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Universal Negatives and Random Mutations

"There is [still no] proof that all mutations are random."


Right in a sense, if only because no one can prove a universal negative.


However we do have proof:


1) That mutations take place and alter the genome, especially in non-essential and unused portions of the genome that do not code for proteins. Mutations collect in those areas of the genome very readily, which is the majority of the genome. In fact, less than five percent of the entire human genome codes for proteins, and that's close to the same percentage of the genome that consists of endogenous retroviral DNA (which is foreign DNA from viruses that has implanted itself, hidden and insinuated itself into our human DNA over the eons). Mutations can also be observed directly every so often right after meiotic divisions of the sex cells. So, mutations are known to occur on a regular basis, and at the FREQUENCY that evolution requires in order to turn, say, a common ancestor of chimps and humans into both chimps and humans. In fact, the known calculated frequency of mutations in the human genome is more than what is required if evolution via mutations over time were true.


2) There is proof that man and chimp are nearer each other genetically than either of them are to the other apes. Indeed, "new genetic evidence that lineages of chimps (currently Pan troglodytes) and humans (Homo sapiens) diverged so recently that chimps should be reclassed as Homo troglodytes. The move would make chimps full members of our genus Homo, along with Neandertals, and all other human-like fossil species. "We humans appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes," says the study...Within important sequence stretches of these functionally significant genes, humans and chimps share 99.4 percent identity. (Some previous DNA work remains controversial. It concentrated on genetic sequences that are not parts of genes and are less functionally important, said Goodman.)..." [from "Chimps Belong on Human Branch of Family Tree, Study Says" John Pickrell in England for National Geographic News May 20, 2003]


One early estimate of the genetic distance between man and chimp was done in the 1970's using the technique of pairing up the two halves of DNA strings from different species to see what percentage of the DNA stands would join together and what percentage did not. Humans and chimps were found to be no more dissimilar than sibling species of nearly identical fruit flies. Not much genetic distance there.


And it logically follows that if you were to compare the genetic distance not between man and chimp, but between man and the COMMON ANCESTOR of man and chimp, the genetic distance is EVEN LESS. I am guessing, but Denton may be raising that point in his new book, THE TREE OF LIFE, that he is currently writing.


3) There is proof that at least 100 known species of Old World apes lived during the Miocene in Europe and Africa. And those species of primitive apes all differed from modern great ape species in that the primitive apes were all relatively nearer to modern day human skeletal anatomy than today's great apes are. For instance, the primitive apes all had small hands, and had legs and arms the same length; while MODERN great apes all have large hands with long fingers, and their arms are longer than their legs. The primitive apes also had no simian shelf in their jaws, again like modern humans; while the MODERN great apes all have a simian shelf in their jaws, unlike modern humans.


4) There is also proof of upright apes and early pre-hominids, hominids, and eventually the genus homo.


The questions these four points of fact raise in my own mind are many. Perhaps I.D.er's ignore such questions, I can't speak for them, but here are the questions for me:


1) Mutations happen regularly and at a rate that is not incompatible with the modern scientific theory of evolution. And also, there are unused portions of the genome, huge portions in fact, collecting mutations. In fact enough endogenous retroviruses have crept into the human genome over the millennia to rival the amount of functional protein-coding DNA that is used to construct a human being. Furthermore there are even remnants of the old centromeres in our human Chromosome #2, remnants of when that chromosome was once two separate chromosomes, each with their own centromere, as it is today in all the great ape species. Comparison of the Human and Great Ape Chromosomes as Evidence for Common Ancestry (I have additional info on this if you need it).


QUESTION: It would seem that a designer could have designed a lot cleaner genome, or at least taken some of the old viral DNA out of our genome when adding the occiasional new mutation. He could have removed some of the remants of the extra centromere found in human chromosome #2.


In other words, there could be more signs of design instead of just accumulation of unused portions, instead of evidence of a sloppy fusion of two chromosones into one.


2) The genetic distance between chimp and human is quite small, even smaller between chimp/human, and their common ancestor. It's a genetic distance comparable to sibling species of fruit flies.


QUESTION: Does it really require a miracle to explain how such a distance might be bridged?

3 & 4) There were pre-monkeys before there were monkey, and there were many species of monkey before the first primitve apes showed up, and many species of primitive apes before the first hominids showed up, and different species of homo, before homo sapiens showed up.


QUESTION: There were ages upon ages of monkeys and then ages upon ages of apes. Were any of them required before arriving at hominids, and finally of those hominids, one branch of them arriving at man? It may be "design" of a sort overall, but it does not appear very "direct" to create so many bushes upon bushes of creatures and then only have a few ultimately survive on the ends of each bush.


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Irreducible match of orchid and moth?

From a book by Darwin on orchids I had heard contained a passage about a prediction Darwin had made based on the length of the "nectary" of a species of orchid in Madagascar that was ten to eleven inches long. Quite a long "nectary," which raised the question, what species could reach that far inside the orchid to enjoy its nectar and pass along the orchid's pollen to the next orchid? Darwin reasoned that "in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches!" No such moth species was known at the time, and they were only discovered years after Darwin's death. The length of the nectary appears to have evolved along with the length of the tongue of a particular moth species (perhaps other moth species were also evolving longer tongues at first, but only this species was able to keep up with the lenghening of the orchid?).


Was a designer playing games in designing this oddly irreducible match between this species of orchid and this species of long-tongued moth? Or did this irreducible match come about by virtue of the moths with the longest tongues surviving to continually lick up a source of nectar available only to them? Any strong opinions either way?
Best, Ed


The writings of Charles Darwin on the web
by John van Wyhe Ph.D.


Darwin, On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised. London, John Murray, 1862.


CHAPTER V.


I fear that the reader will be wearied, but I must say a few words on the Angræcum sesquipedale, of which the large six-rayed flowers, like stars formed of snow-white wax, have excited the admiration of travellers in Madagascar. A whip-like green nectary of astonishing length hangs down beneath the labellum. In several flowers sent me by Mr. Bateman I found the nectaries eleven and a half inches long, with only the lower


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inch and a half filled with very sweet nectar. What can be the use, it may be asked, of a nectary of such disproportional length? We shall, I think, see that the fertilisation of the plant depends on this length and on nectar being contained only within the lower and attenuated extremity. It is, however, surprising that any insect should be able to reach the nectar: our English sphinxes have probosces as long as their bodies: but in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches!


[. . .]


If the Angræcum in its native forests secretes more nectar than did the vigorous plants sent me by Mr. Bateman, so that the nectary becomes filled, small moths might obtain their share, but they would not benefit the plant. The pollinia would not be withdrawn until some huge moth, with a wonderfully long proboscis, tried to drain the last drop. If such great moths were to become extinct in Madagascar, assuredly the Angræcum would become extinct. On the other


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hand, as the nectar, at least in the lower part of the nectary, is stored safe from depredation by other insects, the extinction of the Angræcum would probably be a serious loss to these moths. We can thus partially understand how the astonishing length of the nectary may have been acquired by successive modifications. As certain moths of Madagascar became larger through natural selection in relation to their general conditions of life, either in the larval or mature state, or as the proboscis alone was lengthened to obtain honey from the Angræcum and other deep tubular flowers, those individual plants of the Angræcum which had the longest nectaries (and the nectary varies much in length in some Orchids), and which, consequently, compelled the moths to insert their probosces up to the very base, would be fertilised. These plants would yield most seed, and the seedlings would generally inherit longer nectaries; and so it would be in successive generations of the plant and moth. Thus it would appear that there has been a race in gaining length between the nectary of the Angræcum and the proboscis


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of certain moths; but the Angræcum has triumphed, for it flourishes and abounds in the forests of Madagascar, and still troubles each moth to insert its proboscis as far as possible in order to drain the last drop of nectar.

I am familiar with this puzzling case. But, try to write out a specific detailed Neo-Darwinian genetic sequence for it.

Me? I can't even write out a genetic sequence to make Cambell's soup. Darwin knew there were moths with longer tongues than most other species of orchid pollinators [like butterflies and bees and flies] and those moth species pollinated orchids with longer nectaries than most. Darwin assumed in this extraordinary case it was a moth with a tongue ten to eleven inches long getting to the nectar. He was right.


Do I know why the orchid's nectary evolved to such a length, or why the moth's tongue continued evolving to such a length to reach the base of the nectary? Perhaps because as the nectary grew longer the nectar became the sole property of whomever's tongue could reach it, and thus a nitch for food opened up that no other creatures could reach, ensuring that whomever reached that niche could have all the spoils to themselves, a rich prize. And only those whose tongues could reach it, continued to reach it. While the shorter tongued cousins of the long-tongued moths settled for more hotly contested shorter nectaries, or grew extinct.

Philosophe, If you are out of your depth, perhaps you will accept my suggestion that no one can describe the genetic sequence, which at best would only be a series of guesses.

What is a philosophe? Someone from Voltaire's day? And what did it used to mean to call someone "Ms. Philosophe?" (Is Ms. an abbreviation of "Monsieur?")


