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The Almighty Buck Idle Science

Creationist Bets $10k In Proposed Literal Interpretation of Genesis Debate 1121

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-would-darwin-do? dept.
HungWeiLo writes "A California man who believes the literal interpretation of the Bible is real is offering $10,000 to anyone who can successfully debunk claims made in the book of Genesis in front of a judge. Joseph Mastropaolo, the man behind this challenge, is to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account. His debate opponent would be asked to do the same. They would then jointly agree on a judge based on a list of possible candidates. Mastropaolo said that any evidence presented in the trial must be 'scientific, objective, valid, reliable and calibrated.' For his part, Mastropaolo has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and writes for the Creation Hall of Fame website, which is helping to organize the minitrial. It's also not the first such trial he's tried to arrange. A previous effort, known as the 'Life Science Prize,' proposed a similar scenario. Mastropaolo includes a list of possible circuit court judges to oversee the trial and a list of those he challenged to take part on the evolutionary side of the debate."
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Creationist Bets $10k In Proposed Literal Interpretation of Genesis Debate

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  • Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:24AM (#43299661) Homepage

    Chapter 1 - Male and Female are created simultaneously.

    Chapter 2 - Adam and Eve are created in that order.

    One of the two accounts must be false - they are mutually exclusive factual statements.

    Genesis is a collection of myths with no more truth to them then the parables.

    • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:31AM (#43299707) Journal

      If that were the only discrepancy then that could easily be tied in a detail of the creation of man. how about the complete order of how things were invented in the two creation myths? one man was created on the last working day, while the other man was created first and he was seen to be bored so all the things were created in the world for him.

      • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:38AM (#43299759) Homepage

        True, but that's the most glaring one. Also, if you can't make it to chapter two without a discrepancy, what hope is there for the rest of it?

        Biblical scholars (as opposed to the nutjob putting up this award) theorize that the books of Moses are assembled from at least three traditions. This becomes more clear when looking at the original Hebrew - the words used for "God" change where in English they are translated into the same word. As a Catholic, disproving the Bible means little to me since it is only a part of my faith, not the whole foundation of it. Protestants however must frantically fight to prove the book entirely correct because of their subscription to the sola scriptura heresy which separates them from Catholicism.

        To me, Genesis is a collection of myths with a spiritual truth to be discerned from them. They are instructive stories, not a literal chronicle of events.

        • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Informative)

          by elfprince13 (1521333) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:02AM (#43299849) Homepage
          Protestants must do no such thing. Sola scriptura is not at all the same thing as a supremely narrow attempt at Biblical literalism.
          • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:11AM (#43299893) Homepage

            To make that claim is to profess that you do not understand what sola scriptura is. I was born in a Baptist family, a family which believes every word in the Bible is literally true and cannot begin to fathom the very possibility that any of it was false. When I did, my faith flew apart until I converted to Catholicism some years ago.

            • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infOPENBSDamous.net minus bsd> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:32AM (#43299971) Homepage

              I was born in a Baptist family, a family which believes every word in the Bible is literally true and cannot begin to fathom the very possibility that any of it was false.

              And of course your family is 100% representative of not just Baptists in general, but the entire spectrum of Protestantism, from Anglicans (basically Catholics minus the Pope and the homophobia) to Calvinists to Quakers to Pentecostalists to...well, pick up a phone book and look under "Churches".

            • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

              by mtm_king (99722) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:37AM (#43300007)
              Friend, converting from Baptist to Catholic is like switching from Marlboro cigarettes to Camel. Try kicking the habit completely.
            • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

              by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:16AM (#43300939) Homepage

              my faith flew apart until I converted to Catholicism some years ago.

              You're doing it wrong.

            • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

              by DrXym (126579) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:38AM (#43301203)
              I have to wonder how anybody could possibly believe it's full of contradictions and absurdity. The contradictions start when one half of the book is about vengeful, spiteful, cruel god who'll kill the shit out of you in imaginatively sadistic ways, and the other half features a non-interventionist, loving god whose gay son does crowd pleasing magic tricks.
        • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Capsaicin (412918) * on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:29AM (#43299963)

          True, but that's the most glaring [discrepancy].

