Sunday, August 17, 2014

God's Not Dead

I was a little bored yesterday so I watched God's Not Dead.

There's good news and bad news.

The bad news is that I wasted almost two hours.

The good news is that if this is the best Christians can do then rational people are not threatened. On the other hand, unbalanced people—like the Christians in this mover—can be unpredictable, so maybe we should be worried.

The most repulsive scene is when a Christian pastor tries to force a dying atheist (car accident) to accept Jesus. The second most repulsive scene is when the hero's Christian girl friend leaves him because he wants to stand up for his faith. If those people are typical Christians then it's no wonder that people are abandoning Christianity.




72 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. There's good news and bad news. The bad news is that I wasted almost two hours.

    pretty classic

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  3. Dear Dr. Moran,

    No, I am a Christian and I thought the arguments given in this movie were not compelling. A much better case can be made. Have you ever read Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig? That is the book I would start someone with. Those arguments are formidable.

    Of course, I would also say this: while the ultimate truth will always be rational, truth is not always apprehended by deduction from propositions. In this respect, I would refer you to Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga. What does it mean to have warrant to believe something? Does every belief need scientific evidence? Can truths gained by experience, but not propositional deduction, count as real knowledge? Where does Christianity sit with this?

    Finally, I would also recommend reading the book of John. Not under the coldest of skeptical attitudes, but with an open heart to see if you find a self-authenticating light in it.

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    1. William "if in some historically contingent circumstance, the evidence I have available to me should run against christianity, I don't think that contradicts the witness of the holy spirit" Lane Craig?

      Willam "Objective moral values DO exist, and I think we all know it" Lane Craig?

      That William Lane Craig?

      There's nothing formidable about that man's arguments or views. He starts with a conclusion, then works backwards from there and constructs arguments around it. Every single argument of his has been totally annihilated by internet nobodies and soap opera actors.

      Plantinga is insanely deluded. Plantinga thinks your beliefs don't affect your ability to survive and reproduce. Have you read his evolutionary argument against naturalism? If the flaw in that argument is not instantly obvious to you, I don't know what to tell you. Take the blinders off.

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    2. Craig has stated that, if he should findhimself in a position where evidence from the real world should run against christianity, he recommends simply believing anyway because of a nice feeling he gets inside. As I alluded to above, he doesn't think real, hard, concrete evidence "contradicts the witness of the holy spirit".

      Evidence or arguments has no meaning to a man who believes like that, he's a professional apologist who's job it is to produce converts and reassure religious believers. The truth is not important, only the faith is. The faith is assumed to be the truth to begin with, then reasoning is erected around it, the facts be damned. If in doubt, do what your emotions tell you. Emotions you have no way of distinguishing from personal delusions or wishful thinking.

      Tell me, how does Craig know the "witness of the holy spirit" is not just Craig's own subconscious?

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    3. Re Rasmussen

      Sounds like Kurt Wise who proudly proclaims that there is no scientific evidence that would convince him that his YEC position is wrong. Dawkins puts it best:

      Whatever the underlying explanation, this example suggests a fascinating, if pessimistic, conclusion about human psychology. It implies that there is no sensible limit to what the human mind is capable of believing, against any amount of contrary evidence. Depending upon how many Kurt Wises are out there, it could mean that we are completely wasting our time arguing the case and presenting the evidence for evolution. We have it on the authority of a man who may well be creationism’s most highly qualified and most intelligent scientist that no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing, can ever make any difference.


      https://scepsis.net/eng/articles/id_2.php

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    4. Finally, I would also recommend reading the book of John.

      If you think you would be interested in the historical development of what's found in John, I recommend http://www.amazon.com/How-Jesus-Became-God-Exaltation/dp/0061778184 .

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    5. John Block wrote, "I would also recommend reading the book of John. Not under the coldest of skeptical attitudes, but with an open heart to see if you find a self-authenticating light in it."

      When what you learn depends from a book depends on your subjective state, you have to consider that maybe it isn't objective truth.

      John contains some beautiful imagery. Some is so beautiful it ought to be true. Sadly, beauty isn't truth, and the evidence that the more important claims of John are objective truth just isn't there.

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    6. Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism is a good example of a totally biased argument: it is completely fallaceous. I read Plantinga's 'Where the conflict really lies', and I've never before read so much plain wrong reasoning in one book. Badly informed and crazy. Insanely deluded, as MRR put it.

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  4. Finally, I would also recommend reading the book of John. Not under the coldest of skeptical attitudes, but with an open heart to see if you find a self-authenticating light in it.

    IOW, not critically, but wishfully. The way "alien visitor" enthusiasts read Erich von Däniken.

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    1. Mormons all tell you that if you read the Book of Mormon with "the eyes of faith", it will totally not look like plagiarized racist fairy tales totally disproven by archaeology and genetics, and you will no longer notice (or stop caring about) the evidence showing it was plagiarized and racist as $%&#.

      Same argument here. "So, therefore, if you read John's Gospel, and you're not like totally persuaded by its threatening, bullying, absurd, self-contradictory and abysmal theology embedded in transparently bad historical fiction concocted by antisemitic fanatics, then that just proves YOU don't have an open heart. You have a heart problem, see, not an intellectual problem."

      Call this line of argument the Preemptive Ad Hominem: if you don't bow down to my violent religious authorities, then there's just something wrong with you!

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    2. I prefer the Book of Revelation with a suitable amount of psychoactive pharmaceutical of choice.