I agree with you that I am out of my depth. Who isn't "out of their depth" at this point and with our limited knowledge? I bet that moth and its near cousins in Madagascar are no where near having their genomes elucidated and compared and evolutionists are no where near understanding how everything functions and changes in such species.

For the rest, you seem to be describing a directed evolutionary theory, not evolution with chance alteration of the genome, a path I am confident you do not want to follow. It did not require much ingenuity to propose that such a flower would require an insect with a long tongue, or one small enough to make the trek by foot.

I thought about the question the same way, and thought why not a really small insect like a teeny beetle creeping down that ten to eleven inch long nectary for the nectar? Maybe because a single moth with a long tongue made more sense based on the cousin species of moths that already pollinate cousin species of that species of orchid in Madegascar, and Darwin assumed that evolution works with what's already there?

Perhaps you might like to try your hand at writing some scenarios for the separate development of the human sex organs. You might even make the explanation amusing, perhaps leading to a Hollywood contract.

Wow, what a challenge! And a Hollywood contract to boot! But didn't Woody Allen already do the movie version of EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK? Seriously, Lynn Marguilis has written on the evolution of sex, though I don't know if she's talked much about the evolution of human sex organs. From what little I know it does appear that in the womb early on we are all "female" moreso than "male," relatively speaking. The gonads remain relatively in place for females while the male of the species has his gonads descend via two openings in the lower abdomen, and the tubules that lead from his gonads to his urethra have to grow longer since they are stretched up and around the tubules leading from his kidneys to his bladder (do I have that right?). The male prostate is another confusing matter, and doesn't appear to function very well where it is, causing difficulties with urination, especially as we age. (Speaking of difficulties as we age, what's with "wisdom teeth" anyway?) As you can see I'm out of my depth in this matter as well. But are I.D.ers more in their depth concerning such subjects?


Daring scientists to explain one thing and then another thing, first the moth and orchid, then the evolution of sexual organs, including all the environmental/sexual/embryonic selective pressures and the kind and order of genomic mutations that occured over periods of thousands to millions of years, seems quite a task to demand of anyone.


Knowing that such matters have not been explained, I.D.er's jump in and explain it their way, by saying "it was a Designer!" I.D. class in college is going to be relatively short if most explanations come down to "That's just the Designer doing his thing, don't ask him how! That would be like trying to peek in God's closet and there's no point to that, since we already KNOW it's I.D." (Less Christian instructors will add that the Designer might also be aliens or time travellers.)


It does not appear to me that the I.D. explanation will take science any where, though it will doubtlessly absorb the minds of children with unquestioning reverence of some sort, toward either God, aliens or time travellers.


Still, I must add that there are also DARWINIAN Christian evolutionists who have reverence for God. Today's prime example might be biologist Kenneth Miller who continues to debate with I.D.ers head to head.
Another such Christian appears to be Howard Van Till (news.owu.edu/van-till.html) who refuses to align himself with the I.D. movement. Around the turn of the century there were others. See DARWIN'S FORGOTTEN DEFENDERS: THE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT by David N. Livingstone. They appear to agree that perhaps a creation that required constant miraculous adjustments over zillions of years wasn't such a great reflection on the creator after all. But if creatures evolved naturally and death and change were part of natural processes, as natural as new stars being formed and new elements being formed from simpler elements inside stars, then the Creator was all the more impressive in having been able to set such things up right from the beginning. I mean, it's one thing to have to keep pulling rabbits out your hat every day or century or year, but to make human beings out of seventeen-billion-year-old hydrogen, well, that's even more impressive than making a human being out of a single cell in nine months. It's quite a trick, makes the constant dipping into the magic hat look repetitive, tiresome. And then to also produce creatures curious enough to study and rediscover the whole natural process and follow the clues backward, why that's quite an inspiration to enhance curiosity. Can I.D. truly compare with that?


"How I hate the man who talks about the `brute creation' with an ugly emphasis on brute...As for me, I am proud of my close kinship with other animals. I take a jealous pride in my Simian ancestry. I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees, and that my frame has come down through geological time via sea jelly and worms and Amphioxus, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden?"
W. N. P. BARBELLION


"When the rationality of the hross tempted you to think of it as a man...it became abominable -- a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat. But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have...and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost...the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view."
C. S. LEWIS, OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET (a Christian science-fiction novel)


So what if Darwinism gives atheists solace. Are the atheists to be denied solace? Is God, the true God and creator, really as insecure as creationists assert, and always going around blaming people for if they don't believe in him and praise him for everything? Maybe he's not particularly proud of everything he sometimes gets praise for? Like miraculous football passes, or finding one's eyeglasses? Maybe he leaves a lot up to us, and likewise up to nature, because letting things do their own thing is cooler than being a micro-manager? Maybe that's God's lesson to us. And likewise, maybe he doesn't take credit when things go wrong either, like extinctions or volcanoes. A cosmos that runs itself and evolves itself is gonna have things that run into one another, jury-rigging is expected. Maybe this is not the best of all possible worlds, just the best of all possible SELF-EVOLVING worlds? Anyway, that's my three hundred dollars and TWO CENTS on those matters.


I originally brought up the "irreducible long-tongued moth and long-nectary orchid" because it seemed pretty straightforward: Lengthening nectary, lengthening tongue over time. Seems like it could happen, knowing other moths with longish tongues and orchids with longish nectaries. Though a designer might just as well have left both the length of the tongue and the length of the orchid's nectary of average size. (There's only a single known species of bedbug that stab-rapes other males of the same species so as to inject them with his sperm that then finds its way through the stabbed male's organ into the female he has stabraped. Other species of bedbug only stab-rape the female in the abdomen and the males do not stabrape each other. Likewise though the Bombadier beetle has a moving squirt appendage which can direct its heated chemicals. Other cousin species don't have the moving appendage, and they spray the chemicals outward and also on themselves. And beetles of that type already produce the hydroquinones that are used in other capacities in beetles and already have anatomical divisions that could be used as the two chambers to store those chemicals. And there's only one bird species than can fly backwards. And there's only one species of orchid and moth with such very long tongues and nectaries. So for every marvelously specialized species there appear to be lots of less highly specialized cousins sharing similar anatomies and physiologies.)


Was the lengthening of the orchid and the lengthening of the moth's tongue directed? Who knows? The antlers on the heads of Irish elk apparently grew to increasing lengths over time, and then no more Irish elk, they became extinct. (Because of the increasing size and length of their enormous antlers? I don't know. No one knows. But the antlers of the Irish elk do appear to be of an awkward length -- jutting out so far to each side -- that I imagine just swinging it's head quickly from one to side to the other might create enough momentum to strain it's neck -- not a genuine hypothesis, just a joke based on the momentum of twisting and twirling objects, not to mention how such antlers could make it difficult to maneuver and double park in a forest full of trees). Perhaps that orchid with its long nectary might become extinct one day, having specialized itself into extinction, and if that moth is only especially attracted to that orchid's nectar it too could become extinct. There are tapir-like species in the fossil record that show up again later in time with increasingly elongated noses and a pair of elongated teeth until species with longer noses and longer front teeth appear and finally the first elephants with trunks and tusks appear. All that's left today are the modern day tapir and the modern day elephant with those other species between them having gone extinct. If I.D. is life-giving and every one of its irreducible specializations demonstrates the farsighted perfection of an intelligent Designer, then why all the extinctions? Why are the earliest birds more like ancient reptiles than modern day birds? I mean if we found a hummingbird (the only one that can fly backwards) among the earliest birds, I'd be surprised, but we don't. We find birds with reptilian shaped triangular skulls with the same shaped individual skull bones as reptiles, and other features that label them as "birds in progress." (How competant a Designer are we talking about?) And then once the progress has been achieved every early birds is wiped out. In this case the early bird did not catch the worm, it caught the grave. And this happens time and again. Mammal-like reptiles. Wiped out. All those mesyonchids with those weird shaped ear bones that resembled early whale's ears, wiped out, not good enough I guess. (How competant a Designer are we talking about?) All those early Eocene whales, Ambulocetus, Rhodocetus, Basilosaurus, wiped out. Leaving only the species we see today, which still pop out embryonic hind legs in the womb where they are reabsorbed -- or in some cases are not completely reabsorbed and we find a grown whale with bumps on its hind regions that contain (when x-rayed) a small femur, tibia, fibula and phalanges. (How competant a Designer are we talking about?)


Those are questions that I think are as valid as any others.


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Review of The Science of God

In reference to: Testimony of Former Young Earth Creationist


That is a long and thoughtful intellectual trip, more effort expended than I had anticipated when Ed introduced himself to the group. On that occasion I sent to him (direct) a short note, but to date I have had no response.


Ed: "To date" (from the posting of my "intellectual journey" to your reply above) is less than 27 hours. Time must rush by at a furious pace for you. I can imagine you standing on your porch waiting for a reply the day after you mailed someone a letter (in ye old snail-mail days). Well, I'm here now, and you may ask me anything either in this forum or at my home or work email. My work email is ed.babinski@ and I may be contacted there 9:30AM-6:00PM M-F, but again, with work, there are no promises how soon I can reply.