          It's only a discrepancy if one fails to recognise that we are dealing with two separate myths. The fact that they are 2 separate stories will be obvious to any naive (in the sense that they have not since childhood been exposed to harmonising accounts) and objective reader. Even the deities are obviously different, and not merely by name.

          The second account is clearly the easier target from a scientific PoV. The most glaring internal (to that myth) problem comes in the 2nd 'verse' of this account, Gen 2:5, where we are told that plant life did not exist for two reasons. 1. YHVH-Elohim (a[n editorial?] joining of names that is soon abandoned) had not yet caused it to rain AND there was no man to tend the ground. So what we need to do to "disprove" this account is to show plant life growing independently of human cultivation. Not a big ask. More interesting is the question of what kind of culture could have given rise to a myth that makes such a presumption, which might seem absurd to forest based peoples for instance (HINT: Mesopotamian irrigation cultures).

          But to treat the 2nd account as Science, as a literal account of physical origins, is of course knuckle-headed. Worse still, it is simply to miss the beauty of the text, and its actual insight (which should be apparent to believers and non-believers alike, though both for different reason like to miss it) into the human condition. And (and this is why I find this difficult text so interesting), it's complex role as a witness to the origin of ancient near eastern civilisation.

          As you put it ... "nutjob."

        • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:40AM (#43300563) Journal

          This is why I have to LMAO at those that take the bible literally and only read English...hello, bad translations abound! The ancient languages had many words that had different meanings based on context, or similar but different meaning based on phrasing, they were rich, deep, and complex as hell and frankly modern English...isn't. Its like trying to carve the Venus de Milo by shooting a block of granite with high explosive rounds. Sure you might end up with kinda sorta a similar shape but all the little nuances? Not a chance in hell.

          At the end of the day though it truly saddens me that here we are in the 21st century and we still have hatred, bigotry, even murders, based on what some goat herders wrote on a sheep's ass a couple of thousand years ago to explain a world he didn't understand. i mean I can produce works just as old saying the sun is Ra in a chariot but we don't actually believe that, nor do we kill anybody who doesn't believe that, yet there are people getting slaughtered every. single. day. over the stupid shit written hundreds or even thousands of years ago by fricking goat herders. personally I think we'd all be better off if we threw every last book on the fire, just wiped it all from the face of history, because its obvious as long as it exists there are gonna be fruitcakes taking that shit seriously enough to kill.

          • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@world3AAA.net minus threevowels> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:24AM (#43301145) Homepage

            Don't worry, the major religions of today wont last forever. No one kills in the name of Zeus any more. Give it time.

          • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by smpoole7 (1467717) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @08:06AM (#43301573) Homepage

            > The ancient languages had many words that had different meanings ...

            So does English. "I bear" can mean that I'm a large furry animal with bad grammar, or that I carry something. (And try explaining the Greek aorist tense to someone whose language doesn't even include the concept.) :)

            The entire thread has been fascinating as a window into how people think, though. I wish life was as cut and dried and black and white as some here seem to think.

            Look: people can (and will) believe whatever they want. The best you can hope for is that they TRY to be as objective as possible: to acknowledge the bad AND the good. The only complaint I have about your polemic is that it totally ignores the latter. One example of millions (which I've used here before): the late Danny Thomas' devout Catholic faith created the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

            Some people are good. Some are bad. Some commit atrocities, whether in the name of God or secular humanism or atheistic communism. The fact is that Stalin and Pol Pot, both avowed atheists, managed between them to kill more people than Christians have managed to do since a guy named Jesus founded the thing 2,000 years ago. And in far less time.

            It amuses me that today's atheists are quick to distance themselves from these two guys, but they won't allow me (a Christian) to put distance between myself and, say, a guy like Fred Phelps with the Westboro Baptist Church. "Ah, you're all just whackjobs, what's the difference?" :)

            • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:55PM (#43306675)

              Being an atheist doesn't make you similar to Stalin or Pol Pot at all. In fact, being atheist doesn't make you anything but non-religious. Its more a dissociation with all faithful groups rather than association with a single.

