During the nominal religious festival of Christmas (who really believes the story of the Incarnation in 2022?) it is worth considering the key theological belief of our western society – Darwinism. It may be just as fanciful. We know a great deal about the cell, much more than Darwin, and, thanks to our increasing knowledge of genetics, are on the brink of moving from curing people to designing them – disease free. Ageless as well, which will pose problems. The fact we will be soon able to design living creatures, makes one wonder if this has been done before. DNA uses amino acids to create the building blocks of our bodies, amino acids are present in space, so is this a purely local phenomena?
The amount of information carried by DNA in order to create you is vast. Not just the manner in which sequences of amino acids determine the precise way in which your proteins fold and function, but how they all lock together. How does a particular cell, say from a kidney, ‘know’ its geographical place among the 30 trillion cells in the body? Has it some sort of internal map ? If so it must be incredibly complex, the words ‘incredible’ and ‘complex’ doing as much justice to the idea as the statement, “the sea contains a lot of water.’`
In his 1982 Rede lecture, astronomer Fred Hoyle, a notable opponent of Darwinism, asked this question.
“One way,” Hoyle said, “to represent the information content of life is by the ratio of the number of possible nonsense arrangements to the number of viable living arrangements. As my colleague Chandra Wickramasinghe and I have argued (following others in this respect) the resulting ratio is enormous – if you wrote out the ratio as an integer in the usual way it would minimally have some 40.000 digits, taking some fifteen pages of print to set out in detail.
Even to an astronomer an integer with 40,000 digits is hard to visualise. Since such a number is enormously super astronomical units of magnitude. Imagine yourself to be on some headland gazing out to sea. You have the impression that here is a vast amount of water, infinitely greater than the contents of a chemist’s test-tube. Yet the ratio of the volume of the whole world ocean to the volume of a test-tube is only a number with some 20 digits, which is entirely trivial compared to 40,000 digits.
You see from this latter comparison that if life originated here on the Earth it could hardly have mattered whether the whole world ocean was involved or only volume the size of a test-tube. The difference amounting to only 20 digits is 40,000. Thus if the world ocean produced biochemical materials with an information content set at 40,000 digits a test-tube would produce pro rata an information content of 39,980 digits, which is essentially the same vast number. Nor does the time involved matter much. Not even if the accumulation of information were strongly accelerating, say like the hundredth power of the time.
These circumstances open the way to proof or disproof by experiment. If there were some deep principle which drove organic systems towards living systems, the operation of the principle should easily be demonstrable in a test-tube in half a morning. Needless to say, no such demonstration has ever been given.
Nothing happens when organic materials are subject to the usual prescriptions of showers of electrical sparks or drenched in ultraviolet light, except the eventual production of a tarry sludge. Of all the facts available to us, whether in biology chemistry, physics or astronomy, it seems to me the huge information content of living systems must surely be the most important, just because its numerical representation is so much larger than any other quantity with which we are familiar. Account of all the atoms in al the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes only yields an integer with some 80 digits, which is less than the number of wrong ways of making even a quite short-chain protein like cytochrome-c. If one were allowed a random trial for every atom in the universe one would still be unlikely to come up with even a single such protein, let alone the many thousands on which life depends.
I spoke in the earlier part of my lecture as if the big-bang and steady-state theories were the only possible forms of cosmology. It is my present opinion that neither theory is wholly right nor wholly wrong. In its emphasis on matter at a very high density the big-bang theory has. I believe, a correct point, but only if such events are taken to be explicitly within the universe, not as the origin of the whole universe. Indeed, rather obviously, it is just such events which give rise to galaxies and to clusters of galaxies. The steady-state theory. on the other hand, is correct in denying an explicit moment of origin of the universe,correct in giving the universe an enormous antiquity. The breath taking complexity of life points strongly to a universe of vast antiquity, as if the universe has developed with respect to increasing order over a span of time that was enormous compared to the intervals usually contemplated in cosmology.
On this view the information content of life was not discovered by local processes here on the Earth, but was written on the Earth from outside, information that was derived from the entire past history of the universe.”
Hoyle, readers will recall, was denied the Nobel Prize given to his two co- workers on the nucleosynthesis of carbon in stars, for his mockery of Darwinian evolution. For a leading scientist to deny Darwin was like the Pope denying the divinity of Christ. Even now, prominent figures in science hesitate to state outright this was the reason for Hoyle not getting the Nobel Prize – to do so would be to hint that all is not well with our key article of faith.
The recent Anglican efforts to make sure that people do not think of God as a male suggests to me that these “theo”logians do not really believe in God. Has God told them to do this? Have they asked God what “he” thinks? What difference will it make? Does anyone really care? Does God care? What does the only begotten Son of God think, assuming he is sitting at the right hand of his Parent in “heaven”? Did he get his paternity wrong when on “earth”? Did he get his special prayer wrong? What did his earthly Mum think?
The US philosopher Daniel Dennet has written on Darwin: “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” and noted, obviously enough, that Darwin did not know about genetics. But to me this is a red herring, for it’s not the specifics of how things come about, but the broad theory that is if interest here.
