My Second Response to Jeffrey Wilson
By Merle Hertzler
I continue with a second response to Jeffrey Wilson. In this response I will address Wilson directly, so as to make the debate more conversational. Wilson's words are indented and shown in blue.
Life in Fundamentalism
For years I was a fundamentalist, but after going through a period of despair followed by a long period of moderate Evangelical Christianity, I am now a secular humanist. You wrote:
We first need to find out exactly what this fundamentalist church was he attended. I’m starting to believe it was a cult of some kind that has nothing to do with fundamentalists.
The fundamentalist church I attended was an independent Baptist church that was affiliated with The Sword of the Lord and Dr. John R. Rice. We stood firm for the fundamentals of the faith.
I shouldn’t have to point this out but unless you were locked up in your house by these people or brought in chains on the buses, it was self-imposed control.
Exactly. I decided to let fundamentalism control me. That was what my life was like as a fundamentalist.
We don’t mind the schools telling us what to think but when the church gives us instruction on right and wrong, people scream, “Control!”
I certainly do mind schools telling us what to think. Teachers should teach what they know, and how they know it. But they should not tell me what I should think. Good teachers encourage students to think for themselves and ask challenging questions.
I find that those who have made up their mind about rejecting a belief will continue to reject it no matter the evidence. I believe he felt the answers [by apologists] were inadequate because his mind was made up.
No, I was sold on Christianity. I was a Bible-thumping Christian when I first read the apologists. I was known for my extreme devotion to the faith. My mind was not made up to turn from the faith.
I was driven from faith by the facts.
All humans are vile from birth.
At one time I would have agreed with you. I no longer think babies are vile. I have seen precious babies at birth. I am sorry to hear that you think they are vile.
You say all humans are vile. When you deal with a client or a boss, do you think he is vile also? When you deal with family, friends, or community, do you think they are all vile? And when they offend you, do you think they are vile? Do you tell them they are vile?
I am most curious how keeping one’s mouth shut could get someone into trouble. Reading above at what I actually said would show that I am for keeping one’s mouth shut over “snapping” back at people.
Yes, you and I both agree that keeping one's mouth shut can keep a person out of trouble.
The problem comes when one thinks that people are vile. Now you agree with saying kind words to people, but you also think those people you are addressing are vile. So now you cannot say what you are thinking. For if you tell your boss or a new client that he is vile, you will get in trouble. So you think he is vile, but you must not say it. And that does not seem to me like a happy way to live.
I do not think people are vile.
Children, including babies in the womb, until the age of accountability though, are ushered immediately into heaven at death. The Bible is clear on both points; all are born sinners and children under the age of accountability make it to heaven.
Oh, do be serious. Where does the Bible clearly say that children below an age of accountability are ushered into heaven? Are you just making this stuff up?
John 3:36 says, ""He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Now babies do not yet obey the Son. That verse says that all who do not obey receive God's wrath. It does not make exceptions for babies.
Of course, I think John 3:36 is wrong.
Now we come to your response to my question, "How can it be right to kill those babies? Psalms 137 praises the killing of babies." Your response is shocking:
Although we can’t know the mind of God, I’m sure the answer is found in the Bible. I can offer some reasons where some, none or all could be true. 1) Those children may grow up and want to find out “who they are” by seeking out their ancestors and culture. The nations that were outside of the Jewish nation were dominated by sexual immorality, abortion, infant murder/sacrifice, homosexuality, theft, murder, rape, etc. These types of behaviors are despised by God and coincidentally enough, rarely lead people to seek after God. Children attempting to reestablish their roots would bring back bad behaviors that God had previously wiped out.
Huh? You actually justify the killing of the babies of evil people? And what is your reason? Because the babies might grow up and attempt to reestablish their roots, and that would bring bad behavior? And that justifies the killing of babies? I am sorry, but I strongly disagree with you.
2) The Bible states that sins of the fathers are passed on through the offspring. It is possible that despite eliminating those that would show how to sin, the child would carry the inclination to carry on past unknown sins.
And now you suggest that babies of evil people might be inclined to sin? What evidence do you have for such a claim? And even if it is true, how can this justify the killing of babies?
Your logic seems to say it is okay to hunt down children of criminals and kill them. I strongly disagree with your logic.
3) A side effect of sin is that mutations in our genes produce errors that cause disease, sickness and abnormalities. Christians/God’s people who call on God for healing would possibly have reversed and/or fewer mutations. Nations outside of God’s Will would have developed generations of untold mutations, diseases and sicknesses. Introducing evil nations’ offspring into the Jewish culture would have brought all those problems into the genetic pool.
Oh, please show me evidence that the nations around Israel had a corrupted gene pool due to sin. And even if a baby's genes are mutated, how can that possibly justify killing the baby? Do you read the words you write? How can you possibly write that it is okay to kill a baby if he has harmful mutations that might corrupt the gene pool?
