Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Less Than 1 Chance in 479 Million Moses Made Up The Creation Account

So the web site claims, anyway.

This is based on twelve events in the creation narrative being in the right order.
1. Light separated from darkness
2. Creation of the earth covered in water
3. The separation of the dry land from the seas
4 – 6. The creation of plants in a particular order – grasses, plants with seeds and fruit bearing trees
7. The placing of the heavenly bodies in relationship to the earth. This is often explained as the clearing of the atmosphere (from one composed mostly of water vapor and carbon dioxide to one with more oxygen due to plant photsynthesis) enough to see these creations.
8-11 The creation of animal life in a particular order – fish, birds, modern land animals, live stock
12. The creation of man
It is amazing what contortions some people will go through to convince themselves they are right. Right here we see:

Missing bits out

The author conveniently skips day two altogether.
Genesis 1:6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Of course she does. The whole idea of a firmament is nonsense, and best swept quietly under the carpet.

She also misses out ancient land beasts and land invertebrates. When did Go create dinosaurs and spiders? This would seem to be day six (verse 24), which does not fit her neat order "fish, birds, modern land animals, live stock" so again is quietly ignored.

Adding bits in

To boost her numbers a bit, the author pretends that the Bible has grasses created first, then plants with seeds and then fruit bearing trees. Not what the Bible says:
Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
According to the Bible, God said let there be all those thing, and then it was so. All plants in one go.

Why does she split out grasses anyway? There is nothing in the Bible specifically about grass; they are seed-bearing plants.

Similarly with the animals. On day five God creates the fish and birds in one event, on day six, all the other animals bar man in another single event.

Twisting the meaning

She says:
7. The placing of the heavenly bodies in relationship to the earth. This is often explained as the clearing of the atmosphere (from one composed mostly of water vapor and carbon dioxide to one with more oxygen due to plant photsynthesis) enough to see these creations.
But the Bible says this was when the sun and stars were created, not revealed. Sure, if we can pretend it meant one thing, when actually it meant something else, we can pretend it is spot on. Kind of like betting on a horse, and when it loses trying to convince the book that really you meant that other horse, you know, the one that won. See how far that gets you.

Ignoring dependency

Okay, this gets a bit technical. If I roll a dice, the probability of getting a six is 1/6. If I roll it twice, the probability of getting two sixes is 1/6 x 1/6. The two events are said to be independent. The outcome of the second roll is not affected by the outcome of the first.

Say the probability of it raining is 1/10. What is the probability that it is raining now, and will also be raining in ten minutes? It is not 1/10 x 1/10. These two events are not independent; if it is raining now, it is much more likely to be raining in ten minutes than if it is not.

The author of the article is considering the chances of Moses, the supposed author of Genesis, getting this sequence at random. But it is not really random, because some of these events are dependent. It would make no sense for Genesis to say plants were created before the earth was created, for example, and every combination that allows that should be discarded from the calculation.

Her probability calculation takes no account of that - and as the author claims to be a mathematician she should be well aware of this issue.

Just Getting It Wrong

A further problem is that she gets the order wrong! Grasses and fruit-bearing trees appeared no more than 130 million years ago, well after fish had appeared, about 530 million years ago. The ordering that she touts as perfect is contrived by skipping several bits that do not fit, twisting other bits to mean something they are not, and still the order is wrong!

Credits: I found this site from a post at The Sensuous Curmudgeon, which is frequently well-worth reading.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

Just to be clear, this is about what was there before the Big Bang, not Elizabethan literature!

What is nothing?

If I have an empty box, what is inside it? Nothing! Well, that is the simplistic answer, but in fact the box is full of air.

Let us suppose inside we have a glass vessel that we can pump all the air of, is there now nothing inside it? Is a vacuum something? I am going to assume not, but light can travel through the vessel, so it does contain photons.

So have an opaque, evacuated vessel. What does it contain now? A gravity field for one thing. Electromagnetic fields will be slight, but there will be present.