I duplicate it for CED(below) and trust that he has completed all the research necessary for a reply.


Ed: You "trust" that I have "completed all the research necessary for a reply." Not very trustful it would seem. That's understandable. I hope that you have read as widely as I have, and examined each question in as many ways and from as many angles as I have, though I lack absolute "trust" that that is so. It's not really a matter of trust at this early point of discussion, but of the trickiness inherent in all communication about complex, wide ranging, deeply believed, controversial subjects. On the topics of biological origins and the Bible much has been written, and I doubt both of us have read exactly the same articles, books. So, right from the start our ideas about certain subjects are not going to coincide. Perhaps agreement about many of those subjects will prove impossible without a fairly large number of books, articles, sources of information, that we both hold in common. Even so. . .the chorus goes, what "ELSE" have you read about this, that, and the other? (In the end, life is short and so is time for study. And for those two reasons I cannot imagine a "God" who condemns people to hell after they have been blown to and fro in this world for a mere couple of decades in a raging sea of ideas and emotions.)


I also think knowing more about you might aid future communications. (Your e-name isn't a cover for "Phil" Johnson is it?). What has your "intellectual journey" been like? I find most people's stories interesting, having read many testimonies of people who have entered and/or exited various religions/philosophies.




Dear Ed, Welcome.


Ed: Thanks! Happy to be here...Happy to be anywhere in fact.




You seem to have developed a strong preference for a position.


Ed: I have a strong preference for asking questions (and researching questions. My research projects led to a job at a university library - - no I am not a full librarian). I have found various attempts at "concordance" questionable. I found the Bible's creation story(s) questionable. And I've found I.D. hypotheses also questionable. At the moment my question for I.D.ers is simply this, "If there is a Designer, what can we learn about their level of say, competency, by examining various aspects of nature and nature's history? A Divine Tinkerer perhaps?" Personally, I am open to theism, even a personal God, personal beings of light, etc. But I do not have any proof, mainly anecdotes, like NDEs. And the Bible no longer constitutes proof of anything to me concerning its cosmology and cosmogony. The way I presently see things, it is relatively easy to explain the origins of ancient Hebrew creation stories and motifs, while an explanation for how things evolved is more difficult.




So, let me start with two questions. 1) What do you think is important about Darwinism,


Ed: I don't think in those terms. I have explained my position in my "intellectual journey" and above.




and 2) what type of evidence do you consider most important in validating Darwin's theory?
Phil


Ed: I have no sacredly held theories of my own, neither Darwinism nor I.D. I have questions. I have read atheists/naturalists and what they have said about nature. I have read I.D. hypotheses and critiques of those hypotheses. I have read young-earth creationism and critques of young-earth creaitonism. I have read old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists. I have read concordist and non-concordist arguments. I have studied and compared ancient near eastern cosmologies and cosmogonies, and also read attempts to make Genesis (chapters 1 -3) appear to be the first and last word on origins.




For concordance of Bible and Science I suggest books by scientist Gerald L. Schroeder(our library has three).


Ed: I find Schroeder's "concordances" more of a demonstration of Schroeder's agility of mind than "proof" of the truth of the Bible. In fact, Schroeder's central concordance, that both the Bible and modern science agree there was a "beginning," ignores the fact that other creation stories agree there was a "beginning" and also agree with Genesis concerning many "less than scientific" matters that Schroeder ignores or attempts to interpret away.


Schroeder's claim about how much genetic change it would take to create human beings is wrong. According to the latest data, "The difference between human and chimp genomes is only about 1.23%, rather than 1.4% as originally thought."
Even more importantly, modern day chimps and man diverged so the differences that accumulated in each of their TWO genomes over time is greater than the differences between either ONE of them and their common ancestor, which would be less than 1.4% In fact even the present day differences between human and chimp genomes are less than that between the genomes of near identical sibling species of fruit flies. And there is even evidence INSIDE human chromosome #2 that points to it being the result of the fusion of two chromosomes that very closely resemble those found in the chimp which line up band for band to those in man's chromosome #2.


Here are some reviews of Schroeder's books I found on the web that reflect my own questions. I sorted the reviews so they would begin with simpler criticisms and build to more elaborate ones by professors of zoology and physics. It is apparent that Schroeder's "Kabbalistic" concordance hypothesis pleases neither young nor old-earth creationists and their readings of Genesis:


A young-earth creationist AMAZON reviewer of THE SCIENCE OF GOD:

"I find many of his interpretations manipulated to his own cause, e.g. Gen. 1:12 which he interprets: "and the earth brought forth life." A more reliable interpretation of the text renders: "and the earth(or land) brought forth vegetation." Further, he cites no credible Hebrew scholar who agrees with his interpretation of day for order and night for chaos. He relies much more for his case on the mystical kabbalah, especially Nahmanides, which can only be explained at best as "opinion." This leaves him in positions which do not square with all of inspired Scripture. . .For the exact opposite view of Schroeder's key thesis: clocks ticking faster at the center and slow at the edge of the cosmos--- see young-earth creationist, D. Russell Humphreys's book "Starlight and Time."

Old earth creationist Hugh Ross reviews Schroeder's GENESIS AND THE BIG BANG:
Source: www.reasons.org/


"One problem with his view is that it clashes with the scientific data on the timing of Earth's origin. Since the earth already exists on the first creation day of Genesis 1, Schroeder's model would say that Earth began at least 12 billion years ago. Scientific measurements, however, show that it is only 4.6 billion years old.
Our view is that Genesis 1:2 establishes the frame of reference for the creation events: "The Spirit of God was brooding (or hovering) over the surface of the waters." In other words, God's time and space frame in describing creation is the earth's surface, a frame in common with all readers of the account. The text gives no hint of Schroeder's relativistically time-extended creation days. If one seeks Jewish support for a day-age interpretation of Genesis 1, Nathan Aviezer, another Jewish physicist, offers it in a book entitled In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 1990). Aviezer acknowledges that the six creation days of Genesis 1 must refer to long time periods."

Amazon Reviewer of THE SCIENCE OF GOD: seapapa from Los Angeles

"Schroeder's thesis is that the author of Genesis is describing a 15 billion year history of the universe and life, even though that was never his understanding or his intention. The true meaning Genesis 1 went undetected until it was discovered by the cabalist author Nahmanides in the 11th Century AD. It was lost again until Schroeder rediscovered it.


"Even accepting the dubious proposition that people can write things that actually mean the exact opposite of what they intend, the match between the Genesis timeline and the scientifically proposed history of the universe makes an ill fit. Schroeder tries to reconcile the two by focusing minutely on certain words in Genesis that could be interepreted to allow for longer time periods, while totally ignoring the text read in its entirety. For example, day three of creation supposedly lasts 1.6-3.6 billion years ago. Genesis said "let the land produce vegetation". Success, proclaims Schroder, that matches the plant life on the planet, which is found only in the... water! He conveniently ignores the rest of the verse which calls for fruit-bearing trees and seed-bearing plants. There was nothing but protozoa and plankton back then. This is typical of the book.


"The most absurd argument is that, if properly interpreted, the 6 creation days correspond to 6 actual 24 hour days on earth AND 15 billion cosmic years. How so? Einstein's relativity of time! Schroeder makes such an effort to preserve the 6 days of creation and the order of creation.


"This book is ultimately a polemic. Although brilliant and articulate, one gets the feeling that Schroeder cannot bear to have Genesis undermined. That compromizes his scientific judgement."


A Reviewer of THE SCIENCE OF GOD (at amazon.com):

"contains a few good passages, but also some egregious errors, which are puzzling when made by a PhD in Physics. For example, G. Schroeder completely misinterprets the experiments with particles moving through openings, invents some odd concept of heat diluting in enlarged volumes, misrepresents the story of photoelectric effect, etc. One striking feature of this book is that Schroeder suggests in it the chronological data , which completely contradict his own data on the same subject, given in his first book, without a word of explanation why he changed those data. A useless book."


A Reviewer of THE SCIENCE OF GOD (at amazon.com) wrote:

"His time dilation calculations are totally at fault. The factor of one million million he uses is totally arbitery (nothing really special happened at z=1 million million). His redshift/blueshift calculations are also wrong: The background temperature (and the redshift) changed by less than 10% in the last billion years. Nowhere near the rate needed to slow down from a 500 million year per day (Day 5, according to Schreoder) to 24 hours per day.


"Another serious mistake appears in his coverage of evolution: He says the the evolution from chimpanzees to humans requires a million point mutations because the difference in the active DNA between human and chimps is 1,000,000 bases.


"This is simply false. Schroeder himself says that the number of changes needed is no more than 70,000. In most cases a single point mutation is enough to complete a change.


"It would have been better if Schreoder, as a nuclear physicist, asked an expert biologist before writing his chapters about evolution..."