              Making atheism into a religion is something I see faithful people do all the time. We're not believing in atheism. Atheism is not a religion. We don't celebrate atheistic holidays. There is no Pope of atheism (although if there was, he'd wear a way cooler hat than the real Pope). There is no literature that defines our values or beliefs. Nobody is getting tax-exempt status by being an atheist organization. There has never been a single war fought under the banner of atheism (because there is no banner!).

    • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:32AM (#43299713)
      Adam and Eve had two sons and no daughters.

      I propose that their children were mother fuckers.
      • by sconeu (64226)

        Three. Cain, Abel, and Seth.

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:40AM (#43300023)

        Adam and Eve had two sons and no daughters.

        Incorrect. Adam and Eve had three sons mentioned by name (Cain, Abel, and Seth), and, additionally, "After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters." (Gen 5:4)

        I propose that their children were mother fuckers.

        Abel is never identified as having a mate before being killed by Cain. Cain expressly has his own wife, though its not entirely clear where she came from, and following the chronology implied by the order of verses in Gen 4, by the time Seth is born, Cain has five generations of descendants. Though, arguably, the similar names in Gen 5 (which only traces Seth's line) suggest a slightly different chronology (or maybe just name-sharing), because some of the descendants of Cain that appear to precede Seth in Gen 4 appear to also be descendants of Seth in Gen 5, which might suggest that the discussion of Seth after the discussion of Cain's line in Gen 4 isn't chronological.

    • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Informative)

      by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:34AM (#43299733)

      No. In chapter one, male and female are created. It does not specify order, nor the period of time between one or the other, as it is an overview. In chapter two, which goes into detail, you get the specifics.

      For reference, Genesis 1:27:

      So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

      Genesis 2:8,18

      Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed

      The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

      • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:41AM (#43299769) Homepage

        The original language is quite clear that the creation of the two was simultaneous. Indeed the very word for "God" is different in the two chapters because they are drawn from two different oral traditions. They were not originally meant to form a narrative together.

        • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:09AM (#43299883)

          Do you have any reference for that? Which word in the original implies simultaneity?

          In regards to your second point - the word for "god" (lowercase g) is the same word in both chapters - . However, Genesis 1 uses the word alone, whereas Genesis 2 uses it in conjunction with the name of the god in question - . A comparison of transliterations might be "In the beginning, the god created the heavens and the earth" (Gen1) "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the god Yahweh made the earth and the heavens." (Gen2). They're both using the same word, just Genesis 2 is a little bit more explicit. The term for "god" in Hebrew was like a title. Referring to someone either by their title ("Yes, Officer, I do know I was speeding") or by their name ("Yes, John, I do know I was speeding"), or by the two in conjunction ("Yes, Officer John, I do know I was speeding") are all equally valid, and all refer to the same person.

          Genesis 1 and 2 are obviously different accounts (they're both describing the same event, after all) but that doesn't necessarily mean they're contradictory.

          Chapter 1 [mechon-mamre.org]
          Chapter 2 [mechon-mamre.org]

          Also, for what it's worth, I don't agree with the arguments for a literal interpretation of Genesis (few outside the US do), but I do believe in Biblical inerrancy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MaskedSlacker (911878)

            Do you have any reference for that? Which word in the original implies simultaneity?

            In regards to your second point - the word for "god" (lowercase g) is the same word in both chapters

            You...you can't be that stupid. You're using a computer, so...you're punking us right?

            Here's a protip: Genesis was not written in English. Capital letters in the sense that we know them did not exist at the time it was written. You're literally using a translator's errors as your evidence for Biblical "inerrancy" (which I'm pretty sure is a made up word. Infallibility is the word you are looking for).

        • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Streetlight (1102081) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:50AM (#43300073) Journal
          There are people who believe that women have one more rib than men. After all, Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs. The fact that that is not true and easily proven but some fundamentalists absolutely reject simple observation and refuse to believe normal men and women have equal numbers of ribs. Scientific observation - counting the ribs of a man and a woman by touch - is the work of the devil.
        • I cannot read Hebrew myself, but those who can that I have asked have all answered that there is no order implied in Genesis one, it just comes through that way in English.

