most recent common ancestor.’ Our matrilineal most recent common ancestor could only have been Eve herself — if, as is supposed, Naamah was Noah’s wife and his sons’ wives, Naamah’s nieces Gen. 4:19-22 — so the estimated generational gap at the time of Coyne’s writing (2011) could have been considered as evidence for the Flood! More recent calculations suggest that ‘Y-chromosomal Adam’ and ‘Mitrochondrial Eve’ may well have been contemporaries. I’d say to yours and Coyne’s certainty: ‘Jury’s still out.’)
        Yours,
        John/.

      9. You are entitled to say that Jerry Coyne thinks that ‘The HGP put the Adam and Eve tale to bed’ but that’s not the whole nine yards.

        What Jury? Where?
        Yes, it is the whole nine yards. There was no possible way that a bottleneck could possibly have existed to produce an original breeding pair of humans.
        Furthermore,I will stand by geneticists, such as Collins over you any day of the week.

        Re: the Egyptians.
        The archaeological evidence flatly refutes the presence of Israelites in Egypt, the exodus and the conquest as per the bible tale. Period.
        Why you continue to beat this theological drum is beyond me.

        I suggest you go and get a phd in theology/apologetics and go preach to those more likely to be wooed by your creationist approach. You would be a shoe -in.

      10. Francis Collins is not Jerry Coyne, Ark,
        and being able to stand with both of them at once on this issue would make you a contortionist of epic proportions. I suspect the geneticist you would rather stand with is Craig Venter; I wouldn’t invest in his ventures but what do I know? You will remember that I directed you to Professor Richard Buggs for a take on the changing perception of the individual bottlenecks {Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve} and if these numbers can change so quickly, my full expectation is that the same thing will happen with the community bottleneck: jury is out.
        Besides, I believe Adam and Eve were created and I don’t believe that because I need to fill some gap in my understanding of phylogenetic relationships but because the Bible tells me so. The significance of comparing the human genome and the chimp genome is that they turn out to be very similar. Disappointingly similar for those expecting a genetic explanation for the ‘human condition’: there isn’t one.
        A evolutionary creationist — like Collins — would be entitled to ask me why I still believe in a literal Adam and Eve in the light of the species-bottleneck evidence. I’d refer them to the Lenski et al long term e-coli experiment from which Richard Dawkins has inadvertently, accidentally and unknowingly deduced evidence for what is generally described as ‘the Fall’. I reckon that the ‘bottleneck’ evidence is also evidence for the Fall.
        (I’ve now found a more sympathetic place to study the contention that Adam and Eve did not exist:

        The claim that genomic methods have been used to test and reject an “Adam and Eve” hypothesis was central to the recent book Adam and the Genome.

        But I suggest that you can go straight on and read http://richardbuggs.com/index.php/2018/04/18/adam-and-eve-lessons-learned/ since you won’t want to contaminate your atheist purity by consulting a couple of guys who still believe in God in spite of no longer believing in a literal Adam and Eve. Jury is most definitely out!)

        I keep banging on about the archaeology, Ark, because even on the testimony of your own chosen experts you are wrong to be so dogmatic and this has been demonstrated at great length.

        I’ve got a sufficiently-good theology degree to publish on that side of Creationism and my science degree is good-enough for me to avoid any serious gaffes. I live in the UK so a theology Ph.D. wouldn’t open any doors to a virtually non-existent lecture circuit; and besides, I don’t belong to the ‘tribe’ and have already proved to be a shoo-out rather than a shoo-in. But thanks for the suggestion.
        Yours,
        John/.

      11. You said, Ark:

        Re: the Egyptians.
        The archaeological evidence flatly refutes the presence of Israelites in Egypt, the exodus and the conquest as per the bible tale. Period.
        Why you continue to beat this theological drum is beyond me.

        and it being beyond you is the whole point of me having to continue to attempt to answer the points you raise. The background to your article-of-faith certainty about archaeological evidence is that Syro-Palestinian archaeologists developed a new hypothesis about the conquest/settlement pattern they only recently have had the technique to uncover; and became increasingly sceptical about any mass exodus from Egypt. Your flat-refutation interpretation of their findings goes beyond what archaeology is able to do.

        Let’s illustrate with a known problem: Camels.
        (This is not a new thing for me by the way. I first read about it in a National Geographical Magazine article around the time of the Six-day War!)
        Back ~1967 the problem was that there seemed to be no zooarchaeological evidence of camels being used by humans in the time of the Patriarchs and yet camels feature quite prominantly from Genesis 12 onwards with Gen. 24 making a huge thing out of their use. (It isn’t sufficient to ‘solve’ the problem by saying that Moses — who wasn’t an eyewitness, obviously — had ill-advisedly put the camels in for background colour. The camels are mentioned to illustrate: 1. Wealth [Gen. 12:16; 24:10-64 and 30:43]; 2. Flight [Gen. 31:17]; and 3. The Burden of Wealth [Gen. 31:34; 32:7, 15 and 37:25]. Any examination of these texts for an a. b. c. d. c’. b’. a’. order will show the importance of the camels for the narrative structure, even starting from Egypt and ending by going back to Egypt. Check it out.
        Since ~1967 massive strides have been made in zooarchaeology and in 2013 it was announced that the first use of camels as pack animals in the Levant could be dated quite precisely. Zooarchaeologists are able to do this in large part because pack animals tend to die or be killed at the depot, so to speak, and large assemblages of bones bespeak domesticated use. We are forced to argue that camels used by nomads like the patriarchs would have died singly and been disposed of where they fell so that it would be much harder to distinguish Abraham’s camels’ bones from those of wild camels. Unfortunately, the flat-refutation logic cannot be contented with saying something like: ‘That’s a very convenient way of getting out of there being no archaeological evidence.’ As it happens, it can be argued that there have been no earlier camel bones found at all and for flat-refutation logic, no bones means no evidence means no camels, not even wild ones. So much for the logic because common sense dictates that there must have been wild camels in the Levant because where else could they have gone through to get from Egypt to Arabia or vice versa?