Looks like we have to move our thought experiment to intergalactic space, and to suppose that only only is nothing here, but there is also nothing for an extremely long distance, and electromagnet and gravity fields are essentially zero. This surely is nothing...

Still no. Quantum fluctuation leads to spontaneous production (and subsequent destruction) of virtual particle pairs, so even here there is not really nothing.

All this has lead philosophers to devise their own definition of "nothing"; a philosophical "nothing" has no virtual particles, it has no physicals laws and it does not even have the potential to later produce any of these things.

Now, this post is about what there was before the Big Bang, and one thing we can be sure of is that this philosophical "nothing" was not it. It cannot be, because that is built into the definition; it is something (as it were) from which nothing can appear. And clearly stuff appeared.

Unfortunately this philosophical sense of "nothing" has been used to justify some bad arguments

Nothing to the Kalam cosmological argument

Here is WL Craig:
Vilenkin's recent book is a wonderful popular introduction to contemporary cosmology. It contains provocative discussions of both the beginning of the universe and of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life. Vilenkin is a prominent exponent of the multiverse hypothesis, which features in the book's title. His defense of this hypothesis depends in a crucial and interesting way on conflating time and space. His claim that his theory of the quantum creation of the universe explains the origin of the universe from nothing trades on a misunderstanding of "nothing."
What Craig is doing is forcing this philosophical "nothing" on Vilenkin, and then viewing Vilenkin's argument through that filter. Vilenkin patently does not intend that particular definition of nothing. We know that because Vilenkin is talking about a type of "nothing" that does spawn stuff, but in fact Vilenkin is on record saying just that:
As such, there is some probability for the universe to pop out of “nothing.” You can find the relative probability for it to be this size or that size and have various properties, but there will not be a particular cause for any of it, just probabilities.

I say “nothing” in quotations because the nothing that we were referring to here is the absence of matter, space and time. That is as close to nothing as you can get, but what is still required here is the laws of physics. So the laws of physics should still be there, and they are definitely not nothing.
Craig frequently invokes Vilenkin to support his claim that the universe had a beginning as part of his Kalam argument. This makes it clear that the Kalam argument fails. If Vilenkin is correct, then the universe must have had a beginning, but prior to the universe there could be an absence of stuff that engendered the universe - no need to invoke God.

A Universe from Nothing?

Vilenkin is not alone in using "nothing" to mean something other than the philosophical nothing. Kruass published a book "A Universe From Nothing", and clearly he too is using "nothing" in a different way to the philosophers.

Christian apologists object too, but they are just riding coattails.

That second link actually tries to use a dictionary definition to show Krauss is wrong!

Edward Feser

Philosophers too have objected to Krauss' use of the term. This is by Edward Feser, an associate professor of philosophy:

.... There is a lot of farcical chin-pulling in the book over various “possible candidates for nothingness” and “what ‘nothing’ might actually comprise,” along with an earnest insistence that any “definition” of nothingness must ultimately be “based on empirical evidence” and that “‘nothing’ is every bit as physical as ‘something’”—as if “nothingness” were a highly unusual kind of stuff that is more difficult to observe or measure than other things are.


The bulk of the book is devoted to exploring how the energy present in otherwise empty space, together with the laws of physics, might have given rise to the universe as it exists today. This is at first treated as if it were highly relevant to the question of how the universe might have come from nothing—until Krauss acknowledges toward the end of the book that energy, space, and the laws of physics don’t really count as “nothing” after all. Then it is proposed that the laws of physics alone might do the trick—though these too, as he implicitly allows, don’t really count as “nothing” either.

Feser has decided what "nothing" means, and has further decided that everyone else MUST use his definition - because, you know, he is an associate professor of philosophy, God damn it!

Do associate professors of philosophy get to decide how a term is defined in physics? Not as far as I am aware

And yet, when we strip away this rather arrogant claim, what are we left with? As Feser says: "The bulk of the book is devoted to exploring how the energy present in otherwise empty space, together with the laws of physics, might have given rise to the universe as it exists today." I would be intrigued to see how Feser, or indeed the whole of Christianity, explains how that process proceeded.