          As for the usage of the word elohim vs adonai vs YHWH, this is common right through the bible, being translated to God, Lord and Yahweh/Jehovah in English respectively. Its roughly interchangeable.

          Personally, I think the scientific evidence for natural selection is pretty solid. But I have discovered that creationists have most likely had

    • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:19AM (#43299931)

      I wouldn't mind $10,000, but the whole exercise sounds tiring, and you know that the guy is going to try to wiggle out of paying, let alone losing, anyway.

    • Re:Easy... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Myopic (18616) * on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:40AM (#43300309)

      Not so fast, smartypants. It's not hard to refute any scientific evidence or argument when you can simply fall back on "nuh uh, because magic".

      God is magic. Magic does not falter in the face of reason or evidence. Therefore anything can be refuted with "nuh uh, God." You think just because the Bible contradicts itself (over and over and over) means that the Bible can't be literally true? "Nuh uh, because magic." See how easy that was?

    • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Informative)

      by flyneye (84093) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:50AM (#43301479) Homepage

      Well, if you forget the pain-in-the-ass literal translationists and get over just-any-ol-thing to piss them off, relax and take a look at what it is.
      1. First book of the Pentaeuch, the Talmud,the history of the Hebrew peoples. Possibly rewritten from memory by the prophet Ezra and attributed to Moishe (thats Moses before the Greeks misspelled it.)
      2.These are the stories that were handed down in a verbal tradition from a people lacking written language for the period portrayed. Some embellishment is expected.
      3. The Adam( Hebrew word for Man as in Mankind) and Eve story is someone remembering the oldest memorable person in the lineage and the story they were told. It amounts to the emergence of Man ( we will define it as the emergence of Man with developed introspection, which places it fairly accurately for a verbal tradition. Why would these people leave lovely lush Bablylonia at the fork of the Tigress and Euphrates? The story seeks to relate that to the listener who would be a Hebrew learning his history.
      4 The "begets" and the impossible longevity problem. The odd thing is why this is such a mystery. Every one of those names represents a tribe or a place , not necessarily just an individual. So we can say that from Enoch to Methuselah these represent the loosely knit stone age tribes of the Hebrews. The ages give the longevity of the tribe or settlement.
      5. Noahs Ark; we know there was a great flood in what is now Armenia, in the valley below the Ararat range (it was a range, not an individual mountain) Watermarks show HIGH water. This was their world, therefore the World was flooded. Remember this is how they explained their history to each other, lacking written language.
      Oddly, there is also another tradition that places Gilgamesh in the boat, rather than Noah, but that is someone else, another time.

      This just scratches the surface of Genesis and the details it gives, there is much, much more. I recommend " Azimovs Guide to the Bible" as a good read to find more. Yes, it was written by Issac Azimov, from a Jewish/ secular perspective. He really is a great author and scholar outside of science fiction.

  • And? (Score:5, Informative)

    by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:24AM (#43299663) Homepage Journal
    What is this supposed to prove? Plenty of idiots have money in our society, money only has a tenuous correlation with intelligence.
  • What are the claims? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:33AM (#43299725)

    For someone who's not too familiar with the Bible, what are the claims up for grabs in this challenge, aside from creating the earth in 7 days and 7 nights, Adam & Eve, and the talking serpent?

    How can anything be disproved if one must first accept that Genesis is the inspired word of an omnipotent deity? And if that's not an accepted fact, then isn't the "disproof" the fact that it was written by man?

  • by ihaveamo (989662) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:34AM (#43299739)

    CMB. That's it. I love that three small letters (well, and and enter key I suppose) typed into google can debunk most of this.

    But seriously, its actually quite hard to debunk that there were talking snakes/donkeys/gods etc. Its like trying to debunk an invisible pink unicorn is standing behind you.. (But how can it be invisible and pink at the same time?.. ahhh thats beyond scientific understanding!)