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  5. John Block, if you want to know what kind of man William Lane Craig is (and what kind of god you worship), read his defense of god-ordered child-killing and genocide by the Israelites. He says the killers were doing the children a favor since they would go directly to heaven, whereas if they had lived, they might have strayed and ended up in hell. This from a Catholic who opposes abortions. Someone who plays so loose with reason is not to be trusted or respected.
    Lou Jost

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    1. WLC is not a Catholic. But as to the quality of his arguments, consider this one. Craig's former student, and former evangelical Christian, John Loftus, who was trained in all of Craig's tricks, became an outspoken atheist.

      Problem for Craig? No. Craig simply announced to his acolytes that Loftus deconverted from Christianity because he had a porn addiction. No evidence given for that, and Loftus denied it, but Craig's got no evidence for God existing or for Zombie Jesus, so he yanked Appeal to Motive out of his ass.

      His other arguments are just as lousy-- quote mines, quotes taken out of context, invented "facts", etc. He's a terrible person, but what matters logically is that he's got no evidence.

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    2. Technically his terrible behavior does impact his arguments and his defense of them against criticism, he has a very nasty habit of giving his opponents arguments the least charitable interpretation possible, often leading him to outright misrepresent their position, or refuse to provide the sources from where he got those arguments, or neglecting to link directly back to counter-rebuttals and so on and so forth. This is not the behavior of a serious scholar and academic, and it is not how honest philosophical investigations are conducted.

      Craig is an evangelic and an apologist, the most important thing in his life is the faith. Honesty, truth, evidence and all that is secondary. His primary assumption is that his faith is correct, and his primary reason for that assumption is an emotional state he some times gets into that he calls "the witness of the holy spirit".

      Given this, we should when Craig opens his mouth or writes about topics, always be extra skeptical about whether he's accurately and honestly representing the facts.

      For any one who has an interest in William Lane Craig and his arguments and debates, whether you are believer or non-believer, I suggest you make a strong habit of getting independent verification of basically every claim you see Craig make. Check all his references, go to his critics and double-check to see if Craig has accurately represented them and their arguments. You will be in for a surprise if you think Craig is a serious academic and scholar of philosophy.

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    3. Yes, don't trust but verify. In Craig's debate with Stephen Law of the UK, Craig kind of admitted lying, on camera.

      Craig made many assertions in the debate and supposedly Law did not address one of Craig's assertions. Craig tells the audience that Law conceded that point but he did not. Later, in the Q&A session, Law says basically you said I conceded the point, WTF man I never did. Craig replies that "in the context of debate" not mentioning a point is conceding the point. Craig says this on camera-- the video is on YouTube.

      So for Craig, "in the context of debate" means lies are true. What else does he make up?

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    4. Here's a soap opera actor engaging in one of the most comprehensive takedowns of Craig's metaphysics I have ever seen, and I've read and watched many responses to Craig from professional philosophers in both recording and writing:
      William Lane Craig and Metaphysical Cherry-Picking.

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    5. Xactly. The soap opera actor destroys the Kalam argument, and WLC's only comeback is to imagine a straw man version and knock it down.

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  6. Larry, you said: "The most repulsive scene is when a Christian pastor tries to force a dying atheist (car accident) to accept Jesus."
    Is it really rational to go out into the great unknown - eternity - completely unprepared because what if there IS a God. It seems so ironic to me that you would find it repulsive that somebody would accept the forgiveness of a God who gives even a lifelong sinner a deathbed chance to repent of moral shortcomings and be reborn and accepted. Neither you nor science has any way of possibly knowing that there is NOT a God and the teleological evidence of the genetic code, of the integrated complexity of life, of the fine tuning of the universe all makes a Higher Being plausible! Even Dawkins gives the probability of existence of a Creator God a 1.4% chance which is very high for him! I hope you will read the story of lifelong atheist philosopher Antony Flew who by objectively examining the teleological evidence wrote the book which tells the story of his final conclusion in life: "There IS a God".

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    1. I kind of like Mark Twain's point that he didn't want to go to Heaven, because all of the most unpleasant people he had ever met were sure they were going there.

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    2. John, Yes Seriously. Why would it be wiser to chance eternal isolation or suffering for our sins, as there really COULD BE a God who paid the price of humanity's sins, and all it takes is to turn to this Higher Moral Power, be humble and believe? Most ALL historians accept the reality of existence of Jesus Christ.

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    3. Joe, do you mean you'd rather be with Hitler than with me?? :) And don't misunderstand me, I am no better than you or Larry or anybody. I'm just forgiven - only difference and I realize Larry and most atheists are moral people. But we're still all sinners.

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    4. Kristen, if you invoke Pascal's Wager then I'll double down on that. If we're choosing beliefs based on claimed, but invisible rewards, then we should all be Muslims not Christians.

      Christians get no sex in Heaven. Muslims get 72 virgins. Noooo contest.

      Or better yet, be Mormon. Mormons get a whole planet in the afterlife! Christians just get a cramped studio apartment in the New City of Jerusalem that's only one mile square total. Barely room for a hot plate. Oh but you get to sing religious songs forever with people you couldn't stand while they were alive.

      Why don't you become Mormon? You don't want a whole planet for yourself? Or perhaps you find unevidenced promises implausible.

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    5. Pascal's Wager commits the error in reasoning of suggesting that only atheism and some abrahamic religion are the only two options. But there are thousands of beliefs, all with their respetive hells and heavens and with wildly different rules how to get there.

      Suppose I commit myself to the christian narrative, but I'm wrong and norse mythology is correct instead. I'll be missing out on eternal glory in Valhalla. Do I really want to miss out on that? No, not really.

      How about an eternity of bacon, beer-volcanoes and hot babes in the flying spaghetti monster heaven? Do I really want to miss out on that? No, not really.