The real issue is that the environment in which events occur, and Time is part of that environment, is the matrix for the shape of what arises – we arise as a function of the environment being the forces, pressures, time, relative stability and so forth. Things, including Life, are an expression of the environmental limitations, and as i read it, Darwin was quite on point.
Evolution (not Darwinism’) us a straightforward fact of science. Feed Hoyle was a brilliant astronomer but he never understood evolution and his criticisms of evolution were wildly off point. Evolution isn’t a religion, it isn’t a system of ethics or morality. It is simply the way in which species adapt to changing conditions over time. Incidentally, if you did manage to someho disprove evolution, that would be on a scale equivalent to disproving the fact that the earth revolves around the sun and you would certainly be awarded the Nobel prize.
@ Kit Ingoldby
Trouble is: not that simple.
Successful mutations leading to transitional forms and then distinctively new species raise some mathematical problems.
Thing is: the alternative that God created the different species successively out of thin air looks ridiculous.
Kit Ingoldsby That’s absurd the writer has fallen into the classic trap of somebody who does not understand science. All theories must be capable of falsification, otherwise they are religions. If you read Nature correspondence on epigenesis you will see falsification at work on Darwin . There are no facts in science only suppositions
Generally correct, as Popper explained, but in addition to experimental test, there is also observation. I would restrict the definition of “religion”.
We face the extraordinary Anthropic Paradox that the cosmos is asking about itself via the human brain it supposedly evolved. Are we “meant” to be here, as Paul Davies once stated?
Is this the best of all possible worlds?
All of these very serious commentators making their very serious comments on a very serious topic about which they haven’t a clue either way – – – should always look on the bright side of life.
What use is the declining “Church” of disappearing “England” when its episcopate apologises for Slavery (“Mirror” 11 January 2023, online), blames the Christian religion for the Holocaust (“Times of Israel” 22 November 2019, online), and wants more Muslims and Hindus to settle here? What does Peter Mullen think?
Marx the Father, Che the Son, and Mandela the Holy Ghost.
Plus St George Fentanyl Floyd.
No doubt a Slavery Museum and a Colonialism Museum will follow the Holocaust Museum to indict the English people as morally unfit to retain cultural identity let alone political hegemony in their ancestral island home.
Incidentally, given the ever-increasing media focus on the Holocaust, to the exclusion of all the other genocides and mass-deaths in the last century alone, could this become the Woke Replacement for Holy Week?
Time will tell, but there is something in Mr Rockford’s prediction that in public remembrance the Holocaust might supersede Good Friday.
Current Jewish writing (e.g. David Bernstein, Zoe Strimpel ) has drawn attention to woke ideology and activism as a stimulus to antisemitism, because of recent inclusion of the Jews as privileged white people in “critical race theory” alongside leftist attacks on Israel as an “oppressive” colonial state, but the utility of this particular crime to “diversity, inclusion, equality” propaganda, with the (somewhat dubious) addition of lesbians, cripples and gypsies to the Jewish victims, persists.
The unifying culture among western Jews has to a large degree shifted from worship of the Torah Deity to the commemoration of the Holocaust, from haShem to haShoah. At the same time, recent writers (e.g. Dan Stone, Goetz Aly) are widening the culpability from the Germans to other European nations.
There is a considerable literature, mainly from Jewish writers but also Christians, that blame the New Testament religion as a decisive cause of the Holocaust (e.g. Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Gabriel Wilensky, Randolph Braham, Howard White, Adele Reinhartz, John Kaufman, Raul Hilberg). Holocaust memorial “turns the tables”: the people supposedly responsible for killing One Innocent Victim (Matthew 27.25) have become Six Million Innocent Victims, and the churches must expiate their guilt, as indeed many are doing with masochism signaling.
Whereas Jews (e.g. Hyam Maccoby, Paul Winter, Hugh Schonfield, Joel Carmichael, Sam Harris) have questioned the NT Passion narrative, it is virtually a blasphemy, and in some countries a criminal offence, to question the feasibility of efficiently gassing millions of people, including over a million children, in relative secrecy.
“Rishi Sunak reaffirmed his commitment to Holocaust remembrance by pledging to legislate to build the Westminster Memorial and learning centre next to Parliament – a move that is not welcomed by all parts of the community” The Jewish Chronicle, 27 January 2023. Objections included complaints that by including a selection of other genocides, plans for the centre would dilute what should be an exclusively Jewish memorial, that the numerous Holocaust museums around the world had not stemmed a recent increase in antisemitism, and that money would be better spent on extending the already compulsory Holocaust element in the British school curriculum with Jewish history, achievements and persecution in general, including the justification for and merits of Israel.
According to enthusiastic promoters like Baron Pickles, proposed “education” materials will record the “antisemitism” and “racism” of the English nation, including our allegedly inadequate responses to Nazism and Zionism.
This could explain the insistence on its deliberate location right alongside Parliament, as a permanent accusation and admonition, on an otherwise pleasant, ecologically questionable heritage and leisure site.
Instead of reducing hostility to Jews, couldn’t this provoke it?