Life in Apathy and Despair
I don’t have the steps that led to this disillusionment and I doubt the author of this site knows exactly either.
I have told you what led to my disillusionment. I had grown up in private Christian Schools, in Sunday School, and in Bible studies. The only hope I knew was that of Christianity. And then I found that the claims of Christianity were false. I had nothing to put in its place. I had nothing to live for.
It was not until years later that I learned that secular humanism gives a real hope and an exuberant life.
I would say they [disillusioned teenagers] returned to their faith because they seen it work as a life style.
Exactly. That is what I was saying. Teenagers return to Christianity because they find that apathy and hedonism don't work. What they don't realize is that many have found a better option, that of secular humanism.
There are two choices though, Christianity and “the world,” which includes, atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Muslim, etc.
And so you just lump all non-Christians with everybody else? I could play the same game: There are two kinds of people in the world, ethical humanists and everyone else. "Everyone else" includes criminals and psychopaths. Does this prove you are evil? Of course not. There are more than two options in the world. You cannot prove we are wrong by lumping us in with everybody else.
Studies overwhelmingly show Christians are happier and healthier. This is without question. Atheists try to claim this is just a mind trick but it is their onus to prove it is not by God but by a mind trick.
Uh, sorry, but this is not at all an established fact. Studies definitely do not overwhelmingly show that Christians are happier. What studies are you referring to?
I’ve heard plenty of people describe their education as Christian when all it was was some teacher kept a Bible on her desk in some class. He never describes his education with any detail. Was it Catholic? Episcopal? There are plenty of liberal, so-called Christian, schools out there that are secular to the core. Since he didn’t specify what Christian school, it was all the more likely that it was a public school in a so-called Christian neighborhood.
Oh, please. Once more here is the original passage you responded to:
When my Christian hope had faded, why didn't I look for something else? I didn't know there was another way. I had grown up in Christian schools, Sunday schools, and Bible studies. The Bible was the only hope I knew about, and it now seemed inadequate
And yet you somehow interpreted that passage to mean that I grew up in public school! Are you even trying to understand what I write?
I was not talking about a public school in a Christian neighborhood. I was talking about a private Christian school run by bible-believing Christians. That is how I grew up. I was sheltered from the world. That is the only life I knew.
And then one day I learned that the hope in Christ was inadequate.
Life in Moderate Evangelical Christianity
I’m more under the belief that the “moderate” church is closer to fundamentalist or conservative church than they are to a liberal church.
The moderate churches I attended (after I left the fundamentalist Baptist church) were conservative and stuck with the fundamentals of the faith, but they also encouraged self-esteem, allowed their members to attend movies and drink socially, and had some members who believed in an old earth.
People don’t lose their faith. Either the author will eventually get the answers he needs or enough despair and return to being a Christian or he never had a saving faith but rather he had a head knowledge that there must be a god and therefore “played” along.
Hmm, so people never lose their faith? Interesting. I know a former Muslim who lost his faith in Islam, and is now a Christian missionary. And you say people never lose their faith? So this Christian missionary is still a Muslim?
I am telling you what happened in my life. I was there. I was once a solid, born-again, Christian. I was not simply playing along. Christianity was my entire life.
And then I changed my mind.
Life in Humanism
I’m sure following the pleasures of this world is good, temporarily. The good life I’m talking about is permanent and not fleeting. You can cram all sorts of activities in your life to maintain that “good” or happy feeling but when they stop so does the feelings. That’s why people bed ridden without god think suicide is their only option. Movies, TV, books, alcohol, drugs, football, etc. are all distractions that try to maintain that illusion of happiness.
Oh, but I am not following temporary pleasures. The good life I am talking about is permanent. My happiness does not consist of cramming distractions into my life to maintain an illusion of happiness.
I still haven’t heard anything about his solution to living a happy life without god but I’m thinking chapter one would be about jumping down the throats of anyone who makes you mad and that will make you happy.
The happy life I found without Christianity? Well, I have learned to live in cooperation with others and with the world around me to build community, support my family, build a better world, and grow in knowledge of the world. And this brings me happiness.
What makes you think chapter one of my solution to life would be jumping down people's throats? In the story of my life, I write:
I now have a different perspective in life. For instance, I no longer see people as evil. If somebody hurts me, I no longer think they necessarily do it because they are evil. Now I think they may well do it because, from their perception of the circumstance and their knowledge of the world, it seems best for them to act that way at that time. It was hard to forgive hateful vermin who did hateful things. It is easy to forgive confused but well-meaning individuals who do hurtful things. This change in perspective works wonders. Instead of concentrating on bridling the tongue, one can concentrate on understanding the person who did hurtful things. Rational questioning changes perspectives, and changed perspectives change lives.