      How about having to spend millions of lifetimes reincarnated as worms and vermin, instead of transcending to some higher plane of love and understanding? Yeah, I'd like that too.

      The atheism vs christianity wager is a false dichotomy. There are thousands of religions. They all come with glorious rewards and terrible punishments. They can't all be right, but they can all be wrong.

      How do I choose?

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    6. @Kristen Mayeaux

      "Sin" doesn't exist, therefore I can't possibly be a sinner. Neither can you. You are being "forgiven" for doing something you didn't do.

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    8. But Larry, what do you call the moral shortcomings of Hitler and others such as ISIS members now reportedly raping and beheading children? I call it sin. One definition of sin is deliberately violating a known moral law. And in Christianity we are judged not only by what we do outwardly, but what is in our hearts. Jesus said to look with lust upon a woman is adultery and to hate another person is the same as murder and he taught that selfishness & greed were wrong. Aren't we guilty of wrong-doing when we do these things? How about if we hate and discriminate against gay people? Even you have denounced that! :) Do you deny the reality of evil? We DO have a choice. What is wrong with admitting we have moral shortcomings and attempting to change and if there is a Moral Law Giver then we are making spiritual progress and honoring our Creator. If there is no Moral Law Giver then we are better people.

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    9. We already know religion practice things like punishment of thought-crime. How utterly sick is the principle of judging people for their thoughts, instead of their actions?

      No, I most assuredly isn't guilty of "wrongdoing" merely for thoughts that enter my consciousness. Are you the author of the stream of thoughts that enter your head? Do you really believe you can deny your basic biology and truly prevent yourself from feeling lust or attraction when you look at a beautiful woman(or man)? Isn't what really matters, how you act? Isn't that what really counts? Who is being hurt when you "lust in your heart"?

      No, merely hating another person is not an act of wrongdoing in and of itself either. In point of fact, I would maintain that some cases of feeling hate are entirely reasonable. While acting on that hate might be unproductive in the long run and cause harm, the mere emotion itself isn't "wrong".

      This is the problem with religion, it attacks us in our most basic impulses and asserts they're some how wrong and sinful, that there's something intrinsically wrong with all of us that needs for which we deserve punishment. Then it "gratiously" offers the "solution" to a problem it just invented.

      First accept how you're a lowly sinner and an immoral work. Then go crawl before god(which on this earth means go suck up to the morality police, aka the church authorities), then maybe if you put in enough effort you'll be forgiven for sins you were created with and acts you had no hand in.

      How utterly disgusting.

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    10. You cannot inherit sin. I have no responsibility for events that took place before I existed, I simply cannot have by any logical means. We all realize this in our normal lives, we do not hold children responsible for the actions of their parents or ancestors. We recognize that when you're born it's a sort of blank slate, you get to start a new life. That's why it's universally understood and recognized that it's worse to kill or mistreat children, because we all understand that they are in most respects "less deserving" of the ills that befall them. They are taken to be innocent. They don't understand their circumstances and they don't have the power over their surroundings that adults have.

      But when it comes to religion, suddenly the obviousness of these principles are thrown out the window. Suddenly we're all guilty of events and actions that took place millenia before we even existed. Even worse, we are expected to grovel and apologize and constantly remind ourselves how sick, perverted and undeserving we are in light of these supposed events.
      I didn't eat the apple, I didn't tempt any one, I didn't crucify Jesus, I didn't kill my brother. I have committed NONE of these "original sins". I refuse to take responsibility for actions I didn't commit and which, if I had been present and aware of them and their context, I would have done my utmost to prevent. How does it make sense to say I'm somehow at fault? Let's get real: It doesn't.

      Another thing, forget the whole debate about whether there's a god. Suppose there is, it's not the christian god. We know this beyond all shadow of doubt. Christianity is one of the most patently false of all contemporary religions. Almost none of the events advertised in the old testament took place. There was no Adam and Eve(so there was no original sin, so there's no need for Jesus to sacrifice himself to himself in payment for actions that took place before any of us existed, so that he can forgive us for not doing what we couldn't because, yeah, we didn't exist at the time), there are no talking snakes, there are no magical striped and dotted sticks that infuse fur coloration patterns of livestock, there was no global flood, there was no grand exodus from Egypt, there were no plagues etc. etc.

      If there's a divine being of some sort, it's at best a deistic sort of entity that doesn't give a rats ass about lumps of cells hidden away somewhere unimportant in this irrationally large cosmos.

      A sense of perspective.

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    11. Hey Kristen,

      Flew admits that Christian apologist Roy Varghese wrote most of that book, taking advantage of a most likely senile, confused and ageing man.

      What's you excuse ?

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    12. Hey Kristen,

      "ISIS members now reportedly raping and beheading children" are practising an absolute morality by following the dictates of their holy books, just like you claim to do.

      Why don't you burn witches, kill neighbours who work on Sundays, stone adulterers, own slaves, and abandon your family to obey the teachings of Jesus ?

      At least the ISIS members are following the dictates of their moral system while christian hypocrites like you pick and choose the parts your like.

      Hitler and I will save you an especially heavy lead suit in Bolgia Six.