I looked up the issue of the weekly quoted by Mr Ashton. On page 10 it reported that Baroness Deech, a leading opponent of this Westminster Gardens project, said the mandatory Holocaust education in UK schools needed to be “re-shaped as education about Jews, their history, why antisemitism exists, its persistence today, including anti-Zionism, the Jewish attachment to and the need for Israel”. The problem is that any criticisms of Israel, or indeed of any specifically Jewish activities, however reasonable, are now automatically included in “the longest hatred” and tabooed.
Whatever the “definition” of “antisemitism”, it is a subject, at once explosive and sensitive, where angels fear to tread, while fools who rush in soon face penalties – David Irving [Auschwitz & Himmler], Stephen Sizer [Zionism & 9/11] and Jeremy Corbyn [Palestine & Randlords].
“Holocaust Denial” is a case in point, although there are several Jews accused of it (e.g. Gerard Menuhin, David Cole, Jacob Cohen, Josef Ginsburg). It is exemplified by the huge number of so-called “Holocaust Handbooks” whose contrarian contents can still be downloaded on computer screens, the quality and tone of which readers with sufficient knowledge can judge for themselves; the nit-picking over crematoria function by Carlo Mattogno is most erudite of this tasteless bunch, though I would refer to competent statisticians its online numerical analysis of fatalities by Germar Rudolf, “Holocaust Victims…W. Benz & ‘W. A. Sanning’, A Comparison”, obliged nevertheless to conclude that “death clearly took a heavy toll” among the Jewish population of Europe.
The customary “six million” was first seriously challenged by the pioneer Jewish historian, Gerald Reitlinger, in Appendix 1 [pp.533-546] of “The Final Solution” (1971), and I agree that it is shameful to see mitigation in reducing the sum total to 2 million. There is however nothing intrinsically improper in reviewing the evidence in the same way that independent critics have freshly reassessed the Armenian mortalities, Stalin’s gulag & purge casualties and the Cambodian democide, among others.
Discussion has been complicated by tact, timidity, decency and deference, but also credulity. For example, Peter Neville’s often inaccurate A-Level text “The Holocaust” (1999) includes in its bibliography the Wilkomirski “Fragments”, exposed as a complete fake. According to Margaret MacMillan’s “Uses & Abuses of History” (2010), Yad Vashem’s director said that many survivors were unreliable, “remembering” atrocities when “nowhere near the place where the events happened” [p.47]. The credibility of this unprecedented genocide has not been helped by embellishment by anecdotes created by demonstrably false memory or ridiculously fictional heroics.
What the “revisionists/denialists” evade is the genocidal ideology espoused, implicitly and explicitly, by Hitler and Goebbels; plus the clues provided by the former’s admissions to General Horthy and Henriette von Schirach about the fate of harmless Jewish families so cruelly deported in huge numbers. The fears and feelings of Jews today are quite comprehensible, but some measures aimed at suppressing “antisemitism” are likely to prove counter-productive.
Both Holocaust Education & Remembrance raise important matters which deserve discussion.
I too decided to follow them in the informative and very interesting “Jewish Chronicle”.
The latest issue, 10 February 2023, prints its archive report, 9 February 1945, on Auschwitz investigations. It estimates over 1.5 million deaths, largely Jewish; this fits the “official” museum calculation by Franciszek Piper in 1991. But there are some odd features: “an electrical machine” which killed “several hundreds at once”; a “mobile plant for slaughtering children”; and the reconstruction (not destruction) of “gas chambers” to look like “garages”.
The paper has a full-page essay by Melanie Phillips, known for her vigorous defence of our English national homeland from Islamic immigration and her no less vigorous defence of the Jewish national homeland from Islamist extirpation.
She points out that the Government, supported by “Tory party donors” and “establishment toadies”, plans to overturn a previous Act of Parliament that protects “a quiet green oasis valued by local residents” to erect a huge, brutalist construction; and that its opponents have been attacked with “emotional blackmail, bullying and character assassination, including spurious accusations of antisemitism”.
However, her objection to this Holocaust project is that it is NOT exclusively concerned solely with Jewish victims in the context of an antisemitic “continuum stretching back” from “earliest times” to the hatred now “perpetrated mainly by Palestinian Arab supporters, Muslims and communities radicalised by Black Power”. She also calls Britain “an accessory to the Holocaust”.
Instead of this monstrous mistake in Westminster Gardens, maybe there should be two separate buildings elsewhere: a Memorial Shrine funded mainly by the Anglo-Jewish Community dedicated to their own victims of persecution, and an Information Centre funded mainly by the DfE about all the democides and mass-deaths in the world since at least 1900.
The huge death-toll from communism should get some recognition, especially in UK schools – apart from the nonetheless valuable modest Museum of Communist Terror in Westminster.
The latest (predictable) development in the suicidal wokification of Anglican Masochistianity is the move to de-gender God from liturgy, text and sermons. This nonsense will antagonise its happy & clappy evangelicals and its bells & smells high-churchmen, but no doubt will keep its weepies and creepies happily occupied as an alternative to converting England, or indeed anyone anywhere, to a faith in which many bishops no longer seriously believe in any case. We have already been told that the Son of God was a black man or a gay man, but now it turns out he may have been a daughter of his Mother – who art in heaven, Harolda be thy name.