Frank Sonleitner,Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman OK 73019 reviews Schroeder's THE SCIENCE OF GOD:
Source: www.ncseweb.org/

"This book is essentially an elaboration and update of Schroeder's earlier book Genesis and the Big Bang published in 1990. Schroeder is an Israeli physicist who has also extensively studied biblical interpretation. He uses the arguments of the Anthropic principle (the Big Bang and the fine-tuning of the universal constants) as evidence for God; but he also insists that the Bible and science agree. Genesis is not to be taken literally nor dismissed as poetry but must be interpreted correctly following the lead of talmudic scholars such as Nahmanides and Maimonides. Although his interpretation twists, stretches, and sometimes directly contradicts the literal meaning of Genesis, it confirms all the findings of modern cosmology and geology.


"Using a universal time clock based on the stretching of the wavelengths of light as the universe expands, he concludes that the universe is 15.75 billion years old. The six days of Genesis consist of a nonlinear day-age description of the history; day 1 covers the first 8 billion years, and day 6 only the last 1/4 billion.


"Schroeder accepts the standard geologic and paleontologic history of the earth but he balks at evolution (although he admits some sort of genetic continuity as suggested by the evidence of comparative anatomy, biochemistry and embryonic recapitulation). He rejects all transitional forms among higher categories such as classes and phyla, but later admits that there might be transitional forms within classes. (He does discuss the recently discovered intermediate forms of whales.)


"Schroeder rejects evolution because he considers its mechanism to rest solely on pure chance. There is no discussion of natural selection; it doesn't appear in the index although the term is used in passing while discussing Dawkins. His "proof" that it is impossible for convergent evolution to produce similar eyes in taxa which did not inherit these structures from a common ancestor uses a mathematical calculation based on two assumptions - (1) evolution is pure chance; and (2) the taxa have no genes in common except those "inherited" from the protozoa. Yet in other places he seems to be aware of the recent evidence that the phyla have many genes in common; he discusses the Hox genes that determine body plans and the Pax genes that are involved in eye formation!


"Schroeder admits that there were "pre-Adamites" (Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals) living for 40 000 years prior to Adam, but questions the existence of earlier hominid species because of the fragmentary nature of their fossils. Again he uses a mathematical model to show that the evolution of humans from an ape ancestor is impossible. This model also assumes that (1) evolution would occur by pure chance and (2) one million mutations would be necessary to produce the ape-human transition!


"It takes more than the Big Bang and the fine tuning of universal constants to demonstrate that the creator is the kind, loving, personal God worshipped by Christians. And there Schroeder's arguments fall apart. For example, he argues that quantum mechanics provides the basis of free will and that the determinacy of our genes does not prevent our exercising free will, yet later he says that randomness in nature (including random mutations) is necessary for free will! And natural disasters are necessary. We must suffer earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that result from plate tectonics made possible by the earth's molten core because the latter is necessary to generate a magnetic field to protect us from the high energy radiation produced by the life-giving sun. But then he says that the biblical Creator could have made stars that didn't produce those lethal rays but "they would not be natural" and would offer absolute testimony of the Creator's existence! And still later he contradicts this principle (that the universe is organized "naturally" to hide the existence of the Creator) by saying that the earth is at an "unnatural" distance from the sun and hints that this may be miraculous! (According to Schroeder some exponential law determines the distance of the planets, and the earth's distance does not fit the pattern.)


"Evolutionists will justifiably criticize Schroeder for his simplistic and inconsistent treatment of evolution while the real creationists will reject him for his theology which includes rejection of the literal reading of Genesis, acceptance of the Big Bang, an old age for the earth, existence of pre-Adamites, a local flood, and ignoring Christ, Christianity and the New Testament."


Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and the author of Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe (Prometheus Books, 1988), Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses (Prometheus Books, 1990), The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (Prometheus Books, 1995) and Timeless Reality : Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (Prometheus Books, 2000), Review of Schroeder's THE SCIENCE OF GOD.

"How can both the Bible and science be right? Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder says he can show us how. Let's start with cosmology. The Bible says God created the universe in six days and indicates the passage of only about 6,000 years since then. Science currently estimates the visible universe to be about 13 billion years old, give or take a few billion. Schroeder reconciles the two, explaining that the six days of the Bible refer to a different measure of time. He explains: "there is no possible way for those first six days to have an Earth-based perspective simply because for the first two of those six days there was no Earth" (51).


"Instead, time during this six day period was measured on a cosmic clock. And what else could be used for that clock but the vibrations of light (electromagnetic waves)? Today the light from creation appears as the cosmic microwave background. This is now redshifted by a factor of a trillion (1012) from the period of "quark confinement" when matter as we know it first began to form. Thus the cosmic clock at that epoch ran off a trillion days for each of our modern days.
The six cosmic days of creation thus took about 15 billion years earth time, give or take a few billion. So, according to the author, Genesis is not only consistent with cosmology, it gives the correct age of the universe!


"Each of the six days in Schroeder's Genesis actually takes a different length of earth time. The duration D, in earth days, of each cosmic day t is calculated from the formula D = (Ao/L)exp(-Lt), where Ao = 4x1012 (the ratio of the frequencies of the cosmic microwave background at quark confinement compared to now) and L = 0.693 (natural log of 2). More simply, cosmic day one is 8 billion earth years long and you divide by two to get the duration of each succeeding cosmic day.


"Cosmic day one starts 15.75 billion earth years ago and covers the creation of the universe, the "breaking free" of light as electrons bind to atomic nuclei, and the beginning of galaxy formation. This is described in Gen. 1:1-5 as the creation followed by light separating from the darkness.


"Cosmic day two starts 7.75 billion earth years ago and lasts four billion earth years. During this period the stars and galaxies are born. This corresponds to Gen. 1:6-8, the formation of the heavenly firmament.


"Cosmic day three starts 3.75 billion earth years ago. During two billion earth years, the earth cools, water appears, and the first life forms appear. In Gen. 1:9-13, vegetation first appears during the third day.


"Cosmic day four starts 1.75 billion earth years ago and lasts a billion earth years. The earth's atmosphere becomes transparent and photosynthesis produces an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Schroeder says that this corresponds to Gen. 1:14-19 when "the Sun, Moon, and stars become visible in the heavens" (67).


"Cosmic day five starts 750 million earth years ago and lasts 500 million earth years. During this period, the first multicellular animals appear and the oceans swarm with life. Gen. 1:20-23 says the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures and "birds fly above the earth" (94).


"Cosmic day six starts 250 million years ago and ends at the time of Adam. During this period we have a massive extinction in which 90 percent of life is destroyed and then repopulated with humanoids and humans. This, Schroeder says, corresponds to what is described in Gen. 1:24-31.


"Technically, Schroeder's formula gives the present as the end of the sixth day. However, it could just as well have ended a few thousand years ago and not affect the rest of the calculation where things are rounded off at hundreds of millions of years. Schroeder argues that after the six cosmic days of creation, Genesis switches its focus over to humanity and starts measuring time in human terms. The rest of the Bible concerns itself with the 6,000 earth years since Adam and Eve, estimated from the Bible in Bishop Ussher fashion.


"Schroeder does not deny the existence of hominid creatures before Adam. He talks about Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, and accepts that they had developed tools, pottery, and many human-like qualities. In Lev. 11:33 the Bible talks about pottery. But, Schroeder argues that since it never mentions the invention of pottery, that event must have pre-dated Adam (130).


"According to the author, the Bible has no interest in these pre-Adam hominids because they were not yet fully human and had no souls. Thus they are never mentioned. Adam represents the quantitative change to a large brain, but more important, the qualitative change that makes us different from all other forms of life: "our soul of human spirituality" (133). God breathed this into Adam, the first real human, 6,000 years ago.


"Schroeder's attempt to connect 31 lines of Genesis to big-bang cosmology and earth paleontology makes entertaining reading, but will convince no one who is not already convinced or totally lacking of critical facilities.


"Let us return to the beginning. Schroeder's use of quark confinement as the defining moment for his cosmic time scale is completely arbitrary. He seems to have chosen it for no better reason than it gives the answer he wants. The redshift from quark confinement to the present is of the order of 1012. Multiplying this by six days gives 15 billion years, which is consistent with our current estimate for the age of the universe.


"Alternatively, Schroeder might have chosen the moment in the early universe called "decoupling," which represents the point where radiation separates from matter. Indeed, he relates this event to the separation of the "light from the darkness" described in Genesis day one. But the redshift from decoupling to the present is only of the order of 1,000, which would give an earth time interval of only fifteen years for the six cosmic days of creation. If he had chosen some other moment, he would have obtained yet a different time scale.


"Furthermore, by Schroeder's own formula the universe creation corresponds to the time of quark confinement. Blueshifting back from that point rather than redshifting ahead, the events prior to quark confinement would recede infinitely into the past, in earth time, and we would have no creation at all.


"Schroeder's use of an exponential function to give different earth periods for each cosmic day is not justified by his argument that earth time is simply redshifted cosmic time. While an exponential relationship would apply for the inflationary epoch in the early universe, that has ended by the time of quark confinement. Afterwards we have the almost linear Hubble expansion in which the redshift varies as a power law with time, not exponentially. By having each cosmic day half as long as the preceding one in earth years, again a completely arbitrary, unjustified procedure, Schroeder is able to vaguely relate events known from cosmology to those described in Genesis.