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    13. @steve oberski Author Anthony Horvath published personal letters of Antony Flew in 2012 which detail Flew's clear, logical thinking & reasoning concerning his conversion to Theism. Horvath said this: "Pretty much every description of his book given to me by Dr. Flew himself in his letters to me matches up with what came out in the book." The critic who slandered Dr. Flew by suggesting he was senile etc, Mark Oppenheimer, is an atheist with an agenda to rationalize away Flew's abandonment of atheism. Anthony Horvath explained further, "Atheists may not like the fact that a longtime ally deserted them, but that doesn't mean sanity deserted the ally. Follow the evidence; don't denigrate the man."
      Here is the book's title so you can rush out and get it on your kindle. ;)
      "A Defense of the Integrity of Antony Flew's 'There is a God' From His Own Letters"

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    14. @Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen: Concerning Jesus' teaching that we are responsible for the thoughts of our hearts, Jesus did not mean that we are guilty for random passing thoughts. He was speaking of thoughts upon which we dwell. If a flying bird happens to drop its mess on your head, you're not guilty. But if you allow the bird to make a nest in your hair -- you are. And of course it is a much more serious sin if action is taken after dwelling on sinful thoughts. Every sinful action is the result of prior thought. In Christianity we are held to a high standard. God doesn't want his children to be hate-filled monsters, who gloat over every misstep of their enemies. In fact Jesus said we must love all people, and that if we do not forgive their transgressions against us, neither will we be forgiven. How can we desire our enemies to be judged, and yet at the same time we need forgiveness & grace for our own sins? But with this high standard comes the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit who resides within us. There is no way we can accomplish loving our enemies without God's help. And many Christians struggle with forgiving and loving others, but learning to love is a process of spiritual growth. Also, it always surprises me when people complain about original sin. Why worry about original sin when there is plenty of your own sin to worry about correcting, if your care to? ;) Jesus was the only perfect person, and Christianity is the most coherent religion that exists, regardless of your criticism of it.

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    15. Kristen, you're obviously just another so-called christian who conveniently ignores much of what is in the bible, and like all other so-called christians you modify your beliefs and practices to your liking and/or to the programming you've received from others. .

      If christianity is so coherent, why are there so many different christian sects and churches, and so many different translations, edits, versions, and interpretations of the bible, and so many different personal versions and practices of beliefs, and so many arguments between christians regarding their beliefs, etc.?

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    16. @Kristen Mayreux

      Since you find Christianity to be "coherent", perhaps you could explain for me one of its key concepts that always strikes me as decidedly incoherent:

      How can the term "sin" refer to something that I have never done, but which rather was done by one of my distant ancestors which nonetheless belongs to me as my "sin"? And how does it make sense that the only way this "sin" can be atoned for is for the being sinned against (God) to turn himself into his own son and then arrange for himself to be tortured and killed (but only temporarily)?

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  7. Hey guys,

    Wow, there are several comments to address. Where to begin? How about with this. This is not a 'gotcha' question. I am just trying to discern what is intellectually fair:

    How many of you have, before commenting about William Lane Craig, actually read his book, Reasonable Faith? Or Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga?

    Maybe a couple of you have, but I would suspect most or all the commenters here have not. Is this the same crowd that mocked me and warned me not to comment on this board because I had not given evolutionary literature a fair shot and a fair read? How about giving Craig the same shot? Not just watching one of his condensed presentations in debate format: but really giving him a chance in full depth in his book. And Plantinga too.

    They attempt to address the precise questions that everyone is raising: what is the role of evidence in forming belief? Are there, and could there be, beliefs that are naturally formed and correctly counted as knowledge, before/absent the consideration of propositional evidence? Are there ever any beliefs so basic to cognitive faculties that no amount of argument could disprove it (e.g. beliefs like 'I exist and perceive the world' 'I am in pain' 'I am seeing the color red', etc.) How is a properly basic Christian belief to be distinguished from a Mormon or Islam or even psychologically disordered claim otherwise?

    They wrestle with these questions and come up with interesting proposals. If you disagree with these guys, fine. But, at least say up front, I am disagreeing not based on actually reading their books (on an inter-library loan if you don't prefer the fee), but because I don't like what I saw in their condensed debates, or heard second hand.

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    1. Because if the logical fallacies of Craig's and Plantinga's arguments are so blatant in the condensed version in which most have read them, there is no reason to believe these fallacies will be corrected when the arguments are expanded on at length.

      The video series by Scott Clifton linked above by Mikel tells you all you need to know. Clifton eviscerates Craig's arguments, and Craig knows it. That's why he lies about what Clifton says rather than addressing Clifton's actual arguments. And he knows he can get away with it because there will always be adoring fanboys like you who'll keep buying his books no matter what bullshit he spews into them.

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    2. John Block: "Is this the same crowd that mocked me and warned me not to comment on this board because I had not given evolutionary literature a fair shot and a fair read?"

      No, it is not. No one on this board mocked you and warned you not to comment because you had not given the evolutionary literature a fair shot.

      Rather, you were a target of mockery because when you emit universal negatives of the form, "No scientist has any details on the evolution of X," "No scientist has proposed a model for the evolution of X," "No scientist knows the answer," etc.,

      Such "universal negative" assertions deserve to be mocked because:

      1. They presuppose encyclopedic knowledge on the part of yourself or the creationists you copied,

      2. We know that these claims always originate in the creationist literature (e.g. Michael Behe) and not in the scientific literature, because we've read both the creationist and scientific literature, so we know where stuff comes from.

      If your claims such as "No scientist knows the answer" are wrong, then not only is the claim itself wrong, but it also falsifies the pretense to encyclopedic knowledge on the part of yourself, or the authorities you trusted.

      We know that creationists like Behe can't back up their universal negatives "No scientist knows!" and in fact, Behe got his ass kicked at Dover v. Kitzmiller in 2005 because he sat on the witness bench as the attorney for the plaintiffs piled up 50+ articles on the evolution of the immune system right in front of Behe, and Behe said, I haven't read any of those articles Your Honor, but I know no scientist can answer my question. This performance was so miserable that the judge at Dover cited Behe's testimony in support of Intelligent Design being pseudoscience. A win for us.