Bringing Christ into line with the World, rather than the reverse, seems to be the main aim of the erastian episcopacy. “Diversity [Afro-Asian supremacy], Inclusion [Paraphilia celebration], Equality [Cultural debasement]”, not the authentic Gospel. In the case of the dwindling “national church” DIE is a perfectly appropriate acronym.
The blinkered self-conceit of this little clique of English-speaking northern white ecclesiastics in describing the “gender change” of God the Father, “Abba” to Jesus, as a development of doctrine comparable to the definition of the Trinity (which it indirectly undermines), is beyond satire. It not only separates them from the Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox and major Protestant denominations, but also the Muslims, even though they all know that, like Allah, Adonai and Brahman, the First Person of the Trinity is not “really/literally” a male person in the human sense (unlike the Second?) with arms, legs and testicles. You can rely on the Anglican establishment to turn a theological dog’s dinner into a pastoral poison. No gaiters, but still all gas. Who cares if it cuts off the last little decaying branch it is perching on?
Well, “there is tragedy in the spectacle” (Ayn Rand).
Right Revd. Justin Portal Welby’s Blessing of Sodomite “Weddings” has sent African Christians (who vastly outnumber UK Anglicans) into a frenzy of gender dichotomous denunciation. Still, he wears a very pretty hat.
Will this correspondence never close?
@ T. Windmill
Matthew 24.35. If you can believe that, you can believe in the immortality of this SR blog.
Assuming Jesus was born around 6 BC, became an active adult at 18 and was crucified on 30 AD rather than 33 AD his three-year “ministry”, he did not start his preaching, exorcisms and faith-healing until he had spent around eighteen years doing something else. He may have had scriptural training and become a semikah rabbi, and spent some time in a qumran-style community like or with his cousin John the immerser. He may well have studied other sects. The book of Daniel played an important part in his self-image as it certainly did in the formation of the NT. As for an Aryan Jesus the problem is Revelation 5.5. At the same time as a mamzer he may have been conscious of extending deliverance to nations other than the Jews. Finding clues to the “real” Jesus has eluded writers for centuries. Simply accepting the mainstream theology raises the puzzle as to why God should take human form for only three years of human history and then fail to establish a universal Kingdom of Heaven.
My prose corrections somehow did not get there in time, but then nor did the Son of God!
@ Brian Rockford
The NT “Apocalypse” is no more a source of actual fact about Jesus than Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” on Mongol history; “a vision in a dream”, in each case drug-influenced (cf. Rev.10.10-11). More on this, and Judah, if challenged. Two assured facts are clear: (1) Joseph was named the “legal” therefore Davidic (foster) father, but not the biological father of Jesus, and (2) Galilee was a mixture of races genetically and culturally.
“Celsus…is the earliest source to indicate that some Jews call Jesus ‘ben Panthera…the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier… Some rabbinic materials, primarily Palestinian, repeat this name.”// “The earliest rabbinic texts (tannaitic) were composed in Roman Galilee….The Babylonian Talmud recounts stories about the trial and execution of Jesus [and] his punishment in hell” – “The Jewish Annotated New Testament”, A-J Levine & M. Z. Brettler [eds] (2011), pp.578,580.
“British historian points out that certain references in the Gospels imply that rumours were spread at the time those texts were written. Saying 105 of the Gospel of Thomas has Jesus declaring…’He who knows the father and the mother will be called the son of a harlot’….a Roman tombstone was found at Bingerbrueck in Germany that marked the grave of one Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera was an archer from Sidon in Phoenicia and had served in Syria until his transfer to the Rhine in 9 CE…Pantera was a fairly common name among Syrians in the first century.” – Lynn Pickett & Clive Prince, “The Masks of Christ” (2010), pp.98-99.
“Jesus arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and he entered a house and did not want anyone to know…” – Mark 7.24. There were cults and centres of Eshmun=Aesclapius and Mithra, a god linked to Zoroastrianism, there.
“Magi are made to say [Matthew 2.5] that the christ they are seeking will be born ‘in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet.’ The Prophet, of course, is Zoroaster, whose name is retained in other gospels, e.g. in an ‘Euangelium Infantiae’…” – Revilo P. Oliver, “The Origins of Christianity” (2001), p.123f.
“Asa” (healers, Aramaic); “Iason”(healer, Greek).
See also: Jane Schaberg, “The Illegitimacy of Jesus” (2006); Morton Smith, “Jesus the Magician” (2014); Lawrence H. Mills, “Avesta Eschatology” (2018 ed);
Houston Stewart Chamberlain, “Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, Vol. I” (1910), pp.174-247; Peter Schafer, “Jesus in the Talmud” (2009).
The “missing years” before the brief local “ministry” of God and/or his begotten Son during the past 300,000 years, during which more than 100 billion “unsaved” humans have lived and died, surely raise reasonable doubts about the “Incarnation”.