Feser is an atheist-turned-Christian, so certainly has an axe to grind here. What he is doing is insisting that atheists come up with an explanation of how stuff can come from nothing, when he defines nothing as that from which stuff cannot come. Basically, he is rigging the game. Why would a philosopher have to stoop to that to maintain his faith?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Evidence for the Truth of the Christian Religion?

This is a reply to a set of web pages by Rich Deem. They start here:

Arguments for God

He starts by saying:
Unlike theists, who base some of their beliefs on religious writings, skeptics must rely completely upon physical evidence.
This is curious. Why must I rely completely upon physical evidence, when he freely admits theists do not?
Most skeptics who are atheists believe that all phenomena have naturalistic causes. This belief is based upon the observation of our world, in which cause and effect are observed on a daily basis, with rare exception, if at all. ... To be truly open-minded, one must recognize the possibility that supernatural events do occur.
There is belief and there is belief. When I say "I believe that.." I could mean that it is my opinion, but I may well be wrong, or I could mean that I am certain, I have conviction in the belief.

Sure, I believe that all phenomena have naturalistic causes; that is, I think that it is probably true. But I do recognise the possibility of the supernatural. I wonder if the author recognises the possibility that Jesus was not resurrected?
Let me point out one major problem with the skeptical worldview in order to get you to the point of recognizing that not all the data really fits your worldview. The data we are going to examine is the origin of the universe. ... Atheists are left with a dilemma, since their worldview requires that all things that begin to exist must have a cause.
No, Deem, your straw-man version of the atheist world view requires that. My world view does not.
The problem actually gets worse for the atheist. The physical laws of the universe fall within very narrow ranges in order for life (or even matter) to exist, suggesting some level of design (the evidence supporting this statement will be presented in part 2). If true, then the observational evidence actually leans toward the existence of God, contradicting strong atheism. The prospect of finding a naturalistic cause for the origin of the universe is bleak at best, since the laws of physics indicate that we will never be able escape the bounds of our universe to even attempt to look for the cause of the universe.
We just do not know what caused the universe. That does not mean I am going to fall for any "God of the Gaps" argument. It is possible that this universe is one of many, all with different laws and/or constants, for example. I might just as well go for a "Multiverse of the Gaps".

Better however, is to accept with humility that we do not know.

Theist: We do not know, therefore God did it
Atheist: We do not know

This fine-tuning argument continues from the ends of page 1, right the way through page 2.

Arguments for the Christian God

The third and final part is specifically about the Christian God. Or so he says...

First he rejects Hinduism as it proposes an oscillating universe, which, he says is disproven by science. This, he says, is the way to tell if a religion is true:
Since most of the world's religions developed hundreds to thousands of years ago, it is a fairly trivial matter to examine their material for scientific and other errors. It would not be expected that ancient peoples would be able to accurately describe all modern scientific principles. Only those individuals who were given divine revelation would be expected to give an accurate account of our world.
So a religion that claims the sun was created some time after plant-life appeared on Earth can be rejected too, right? For some reason, Deem never thinks about that.

He does go on to reject Islam and LDS, as their claims have been disproven, and thus concludes Christianity is right.

Wait, what about Judaism? All the supposedly scientific claims he makes for the Bible are in the holy book of Judaism too. He never considers that. As far as he is concerned, if Islam, Hinduism and LDS are false, Christianity must be true.

It is notable that his reasons for believing Christianity do not involve Jesus Christ at all!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Messianic Prophecies

This post is a rehash of a post I made during my brief sojourn at "EvolutionFairytale.com", and the full discussion can be seen there. A lot of the Christians' defense of the messianic prophecies involving claiming that other prophecies were convincing, which is perhaps telling.