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  8. For johnmarc: I have read Misquoting Jesus by Ehrman but have not read his more recent, How Jesus became God. I use to be fascinated with Ehrman, and used to find his criticisms compelling and would even, in a weird way, root for him in debates. This has changed upon looking more deeply at Biblical scholarship. I would recommend to you scholars like Dan Wallace, Ben Witherington (who also studied at Princeton under Bruce Metzger), Gary Habermas, Mike Licona, Craig Blomberg. And books that rebut Ehrman at both a lay level and in technical detail: Reinventing Jesus, Christianity and its Critics, Revisiting the Orthodox Corruption of the Scripture, Evidence for God, etc. Here is a website by Witherington on Jesus Interrupted: http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2009/04/bart-interrupted-detailed-analysis-of.html

    Finally, the claim that Jesus did not think of himself as God is, in my take, completely spurious. You may disagree with this claim; but it is another thing to say that it was not a claim of the earliest Church or traditions. Where Jesus is explicitly referred to as Theos ("God") in the New Testament: John 1:1, 18 (and all the chapter); John 20:28, Rom. 9:5, Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1: 8; 2 Peter 1:1. Romans is indisputably Pauline, and was written earlier than the Gospels, with a few decades of the crucifixion. We know Paul's writings were early, accepted, and orthodox, because they are corroborated by the apostles and other NT writers (see Acts and 2 Peter), but even if you dispute this, the Papias and Polycarp, (who studied under Peter and John) called him orthodox. As for the Gospels, Jesus names himself as the role of 'I am', which is God's name in the Old Testament. He claims to be pre-existent. He claims to forgive sins. The Pharisees try to stone him because they say he is blaspheming for saying he is equal to God. He uses the name 'Son of Man' to refer to himself, which is a reference to a divine and heavenly figure in Daniel that the whole world serves. The Old Testament (centuries before Christ), say in Is. 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, *Mighty God*..." In Zechariah the one who is pierced, who is God, rules over the earth at the end of days as King. Paul's letter say Jesus was in the form of God but did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Jesus gave up exercising all of his divine attributes in his human form: theologians call this the 'hypostatic union'. It has a body of literature on it.

    Perhaps that's too much, but I would just encourage you, johnmarc, don't automatically trust Ehrman.

    Also, to the commenter who asked about Old Testament ethics.
    This was always a tough and painful issue for me to deal with. It still is. I don't pretend to have the full answer. In researching it, though, I did find that there are certain considerations that make the problem more complex and subtle than what is typically given or sounded off in Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris etc. It is something to think through. If you are interested, some of the books that made me think very deeply were: The God I Don't Understand (Wright), Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Wright), Is God a Moral Monster (Copan--don't agree with him on everything, but well argued and a good and challenging resource), any of the major commentary series (Tyndale, Expositor's, NIV Application, Logos software), and this condensed presentation by Peter Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7B5jokJsqk
    Who knows if that might help clarify anything? But it is certainly a more in depth treatment than Craig's article.

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    1. John Block: "Where Jesus is explicitly referred to as Theos ("God") in the New Testament: John 1:1, 18 (and all the chapter); John 20:28, Rom. 9:5, Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1: 8; 2 Peter 1:1. Romans is indisputably Pauline, and was written earlier than the Gospels, with a few decades of the crucifixion."

      Wow, it took me all of 30 seconds to look up Romans 9:5.

      Let's check the NIV. Fundies love the NIV because it's an inaccurate translation, sometimes comically so, like the attempt to reconcile Gen. 1 and Gen. 2!

      But it's fun to compare the translation in the main text (inaccurate) to the accurate and scholarly translations (or alternate manuscripts) they put in the footnotes.

      Here's the NIV:

      "5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! [a] Amen."

      Well I guess you win. Jesus is God, no footnotes or... wuh wuh wuh, what's that [a] in the text? Oh, it's a footnote to:

      [1] Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah. God who is over all be forever praised!

      Typical NIV!

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    2. John Block: "We know Paul's writings were early, accepted, and orthodox, because they are corroborated by the apostles and other NT writers (see Acts and 2 Peter)"

      "Corroborated by the apostles!" What a laugh! Like they existed. Yeah, the flying reindeer corroborated that Santa is real.

      Second Peter is a second century forgery. It's obviously late because it's trying to explain away why Jesus promised he would return while some apostles were alive, but JC made a false prophecy. So, like many Christians after him, Second Peter tells us God changed the plan and postponed the party because blah blah blah blah...

      As for Acts, it's also late, either 80-90 CE or according to some scholars, 90-110. Acts cannot be used to support the canonicity of Paul's writings because the author does not accurately describe Paul's writings and may be unfamiliar with them:

      Wikipedia: According to a Church tradition dating from the 2nd century, he [author of Acts] was the "Luke" named as a companion of the apostle Paul in three of the letters attributed to Paul himself; this view is still sometimes advanced, but "a critical consensus emphasizes the countless contradictions between the account in Acts and the authentic Pauline letters."[8] (An example can be seen by comparing Acts' accounts of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1-31, 22:6-21, and 26:9-23) with Paul's own statement that he remained unknown to Christians in Judea after that event (Galatians 1:17-24).)[9] He admired Paul, but his theology was significantly different from Paul's on key points and he does not (in Acts) represent Paul's views accurately.

