Intelligent Design

Walter White: Consequentialist

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I am a big fan of television show Breaking Bad.  For those who are unfamiliar with the show, let me give a brief synopsis of the plot.  Walter White is a technically brilliant chemist but an underachiever at life (at least by his own lights).  He had a chance to make big money using his chemical skills, but instead he wound up teaching chemistry to bored high school students while moonlighting at a car wash to make ends meet.  He finds out he has lung cancer and probably only a short time to live.  This is especially devastating to him because he knows he will not leave enough money behind for his wife and children to live comfortably.

Here is where things get really interesting.  Walt’s brother-in-law Hank is a DEA agent.  When Walt goes on a “ride along” with Hank when he busts a meth lab, he learns there is a lot of money to be made in the meth business.  Walt decides he will provide for his family after he is dead by cooking and selling meth and building up a nest egg during the brief time he has left.  And since Walt is a brilliant chemist, he will not cook just any meth.  He will cook the best meth on the planet.  The remaining five seasons of the show explore the consequences of that decision.

The consequences are not good.  The series is about Walt’s downward spiral into evil.  Over the course of the series we watch a startling metamorphosis as Walt transforms himself from a likable but bumbling and timid nerd into a truly monstrous criminal capable of appalling acts of cruelty and violence.

Breaking Bad is at its core a show about ethics, a morality play if you will.  Philosophers speak of consequentialist/utilitarian ethics and deontological ethics.  Briefly, the consequentialist says that an act is “good” if it creates the greatest net happiness.  Jeremey Bentham put it this way:  “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”  Because the consequentialist focuses on “overall” happiness, he can justify doing “bad” if he believes the bad act will result in a net overall increase in happiness.  Deontological ethics, on the other hand, focuses on the “inherent” goodness of a particular act without regard to consequences.  Thus, it is never good to do evil, even if one believes that somehow a greater good can be achieved by doing evil.

An example might help to demonstrate the difference between the two approaches to ethics.  Let us say that we can be certain that a young child will grow up to be a serial killer.  The consequentialist would say we should murder the child in his crib, because that will increase overall net happiness.  The deontologicalist says that murdering an innocent child is evil and can never be justified on any ground.  The Latin legal phrase Fiat justitia ruat caelum (“Let justice be done though the heavens fall”) captures this approach to ethics.

Walter White is a consequentialist.  Over the course of the series he justifies every evil act by appeals to a “greater good” that will result from the evil he commits.  Producing illegal meth?  How else is he going to get enough money to leave his family a little nest egg?  Killing a captured drug dealer?  I have to kill him to cover my tracks and provide for my family.  By the end of the series Walt has committed numerous murders and even poisoned a young boy to further his own selfish ends, and every step of the way he says he is doing it “for the family.”

I applaud Breaking Bad’s writers for exposing Walt’s consequentialism for the lie that it is.  They do this in two ways.  First, they turn Walt’s own consequentialism on its head.  One of the reasons evil is so bad is that we cannot in fact cordon off the consequences of evil actions in an airtight compartment.  Things have a way of spinning out of control, and Breaking Bad works as a morality play, because it does not let Walt off the hook.  In the end Walt loses everything.  He loses his wife, his children, his home, his ill-gotten money, his friends, and, finally, his life.

Even more importantly, Breaking Bad exposes the consequentialist for a liar even to himself.  In the last episode Walt, knowing he is about to die, is saying goodbye to his wife Skyler:

Walt:  “I just wanted to say that everything I’ve done . . .

Skyler:  “Stop!  Just stop!  I will scream if I have to listen to you say one more time you did everything for the family!”

Walt:  “No, that is not what I was going to say.  I did it for me.  I did it because I like it.  I was good at it, and it made me feel alive.”

That 30 seconds of dialogue is the crowning achievement of the five seasons of an already fabulous series, and my hat is off to the producers and writers.

In the end Walt finally admits that he had been lying all along.  He didn’t do evil to achieve a greater good.  He did evil to achieve his own selfish ends.  And that, dear readers, is a lesson that every consequentialist who has ever tried to justify his evil acts by sanguine appeals to a “greater good” should learn.  You say you want to do evil to achieve good?  I’m not buying it.  You want to do evil because you want to do evil.  Stop lying to me and, more importantly, stop lying to yourself.

88 Replies to “Walter White: Consequentialist

  1. 1
    tragic mishap says:

    Great show, one I will certainly watch again.

  2. 2
    nightlight says:

    The only difference between the two types of ethics is who evaluates “the greatest good” utility function, whether it is each individual for his own actions or some centralized authority for everyone (church, prophets, philosophers,…). In the latter case, the common ethics is taught from childhood and internalized as ones own.

    In either case, the evaluation ends up working itself out in the built in biological pleasure-pain circuits and in both cases doing good feels good, doing evil feels bad. The only difference is whether an ad hoc program kludged by each one for himself or a common program (from an ethical authority) is used for the preprocessing of the inputs to the internal pleasure-pain circuits.

  3. 3
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Vince Gilligan is reported to have said that the show is about the transformation of Mr. Chips into Scarface.

