In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
The Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament, is known to modern readers from the Masoretic text, a compilation of Hebrew texts assembled by Jewish scholars in the seventh to tenth centuries A.D. from older scrolls and codices. That text, and thus the Old Testament, contain two creation stories. It is not unusual for cultures to have multiple creation stories, and throughout this booklet the paraphrases have melded two or more variations of a culture’s creation story into one. However, because the two stories in the Old Testament are so different, the two stories are recounted separately here as “Yahweh” and then “The Elohim”.
Yahweh’s creation story is from Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. Extensive analysis of its style and content have led scholars of the Bible to conclude that the story was written in about the Tenth Century B.C.. That was around the time of King Solomon’s reign and in a time when Israel was a powerful nation. In contrast, the story in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 was written three or four centuries later and under very different circumstances.
The author of the story in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 is known to scholars as “J”. That is because J referred to the creator as Yahweh ( or “YHVH” in ancient Hebrew, or “Jahweh” in the German native to many scholars of the Bible, or ultimately “Jehovah” in modern usage).
Some scholars have considered J the more primitive or rural of the two authors of the creation stories in Genesis. Others are more generous and characterize J as a poet rather than a priest. J was probably recording his or her people’s oral traditions in written form. Certainly J’s story is a more human story of temptation and punishment than the austere story written later by the author known as “P”, and J’s creator is more anthropomorphic.
In J’s story, the humans that are created have names. To English speakers, “Adam” and “Eve” are just names, but “Adam” meant “man” in ancient Hebrew and may also have been a play on “adamah”, the Hebrew word for “earth” or “clay”. “Eve” was the word for “life”.
The Elohim’s creation story, the second of our two Hebrew creation stories, is from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. It thus appears first in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Genesis, but it is actually the younger of the two stories presented there. A considerable body of scholarship over the last two or three centuries has concluded that this story was written in about the sixth century B.C.. That was after Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and at a time when the Hebrews were faced with exile in Babylon.
The author of this later story is known to scholars as “P”, because he or she wrote from a much more “priestly” perspective than J, the author of the chronologically earlier story that appears in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 (see “Yahweh”, above). P’s story is one of creation ex nihilo (from nothing), and the creation is a much more stately process than that in J’s story. Because of the timing of its writing and the grandeur of its language, P’s story has been interpreted by scholars “as an origin story created for the benefit of a lost nation in the need of encouragement and affirmation” (Leeming and Leeming 1994, p. 113). In fact, some scholars have suggested that P’s story was actually written in Babylon.
P used the name “Elohim” for the creator. “Elohim” (pronounced “e lo HEEM”) is actually a plural word perhaps best translated as “the powerful ones”. P also used plural phrasing in the Elohim’s creation of humankind “after our own likeness”. Scholars have suggested that the use of the plural “Elohim” rather than the singular “Eloha” may hearken back to polytheistic roots of Middle Eastern religions and was a way to emphasize the magnitude of the deity in question. P’s first people have no names at all, in keeping with the story’s focus on the grandeur of the creator rather than on the created.
EVOLUTION vs GOD
A FILM REVIEW BY INGRID HANSEN SMYTHE
“I believe it’s going to take down evolution. It exposes it as bogus science. That sounds like a bold claim, but it’s true.”1
“There is no refutation of Darwinian evolution in existence. If a refutation ever were to come about it would come from a serious scientist—not an idiot.”2
Ray Comfort, the professional preacher and proselytizer best known for his unwitting invention of the banana fallacy, is on the attack once again with his latest film Evolution vs. God. According to one reviewer this is a powerful film that leaves evolutionists “clutching at straws,”3 and Ray Comfort himself has issued a warning, saying, “I would say not to watch it if you are someone who believes in evolution, but you are weak in the faith.”4 Creationists claim that ever since the film’s release evolutionists have been in “damage control”5 and most significant of all, there’s been “an eerie silence from Professor Dawkins.”6 One imagines the beleaguered Dr. Dawkins sweating and grimacing in his underground biology bunker, surrounded by troll-like Darwinians all frantically trying to get their stories straight. “All right, people, next on the agenda is the doctrine of speciation. Who has faith in that godless heresy? Can I see a show of hands, please?”
It is astonishing to think that, of all people, Ray Comfort (now commonly known as Banana Man) has discovered, through his own tireless research, that the geneticists, the biochemists, the zoologists, the biologists, the geologists, the paleontologists, the ecologists, the comparative anatomists and physiologists, the cosmologists—the whole lot of them—have been entirely mistaken all this time. And if Ray’s film does what it claims, it will mean a scientific revolution on a scale the like of which has never been seen in the history of humanity. Note too that, in this film, Ray doesn’t interview any “creation scientists” as they rather comically call themselves,7 but only experts in the relevant disciplines, finally letting the godless Darwinians speak for themselves. How amazing that the Everest-like mountain of hard evidence for evolution might be razed to the ground in one brief 38-minute film by a man with only a high school education and a reputation for being, as Dawkins says, an idiot.8 Truly this is the mother of all David-and-Goliath tales, and so it was with great expectations that I settled in with my peanut butter and banana crackers and watched Evolution vs. God: Shaking the Foundations of Faith…