    • by greenguy (162630)

      Certified mortgage banker?

    • Re:Three letters.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:53AM (#43299813)

      I'm assuming you mean Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation [wikipedia.org]?

      I fail to see how that's any kind of proof against an ominipotent deity that can create an entire planet (and even a universe) out of nothing. Surely cooking up some uniform CMB wouldn't be difficult for such a deity.

      CMB may be consistent with the Big Bang theory, but it's also consistent with a deity that wants to fill his universe with CMB for whatever reason.

      That's the problem with trying to prove anything against an omnipotent deity - omnipotent means he can do *anything* including faking fossil records, making people suffer for no apparent reason (even young children), and filling the universe with CMB.

      • Re:Three letters.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ThePeices (635180) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:19AM (#43300481)

        That's the problem with trying to prove anything against an omnipotent deity - omnipotent means he can do *anything* including faking fossil records, making people suffer for no apparent reason (even young children), and filling the universe with CMB.

        Sure, youre right, but do you know what it also tells us?

        That this God fellow is one hell of an evil lying monster.

        Faking fossil and geological and cosmic records, evolution and tons of independent, consistent physical evidence, all for the purpose of tricking us into not believing in Him, when the punishment for not believing is an infinite number of years of abject torture in some hell that will exist for a literal eternity?

        A monster of the highest order.

  • Ah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:35AM (#43299743)
    If nobody shows up for this nonsense and bets $ 10,000, it's proof that this religious believe system is true...
  • by Vornzog (409419) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:36AM (#43299747)

    The universe came into being 6 seconds ago, in exactly the state we see now, with all of our memories intact.

    Prove me wrong.

    Hint - it can't be done. You can always reintroduce the possibility of some omnipotent force. By carefully framing the question, proving it wrong becomes impossible. Instead, you have to unask the question. Western philosophy spent then entire last century trying to unask the premises Descartes set forth for exactly that reason.

    This isn't a scientific question, it isn't in a scientific arena, and any scientist thinking they can 'win' the debate/bet is on shaky ground. Not because the science is bad, but because it isn't about science at all...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why the HELL does not a single of you morons here get, that the whole thing is a trap with the WRONG BURDEN OF PROOF!

      We don't have to prove ANYTHING to that moron! He hasn't shown any observations supporting his claims yet, so they never were valid IN THE FIRST PLACE.

      No these IS NOTHING to unprove/unask. And there is no need either.

      The only problem is, that that complete moron's opponents are EXACTLY as much complete morons. They just happen to *believe* in the correct choice. Doesn't make them any less ret

    • by fearofcarpet (654438) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:52AM (#43300083)

      This isn't a scientific question, it isn't in a scientific arena, and any scientist thinking they can 'win' the debate/bet is on shaky ground. Not because the science is bad, but because it isn't about science at all...

      And that is the trap that many people fall into, particularly the more science inclined, who get sucked into arguments with people whose minds are not open to change. It's like trying to dig a hole in water. Science/religion is a false dichotomy; you don't see mathematicians trying to disprove Shakespeare. Yet somehow it makes intuitive sense to many people that science should have to defend its methodology in the context of the bible, presumably because it was there first. (To be clear, I mean people on both sides of the non-debate--plenty of science-minded people feel a reflexive obligation, that I have never understood, to disprove religious accounts of history.) But we also can't escape the fact that some religious elements view science as an evil (in the biblical sense) force that undermines the word of God.

      I look at it like Star Wars. Darth Vader (the church) started out as a good guy, eventually having Luke and Lea (science, which was originally fostered by the church to understand the world God created). But when Vader became evil (pick your religious atrocity) it was up to Luke and Lea to team up and stop him, with Luke eventually killing him... but not before turning him back to the light side (we're still waiting for the rational wing of the Christian faith to marginalize the fundamentalists.) At the end of the day they were both Jedi of sorts, but they were pitted against each other by the Emperor and had no real reason to hate each other. Vader even wanted to rule the galaxy as father and son, which was a nice sentiment, but also highlights how they could have worked well together; it really wasn't in either of their best interests to fight. Look at all the collateral damage: the wage slaves on the Death Star, the poor, uneducated moisture farmers that got sucked into the rebellion, even the Hutts.