As for the Roman parentage of this Yehoshua [God saves] of G’lil ha-Goyim [Gentile district], the Wikipedia entry on “Julius Tiberius Abdes Pantera” is more sceptical than Ian Wilson, the British historian cited here. Incidentally, there was a Bethlehem in Galilee not very far from the contested cite of Nazareth.
No doubt there were various first-century “Judaisms”, both sectarianism and syncretism in the Near East, plus the use of Aramaic as a lingua franca from Persia to Palestine, including parts of the book of Daniel. If Daniel 9.24-27 is not a prophecy of the date and life of Jesus, the NT seems to be written to conform to it.
To add to the reading lists, I would mention: Edwin Freed, Stories of Jesus’ Birth” (2004); Michael Molnar, “Star of Bethlehem” (2013); and Harold Hoehner, “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (1977).
What do your clergymen readers think about all this (if they do “think” nowadays other than to denounce past slavery and welcome future immigration)?
Yes, Myles Harris, why is there something rather than nothing?
Why should a Self-sufficient Supreme Being create anything?
Why this something rather than another something?
Yet why so much cruelty?
There are still a lot of us, billions actually, that believe in the Incarnation of God in Christ. There may not be many of us in Islington these days admittedly. Happy 2023- oh look, a year from the Catholic calendar.
Andy, Muslims+Hindus together outnumber Christians, but truth is not decided by vote. Catholics are relying on black Africans who are more superstitious than the high-IQ billions of non-Christian East Asians: hence the present Woke Nincompope’s support for refugees and “peripheral” migrants (though not in his own Vatican City backyard).
Is the “Incarnation of God IN Christ” the same as the “Incarnation of God AS Christ”? How many people “christened” and/or “born again” actually believe the Nicene Creed?
The notion of Jesus as the Son of God has an obvious corollary of Divine Paternity plus Human Motherhood. The fact that Joseph was not his biological father is consistent with John 8.41 and Mark 6.3. The possibility of another human father, in fact a Roman army officer, raised by Celsus in the second century, by Haeckel in the 19th and by Hitler in the 20th, has been persuasively argued in detail by Dr James Tabor on his 21st century blog still online.
“Mary came from Nazareth. She was of non-Jewish origin…” (Dr Walter Beltz).
“In the old rabbinic texts Jesus ben Panthera is mentioned several times…. When Jupiter meets Saturn in the constellation of the Fishes, that signifies: there will appear in Palestine [7 BC] the ruler of the last days [previously heralded by Halley’s Comet of doom] (Prof. Ethelbert Stauffer); cf. David Hughes, “The Star of Bethlehem” (New Scientist, 25 December 1999).
A crucial factor in the timing, and subsequent gospel evolution, was the prophecy of the 70 Sevens in the influential book attributed to Daniel, himself a magus in Persia (K. B. Vogelman, online).
“We are informed by Tacitus, by Suetonius, and by Josephus, that there prevailed throughout the entire East at this time an intense conviction, derived from ancient prophecies, that ere long a powerful monarch would arise in Judea, and gain dominion over the world…. If [the Eastern Magi] were disciples of Zoroaster, they would see in the Infant King the future conqueror of Ahriman” (Dr F W Farrar).
“As shown by the presence of the Magi at the birth of the non-Jewish christ, there was also an influence of the Zoroastrian cult, which by that time had both assimilated both astrology and the notion that a Saviour (Sayoshant) would come to deliver the world from evil” (Prof. R. P. Oliver).
Given that the Sayoshants would be “virgin”-born, why is not at least likely that Persian-archery trained senior legionary Abdes Pantera was delegated as the “angel” to trigger global redemption at the most auspicious time, and likelier than that God in the Person of the Holy Spirit “fathered” i.e. created a Human Replica without a normal SRY gene?
I am first and foremost of scientific conviction. evidence and repeatability take precedence very time. But I cannot resist the following.
King James Version
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it,
10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,
11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
May I make a further contribution regarding the incarnation? A study of the New Testament will show that a major theme, the major theme, is the revelation of a means of “salvation” of human beings from the condition of “sin”. However we may define sin, it’s evident that there’s a lot of it about, and that we individually are pretty guilty in various ways from time to time. The NT explains how it was necessary for a perfect person to carry the burden and punishment of sin on our behalf, in our place. That perfect person was Jesus Christ, and he was that person by way of how he came to earth, via the unique virgin birth at the incarnation, as the NT recounts. And that’s why the simple basic Christian faith includes the incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection, all as “a package”, all now in the past, but additionally the promise made by Jesus “I will come again”, then not as a baby but as King and Lord of all.
Mr optimistbrit, how exactly does the NT “explain” that it was “necessary” for a “perfect person” to carry the “punishment of sin” in “our place” and on “our behalf”. The “ransom” theory of “atonement” is incomprehensible, like the primitive “scapegoat” concept.
People still sin, even after being “born again” and/or baptised. The real social problem is to prevent crime and vice, but the NT instructs Christians not to resist evil (people).
Hell is still there, to torture for ever those who fail to forgive their human enemies, including their own torturers.