I was prompted to discuss this issue in the first place because of this web page, by a guy called Fred Williams, who, I believe, runs the "EvolutionFairytale.com" forum. He says:
Perhaps the most compelling of evidences demonstrating that the Bible is the word of God is its unswerving ability to accurately predict future events, often in minute details.
A strong claim indeed! That page discusses various types of prophecies, of which the messianic prophecies are but one. Specifically with regards to them, Williams says:
When Dr. Kennedy finished reading these scriptures to the Jewish man, he asked him to whom these verses were referring to.  The man responded that "Obviously they are talking about Jesus... So what?".  Dr. Kennedy then pointed out that all the verses he had just read to him were from the Old Testament!   The man was stunned and demanded to see the passages with his own eyes9.
The Old Testament contains 333 prophesies regarding the Messiah, most of which were fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus Christ.  Even the most liberal critics acknowledge that these prophesies were written at least 400 years before Christ.  Mathematicians have easily shown that the odds of all these prophesies being fulfilled by chance in one man is greater than the number of atoms in the universe many times over.
The page offers about half a dozen such prophecies, and personally I am not convinced, for reasons I will explain.

There certainly are messianic prophecies in the Bible, but the messiah the Jews were waiting for was a king, a military leader who would free them from the Assyrians, and later the Romans, just as Moses had done previously. The Romans were perfectly well aware of this, which is why they were keen to stamp down on any supposed messiah quickly. In fact, messiah merely means "anointed one"; it was traditional to anoint the king with oil.

So let us examine those that Williams selected...

Psalm 22

Psalm 22:7-8 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him

Psalm 22:16 They have pierced my hands and my feet
This is a song, not a prophecy, in which the author bemoans the fact that the nation of Israel is held in low regard. It is nothing to do with Jesus, and not a prophecy.

The word translated here as "pierced" certainly lends itself to prophesying the crucifixion, but that was a choice made relatively recently. Elsewhere in the Bible, the same word is consistently translated as "dig" and also as "lion". In fact, it is curious that Strong's concordance has two different entries for this one word (3738 and 738 if you are interested).

A rather better translation would be, "They maul me like lions", but that is not used because then it would not seem to be a prophecy. Here is what Williams says:
According to secular sources, crucifixion was invented as a method of capital punishment no earlier than the 6th century BC10. This is 4 centuries after David wrote in Psalms 22:16, "They have pierced my hands and my feet". Even if critics try to persuade against a 1000 BC date for Psalms 22, they can't deny this Psalm existed in the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls that were translated around 200 BC11. Does the critic really want to try to convince us that a Jesus pretender would want to self-fulfill such a terrible way to die?
See, if you look what the text actually says, this is rather less impressive. David (if he really was the author) had no knowledge of crucifixion - and indeed was making no reference to it. What this critic is trying to convince you of is that the text has been twisted to appear to be a prophecy many centuries after the date.

Here is how the line is translated by Jews. 
For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, my hands and feet.
Of course, they may have their own agenda to deny the status of Jesus, so I suggest looking at this page which gives a transliteration from the Hebrew - and uses the word "dig".

Or check this on-line Bible, which makes the damning admission "Psalm 22:16 Dead Sea Scrolls and some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Septuagint and Syriac; most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text me, / like a lion"

It is worth mentioning verse 1 of the psalm too.
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
Remarkably, these are the same words Jesus says as he died on the cross. Quite a prophecy! Or is it? Is it not possible that Jesus quoted the Psalm? Rather more likely, these words were attributed to Jesus later. It is worth pointing out that they are nonsense in modern Christianity, in which Jesus is part of the trinity, knowingly fulfilling his own plan. How could Jesus have forsaken himself?

Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed

Isaiah 53:12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors
This is a messianic prophecy, but this is about a messiah who will free the Jews. It starts:
Isaiah 52:1Awake, awake, Zion,
    clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
    Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
    will not enter you again.
2 Shake off your dust;
    rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
    Daughter Zion, now a captive.
This is Isaiah telling the Israelites to hold tight; things are bad now, but soon God will send someone who will set us free (free of the Assyrian, that is, if you read verse 4). Jesus did not do that.