      As for the Gospel of John-- yeesh! The latest, least historically reliable, and most patently absurd of all the gospels! An abysmal, self-contradictory, absurd theology wedded to bad historical fiction transparently concocted by antisemitic fanatics. No paragraph in it is reliable.

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    3. The translations of Romans 9:5 differ in interpunction - a feature not existing in the original. The second half of that verse can be a separate sentence, an exclamation of praise. That is, praising God that he sent the Anointed from the seed of Israel, not stating that the Anointed is God. Depends on reading a comma or full stop

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    4. Actually, Paul never states in so many words that Jesus is God.

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    5. Finally, the claim that Jesus thought of himself as God is, in my take, completely spurious.
      Such a claim cannot be defended on the text of the gospels.
      John 1:18 has an interpolation changing 'the Son' to 'the Son who is himself God': a late interpolation to defend the Trinity some centuries later.

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    6. Hello, John. It's "judmarc," by the way.

      We can do dueling exegeses if you like, but here are what I see as some central problematic points for anyone who wishes to claim that the Old Testament foretold Jesus as part of the Trinity (problems sufficiently thorny that the early Christians argued over them for hundreds of years):

      - Judaism was and is a monotheistic religion. It is fair to say this is the central tenet of the faith. The most famous prayer in Judaism declares, "Hear, oh Israel: The Lord your God, the Lord is One." (The prayer goes on to say, "Blessed be his glorious kingdom forever and ever." The literal Hebrew says "name" rather than "kingdom," which may give you some idea of the difficulty of accurate/authoritative translation of ancient religious texts.) And of course the very first of the Ten Commandments is "You shall have no other gods before Me." This poses a very obvious problem for anyone who wishes to interpret Old Testament texts as foretelling the arrival on Earth of a second entity that could claim to be God.

      - Jesus was a practicing Jew all his life. The Last Supper was the Passover Seder. For a practicing Jew, claiming Godhood would be very obviously inconsistent.

      - On the cross he is reputed to have said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", and as mentioned previously, it is nonsensical to try to interpret this as Jesus asking himself this question.

      Harmonizing these issues, as noted above, took Christians centuries. Some of the counter-arguments to the conclusions that came to be embodied in the Nicene Creed focused on Jesus portraying himself as the Messiah rather than as God, and God then elevating Jesus to Heaven through the Resurrection. Seeing the Old Testament texts and Jesus' own statements as predicting and claiming, respectively, the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, rather than God the Son, had the advantage that it does not conflict with Judaism's central monotheistic teaching. It had various disadvantages, however, and it was not the interpretation that eventually won out as the majoritarian Christian dogma.

      The problem, John, is that it is difficult to tell non-believers that the Old Testament and New Testament texts provide proof for Jesus-as-God when the difficulties that have been pointed out (and others, but primarily these) kept the majority of Christians themselves from agreeing to this for a very long time. Something that takes centuries to be believed (or properly understood, depending on your point of view) doesn't really qualify as obvious proof of the proposition it's being used to support, does it?

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  9. Diogenes (and board),

    I am actually very grateful for the correspondence and exchange we are having. You are a very capable thinker. But can I ask: why are you so angry, and why do you enjoy raging in this way? Have I insulted you? If I am wrong, I am wrong; but I have meant no personal offense. Is it not enough that I am wrong, or shown to be wrong, but you have to enjoy raging hyperbole to the point of error to get it off your chest? Why does everything have to be in the form of an insult, a condescension, hyperbole?

    1. Can you give the name of any North American or European Biblical scholar who agrees that no single paragraph in John is reliable?

    2. I do not think the NIV is the best translation. I will give you four better: NASB, Holman, ESV, and my favorite, the NET. These are done by teams of experts in the original languages. They are faithful and accurate, and the NET has by far the best translator notes.

    3. My point was not that I could prove to your satisfaction that Jesus was God by quoting Paul. My point was that a commenter linked a book in which it was claimed that Jesus' divinity was an invention of the developing early Church, and he never claimed it for himself. I contested that in our earliest writings and traditions, it is claimed. Jesus himself claimed to be 'I am' and 'Lord of the Sabbath' in the Gospels (as well as several other indicators); Romans 9:5 is correctly translated by the ESV and NET that identifies Christ as God; perhaps very early hymns and traditions (indicated by certain distinctive literary features) embedded in Pauline writings (Colossians, Philippians) that say that in Jesus was the fullness of Deity dwelt bodily, and that He was in the form of God but did not count equality with God a thing to be held onto, but humbled himself, that he died and rose again (1 Cor. 15). This was not a late invention of a desperate church. It was a claim from the beginning. You don't have to believe the truth that claim, but it wouldn't be fair to say that wasn't the original claim. That is what I was addressing.

    4. You never answered on the other board. What do you think of Isaiah 49-53? Do you think that description fits Jesus, that, written centuries before Jesus, it is uncannily accurate?: A savior who suffers, is rejected by his own people the Jews, is pierced for others sins, has his beard plucked, his face spat upon, his back beaten, is striped, is killed, is buried and rises again, his death and resurrection an expiation and guilt offering for sin, that many Gentile nations are made righteous by his righteousness, that he reaches the ends of the earth and many people with his message, will eventually save all of Israel, etc.? What do you think of this?

    I say this: Is. 53, written long before Jesus, points to him. There is also very good historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Will you read The Case for the Resurrection by Gary Habermas? Just to give it a chance?