        To my mind things like this make the theological drum worth beating for all its worth.
        Yours,
        John/.

      12. John Z already discussed the camel issue with you and pointed out why ot is a fallacious argument so I won’t bother to repeat that here.
        Let me reiterate. The Captivity, Exodus and Conquest as per the biblical tale is simply a geopolitical foundation myth accepted as such by all but the most fundamental religious believers.
        Furthermore, in depth conversations like this are the height of frustration across different time zones especially when pursued on a blog run by someone who seems overly concerned with what visitors might write and thus severely moderates.
        I would suggest you cut and paste your comment, post it on my blog on the post you have been discussing with John Z, and we can take it up from there.

      13. Yes, Ark,
        you’ve said it before.

        The Captivity, Exodus and Conquest as per the biblical tale is simply a geopolitical foundation myth accepted as such by all but the most fundamental religious believers.

        and once again you can’t even get the terms right. The Israelites went to Egypt voluntarily so the entirety of their stay there, including the time they were enslaved is generally called the Sojourn.
        As usual, you can’t help exaggerating; how could you possibly know what the apathetic majority of people think, who are what they are in name only? Out of a hundred people spoken to, how many of them would profess to have a clue what a geopolitical foundation myth actually is? How many would be right? More importantly, how many of those who know what a geopolitical foundation myth is and believe that the Abrahamic family history is one, go on to share your article-of-faith certainty that there is no truth in any of it?
        J. R. R. Tolkien famously agreed with his friend C. S. Lewis that Genesis was a myth and then changed Lewis’s thinking by asking what it would mean if the myth were true. Don’t be deceived here, it is far more important to ask if it’s true than to ask if it’s a myth. It might sound as though reason and logic have the broken remnant of faith-blinded believers surrounded in a desperate last stand; waiting for a rescue that can never come. Truth is, we’re airborne troops who are meant to be surrounded and the great army seems determined to destroy itself before our eyes.
        The recent ‘camels’ discussion is a case in point and I don’t know when I’ve ever come across someone so determined to destroy his own argument. I honestly can’t believe that John realises what he is saying when he insists that no bones means no camels. Common sense dictates that that cannot be true for that location. What he singularly fails to do is point to a fallacy in my argument.
        I prefer it here. On your own blog you fail to be a moderating influence and you yourself told me to depart — litotically speaking — in no uncertain terms. I have departed.
        Yours,
        John/.

      14. There is every reason to believe that the mention of iron chariots was a diplomatic way of talking about the Egyptians and the Israelites were not able to drive out Canaanites because of the presence of Egyptians to whom the Israelites owed a dept to hospitality.

        Yes, really, Ark;
        one such reason is that there is a parallel example from Transjordan where the Edomites seem to make very similar noises to the two Amorite kings but Edom is left well alone whereas the Amorite kingdoms both disappear. Why? Cf. — Deut. 23:7f. — ‘You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the LORD.’
        If you want to understand the central importance for Israel of neither abhoring nor being abhored, read Leviticus 26.
        If you want an alternative to ‘Every reason to believe …’ how about ‘It all fits together …’ which it does, unless you can see otherwise, of course.
        Yours,
        John/.

      15. ”You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land”.
        If you want an alternative to ‘Every reason to believe …’ how about ‘It all fits together …’ which it does, unless you can see otherwise, of course

        Except for the fact there is no evidence of Israelite presence in Egypt as per the biblical tale.

      16. Wow! Thanks for the prompt, Ark.
        You will notice of course that it all fitting together so well is itself another tiny bit of evidence for the Israelite sojourn in Egypt.
        It all adds up.
        Yours,
        John/.

      17. In what way does this ‘evidence’ demonstrate the veracity of the tale?
        It most certainly does not add any credence for your god Yahweh.

        The Iron Chariots passages, Ark,
        fit the recent findings of archaeology so well that I’m surprised you give me the opportunity to elucidate. Archaeology shows that there were Egyptians precisely where the Bible says the iron chariots were. Archaeology shows that there were hundreds of new iron age settlements in those places where the Israelites were told to clear and occupy in lieu of taking possession of the Egyptian inhabited areas. We have the perfect example of what it meant in practice not to abhor an Egyptian. Both Joshua and Judges are shown to be figuratively ‘on the same page.’

        Given what the Genesis has already said about the attractiveness of Cities of the Plain — cf. the story of Lot — it says a lot for God’s jealous care for his children that Joseph’s people were thus encouraged to do the difficult thing first. Again it fits with the demonstration of God’s own longsuffering throughout the Exodus period. If you want a New Testament parallel, Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth because of their unbelief.
        Yours,
        John/.

  8. @John Kilpatrick
    “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, Plainerrata!”

    Sorry John, it was by inadvertence.

    It is so that with hindsight everybody, self-evidently, can see that “the Bible authors knew what they were talking about”. Put another way; since it was completed, the Bible does not stand in need of or depend on evidence from elsewhere.

    This is not to say, however, that everybody sees; for and although the Bible is purposefully written so that everybody self-evidently sees (that is, experiences and understands) what it presents, not everybody wants or wishes to expereince and understand what it presents; not even as they endure and suffer expereincing their own enslavement to sin; “for every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

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