In Isaiah 52:14, we read "his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being". Is that really a description of Jesus? Of course not. Either the so-called prophesy got it wrong, or it was no prophecy at all.

By the way, here the word "pierced" actually is supported by the Hebrew.

Psalm 41

Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me
Again, not about Jesus. Just look a few verses back:
Psalm 41:4 I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.
Did Jesus sin against God? Of course not, so therefore it cannot be Jesus who is the subject of the Psalm.

Is Williams unaware of this? It would seem that either this guy is happy to read Bible verses entirely free of context, or he is deliberately misleading people.

Zechariah 12

Zechariah 12:10 They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son
Look at the context.

Zechariah 12:9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit[a] of grace and supplication. They will look on[b] me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
This is another prophecy of the Israelites becoming powerful again. God is the one pierced because of the way other nations have treated his own people, while the one they will mourn for is the nation of Israel itself.

If you are still convinced this is a prophecy that has come true, ask yourself exactly which day it was that God "set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem".

Isaiah 7

This is not on Williams' web page, but is also popular, and was first used by Matthew.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f] 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”
This is a prophecy, but not of a messiah. Ahaz was worried about whether his military forces would prevail, and Isaiah said that God would send a sign. That sign is pretty useless if it really is Jesus, arriving over seven centuries later. Rather, this was a sign expected in the next few months. If it was seen, Ahaz could be sure of military success.

The prophecy says their enemies will be destroyed before the child is old enough to know right from wrong. Which of these makes sense:

God will send you a sigh to show you will be successful, a child born called Immanuel. When you see the child, you will know God is with you, and within a few years, before the child can tell right from wrong, your enemies will be defeated


God will send you a sigh, a child born called Immanuel. But not for over seven centuries. Before the child can tell right from wrong, your enemies will be defeated

Oh, and let us not forget that the child was prophesised to be called Immanuel, not Jesus. Some Christians claim Immanuel is a title, not a name, but it is a title only ever given to Jesus in the context of the prophecy. Another case of twisting the prophecy to fit the event.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Ezekiel's Prophecy About Tyre

The claim is often made that Ezekiel's prophecy regarding Tyre is especially accurate, with the implication that it must have come from God. Is that really the case?

Geographical Background

The city of Tyre was built on a rocky island about half a mile from the mainland (in fact, the original city was a little way inland). It had a port on the north side and another on the south. A city also grew on the adjacent mainland, and according to three preserved letters this was called Ushu.

A Pheonician city, Tyre became very wealthy by trading throughout the Mediterranean. The variety of goods traded is actually recounted by Ezekiel in the Bible. Its island location allowed it to withstand several sieges. A couple of centuries after Ezekiel's time it was eventually breached by Alexander the Great (in 332 BC), who built a causeway from the mainland to the island, and it was later captured by both the Saracens and the Crusaders. There is still a city there today (the fourth largest in Lebanon), and the northern port is still in use, though the island is now connected to the mainland, and the southern port has silted up.

See also here and here.

Political Background

Prior to Ezekiel's prophecies, the Assyrian empire was in decline, and Nebuchadnezzar II was able to defeat them (and their allies the Egyptions) in 605 BC at Carchemish, the year before he was made King of Babylon.

From here:
After Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar II campaigned throughout most of Philistia, completely destroying every city in his path. Unfortunately for Philistia and Judah, they failed to recognize the strength of the Babylonians and had decided to ally themselves with Egypt for protection. Despite several pleas for help, the Egyptians never responded.
Judah later surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar II, but then rebelled and were forced to surrender again, leading to the Babylonian exile. Failing to learn anything, and again at Egypt's prompting, Judah rebelled, and this time Nebuchadnezzar razed the city, flattening both the palace and the First Temple in 586 BC.

It was the following year that Nebuchadnezzar turned his attention to Tyre. He laid siege for 13 years, and it looks as though eventually a compromise was made, and Tyre agreed to pay tribute. Although the city on the mainland was devastated, Nebuchadnezzar never captured the island of Tyre.