Furthermore, “Though infinitely powerful…[God] could think of no other way to reprieve humanity from punishment for its sins (in particular, for the sin of being descended from a[n imaginary] couple who had disobeyed him) than to allow an innocent man (his son no less) to be impaled through the limbs and slowly suffocate in agony. By acknowledging that this sadistic murder was a gift of divine mercy, people could earn eternal iife. And if they failed to see the logic in all this, their flesh would be seared by fire for all eternity.” – Prof. Steven Pinker.
Then when Jesus comes again (after a long wait) as “King and Lord of all” with his angels, he will send to Endless Torture entire nations where his followers have been treated badly (Matthew 25.46).
The old debate about evolution has gone round and round endlessly since Darwin, and even before him. The credibility of “evolution” is challenged by a simple consideration, namely the conception and birth of a baby, specifically a human baby. From two little specks, almost too small to see, when joined together but not otherwise, over a period of nine months produce a child having a full compliment of faculties. That, my friends is a miracle, so common that it is not regarded as such. Yet how could such a sequence have come about by “natural selection” or some other self-propelled process, however many billion years are allowed? Sorry, not possible. Unfortunately for the “Darwinist”, the only alternative is what is called “intelligent design”, which of course points to “an intelligent designer”, who might happen to be God, the one revealed in the Bible. But that won’t do at all, will it? Even if it’s true.
A careful internet search will uncover recent research into possible origins of self-replicating organisms other than a supernatural miracle. There are cosmic phenomena that suggest design (e.g. the apparent similarity in observed size between the moon and the sun) and those which do not (e.g. the accident mass-extinction of the dinosaurs).
The Editor asks a question – who really believes the story of the Incarnation in 2022? The answer is that many people do, including myself. But it’s the wrong question! The proper question is – is the incarnation true, the truth? Wider still – is the New Testament the truth? Or were the NT writers a bunch of liars or myth writers? And the answer to those questions is independent of whether anybody believes them, or not. And when Pontius Pilate asked “What is truth?”, he was not jesting. At 2000 years distance, it’s a bold person who can prove that the NT is a collection of myths, ie not the truth, and therefore unworthy of belief.
Er, so it isn’t falsifiable then? Hence belief and unbelief is all that remains to be decided on the matter in question
Restating what one believes is the common message of the collection of documents later known as the New Testament, and stating that one believes it, proves nothing. These have been subject to careful scrutiny for decades past by ex-Christian scholars (e.g. Geza Vermes, Maurice Casey) and Christians likewise, showing that they cannot be regarded as wholly reliable, let alone inerrant.
Salvation from Eternal Torture, not just sin? Billions of human beings before, during and after a “perfect person” in heaven “came to earth” for a mere three years of exorcism, miracles and parables? See e.g. Mark 16.16; Matthew 5.22, 11.21-24, 13.50, 18.8-9, 25.31-46; Revelation 20.10-15, 21.8.
No doubt the Designer of Life and Hell is responsible for insect and animal pain, the system combining reproductive prodigality with predation and carnivore hunting, bacteria, viruses and poisonous fungi, not excluding some individually charming events like the drowning of helpless children (Genesis 7.23).
The German theologian Ernst Troeltsch suggested that we do not possess the facts of the early history of Christianity but only the traditions concerning the facts, The task, he said, is to critically reconstruct from these traditions what probably happened at the same time realizing any reconstruction will never satisfy everyone. It is important to realize that Faith cannot tolerate uncertainty and therefore will retreat to a position that is not subject to historical criticism.
Darwinism, though a valiant attempt to explain the tremendous variation in life forms if not the origin of life itself, fails to meet the test of scientific proof. By proofs I mean verifiable fact. Further, the recent work in cellular biology, genetics, and biochemistry, work unavailable to Darwin, would surely have caused him some serious revision in his thinking. Current supporters of Darwinism now too face uncertainty and rely on tradition and dated science to prop up evolutionary theory. These supporters have retreated to a position of supporting a theory whose proofs will never be forthcoming, Perhaps it is a position of faith.
The best theory today for proving the existence of GOD is, in my opinion, the CTMU, which was published by Christopher Langan.
To summarize: there is a recursive substructure, which is self aware, which is itself a sort of language, and we are a part of it’s greater conciousness; the mathematical language, the scientific observations and our own experiences is nothing more than a superstructure built upon the substrata (god). Obviously, it’s much more complex than that summary, but the theoretical model creates a sort of super tautology that brings together science and religion. Langan believes that indeterminism exists; that part of the information that is good is placed back into the language and used again, the information that is not good get’s swept away, but not fully deleted because information in this model cannot cease to exist, therefore it could be swept away long enough to “fix” so to speak. This would be the christian version of “hell.” The model also attempts to explain how something can come from nothing. Considering he has an IQ of 195, his work is so incredibly dense and it’s not easy to read: especially since he doesn’t define all of the words/terms he creates. But his personal youtube videos, and the introductions written by others on the CTMU are easy to understand.