"In cosmic day two the "firmament" is created. Note that Schroeder excludes from the "firmament" all galaxies more than 7.75 billion light years away, of which there are many. Furthermore, he sees no problem with calling the expanding universe a "firmament." Like all apologists, he selects his data carefully, accepting only those which agree with his hypotheses and discarding those which do not.


"Primitive life first appears in cosmic day three. Here again it takes some mighty stretching to associate what is described in the Bible for the third day, including fruit trees, with the primitive life described by paleontology for that epoch.


"Schroeder has the sun, moon, and stars becoming visible in cosmic day four. In fact, Genesis seems to say the that sun, moon, and stars are created at that time - well after the earth was created.


"Cosmic day five has the waters teeming with life. But the biblical verses imply birds as well. Schroeder says that "birds" is a mistranslation and that the Bible here is referring to water insects instead. Translation is so easy when you know what you want a passage to say.


"Cosmic day six contains the mass extinctions of life that occurred 65 million years ago. The biblical verses referenced make no mention of mass extinction. The Biblical Flood occurs well after Adam, but Schroeder needs to end the six days of creation with Adam for other purposes. This is one event he simply cannot make fit, although he is not honest enough to say so and leaves the impression that everything is consistent.


"At times you get the impression that this book is a parody, with quite a few good chuckles when read in that context. However, the sections on evolution soon convince you that no parody is intended. They are just too unfunny, too dull. Schroeder trots out all the old, tiresome arguments about why "life could not have stared by chance" and how the simplest forms, even viruses, are "far too complex to have originated without there being an inherent chemical property of molecular self-organization and/or reaction enhancing catalysts at every step of their development" (85). He applies the usual creationist deception of calculating chance probabilities as if chance is the only operative mechanism, and then saying this "proves" that God intervenes along the way when they come out very low. And, of course, the "staccato aspect of the fossil record" refutes classical evolution. "These rapid changes cannot be explained by purely random mutations at the molecular-genetic level" (87).


"Notice how often theists tell us that something cannot be explained except by God? They never seem to learn from history."


Revised Title: The Delusions of Gerald Schroeder, December 5, 1997
Reviewer: from St. Louis, Missouri
I was intrigued by the title, but agitated by the contents. The entire book is filled with completely preposterous assumptions and conclusions. After reading such a book, I begin to question why someone, such as Gerald Schroeder, view themselves as scientists.

For an improved perspective on the contributions from Paleontology I repeat what I sent recently to DM: Henry Gee, Editor of Nature, in his "Deep Time", recognizes all Paleo is 'scenario elaboration' synthesized from fragments and the proponent's worldview, beyond the reach of experimentation, not encumbered by the testable predictions on which science depends. Phil(a scientist)

Ed: What LEVEL of "elaboration" was the editor of Nature speaking about?


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Intelligent Design: God in the Classroom

AS MANY OF YOU are no doubt aware, there has been an effort of late here in Ohio to shoehorn a bogus "science" known as "Intelligent Design" into science classes in our public schools. Proponents of "Intelligent Design" (henceforth referred to as "ID-iots") claim that life is too complex to have arisen by natural means, therefore the only "logical" explanation is that it must have been purposefully designed. ID-iots claim that life as it exists today is fundamentally different from hypothetical forms that would or could have evolved naturally without intelligent intervention. They cite this "fact" as proof of their assertions, yet they can't, or won't, say exactly how intelligently designed life differs from nondesigned life. They merely assert that it is different, which begs an obvious question that, if ID-iots possessed even a shred of intellectual honesty, should cause them no end of embarrassment. Simply put, how can they even know this let alone hope to prove it, since according to their own beliefs, they have no examples of nondesigned life to serve as a control to test their hypothesis? How can you prove that A is different from B when, according to your belief system, B doesn't exist? Little wonder then that ID proponents can offer no real evidence to back up their claims. They simply state that ID must be true for this and that reason and expect the rest of us to take their word for it.


Rather than providing evidential support for their own claims, they try to make their case by attacking the opposition, apparently believing that if they can somehow disprove evolution, ID wins by default. That's a sure sign that they have no valid arguments of their own to present, and it's not how science works. Science, real science, bases its conclusions on careful, painstakingly detailed observation and analysis of empirical evidence, not on unfounded assertions based on religious dogma and/or wishful thinking. ID, on the other hand, bases its case largely on the fallacy of "Irreducible Complexity", that is certain features, the eye being one of their favorites, cannot have evolved naturally because any transitional "incomplete" versions would not have been functional. Half an eye, they claim, confers no evolutionary advantage upon the possessor. Thus, by ID-iot reasoning, the eye must have been intelligently designed. Never mind that we can today observe firsthand nearly every proposed stage in the evolution of the eye in modern, living organisms. Never mind that experimental data show that even a primitive "half an eye" can sense light, shadow and motion, and never mind that in a primitive world where most of the competition is still blind, this would have conferred an enormous survival advantage. ID-iots won't be swayed by these facts. By and large, they aren't the type of folks to let the truth get in the way of their version of it. In actual fact, the eye isn't terribly difficult to explain in naturalistic terms. ID's objections are groundless. The rotating locomotor flagellum found in some microorganisms, which ID-iots also love to cite, is much more difficult to explain naturalistically than the eye. However, it has been explained, and quite thoroughly at that. Each proposed step in the development of this unique structure has been more than adequately accounted for. By and large, the idea of "Irreducible Complexity" depends on some pretty subjective interpretations, and the entire foundation crumbles when examined with a critical eye. IC is an idea based on personal conviction, not on fact, and is in no way scientific.


So there you have it. Unfounded assertions based on personal conviction and faulty reasoning, wrapped up in a pretty package of technical-sounding terms. That's "Intelligent Design" in a nutshell. It really doesn't matter what "mysteries" ID does claim to explain. It's the points it avoids addressing that doom ID as science and expose it for what it really is. In an attempt to make their arguments seem less religious and more "scientific", most ID-iots carefully avoid any discussion regarding the identity or nature of this "designer" they postulate, but you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the "science" of "Intelligent Design" isn't science at all. It's the same old creationist nonsense that fundamentalist Christians have been trying to force into our public schools for years. They've simply watered down or discarded some of creationism's more outrageous claims and given it a new pseudo-scientific spin in the hope that it won't be recognized for what it is. Despite vociferous denials by its more prominent supporters, "Intelligent Design" is religion, plain and simple, and has no place in science classrooms.

Source: http://home.neo.rr.com/johnbgood/


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Mark Twain Questions the Intelligent Design (I.D.) Hypothesis

Not many people know that Mark Twain wrote an article in 1903 that questioned the "I.D."-like hypothesis of Alfred Russell Wallace, who appears to have argued for an early version of the "anthropic principle." Twain's depiction of evolution below, with the evolution of life taking place in a mere "hundred million years" and with both men and birds evolving from the Pterodactyl, is intentionally farcical. Twain deliberately wants to appear bumpkinish in his ideas of evolution (and in the silly names he invents for species) to make the essays final "I Dunno" all the more poignant.


Following Twain's essay is another titled, "Little Bessie" from an uncompleted work, The Myth of Providence, that fits in with the theme in the essay below.


I do NOT present these essays as the last word in the I.D. / Darwinism debate, though I do think that whomever reads them may gain a firmer grasp of the fact that the present dispute is not likely to be "settled" any time soon. (My own middle of the road "Divine Tinkerer" hypothesis does not appeal to many though I find it hopeful without being unrealistic.)


Best, Edward T. Babinski


"WAS THE WORLD MADE FOR MAN?" [1903]


"Alfred Russell Wallace's revival of the theory that this earth is at the center of the stellar universe, and is the only habitable globe, has aroused great interest in the world." -- Literary Digest


"For ourselves we do thoroughly believe that man, as he lives just here on this tiny earth, is in essence and possibilities the most sublime existence in all the range of non-divine being -- the chief love and delight of God." -- Chicago "Interior" (Presb.)


I seem to be the only scientist and theologian still remaining to be heard from on this important matter of whether the world was made for man or not. I feel that it is time for me to speak.


I stand almost with the others. They believe the world was made for man, I believe it likely that it was made for man; they think there is proof, astronomical mainly, that it was made for man, I think there is evidence only, not proof, that it was made for him. It is too early, yet, to arrange the verdict, the returns are not all in. When they are all in, I think they will show that the world was made for man; but we must not hurry, we must patiently wait till they are all in.


Now as far as we have got, astronomy is on our side. Mr. Wallace has clearly shown this. He has clearly shown two things: that the world was made for man, and that the universe was made for the world -- to steady it, you know. The astronomy part is settled, and cannot be challenged.


We come now to the geological part. This is the one where the evidence is not all in, yet. It is coming in, hourly, daily, coming in all the time, but naturally it comes with geological carefulness and deliberation, and we must not be impatient, we must not get excited, we must be calm, and wait. To lose our tranquillity will not hurry geology; nothing hurries geology.