See also here.

Biblical Background

Ezekiel was one of the priestly caste that was exiled to Babylon. It was there that he started to prophecise, and he seems to have specialised in prophecising the destruction of cities. Most of chapters 1 to 24 are predicting the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. Remember, he had already lived though Nebuchadnezzar besieging Jerusalem twice, and neither ended well. Chapter 24 indicates that the third seige was underway at this time.
Ezekiel 24:2 “Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.
So Ezekiel is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem when it is besieged for the third time by a king with a history of levelling captured cities. Prophecy? Or bleeding obvious?

I would suggest that rather than prophecising, Ezekiel was rationalising why his God would allow the great city of his chosen people to fall to a gentile king.

Chapter 25 prophecises the destruction of Ammon, then the destruction of Moab, then the destruction of Edom, and then Philistia. In each case, Ezekiel says the destruction will be because of the way these cities treated Judah, but the reality is that destruction was coming anyway because that was Nebuchadnezzar's plan, and he was in the habit of razing cities to the ground.

The Prophecy of Tyre

The destruction of Tyre is predicted in chapter 26. Again, this is justified because of some offence Tyre has commited against Judah. The problem with the prophecy is that Nebuchadnezzar never actually conquered the city, so the prophecised destruction failed to appear.

This is no matter for Biblicists - it is enough for them that it happened eventually. In 332 BC, some 253 years later. Think about that for a moment. The Bible is clear that this destruction is because Tyre profited from the destruction of Jerusalem:
Ezekial 26:2 “Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, ‘Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,’
How can it make any sense to deliver this punishment 253 years later? All those involved were long dead by then.

What Ezekiel prophecised was that Tyre would be attacked by Nebuchadnezzar, but Nebuchadnezzar had already attacked and razed numerous cities, so this was a safe bet. Sure, Ezekiel throws in some details about horses and siegeworks, but this is a guy who has lived through two of Nebuchadnezzar's sieges personally. He knows what they are like. There is nothing remarkable there.

"He" versus "they"

Some commentators have made a big deal about the use of "they" to refer to many nations and "he" to refer to Nebuchadnezzar. Okay, fair enough. But does that mean that destruction 253 years later is really what Ezekiel meant? Not if this was done to punish the peoople living there and then.
Ezekial 26:3 therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. 4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock.
In fact, chapter 27, a lament for Tyre, mentions numerous nations that Tyre traded with. Macedon, the home of Alexander the Great, is not mentioned. This is not a prediction of attacks by Macedons, Saracens and Crusaders over the next thousand years or so - this is a warning that Tyre's trading partners will not help the city when it is under seige  - presumably an analogy to Tyre not helping Jerusalem when that city was under siege, and presumably they did in fact help Tyre, given the city survived for thirteen years.

A Ramp

Most translations mention a ramp:
Ezekiel 26:8 He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you.
Could this be a reference to the causeway built by Alexander the Great? The short answer is no. The "he" refered to here is clearly Nebuchadnezzar (and not "they", which might just be twisted to refer to Alexander the Great). This is a reference to siegeworks, presumably standard procedure by Nebuchadnezzar, as seen by Ezekiel during the sieges of Jerusalem.

God admits defeat

Later, Ezekiel was forced to acknowledge that Nebuchadnezzar had failed to raze Tyre, and puts a curious spin on it:
Ezekial 29:17 In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. 19 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. 20 I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Clearly it is not God's fault that Nebuchadnezzar failed, after all God is only all-powerful, sometimes that is just not enough. But God does reward Nebuchadnezzar for his troubles. This is the same Nebuchadnezzar who exiled 3000 Jews to Babylon, and destroyed and looted the First Temple, remember, so kind of odd that God would feel so good about him.

Is it possible that Ezekiel is trying to rationalise away Nebuchadnezzar's success in Egypt?