I have not tried to read Christopher Langan, nor yet the most promising Robert Russell and Christian de Duve. Some old wine from Aquinas, Leibniz and Spinoza just about survives in new bottles. I can make sense of much of the cosmologists Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies and George Ellis, but I am not up to the mathematics of Robert Spitzer and Frank Tipler. However, the astrophysics, quantum mechanics and evolutionary theories of tomorrow will anyhow be different from yesterday’s. In talking about a Supreme Being we seem to be discussing a Notion, rather than Someone taking a personal interest in our speculations.
The Christmas stories make no mention of ‘Incarnation”, and wholly contradict one another. According to Matthew’s story the couple already lived in Bethlehem (no need for a stable, then) and Jesus was born prior to Herod’s death i9n, at the latest, 4 BCE, and then they fled to Egypt leaving other baby boys to their fate. Luke says they lived in Nazareth and travelled for a census (the only record is one of in 6 CE which did not demand a return to place of birth). There was no massacre of the innocent baby boys and eventually they returned back to Galilee. Matthew’s Jesus came to live there later. I wonder iff the two boys ever met, though one will have been at least 10 years older than the other. I’m not making this up. It’s there in Matthew and Luke. Read them and see.
Much earlier writings, eg of Paul or Mark, make no mention of these stories, nor does John, written at the end of the century. These made up stories are simply that. Made up. The Incarnation is a much later doctrine, another invention. Fred Hoyle was discredited by many for more than ust for being anti-Darwin, so why is everyone so scared on Darwin still? Could it be that people still hanker after life after death (though the doctrine of the Incarnation promises nothing like that).
Darwin was a pioneer and like all pioneers he saw through a glass darkly, and like Freud, of whom we are also9 terrified, suffers rejection because we don’t like what he had to say. The alternative is not a sentimental and uniiformed Christianity. It’s time to grow up and leave Nativity Plays behind.
Surely the inconsistencies referred to by Rod Hacking only serve to support the Christian views. If Christianity is a clever invention, surely they would have got their Acts together and produced stories that did match? After reading all the above, I think I’ll stick to Christianity – something I can almost understand, despite it being used for nefarious political purposes for the last 2000 years.
@ James Noble
Depends on the degree and/or reasons for demonstrable mismatch.
For Matthew the Resurrection occurred in Galilee and for Luke it was in Judea. Witnesses of an unexpected event may get a few details wrong, but not the town where it occurred. Why did Luke record two different accounts of Jesus going up to heaven? Where did Matthew get his far-fetched tale of other people being resurrected and walking about Jerusalem, or of an angel landing on the tombstone and sending its guards into shock; a combination of mythical fantasy with clumsy apologetic invention?
How many other gods, heroes or teachers have had miraculous births or risen from the dead? Isn’t the raising of Lazarus of Bethany an equally incredible copy of the raising of El-Osiris at Beth-Annu, for instance? (See e.g. Randell Helms, “Gospel Fictions” .)
Rod Hacking like all scientific theories, Darwinism if it wasn’t falsifiable, capable of disproof, would not be a scientific theory but a religion. Some have tried to make it so. Epigenesis – a recent scientific theory – has falsified a core postulate of Darwin, that evolution is blind and directionless. https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.3603.Mice can inherit an acquired dislike of a smell from their parents.
Freud on the other hand is a religion, you can’t falsify his assertions and trials of psychoanalysis in mental disease have never shown any advantage over placebo
Re Epigenetics, google Razib Khan online.
Atheists have the emotional maturity of teens at best.
Can you cite any social-psychological surveys to support this sweeping generalisation? We know that in western IQ tests non-believers do better than the religious.
Have you noticed the childlike movements and superstitious ideas of some gospel singers and fundamentalist happy-clappers?
What is the difference between infantile wishes for Father Christmas and those sent to God the Father?
Why are teens notably susceptible to cults and ideological bigotry?
What is emotionally immature about atheists like Hume, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Lenin, Andrew Carnegie, Bertrand Russell, John Hospers, James Watson, Sean Carroll, David Suzuki, Joseph McCabe, Leonard Susskind, A. C. Grayling, A. J. Ayer, Stephen Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Mark Zuckerberg, or even Wittgenstein?
@ S. Cooke
And Sir Keir Starmer, although his wife and children are Jewish.
“a purely local phenomena”. Tsk! Must try harder. C+. See me after school.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Muslims believe in a virgin birth of the prophet Issa and some Hindus regard Jesus as a god or avatar. There is no need to scrap the western tradition to placate non-Christians or atheists.
As for the historicity of the Bethlehem birth, the accounts and genealogies in Matthew and Luke are no more compatible or even credible than their equally different stories of the Resurrection. However, the Lukan account has a special narrative charm.
Both ancient Jews and ironically modern Nazis espoused the view that Mary was impregnated by a soldier in the Roman army. A nominee for this role (as once suggested by Desmond Stewart, Morton Smith and James Tabor) was the centurion Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera, active in Sidon which Jesus later visited, and eventually buried in a Mithraic cemetery in Germany. The name Abdes means Servant of the Healer. Was he on a mission to fulfil the contemporary widespread expectation of a divine Deliverer from the book of Daniel and the magi of Persia?