It takes a long time to prepare a world for man, such a thing is not done in a day. Some of the great scientists, carefully deciphering the evidences furnished by geology, have arrived at the conviction that our world is prodigiously old, and they may be right, but Lord Kelvin is not of their opinion. He takes a cautious, conservative view, in order to be on the safe side, and feels sure it is not so old as they think. As Lord Kelvin is the highest authority in science now living, I think we must yield to him and accept his view. He does not concede that the world is more than a hundred million years old. He believes it is that old, but not older. Lyell believed that our race was introduced into the world 31,000 years ago, Herbert Spencer makes it 32,000. Lord Kelvin agrees with Spencer.


Very well. According to Kelvin's figures it took 99,968,000 years to prepare the world for man, impatient as the Creator doubtless was to see him and admire him. But a large enterprise like this has to be conducted warily, painstakingly, logically. It was foreseen that man would have to have the oyster. Therefore the first preparation was made for the oyster. Very well, you cannot make an oyster out of whole cloth, you must make the oyster's ancestor first. This is not done in a day. You must make a vast variety of invertebrates, to start with -- belemnites, trilobites, jebusites, amalekites, and that sort of fry, and put them to soak in a primary sea, and wait and see what will happen. Some will be a disappointments - the belemnites, the ammonites and such; they will be failures, they will die out and become extinct, in the course of the 19,000,000 years covered by the experiment, but all is not lost, for the amalekites will fetch the home-stake; they will develop gradually into encrinites, and stalactites, and blatherskites, and one thing and another as the mighty ages creep on and the Archaean and the Cambrian Periods pile their lofty crags in the primordial seas, and at last the first grand stage in the preparation of the world for man stands completed, the Oyster is done. An oyster has hardly any more reasoning power than a scientist has; and so it is reason ably certain that this one jumped to the conclusion that the nineteen-million years was a preparation for him; but that would be just like an oyster, which is the most conceited animal there is, except man. And anyway, this one could not know, at that early date, that he was only an incident in a scheme, and that there was some more to the scheme, yet.


The oyster being achieved, the next thing to be arranged for in the preparation of the world for man, was fish. Fish, and coal to fry it with. So the Old Silurian seas were opened up to breed the fish in, and at the same time the great work of building Old Red Sandstone mountains 80,000 feet high to cold-storage their fossils in was begun. This latter was quite indispensable, for there would be no end of failures again, no end of extinctions -- millions of them -- and it would be cheaper and less trouble to can them in the rocks than keep tally of them in a book. One does not build the coal beds and 80,000 feet of perpendicular Old Red Sandstone in a brief time -- no, it took twenty million years. In the first place, a coal bed is a slow and troublesome and tiresome thing to construct. You have to grow prodigious forests of tree-ferns and reeds and calamites and such things in a marshy region; then you have, to sink them under out of sight and let them rot; then you have to turn the streams on them, so as to bury them under several feet of sediment, and the sediment must have time to harden and turn to rock; next you must grow another forest on top, then sink it and put on another layer of sediment and harden it; then more forest and more rock, layer upon layer, three miles deep -- ah, indeed it is a sickening slow job to build a coal-measure and do it right!


So the millions of years drag on; and meantime the fish-culture is lazying along and frazzling out in a way to make a person tired. You have developed ten thousand kinds of fishes from the oyster; and come to look, you have raised nothing but fossils, nothing but extinctions. There is nothing left alive and progressive but a ganoid or two and perhaps half a dozen asteroids. Even the cat wouldn't eat such. Still, it is no great matter; there is plenty of time, yet, and they will develop into something tasty before man is ready for them. Even a ganoid can be depended on for that, when he is not going to be called on for sixty million years.


The Palaeozoic time-limit having now been reached, it was necessary to begin the next stage in the preparation of the world for man, by opening up the Mesozoic Age and instituting some reptiles. For man would need reptiles. Not to eat, but to develop himself from. This being the most important detail of the scheme, a spacious liberality of time was set apart for it -- thirty million years. What wonders followed! From the remaining ganoids and asteroids and alkaloids were developed by slow and steady and pains-taking culture those stupendous saurians that used to prowl about the steamy world in those remote ages, with their snaky heads reared forty feet in the air and sixty feet of body and tail racing and thrashing after. All gone, now, alas -- all extinct, except the little handful of Arkansawrians left stranded and lonely with us here upon this far-flung verge and fringe of time.


Yes, it took thirty million years and twenty million reptiles to get one that would stick long enough to develop into something else and let the scheme proceed to the next step.


Then the Pterodactyl burst upon the world in all his impressive solemnity and grandeur, and all Nature recognized that the Cainozoic threshold was crossed and a new Period open for business, a new stage begun in the preparation of the globe for man. It may be that the Pterodactyl thought the thirty million years had been intended as a preparation for himself, for there was nothing too foolish for a Pterodactyl to imagine, but he was in error, the preparation was for man, Without doubt the Pterodactyl attracted great attention, for even the least observant could see that there was the making of a bird in him. And so it turned out. Also the makings of a mammal, in time. One thing we have to say to his credit, that in the matter of picturesqueness he was the triumph of his Period; he wore wings and had teeth, and was a starchy and wonderful mixture altogether, a kind of long-distance premonitory symptom of Kipling's marine:


'E isn't one O'the reg'lar Line,
nor 'e isn't one of the crew,
'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite [hermaphrodite] --
soldier an' sailor too!


From this time onward for nearly another thirty million years the preparation moved briskly. From the Pterodactyl was developed the bird; from the bird the kangaroo, from the kangaroo the other marsupials; from these the mastodon, the megatherium, the giant sloth, the Irish elk, and all that crowd that you make useful and instructive fossils out of -- then came the first great Ice Sheet, and they all retreated before it and crossed over the bridge at Behring's strait and wandered around over Europe and Asia and died. All except a few, to carry on the preparation with. Six Glacial Periods with two million years between Periods chased these poor orphans up and down and about the earth, from weather to weather -- from tropic swelter at the poles to Arctic frost at the equator and back again and to and fro, they never knowing what kind of weather was going to turn up next; and if ever they settled down anywhere the whole continent suddenly sank under them without the least notice and they had to trade places with the fishes and scramble off to where the seas had been, and scarcely a dry rag on them; and when there was nothing else doing a volcano would let go and fire them out from wherever they had located. They led this unsettled and irritating life for twenty-five million years, half the time afloat, half the time aground, and always wondering what it was all for, they never suspecting, of course, that it was a preparation for man and had to be done just so or it wouldn't be any proper and harmonious place for him when he arrived.


And at last came the monkey, and anybody could see that man wasn't far off, now. And in truth that was so. The monkey went on developing for close upon 5,000,000 years, and then turned into a man - to all appearances.


Such is the history of it. Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.




Also by Mark Twain, "Little Bessie," The Myth of Providence


"In His wisdom and mercy the Lord sends us afflictions to discipline us and make us better…All of them. None of them comes by accident; He alone sends them, and always out of love for us, and to make us better, my child."


"Did He give Billy Norris the typhus, mamma?"


"Yes."


"What for?"


"Why, to discipline him and make him good."


"But he died, mamma, and so it couldn't make him good."


"Well, then, I suppose it was for some other reason. We know it was a good reason, whatever it was."


After a pause: "Did He make the roof fall on the stranger that was trying to save the crippled old woman from the fire, mamma?"


"Yes, my child. Wait! Don't ask me why, because I don't know. I only know it was to discipline some one, or be a judgment upon somebody, or to show His power."


"That drunken man that stuck a pitchfork into Mrs. Welch's baby when…"


"Never mind about it, you needn't go into particulars; it was to discipline the child - that much is certain, anyway."


"Mamma, Mr. Burgess said in his sermon that billions of little creatures are sent into us to give us cholera, and typhoid, and lockjaw, and more than a thousand other sicknesses and, mamma, does He send them?"


"Oh, certainly, child, certainly. Of course."


"What for?"


"Oh, to discipline us! Haven't I told you so, over and over again?"


"It's awful cruel, mamma! And silly! And if I…"


"Hush, oh hush! Do you want to bring the lightning?"


"You know the lightning did come last week, mamma, and struck the new church, and burnt it down. Was it to discipline the church?"


(Wearily) "Oh, I suppose so."


"But it killed a hog that wasn't doing anything. Was it to discipline the hog, mamma?"


"Dear child, don't you want to run out and play a while? If you would like to…"


"Mamma, Mr. Hollister says there isn't a bird or fish or reptile or any other animal that hasn't got an enemy that Providence has sent to bite it and chase it and pester it, and kill it, and suck its blood and discipline it and make it good and religious. Is that true, mamma, because if it is true, why did Mr. Hollister laugh at it?"


"That Hollister is a scandalous person, and I don't want you to listen to anything he says."