      I happen to be a scientist and have worked with plenty of rational Christians who still take the old view of science as trying to better understand God through empirical observation of the natural world. So I know they exist. But I'm not holding my breath for the Christian Taliban to realize the futility of arguing with people who aren't arguing back.

  • sounds simple enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xicor (2738029) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:36AM (#43299749)
    honestly it wouldnt be too difficult to debunk a ton of the stuff in the bible... as long as you are talking to a SANE judge, and not a bible thumping lunatic
    • by dark grep (766587)

      A lawyer told me once 'No case is judge proof' - which was very true, as our 'iron clad' case was shot down by the judge because she thought we had been delaying proceedings, whereas it was the other side, and the judge got is mixed up.

  • by Burz (138833) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:54AM (#43299821) Journal

    Hector Avalos comes to mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP5LdELd_0o [youtube.com]

    "How archaeology killed the Bible" from a former child evangelist.

    Or James Randi, for that matter... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY [youtube.com]

    • by Pseudonym (62607) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:02AM (#43300149)

      Yeah, but they all suffer from a post-Enlightenment bias in favour of science and facts and stuff like that. To get to the real root of the matter, we should ask a 16th century Christian theologian.

      For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception; and therefore what Gregory declares falsely and in vain respecting statues and pictures is truly applicable to the history of the creation, namely, that it is the book of the unlearned.
      -- John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis

      Hmm. Looks like Calvin was a postmodernist liberal or something. Clearly we need someone with an earlier, more authentically Christian opinion. The 5th century seems early enough; no pesky modern science then.

      It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.

      With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about [the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation.
      -- St Augustine of Hippo, The Literal Interpretation of Genesis

      Nope, clearly a wishy-washy accommodationist who has been blinded by modernist thinking. Clearly we need to back a couple of hundred more years. Surely third century theologians took Genesis literally.

      For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.
      -- St Origen of Alexandria, quoted in De Principiis IV

      It looks like every single major Christian theologian before the 20th century, with the possible exception of Basil the Great (and even then it's only a possible exception), who saw fit to write on the topic, thought that Genesis 1 was at least partly allegorical. In this "trial", pretty much all of Christian history is going to have to file an amicus brief on behalf of science.

  • by Pseudonym (62607) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:56AM (#43299825)
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:00AM (#43299837)
    10,000$ could be much better off helping the poor. People starve to death with what $0.33 of food would nourish them. So 365days/year *.33food/day so approximately 100$ would keep someone from starving to death for a year. He could have saved 10 kid's lives for 10 years if he spent his money there. When talking of giving, Jesus doesn't want you to grandstand and boast about it though, and maybe that is all this guy wants to do.

    The modern Christian's life involves working at a moral job, living frugally and giving one's excess to the poor. Jesus says we'll always have poor, but he didn't say they'll always be starving to death. Outside of horribly corrupt regimes, world hunger could be something that this generation could solve if enough of us helped out some.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:10AM (#43299891) Homepage

    There's a church near where I work that has a sign in the window: "Come in and learn the latest scientific evidence for Biblical truth!"

    I always smile when I see it, because they don't seem to realize they've already surrendered the epistemological war -- by admitting that weighing scientific evidence is the proper way to ascertain the truth (or falsity) of a claim.

    Sure, they can fight a rear-guard action for a while by looking for scraps of evidence that appear to support Scripture (or whatever their take on Scripture is), but unless God starts making public appearances is an independently verifiable, repeatable manner, then the church has already laid the groundwork for their own logical impeachment.

    The whole bedrock of religion is faith -- to believe that some things are true regardless of whether there is evidence for them or not. Once you've tacitly admitted that evidence is required, then faith is superfluous, and the church becomes just a group of extremely amateur scientists whose theories can't hold up under examination.

  • It's a trap. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ayars (875441) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:59AM (#43300125)

    It does no good to debate these people; any evidence against their position is considered inadmissible.