    Finally, in terms of evidence of a personal God: how were the peculiar mathematics of physics distinguished from other possible mathematical relationships and impressed upon the universe? What breathed fire into these inert mathematics/abstract objects to make a universe for them to describe (Hawking argument)? The laws of physics as a material realization do not explain their own existence in the way mathematics is abstractly self-necessary. The laws of nature are not the ultimate reality. Something above that that has the power to choose which equations get to get stamped on reality is the ultimate reality. Is that God? Seems like a better option than saying a primordial force of nothing made it happen.

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    1. What do you think of Isaiah 49-53? Do you think that description fits Jesus, that, written centuries before Jesus, it is uncannily accurate?

      Many of the passages in the New Testament about the life and death of Jesus were written and amended with an eye toward the Old Testament prophesies. It is thus completely unsurprising there should be parallels. This is laid out in many works of historical Biblical scholarship, including some by the author whose work I linked previously. It is responsible for some of the odd contradictions in the story of Jesus: for example, that Joseph is claimed to be from the line of David (important because the Old Testament prophecies said the Messiah would descend from King David), while due to a later need to see Jesus as sharing in the "substance" of God, Mary is claimed to be a virgin. Or, to use an example John Block raises, why the story of a Jewish prophet given a particularly Roman form of capital punishment by a Roman governor is later amended to concentrate blame on the members of Jesus' own religion. Or, to take the most famous contradiction of all, why the concept of the Trinity came into being as the deity of a supposedly monotheistic religion. (After all, when Jesus says "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" he cannot be talking to himself, can he? But then how can he also be considered God? The contradictions raised by the Bible stories took hundreds of years for the early Christians to try to sort out to their satisfaction.)

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    2. Hey John,

      Is "why are you so angry" your best argument ?

      I ask because you xtians sure use it a lot.

      Usually followed by some whining and moaning about tone.

      This gets really, really tedious after one has heard it several hundred times.

      Now that makes me angry.

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    3. It is well known that especially the Gospel according to Matthew introduces tales that only exist to make references to the Old Testament prophesies, as the murder of the children in Bethlehem and the flight to Egypt.

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  10. 5. Biblical scholarship is much more extensive than the entry on Wikipedia. 2 Peter is one of the very best 'cases' that can be made for a false authorship, and even this is potentially outweighed by various considerations. I refer you to this article, written by an evangelical scholar, who fairly presents both sides: https://bible.org/seriespage/second-peter-introduction-argument-and-outline

    As for Acts and contradictions: like I said, there is a body of literature out there beyond wikipedia. I refer you to Archer's Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties, Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, etc. All commentary series, like the Expositor's commentary series, which has an Acts entry. They go through passage by passage and show you all possible resolutions. In this case, a close reading of the original Greek is necessary for a solution.

    Are you familiar with Biblical scholarship? Have you read some of both the liberal and conservative commentaries before this? I am only asking because you seem so sure of your own conclusions, but it does not seem like you are aware of sources on either side outside of wikipedia.

    6. As a last academic point, I would like to say that wishful thinking is not my folly in the CR exchange: it is the Darwinist (neo-, neutral-, whatever) who proposes a hypothetical transition in an immensely functionally entangled structure like the ribosome. Some commenters here said that simple point mutations could not substantially alter the code: then how was the code evolved by point mutation in a short time frame on early earth to begin with? This intuitively seems to everyone, including Harvard biologist George Church, like a tough, tough problem: worse than chloroquine. As a skeptic, I was not using my imagination: I was merely saying to your hypothetical: I am not just going to take someone's word for it that it would be as simple as atovaquone steps and not CR or H5N1-equivalent steps. I am not going to assume, or take someone's word, without any further numerical analysis, that 'something interesting happens somewhere because there are enough extinctions elsewhere' can cover these cases of interrelated complexity. It's almost like, when you look at a case of evolution in action, like malaria, you see nothing but crummy point mutations, even over 10000 years. Wherever you look, the interesting evolution is always happening somewhere else, or sometime else, in a way that can't really be verified by actual evolutionary paths. I don't know, it doesn't seem to be unreasonable to accept this claim only with great caution. As for the example of whale evolution, I repeat: Behe does not say an anatomical and genealogical transition from land mammal to whale cannot occur, as you say is a prediction of the idea; only that, if it did occur, there is no reason to think it occurred by random mutation, natural selection, drift, etc.

    Finally, this board is much too time consuming. I am glad I interacted and met everyone, but what I have found is not a shortage of intelligence (there are plenty of great thinkers), but instead a shortage of virtue towards kindness, patience, etc. Even the most profuse vitriol needs a break every now and then. Take it easy everybody! We're in this together.

    I wish everyone the best. Thank you Larry and others.

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    1. Ahh, you're busy and have to go, but before you leave you just wanted to mention that we're all assholes.

      Thank you, but it seems like you have catched an infection by Gofuckus yourselfus. :D

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    2. David Berlinski on how "You can lead a cow to water..." or how can a car "evolve" into a submarine...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRqdvhL3pgM

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    3. Quest, do cars reproduce? Do they make copies of themselves with small mutations in them?

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    4. Well, every time I do any work on my car there always seem to be a few spare parts left over. I figure that if I do this repeatedly I'll have enough parts for a 2nd one.

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    5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRqdvhL3pgM ?
      Berlinski has no grasp whatsoever of fossil record or biology. Good example of a nitwit talking with utter confidence in his own lack of understanding. I recommend to Quest: J. Gatesy et al. / Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (2013) 479–506

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    6. In addition I would recommend for Quest:

      dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2014.04.001

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    7. To settle the issue, lets just make the chicken fly again...

      What would it take...? Not much.. it had already been flying.... it should be a piece of cake for non-theoretical scientist who do the real gene manipulation in the lab.... we should make the chickens fly higher and higher every day... I'm not asking for the chickens to develop a sophisticated echo location system they have never had before.. I'm asking for the chickens to get fit again... Is that toooo much to ask from the unintelligent evolution process...???