"Why, mamma, he is very interesting, and I think he tries to be good. He says the wasps catch spiders and cram them down their nests in the ground - alive, mama! - and there they live and suffer days and days and days, and hungry little baby wasps chew the spider's legs and gnaw into their bellies all the time, to make them good and religious and praise God for His infinite mercies. I think Mr. Hollister is just lovely, and ever so kind; for when I asked him if he would treat a spider like that, he said he hoped to be damned if he would; and then he…"


"My child! oh, do for goodness' sake…"


"And mamma, he says the spider is appointed to catch the fly, and drive her fangs into his bowels, and sucks and sucks and sucks his blood, to discipline him and make him a Christian; and whenever the fly buzzes his wings with the pain and misery of it, you can see by the spider's grateful eye that she is thanking the Giver of All Good for…well, she's saying grace, as he says; and also, he…"


"Oh, aren't you ever going to get tired chattering! If you want to go out and play…"


"Mamma, he says himself that all troubles and pains and miseries and rotten diseases and horrors and villainies are sent to us in mercy and kindness to discipline us; and he says it is the duty of every father and mother to help Providence, every way they can; and says they can't do it by just scolding and whipping, for that won't answer, it is weak and no good - Providence's invention for disciplining us and the animals is the very brightest idea that ever was. Mamma, brother Eddie needs disciplining, right away; and I know where you can get the smallpox for him, and the itch, and the diphtheria, and bone-rot, and heart disease, and tuberculosis, and…
Dear mama, have you fainted?"


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Question for I.D.ers (Intelligent Design) concerning the "waste" and "junk" in nature

Question for I.D.ers (in several parts):


How much "waste" and "junk" is there in nature?


1) Do you accept that "pseudogenes" exist inside all animal genomes? What proportion of the human and/or chimp genome contains them? What is the proportion of pseudogenes to functional genes?


2) Do you accept that "endogenous retroviral DNA" exists inside all animal genomes? What proportion of the human and/or chimp genome contains "endogenous retroviral DNA?" What is the proportion of the genomes that codes for endogenous retroviral DNA, compared with the proportion of the genome that codes for functional genes?


3) Do you accept that remnants of misplaced "telomeric chromosomal regions" and remnants of misplaced "centromeric regions" exist inside the human chromosome number two? If you agree both things exist inside the human chromosome number 2, do you think they constitute evidence of a possible "sloppy" fusion of chromosomes in our past ancestors? (Note: When the human chromosome number 2 and the chimpanzee chromosomes 2 and 3 are compared, their overall lengths and the individual bands of human chromosome number 2, and chimpanzee 3 and 4, line up with one another. And, there are remnants inside the longer human chromosome number 2 of "teleomeric regions" and "centromeric chromosomal material," found in the wrong places inside the chromosome number 2, "as if" the human chromosome number two were formed by the "sloppy" fusion of two separate chromosomes.)


4) On rare occaisions a whale is born with (atavistic) hind limbs. Would you consider those to be a "waste" or "junk?" (Or do you deny with AIG [Answers in Genesis] that such atavistic hind limbs exist on modern day whales?)


5) A single bacterial cell that divides every twenty minutes, will multiply to a mass four thousand times greater than the earth's in just two days. That doesn't happen, because of the inconceivably huge death rate of bacteria. If all the eggs from one mother housefly lived, she would produce more than five trillion offspring in just one season. A single oyster, left to its own devices, produces more than one-hundred-twenty-five million eggs in a season. A female sea turtle lays a hundred or more eggs, but after they hatch [and not all do] in a nest buried beneath the sand on the beach, only a handful of baby sea turtles make it to the safety of the ocean. About one hundred million sperm cells are found in each cubic centimeter of human ejaculate. Yet only one sperm lives to fertilize the female's egg. The rest die. And many fertilized eggs never reach maturity. There are equally bountiful numbers from the world of seed-bearing plants. Among the young of both plants and animals, a large percentage of them are taken by disease and or infected by parasites. In fact, two hundred and fifty years ago one-half of all children born died before reaching the age of seven. Similar figures, or worse, are true of many other animal and plant species as well. Could any of this massive fecundity and death of most of the young of animals and plants be indicative of "waste?"


6) When astroids have struck the earth throughout geologic time and killed billions of creaures and caused mass extinctions of species, could that be indicative of "wastefulness" of any kind?


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Human Value According to the Cosmos and also According to the Bible?

How intrinsically "valuable" are human beings according to the cosmos and also according to the Bible? In the cosmos all living things die, including human beings, and even some of the tiniest forms of life live by sucking the life out of the ones with the largest brains and/or the biggest hearts. As for the Bible's view of humanity's intrinsic "value," even more questions arise, a wide variety in fact.

FIRST, let's review the most direct and common recognitions of humanity's place in the cosmos:

THE COSMOS AND HUMAN "VALUE"

Every living thing in the cosmos dies. There is plenty of evidence that our home planet, the earth, has been struck by large objects from space. Visible fiery meteors continue to enter the earth's atmosphere from time to time some even videotaped, and some larger objects from space have passed so close to the earth in the past few decades that their pathways were within the distance from the earth to the moon's orbit. Also, a little behind the arm of the Milky Way in which our solar system lies, there are stars being drawn into our galaxy from a nearby smaller galaxy, and so over a million stars are entering our galaxy and their gravity is interacting with stars found in our galaxy which can cause grave problems for any planets on those stars as they pass nearby each other. Lucky for us the arm of the galaxy where our solar system lies has just recently (in galactic time) already passed through that danger zone where the stars keep entering our galaxy. Also note that a solar flare from our own sun came so near the earth in the 1990s that it disabled satellite and cell phone communication. The earth's magnetic field is also diminishing (viz., the earth's poles shift in polarity and power over time, and a "few generations from now" our planet will soon be in a down phase, lacking a magnetic shield, and no one knows for sure how that might effect life on earth, or affect how electronic-based technology--computers and telecommunications function). I also read that dangerous gamma radiation was detected striking the earth in bursts coming from the vicinity of a "magnestar" that blew up in our general part of the galaxy. That could be quite dangerous if the star were just a bit nearer. Others have supposed that radiation from a star going nova in our vicinity might have instigated some extinctions in the past. Though if any star went nova near the earth that might be it for all life on earth. So this cosmos provides uncertainties galore concerning the continuance of life. Even stars and galaxies in our cosmos have finite lifetimes (though the question of what sort of infinite matrix all cosmoses might lie within, or how that matrix generates new cosmoses, remains an open one in physics and philosophy).

Astronomers have evidence of rings of matter and even planets surrounding distant stars, so there might be planets in the cosmos other than earth on which sentient beings live (found in the "galactic habitable zone" of our galaxy or of distant galaxies, since there's over a hundred billion other galaxies out there, each of them containing a billion or so stars). It is not inconceivable that such beings should they exist, live on planets like ours in which every living thing dies. One is therefore left with far more questions than answers concerning cosmic "value."

GOD AND HUMAN "VALUE"

Assuming God exists, how do we know for sure that God "values" human beings or to what degree He does? I've already reviewed questions regarding the nature of such "value" based on the cosmic situation in which God has placed humanity, and also based on the fact that neither nature nor God provide every embryo a whole and healthy start in life, but instead the opposite is true, since disabilities, nutritional deficiencies, and childhood illnesses, including deaths during birth and deaths during infancy and early childhood are very common among all species, including human beings.

The Bible says and/or implies that God finds human beings "valuable," even created in God's own "image," however human beings wrote those books, and any sentient being would probably find it difficult to imagine a deity not created in THEIR own image.

However, being "created in God's image" does not even mean that hunanity was so valuable as to be granted the equally god-like gift of immortality. Instead, early authors of some books in the Bible also expressed in numerous places that everyone went to the same place after they died, Sheol, the grave, the land of shades. Such authors of early books of the Bible taught that only God was immortal, while human beings were created from dust and to dust would return. I'm not saying the Bible teaches a uniform view of the afterlife, but simply noting that there are different ideas in the Bible of the afterlife. One was that humanity was animated dust and was not immortal like God. Such a view was common in the ancient world. Among the Greeks for instance, they viewed humanity as mortal , but a select few "heros" could be taken up to be with the gods and live forever like Hercules (the early Hebrews likewise pictured only a few like Enoch and Elijah being taken up, but in other places the Bible emphasized humanity's mortality and a place known as Sheol where all ended up). So some strands of the Bible picture humanity as being "valued" while they lived and breathed, but after death they were "valued" no more than say, "dust" or mere "shadows."

Speaking of the Bible, the same people who wrote some of the earliest books in the Bible also assumed the cosmos was created in six evenings and mornings as measured by evenings and mornings on what we today know to be but one planet, earth. This does not impress humans living today who have learned that all planets have their own days and nights, evenings and mornings, rather than the earth's evenings and morning being central. Was the very first light created "in the beginning" for the sake of instituting our planet's earth days and nights, evenings and mornings? And all the rest of the cosmos was likewise created "based on earth's days and nights," six of them, whether in metaphor or fact? But if that is what "revealed" books of the Bible teach, then how can we be sure of other matters in such books, including statements that God "values" humanity?