    You can point out that chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis tell different and incompatible creation stories: they'll claim that you must read them with the guidance of the holy spirit to truly understand them. Been there, done that.

    Genesis says we're all descended from Adam in about 4kBC, and we're also all descended from Noah in about 3kBC (since the rest of mankind was destroyed in the world-wide Genesis flood.) You can bring in the roughly 10k years of Egyptian genealogies which make no mention of Adam, or Noah: they'll claim (without the slightest sense of irony) that the Egyptian genealogies are merely ancient writings of suspect provenance and uncertain accuracy. Been there, done that too.

    You can bring in the entire science of geology, which gives zero evidence for and an entire scientific discipline worth of evidence against a world-wide Genesis-type flood: they'll bring in some mouth-breathing "geologist" who got a degree from one of the all-too-numerous fundamentalist "universities" to argue that the question isn't really settled yet, there's still scientific debate. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

    You can point out that Genesis 1 is a poem. Instead of rhyme in sound, it rhymes in idea --- just like most other ancient poetry --- with day 1 corresponding to day 4, day 2 corresponding to day 5, 3 to 6, and then day 7 as a finale. You can point out that nobody takes Shakespeare's sonnets literally: "Ah," they say, "But this poem comes from God!" Yes, BTDT too.

    Arguments from biology abound, of course: 5k years is insufficient time for one man's genes to diverge into the breadth of human genetic diversity seen today; you can't fit two of every species of insect in an ark, let alone the rest of the fauna; analysis of mitochrondrial DNA puts "Eve" at orders of magnitude before 4kBC; and then there's the whole fossil record of course. All the evidence in the world makes no difference: evidence does not change non-evidential belief.

    And you're supposed to convince a JUDGE? That's the trap. Judges are pretty good at determining legal questions; they're about as good as a coin-flip when it comes to scientific questions. We bring in scientific evidence, this nincompoop argues legal blather, which will the judge best understand? If he was serious about the bet being fact-based, he'd offer to have the bet be settled by someone trained in determining the truth or falsity of factual claims. There are such people: they're called "scientists".

    When I say "been there, done that", I mean just that. I was raised in a fundamentalist sect, and had most of my education in church schools. I spent 25 years being indoctrinated (it didn't stick, apparently) then 15 years trying to bring the church into the 20th century, and the last 5 years taking what is apparently the only productive approach. Here's the approach, for those who haven't figured it out yet: JUST LEAVE THE POOR IDIOTS ALONE.

  • First clue (Score:3, Informative)

    by http (589131) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @02:05AM (#43300165) Homepage Journal
    The man has a Ph.D. in kinesiology. According to the Chart of Woo [blogspot.co.uk], that's at the corner of Quackery Bol. and Pseudoscientific Bol.
  • Science? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:06AM (#43300685) Homepage

    If he claims creationism to be a science, then it's HIS job to disprove creationism. Not mine.
    He's the one that should be looking for contradicting evidence.

  • Just $10,000? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:15AM (#43300937)
    Why not $100 billion? After all, this challenge is merely asking a person to prove a negative. Since that is a logically impossibility, the money cannot be won.

    An applicant might methodically go through the copious evidence demonstrating the geological age of the earth is billions of years old. Or expound on the multiple plausible ways that abiogenisis (life) may have occured. Or how evolution is both a fact and theory supported by multiple strands of evidence. Or that there is no evidence supporting the biblical creation story. Or that there are many similar creation myths of which the Bible is just one.

    And after this exhaustive presentation they still would not have proven biblical creation did not happen. They might have demonstrated beyond all doubt to a reasonable person that it was extremely implausible and unlikely, but they haven't proven it didn't happen. And if this "judge" is biased or following exact letter of the challenge, then the money will not be won.

    Carl Sagan's "The Dragon In My Garage [godlessgeeks.com]" essay demonstrates this point with a deliberately absurd example just to hilight the point. And contrast this challenge James Randi's $1 million challenge where applicants are not required to employ tortured logic - they perform a paranormal feat in a self evident way under agreed controlled conditions and they win.

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