2015-02-11

Darwin Day — and exploding some myths about Charles Darwin

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by Neil Godfrey

12th February is Darwin Day.

There is an International Darwin Day website that is currently making a special pitch at Americans for recognition. For good reason, no doubt, given that today’s newsletter from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science contains the following (with my emphasis):

As a universal figure of such profound importance, his birthday should be a national celebration — a day to honor the advances brought about by reason and science. 

But a resolution to this effect, introduced in the U.S. Congress, has little support outside a handful of Democrats. Frighteningly, Darwin is still considered a controversial figure, especially among conservative Republicans.

For anyone who does not yet know, just about everything we have that Darwin produced is available in digitized format at Darwin Online.

And I happily live in a suburb where the Beagle crew called in back in 1839 and work at a university that eventually took the name of Charles Darwin.

But here’s the highlight of this post, brought to us by Freethought Blog The Ace of Glades:

Darwin was no racist, and Hitler was no ‘Darwinist’

8 Comments

  • gary
    2015-02-12 20:18:14 UTC - 20:18 | Permalink

    Jesus’ resurrection after his death is the ultimate and defining proof of Jesus’ divinity. Just about everyone knows the story, which is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

    There is only one way for Jesus to prove that he rose from the dead. He had to appear to people. Therefore, several different places in the Bible describe Jesus’ appearances after his death:

    •Matthew chapter 28
    •Mark chapter 16
    •Luke chapter 24
    •John Chapter 20 and 21

    1 Corinthians 15:3-6 provides a nice summary of those passages, as written by Paul:

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. As you can see in this passage, Jesus appeared to hundreds of people a number of different times.

    Being like Paul: When we look at these Bible passages, there is a question that comes to mind — why did Jesus stop making these appearances? Why isn’t Jesus appearing today? It really is odd. Obviously Paul benefitted from a personal meeting with the resurrected Christ. Because of the personal visit, Paul could see for himself the truth of the resurrection, and he could ask Jesus questions. So… Why doesn’t Jesus appear to everyone and prove that he is resurrected, just like he appeared to Paul? There is nothing to stop Jesus from materializing in your kitchen tonight to have a personal chat with you. And if you think about it, Jesus really does need to appear to each of us. If Paul needed a personal visit from Jesus to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why wouldn’t you? It is an important question for the following reasons:

    •We are told by the Bible that Jesus appeared to hundreds of people.

    •We therefore know that it is OK for Jesus to appear to people — it does not take away their free will, for example.

    •We know that it would be easy for Jesus to appear to everyone all through history, since Jesus is all-powerful and timeless.

    •We know that, if Jesus did reappear to everyone, it would be incredibly helpful. We could all know, personally, that Jesus is resurrected and that Jesus is God. If Paul (and all the other people in the Bible) needed a personal visit to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why not you and me?

    •Yet, we all know that Jesus has not appeared to anyone in 2,000 years.

    THINK folks! Which is more likely: A dead man walked out of his grave 2,000 years ago, ate a broiled fish lunch with his fishing buddies and then 40 days later levitated into outer space, or, this entire story of a Resurrection is a legend: a legend based on false sightings and/or visions and hallucinations, of well-intentioned but uneducated, illiterate, hope-shattered, superstitious Galilean peasants, desperately trying to keep alive their only source of hope in their miserable, first century existence?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-02-14 00:53:15 UTC - 00:53 | Permalink

      We also have proof Red Riding Hood was rescued from the belly of the wolf by the woodcutter. If she weren’t we would know nothing about the story at all. The story has only survived because Red Riding was rescued in order to tell us about it.

      It’s just a story. We need to have a secure way to distinguish between a story and a history.

      • David Ashton
        2015-02-14 09:37:34 UTC - 09:37 | Permalink

        Aha! Explanatory power, explanatory scope, multiple attestation….. (William Lane Craig)….zzzz.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-02-15 09:58:03 UTC - 09:58 | Permalink

          In history classes we might ask how we can best explain Homer’s epics, the Arthurian legends, the gospel narratives.

          Another exercise is found in literary classes: how best to explain Hamlet’s procrastination?

          • David Ashton
            2015-02-15 13:43:18 UTC - 13:43 | Permalink

            There was probably at least one original “Arthur” who led a group of warriors in the north-west near Hadrian’s Wall. The interesting question is indeed how this grew into legendary proportions and had mythical inputs.

  • john dauria
    2015-02-13 10:44:56 UTC - 10:44 | Permalink

    That a dead man walked out of his grave . He he .
    Thanks for link to video Neil.

  • David Ashton
    2015-02-13 12:33:16 UTC - 12:33 | Permalink

    Not only one dead man but many dead men in a passage in Matthew of which many churchgoers are unaware. It is unkind to think of a scene from some zombie horror film.

  • gary
    2015-02-14 17:55:18 UTC - 17:55 | Permalink

    How do we know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the Gospels?

    Answers:

    1. Irenaeus said so at the end of the second century. Irenaeus was a friend of one of the disciples of the Apostle John who SURELY would have told him the authorship of these books.
    2. Papias in 130 AD wrote that he was told by “Presbyter John” that John Mark, Peter’s companion, had written “a gospel”. He does not identify the “gospel”.

    That’s it.

    And several billion people in the world today believe that a first century dead man walked out of his tomb based on this “evidence”.

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