Even the pains and pleasures that people and nations experienced were interpreted by the Bible's authors as being signs of "God's" pleasure and displeasure, or signs of God's "punishments" or "blessings." While today people question such easy black or white supernatural interpretations of disasters and boons, of good times and bad times. It would appear that it is indeed the writers of the Bible who are interpreting what happened to them and their nation in terms of "God," just as they interpreted the earth's status in cosmic creation myths, with light created for the earth's evenings and mornings, and the earth created even BEFORE the sun, moon and stars were "made and set... above the earth... to light it, and for signs and seasons" on earth, merely one planet out of the entire cosmos?

The ancient Greeks likewise viewed their nation as lying at the "center of the earth" with their oracle of Delphi lying at the earth's navel, and the earth itself being the foundation of creation with a dome above it where the sun, moon and stars lay. The ancient Greeks also thought they "knew" why good and bad things happened during the Trojan war to certain warriors and nations. They "knew" it was due to the pleasure or displeaure of their "gods" and the exertion of their supernatural powers to decide battles or bless the land (read Homer).

THE "VALUE" OF HUMANITY IN THE N.T.

Only in the New Testament are human beings portrayed as having such "value" that God would put Himself through suffering, death, and hell, including God "becoming sin"--becoming something that God cannot stand--hence God punishing God, in order to spare humanity from "hell." That is quite a claim concerning humanity's "value" but note the lateness of such a claim even in the "revealed religion" of the Bible.

Also, think about the self-centeredness of such a portrayal of humanity. Humanity's self-centeredness began with claiming it was created in God's image, then in the intertestamental period believing it would live eternally, and now in the N.T., humanity claiming its own "sins" or failures are why God had to put God through pain, death and hell, with God Himself becoming sin, and shunning and punishing Himself, thus creating a rift, albeit temporary, in God. Quite a jump from humanity being simply mortal dust that returns to dust and winds up in Sheol, the land of shades. For now the human writers of the N.T. have even divinized humanity's faults, imagining God had to take humanity's faults so seriously as to tear God Himself into pieces in a manner of speaking, God punishing God (or to use a metaphor from nature and animals) God smeared Himself with our poo and hated Himself, dissassociating God from God, creating a rift in the Godhead all because of US. Thus humanity's ego and hubris appears to have grown over time and throughout "revealled revelations" in the Bible, such that even our poo is made to eventually smell good or come out good, regardless of the consequences to "God."

THE "VALUE" OF HUMANITY VIS A VIS THE QUESTION OF HELL

Even one human group's self-centered dislike of other nations or other human beings differing from them, has sought justification in the "Divine," namely "Divine condemnations." Such hubris not only gave birth to the interpretation that when other nations suffered they were being "punished by God," but also applied later in the sense of eternal punishment (book of Daniel) other intertestamental works, and of course the N.T.

In intertestamental works the idea of "evil" demons and Satan ruling this world, their power over this world, and fears thereof, all grew immensely, leading to elevated suspicions and hatreds projected onto "outsiders." In the N.T. the projection of such fears was also projected onto believers who loved the same holy books, and who were labeled, "heretics." Thus Christians began persecuting fellow believers as soon as the first Christian emperor gained the throne of Rome, and Christians proceeded to kill more Christians in a few years during the Arian-Athanasian controversy than were killed during the previous three hundred years under non-Christian Roman emperorsl; even killing each other over matters such as whether or not a bishop had ever denied his faith under duress during the earlier days of persecution or remained "pure" (the Donatist controversy). Today Christians continue to debunk each other's practices and beliefs far moreso than non-believers have ever done.

The notion of hell raises the question of the "value" of humanity in other ways as well. Though some Christians declare that hell is God's "great compliment" to human beings, that simply begs the question of what God would do to someone He wished to "insult" rather than "compliment." Furthermore, if God already sees the past and future, then God would know in eternity that there was no "choice" for some souls but hell. What "value" does such a view place on human life?

Hellish conundrums continue when one considers the view that Adam's sin (as Augustine taught) automatically damned all humanity, and it was up to God to grant the gift of saving grace to whomever He would, but he only grants it to some, and denies it to the rest, which means God "values" only some, and damns the rest. Jonathan Edwards put it in Augustinian terms and added darker metaphors, teaching that we all deserve the utmost punishment, because God's disgust toward all of Adam's children since the fall is similar to the disgust we feel when we see a horrid insect or worm. Doesn't sound like everyone is extremely "valuable" in God's eyes.

Christians have also argued that heretics and other non-believers in this life are not very "valuable" at all, since they spread the disease of unbelief that kills people eternally. Some Christians have even argued that we should treat heretics and/or unbelievers no better in this life than God is going to treat them in the next, in hell. For example see these statements by Luther and Melanchthon regarding the Anabaptists, a diverse Reformation movement of Bible readers and preachers, many of whom wanted to live in a land were religious beliefs were totally a matter of conscience, and there were no state churches, nor coercion, nor indelible national creeds (neither Lutheran nations nor Calvinist ones nor Catholic ones), but instead each person could read the Bible and love and follow Jesus as they were led by God.

“They [the Anabaptists] are not only blasphemous, but highly seditious, urge the use of the sword against them... We may not, therefore, mete out better treatment to these men than God Himself and all the saints.”
--Luther in letter (written early in 1530) to Menius and Myconius who were composing a work against the Anabaptists

“They [the magistrates] should apply to them [the Anabaptists] the law of Moses against blasphemy and treat them as the Roman Emperors treated the Arians and Donatists.”
--Melanchthon in a letter to Myconius (Feb. 1531)[SOURCE: Mackinnon, James (Ph.D., D.D., Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Edinburgh), “Luther and the Anabaptists,” p. 57-75 in Luther and the Reformation, Vol. IV., Vindication of the Movement (1530-46), (New York: Russell & Russell, Inc, 1962), pp.64 & 69]

A FEW FINAL QUESTIONS OF "VALUE" ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE

How "valued" is humanity in the "primeval history" stories in Genesis in which God "repents" of having made man, and floods the earth, drowning nearly every breathing thing on it? How about in Exodus where God tells Moses He would like to let all the Israelites in the desert die and raise up a people from Moses alone? (Even if the story is interpreted as being a ruse on God's part or a temptation or testing of Moses by God, anyone reading it cannot help to also see in it a certain callousness toward human life by God. Note that it states elsewhere in the Bible that God does not "tempt" people so why would he "tempt" Moses with an offer to let the Israelites die and set Moses up as a new Abraham giving birth to a new people? Admittedly, theologians finely divide, some say "gerrymander," the words "tempt" and "test" in this case). And one could also ask what "value" God places on human life when He commands Joshua to slaughter every breathing thing inside certain cities, including babes and pregnant women? Makes life seem relatively "cheap" in God's eyes.

Revealed biblical religion even states that God "sends lying spirits" into prophets, and God "hardens" people's hearts in order that they might be destroyed utterly as in the book of Joshua ("The Lord hardened their hearts to meet Israel in battle in order that He might destroy them utterly, that they might receive no mercy"). Or, God sends plagues and famines, or God says He will put people in the situation where they will be forced to eat their own children just to survive. Or in the N.T. God "sends them great delusion" that they might not turn and be saved. Sounds like a cavalier way to treat human life.

*A FINAL NOTE ON "HELL"*

From Origin's day to ours Christian theologians have continued to debate just how much of Jesus's apocalyptic speech about "hell" needs to be taken literally. Some say such speech is an accommodation to the ideas of Jesus's day concerning ideas of heaven and hell already in circulation since the inter-testamental period; and thus we don't even know for sure just how much of what Jesus spoke about hell was an accommodation to ideas and concepts his audience already took for granted.

The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1908) by Schaff-Herzog says in volume 12, on page 96, “In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality; one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked. Other theological schools are mentioned as founded by Universalists, but their actual doctrine on this subject is not known.”

Augustine (354-430 A.D.), one of the four great Latin Church Fathers (Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome and Gregory the Great), admitted: “There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.”

Origen, a pupil and successor of Clement of Alexandria, lived from 185 to 254 A.D. He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church. In his book, De Principiis, he wrote: “We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued....for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” Howard F. Vos in his book Highlights of Church History states that Origen believed the souls of all that God created would some day return to rest in the bosom of the Father. Those who rejected the gospel now would go to hell to experience a purifying fire that would cleanse even the wicked; all would ultimately reach the state of bliss.

The great church historian Geisler writes: “The belief in the inalienable capability of improvement in all rational beings, and the limited duration of future punishment was so general, even in the West, and among the opponents of Origen, that it seems entirely independent of his system.” (Eccles. Hist., 1-212)

Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church, says in his Catechetical Orations: “Our Lord is the One who delivers man [all men], and who heals the inventor of evil himself.”

Neander says that Gregory of Nyssa taught that all punishments are means of purification, ordained by divine love to purge rational beings from moral evil, and to restore them back to that communion with God....so that they may attain the same blessed fellowship with God Himself.

Eusebius of Caesarea lived from 265 to 340 A.D. He was the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and a friend of Constantine, great Emperor of Rome. His commentary of Psalm 2 says: “The Son ‘breaking in pieces’ His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state.”

Gregory of Nazianzeu lived from 330 to 390 A.D. He was the Bishop of Constantinople. In his Oracles 39:19 we read: “These, if they will, may go Christ’s way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice.”


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