@ S. Cooke
What was Jesus doing between his presentation in the Temple and his baptism in the Jordan? Making chairs and tables, building houses, visiting the theatre, studying texts and medicine? Did he spent time in therapeutae communities, nearby or far afield? Was he conscious of a messianic mission and/or a foreign element in his paternity? What about Paul Haupt, “Aryan Ancestry of Jesus”, April 1909, online? Or Walter Grundmann, “Jesus der Galilaer, und das Judentum” (1941)? Or Steven Ortiz, “Setting Jesus free…”, Fall 2004, online?
(Cont) Or is survival for those species suitable for survival, just a tautology. An explaining-away of phenomena which determinism can’t explain…
Well, integers? I’ll leave that to prof Hoyle. All I’d say about Darwin is this: can the word RANDOM (invoking CHANCE) be a scientific term?
natural selection is nonrandom not random.
Dawkins would not say it’s random. I think you fail to grasp his position.
But JONATHAN, I didn’t specify random selection nor random mutation…take your pick. I merely referred to the word random in relation to science. Neither did I mention Dawkins ???
A few immediate thoughts:
1. The essence of Darwinism is evolution by natural or social selection of types which survive and reproduce in specific environments better than others. The mechanism of mutations responsible for variation of offspring however raises problems, including the transition to new species.
2. It seems pretty clear however from the geological record, including genetic evidence from hominid remains, that there has been some process whereby there has been a general progress towards beings better than their predecessors in mastery of their environmental circumstances, with “man” at the top so to speak.
3. The descent of all human races and most mammalian species from Noah’s Ark a few thousand years ago is not true.
4. There is the Anthropic Paradox that the cosmos has eventually asked about its own existence by producing the human brain.
5. Darwin was an agnostic because of his concern about cruelty in the natural world and in the concept of hell.
6. Traditional supernatural Christianity in the west if anything has been “replaced” by the secular Woke Cult rather than Darwinism which in some respects is an ideological opposite.
7. There is a case for human population control and humanitarian eugenics, opposed by many “Christians” and most Wokists alike.
Your argument can be simplified to ‘we don’t know how life started and biology is very complicated, therefore evolution is wrong’. And to be honest, it’s not a very convincing argument.
That’s an argument for Darwin’s Theory being better than nothing. A theory which is confounded by what facts we know is not a substitute
Shortly after the attribution given to Hoyle’s “1982 Rede Lecture”, I lost track of who I was reading, and began thinking it was Myles Harris speaking – possibly due to sparse (but not incorrect) use of quotation marks, and thinking to myself: This guy is an effing genius. But then I clued in that it was Hoyle’s words I was reading, not Harris’s.
I didn’t expect to think of Myles as a genius when I grabbed the wrong end of the stick in failing to detect the sarcasm of “… who really believes the story of the Incarnation in 2022?”, but I am thankful to learn (I think) that SR’s Left Footer editor has not abandoned The Faith. Whether or not he is in fact a genius, I will discuss anon.
The Incarnation (traditionally) means that the Creator became (not put “in”) a creature (John 1.3,14). Is a man who is God also a true man, or some kind of hybrid? Can a man who has no human father really be a man, especially if he lacks the SYR gene (though see Matthew 19.12a)?
Why was (the Son of) God only active for three years “on earth” in a small area of the planet during many thousands of years of human life, and then cruelly killed as possibly planned in advance? Can God be killed (Matthew 27.46)?
Of course, Christmas has been reduced to a Saturnalia of wasteful spending, sexual depravity, boozing and guzzling, an unholy trinity of Satan Claws, Snow Balls and Jingle Tills entertainment (cf. Tanya Gold, Jewish Chronicle, 14 December 2022, online), apart from the usual Anglican sanctimonious waffle about Jesus as a homeless coloured immigrant refugee.
It doesn’t matter whether Hoyle was right or wrong. What matters is that, like all real scientists, he regarded all scientific hypotheses, including those of his own invention, as constructions to be scrutinised and, if possible, demolished.
I wonder what he’d have thought of a world in which “The Science” has become an infallible idol to which all must sacrifice?
Hoyle v Dawkins would be a fascinating tussle. But Hoyle v Thunberg would be a KO in the first round.
It is quite correct that science is not a strait-jacket, but a means of testing knowledge by experiment and observation which are subject to discussion, revision and removal; see e.g. Karl Popper on this.
As I recall, Hoyle’s view of God was not that different from Darwin’s – if He was omnipotent, He must also be cruel.
Hoyle rejected the concept of a Big Bang, yet this seems an essential part of the arguments for the existence of God used by Christian cosmologists like Spitzer, Tipler and Heller.
Dawkins is a competent exponent of modern evolutionary theory (vs Mr Beech) in “Ancestor’s Tale” and “Blind Watchmaker”, but his atheist mission has touch of the bigot’s obsessive fanaticism. Future science will make a difference to both philosophy and anthropology – unless “Our Lord” surprises us all like a thief in the night and actually does bring the whole shebang to its End.