That is the exact opposite of jumping down people's throats.
What we would see if he did describe what made him happy, is that it would fall under meaningless activities or one of the other activities I mentioned.
My happiness is based on meaningful cooperation with others to build a better world and promote mutual fulfillment in life. I do not think this is meaningless.
I challenged you to show me where atheist writers make a "constant demand of obedience to materialism and evil lifestyles" as you reported. You responded:
Two books that come to mind which give examples of this are “Darwin on Trial” and “Reason in the Balance” by Phillip Johnson. Although, I don’t agree with Johnson on many points with his Intelligent Design group, he has done thorough research on humanistic books which give their views where they push drug use, abortion, Euthanasia, infanticide, homosexuality and any deviant behavior which allows the person freedom from responsibility and moral obligations and deviant behaviors that maintain those temporary and fleeting feelings of happiness.
And so you turn to the accusations of another Christian instead of showing support for your statement. Once more, please back up your claim that atheist writers make a "constant demand of obedience to materialism and evil lifestyles". You did nothing to support your claim.
Yes, atheists allow homosexuality, but they do not demand obedience to homosexuality. You made the claim that atheists make a "constant demand of obedience to materialism and evil lifestyles". Please prove it.
And humanism in no way teaches freedom from responsibility. We do not teach deviant behaviors to maintain temporary feelings of happiness. Why don't you read the Humanist Manifesto for yourself, so you can see what we really teach?
Good principles?!? You’re not even fooling the humanists here. Even they say that the Christian religion has a purpose in curbing total moral chaos in that if everyone believed that they were accountable to no one then everyone would do what ever it took to “get yours” and take and do whatever it is to maintain that fleeting high of happiness, such as, drugs, rape, murder, theft, etc. The lunacy in your logic is moving to new heights as this paper progresses.
Oh, please show me one humanist who thinks the Christian religion has a purpose in curbing moral chaos. Secular humanism offers hope to the world. We think it would be best if everyone adopted secular humanism. See, for instance, Is Religion the Root of All Evil? by Richard Dawkins.
They [humanists] can’t make demands! How ridiculous. The whole point of humanism is to do what you want and live morally by relativism which is a license to walk over everyone to make oneself happy.
Now you are arguing with yourself! It was you who said, atheist writers make a "constant demand of obedience to materialism and evil lifestyles".And now you say they don't make demands! Which way is it? Do atheists make demands of obedience to evil lifestyles or don't they?
And no, humanism is not a license to walk over everyone to make one's self happy. I gave you a link to the Humanist Manifesto. Please read it and show me where it teaches a license to walk over people.
Before you claim people say something, shouldn't you actually read what they write?
What he is trying to say, hidden under layers of lies, is that we’re supposed to reject scientists, research, logic, honesty, and truth in creation and/or the Bible because the author had all the facts for the Christian side and when he measured it up against evolution, he found evolution true. Therefore, he is telling us to not waste our time checking out the truth of the Bible or creation because he did it for us. Well, forgive me for wanting to think for myself. I also wanted to believe in evolution and I also wanted to be free from accountability from God but committing intellectual suicide by accepting evolution was worse than the joys of what the world dangled in front of me.
Where did I ever say you should believe in evolution because I do? Where in the heck are you getting this stuff? I say believe it because the facts support it. And I mention those facts at my website.
And where do I ever say not to think for yourself? In the story of my life that you quoted, I say, "I am not asking you to follow me. You have a mind of your own. You can decide for yourself." Understand? I say the exact opposite of what you claim I say.
And no, I do not tell people to stop checking out what is in the Bible. If you would read my site, you would see that I teach the exact opposite. For instance at Is the Bible the Best Moral Guide I write, "I have a suggestion. Tonight, start at Genesis and start reading... I am asking you to do what your pastor would ask you to do. Get into the word. Read it for yourself. You will be surprised." Okay? That is what I actually say.
Would you please get your facts straight before you cast judgment on other people?
In response to my statement, "Humanism is a group of principles that many of us have adopted. It is not binding on us in any way. We are free to adjust any point as we see fit. If [Wilson] would read the Humanist Manifesto, for instance, he would see how wrong his claim is," you write:
You’re telling me you’re not bound to any laws when the laws themselves say there are no laws. What kind of warped circular logic is this?
No, no, no! The humanist manifesto is not laws. It is mutually accepted principles. And we are not bound to them. They are just a list of principles that we humanists generally agree with.
Sounds more like you wanted attention from your family and going against everyone else’s beliefs would provide you with the center of attention you crave.
You have no idea how much it hurts me to endure separation from others for what I believe. My beliefs have not made me the center of attention. I do not want to be the center of attention. I want to fit in. But I also want to be intellectually honest, and that means saying what I believe.