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    8. I totally forgot that the mechanism of the evolution is unknown...so making the chickens to fly again would require more than gene manipulation....

      How about adaptation and natural selection...?

      Let the scientists put the food for the chickens on a higher tree every week and see if they gradually adapt and develop better flying skills... Would that be great...?

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    9. "A Quest that does not go on a quest to truth by reading the literature is just a fool on a wild goose quest. "
      Do some homework, Quest.

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    10. Peter wrote:

      "A Quest that does not go on a quest to truth by reading the literature is just a fool on a wild goose quest. "
      Do some homework, Quest."

      Well, why don't present some evidence...? Last time I had this kind of discussion with Larry and others few months ago it became apparent that him, Coyne, Dawkins and the rest of that gang could not agree on the main mechanism of evolution...For example; Coyne likes natural selection and Larry likes genetic drift... Maybe you can settle this issue first between the "big boys" and then with me ... ;-)

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  11. Did you watch the video...?

    This is not what it is about... It's about what it would take for a transition of a cow to become a whale or what it would take, what changes would have to be made-from an engineering point of view-to retrofit a car to become a submarine... Both can't be done in small accumulative steps...

    You believe it...because you have to... I don't...because I don't have to and it is illogical and unreasonable.... That's all...

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    1. It's about what it would take for a transition of a cow to become a whale

      The animals whales evolved from were more dog-like than cow-like. There are rather nice sets of intermediate fossils, so we don't need to imagine what types of changes "you would have" to make, we know what types of changes occurred. (The changes did not get rid of the rudimentary pelvic girdles and *internal* legs and feet that today's whales still have. Of course we can't know the Designer's mind, so I'm sure He had a really terrific reason for sticking those cute non-functional footies inside the whale's body.)

      But because it's "illogical and unreasonable" to you, these actual transitional fossils can't exist. So reality is once again circumscribed by your limited understanding. 'Cause God wouldn't dare make anything in a way you can't understand, right? (This is what you're saying every time you say something is "irreducibly complex" - that the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator/Designer/God *could not* have chosen to have these characteristics/mechanisms evolve. I'll leave it for you to work out how something can be beyond the powers of an all-powerful entity. Probably the same way God can be three entities but only one being.)

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    2. Correct me if I'm not up to date but hasn't 'whales evolved from creodonts' been discarded and 'whales evolved from hippo-like artiodactyls' been accepted?

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    3. judmarc,

      Berlinski and others have done calculation about what it would take for a transition of a land-living-mammal, like a cow (hypothetically he certainly didn't mean that cow evolved into a whale) to a whale...

      There would have to be at least 50.000 quantitative changes for that transition... The fossil record would have to be full of intermediate evolutionary changes... The reality is the opposite...

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    4. For Christ’s sake, Quest, Berlinski has no grasp whatsoever of fossil record or biology. Good example of a nitwit talking with utter confidence in his own lack of understanding. This 50 000 changes is just a number without any justification whatsoever. BERLINSKI HAS NOT DONE ANY CALCULATION regarding the number of quantitative changes. Don’t pretend he has. It just shows you up as an utter fool.
      Before you show your face again, Quest, read what is known. Don´t start with sillyness: garbage in, garbage out, as to Berlinski and Quest.
      Quest, work on it. Read: J. Gatesy et al. / Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (2013) 479–506. Chris B recommended: McGowen et al, Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29 (2014) 336-346 ( dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2014.04.001 ). A Quest that does not go on a quest to truth by reading the literature is just a fool on a wild goose quest.

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    5. Never creodonts but mesonychids, a sister group of cetartiodactyla that is carnivorous. Indohyus is the earliest fossil sister group of cetacae, and ecologically like a water deer (water chevrotain, kancil). Hippo's are the sister group of cetacae among extant mammals, but seem to have evolved an amphibious life style independently and much later than cetaceae.

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    6. Hippos are the sister group of cetacae among extant mammals, but seem to have evolved an amphibious life style independently and much later than cetaceae.

      Yup.

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    7. The fossil record would have to be full of intermediate evolutionary changes...

      Which is exactly what we see. :) Of course, you can keep doing the mental equivalent of shouting "Neener neener neener" and sticking your fingers in your ears if you'd rather continue disbelieving the facts.

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    8. Peter,

      "Never" creodonts?

      Would you say that chevrotains are dog-like?

      Could Sinonyx be a whale ancestor?

      Where would you place Anthracotheres (often described as hippo-like) in relationship to whales?

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    9. @TWT
      Nobody has ever connected creodonts to whales. Mesonychids have been connected to whales, but creodonts and mesonychids are different groups.
      Neither chevrotain nor Indohyus nor Pakicetus is dog-like.
      The mesonychid Sinonyx is not a whale ancestor: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinonyx for detail why not.
      Anthracotheres were not amphibious. As to the place of Anthrocotheres, see for instance: J-R Boisserie, F Lihoreau & M Brunet, 2005. PNAS 102: 1537-1541. The position of Hippopotamidae within Cetartiodactyla. From that article:
      1 “The Hippopotamidae are deeply nested in the paraphyletic Anthracotheriidae” . That implies the hippopotamid ancestor belongs to the anthracothere group.
      2 "the clade (Hippopotamidae, Anthracotheriidae) is proposed as the sister group of the Cetacea, offering broad morphological support for a molecular phylogeny, such support being also consistent with the fossil record.”

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  12. The really bad news would be if you paid to see it ...

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