Naturally I could be wrong about some or all of this. It is impossible to know quite what happened so long ago. But one thing I am sure of, Ezekiel's prophecy is a very poor argument for Christianity.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Two weeks at "Evolution Fairytale Forum"

I have just been banned after 2 weeks and 69 posts at the Evolution Fairytale Forum, posting under the name "BeesKnees". The reason appears to be because I misrepresented people (I got warning saying that anyway). I did, I admit, but only because I misunderstood, never deliberately. Here is a good example:
Me: The implication of the rainbow myth is that prior to the flood there were no rainbows. Why would that be? Clearly there was rain - enough to cause a flood. Was light not refracted prior to the flood? If not, then how did eyes work?

Uppsala: If you are going to make assertions about what the Bible says concerning whether or not there was rain before the flood then I suggest you use the Bible itself to support your claim. There is NO mention of rain before the flood. Instead we read:
 "no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,  but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground" (Gen 2:5,6)

Me: Okay, that gets even more weird. So in fact, God created rainfall, as well as the rainbow, as part of his covenant.

Uppsala: God did NOT create rainfall as part of his covenant and neither did I claim that he did.
Now please stop misrepresenting my arguments. you have done this several times now and doing so is a breach of the forum rules. I will leave  you with a warning for now, but please try to respect the rules in the future.
Now okay, I misunderstood his position, but from what he posted that certainly seemed like his position.

And this guy was one of the more reasonable ones. We also have Ron, who claimed:
Since the ministry of Jesus was eye-witnessed by numerous people (Peter, John, Jude, Matthew, James, etc...) and those eyewitnesses wrote down their first-hand eyewitness testimonies (accounts), the life, ministry, miracles, death, burial, resurrection, continued ministry and ascension are beyond repute. Therefore your misgivings with that is not based upon substance, but rather personal faith-statements.
Personal faith-statements? Oh, the irony. Anyone who dares to suggest there is some doubt that Jesus was resurrected is obliged to prove it never happened, to prove Matthew was not the author of the Gospel of Matthew, etc. In his view, these things are facts. Heaven forbid Ron should have to support his claim himself.

And then there is gilbo12345, who said, with regards to the scientific method:
Yes the hypothesis is a prediction, I already told you this before. Its what you assume is the conclusion of the experiment... In my plant example, it is assumed that plant growth will be increased. However this doesn't allow you to assume it is true, or false or anything you cannot know until you do the experiment.
Now every web page I quoted has hypothesis and prediction as two distinct steps, but not to this guy. To him they are one and the same - and he claims to be a scientist. The mind boggles.

But the real bone of contention is his claim that you assume the hypothesis, but you do not assume the hypothesis is true. I have no idea what that even means - and I strong suspect neing does. I got banned for misrepresenting people, but this guy was happy to fight straw men all day long despite being repeated told there were straw men. My suspicion is that after several posts about this he realised he was wrong, but was too prideful to admit it to an atheist. To cover his error, he set about the repeated straw man attacks. It is just possible my banned was connected to this - cannot let the Christian lose face, can we?

In fact, his last post is basically railing against wthose straw men. He can do that safely because I have been banned. I specifically said in the OP "Just to be clear here, we all agree that verifying experiments are done," and reiterated that sevetral times during the thread. And yet his argument in his last post is:
 This is why you NEED experiments to verify your hypothesis!
In bold, underlined, big text, just like that. That is the thrust of his argument. And it is against a straw man. No attempt to justify his position that a prediction is the same as a hypothesis, something we disagree on, just ranting about an issue we do agree on. He has lost the argument, and he knows it, and is just trying to save his pride.

And that is the problem with sites like that. Dissenters inevitably get banned because they respond in kind or just get misunderstood, and the site becomes an echo chamber of creationist ideas. They can pat themselves of the back for being so great, and set up challenges that no one will answer. In their world, no one answers because they are right. In reality no one answers because everyone who might gets banned after a couple of weeks.

Oh, well. It was quite fun while it lasted, but the arguments were getting stale. It may well prompt a post of Ezekeil's prophesy about Tyre, which was interesting.