What happens when you don’t appreciate others? What happens when you don’t feel good things about others? This only leads to fighting, backstabbing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. Curious you didn’t mention how you handle those that bring evil on you. It doesn’t lead to a happy life that you are trying to portray.
Huh? In the passage that started this discussion, I talk about my reaction when people hurt me. And now you say I haven't addressed it?
And no, I don't find that my philosophy leads to backstabbing, lying and cheating. It is the exact opposite. I seek to understand others and what motivates them, and this goes a long way to resolving conflicts.
These people [Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot] weren’t believers in God. They believed we evolved and mankind was just a higher form of sludge. That allowed them to eliminate so-called less evolved people to their enjoyment and motivation. They did what was right in their own eyes according to the law of evolution that demands the survival of the fittest. This author would be hard pressed to explain how humanism wasn’t involved in their motivations.
Sorry, Hitler was not an atheist, he was a theist. He wrote in Mein Kampf, "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." So are you going to abandon theism because of one bad apple? And I could list many more atrocities committed by theists. But I am curious why you think this is relevant.
And no, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot were not humanists, they were radical Marxists. That is completely different. What I defend is secular humanism.
Creation vs. Evolution
You can go to answersingenesis.org and see how it [the flood] is an overwhelmingly good explanation for the fossil record.
And one could go to talk.origins to find out why the flood does not explain the fossil record. (And my link can beat up your link.)
This is faulty science [buried sand dunes were clearly caused by blowing winds.]. CRSQ magazine has articles where scientists have performed experiments showing that they can create a layer with water that looks like the same layer caused by wind.
Uh, water can make layers in the sand. But can it make buried sand dunes with the features I mentioned? That is the problem. Your flood cannot explain buried sand dunes.
Water can do the same [include clear marks of the layers where the sand slid down the hill on the downwind side] as scientific research has shown. If this is all he has, he has built his faith with straw.
Oh, this should be good. Please do show me the research that shows that water can make the inclined layers that are typical on the downwind side of sand dunes.
Who said that all the layers were created by raging water? This shows his clear ignorance of exactly what went on during the Flood.
Huh? Let's start again. I told you that there are buried sand dunes down there. You said they were caused by the flood. I mentioned features that could not be caused by the flood. And your response? You ask who said they were created by raging water. Huh? So you now agree that these are buried wind-blown sand dunes? How can there be sand dunes blowing around in a global flood?
There are only a handful of creation organizations that have kept true to a young earth and those have stood the test of time.
The Creationist sources I used when I was a Creationist included ICR, Answers in Genesis, and Creation Research Society. I now find these organizations to be teaching error.
From Christian writers: 1) “Why the epidemic of fraud exists in science today” by Jerry Bergman. TJ 18(3) 2004 page 104. This article is especially good for the author who somehow thinks all secular science is true.
Excuse me but what epidemic of fraud are you speaking about? Science is self correcting in that it finds the frauds and moves on. The surest way to destroy a career in science is to fraudulently report data to prove a point. Science weeds the frauds out. Fraud is the opposite of true science. A few fraudulent studies do not prove all of science is bad.
How is it that you get on the internet? Do you not depend on a computer which is based on thousands of scientific studies? If science is fraudulent, why does it work so well? If it is fraudulent, how did science give us modern technology and medicine?
2) “Thousands not Billions” by Donald DeYoung, Masterbooks 2005 The book summarizes scientific projects showing faults of radioactive dating, also shows carbon 14 can be found in material that is supposed to be millions of years old.
Oh, please. And what exactly is the problem with a properly performed Rb-Sr isochron that dates a rock to millions of years?
And one might find carbon 14 contamination in old objects? Of course! But that would only make the objects date younger than they really are! Your problem is that carbon dating establishes ages significantly older than 6000 years. Telling me that these objects are actually older than the calculated date due to contamination only weakens your case!
That is a “flat” out lie. The Bible talks about the curvature of the earth.
Uh, where does the Bible teach the curvature of the earth? See The Flat-Earth Belief of Bible Writers
I laugh when I hear someone talk about facts. They claim the geological column is a “fact” for long ages. What totally goes over their head is that “the fact” is there are layers. The interpretation of that fact is that those layers were laid down over long periods.
And the fact is that each layer shows different dates when tested with modern dating techniques, and that each layer has distinct sets of fossils. How can you explain that?
It’s not hard out-debating evolutionists. They grasp at straws and have mindless stories they try to push on people as “facts.”
Oh, please do show me one debate board (that is open to participation by mainstream scientists) in which the young earth creationists out-debate the evolutionists. The evolutionists win if they post. A good example is the creation-evolution section of the Christian Forums.
Anybody interested in commenting on this exchange may do so at my blog.