    So if the criticism here is that consequentialism by itself won’t prevent Mr. Chips from becoming Scarface, I’m right there with you.

    On the other hand, a more nuanced consequentialist might say that consideration of likely and unlikely, favorable and unfavorable consequences is necessary but not sufficient for moral choice, because one must still need to have a virtuous character.

    I’m not sure we’re supposed to believe that Walt is a virtuous person even from the very beginning of the series. As we learn more about his past over the series, I find it harder to believe that he was ever a good person. He’s nice, which is hardly the same thing.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    nightlight @ 3: You express your nihilism very candidly. Fortunately for the rest of us, there is no warrant for one even to suspect your statements to be true, and your tone of smug certitude is even less warranted. Let’s explore your statements.

    “The only difference between the two types of ethics is who evaluates “the greatest good” utility function, whether it is each individual for his own actions or some centralized authority for everyone (church, prophets, philosophers,…).”

    So torturing babies for fun is not inherently wrong. I think it is wrong only because by sheer random chance I happened to be inculcated in a “don’t torture babies for fun” society. If I had been brought up in another society where torturing babies for fun is applauded, it would not only be morally right but lauded and appreciated. We both know that’s not true.

    “In either case, the evaluation ends up working itself out in the built in biological pleasure-pain circuits and in both cases doing good feels good, doing evil feels bad.”

    I evaluate the holocaust as wrong only because contemplating the murder of millions triggers a pain circuit in my brain? No. The holocaust was wrong in the objective sense of word, and if I were the only person in the world who considered the holocaust to be wrong, I would be right and everyone else in the world would be wrong.

  5. 5
    DarelRex says:

    There is another form of consequentialism that isn’t as easy to refute, and it goes like this: Society has yet to learn that brilliant but chronically underachieving individuals, who happen to know that they have a limited amount/quality of life remaining, are inherently dangerous. Who will teach society this vital lesson, in a language it can understand?

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    KN @ 3: “On the other hand, a more nuanced consequentialist might say that consideration of likely and unlikely, favorable and unfavorable consequences is necessary but not sufficient for moral choice, because one must still need to have a virtuous character.”

    It seems to me that your nuanced consequentialist is trying to have his cake and eat it too. What does it mean to have a virtuous character? It means nothing if not that one obeys the golden rule or the categorical imperative or whatever you want to call the core of the deontological ethic. So you are saying one can be a good consequentialist only if one is a good deontological.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    KN @ 3: “I’m not sure we’re supposed to believe that Walt is a virtuous person even from the very beginning of the series. As we learn more about his past over the series, I find it harder to believe that he was ever a good person. He’s nice, which is hardly the same thing.”

    Just so.

  8. 8
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    It seems to me that your nuanced consequentialist is trying to have his cake and eat it too. What does it mean to have a virtuous character? It means nothing if not that one obeys the golden rule or the categorical imperative or whatever you want to call the core of the deontological ethic. So you are saying one can be a good consequentialist only if one is a good deontological.

    Yes, something like that. If I recall correctly, Mill tries to have it both ways just like this in Utilitarianism.

    Kant, on the other hand, doesn’t think that consideration of consequences is even relevant for moral appraisal, though it is relevant to legal status. (This comes out clearly in his “On the Supposed Right to Lie”.) I like teaching that essay because it conflicts with our intuitions that consequences must matter somehow.

    (I say that as someone who is basically aligned with deontology rather than with consequentialism, although there’s a lot in contemporary virtue ethics that I appreciate and admire.)

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    “Mill tries to have it both ways”

    As has everyone else who has ever argued that one can have ethics without hewing to a core of inviolable rules of virtue (the “Tao,” as CS Lewis uses that word in the Abolition of Man).

    Invariably they will kick the Tao out the front door, only to smuggle it in again through the back door.

  10. 10
    nightlight says:

    @Barry Arrington #4

    You express your nihilism very candidly.

    All decisions are result of some evaluation (computation), conscious or unconscious. Pointing the obvious commonality obfuscated behind the vague terminology and concepts has nothing to do with nihilism. Namely, I didn’t claim that all evaluation algorithms (individual or uniform, universal) are equally effective in computing the “maximum total good” function, which would amount to obliterating all distinctions and thus be a nihilism.

    In fact, my view is that common algorithms (universal morality) work better than the ad hoc DIY algorithms in vast majority of instances since they contribute more to mutual predictability in social interactions (which is a useful subgoal of the primary, more remote goal of “maximizing total good”), hence to general social harmonization (the state of “maximum total good”).

    Due to computational complexity of the problem, none of the present or past social orders have reached the fully harmonized state (the optimum of the utility function “maximum total good”). All we have are imperfect solutions and various heuristic techniques to improve “maximum good” locally in time and space since our horizons (computational capacity) are limited. Besides heuristics of “universal ethics”, there are various specialized heuristics that can override it, exceptions to the general rules. History is full of examples of such overrides, from events recorded in the Bible and other ancient documents to modern day events.

    Until the optimal social harmonization problem is solved (the human society enters Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”), we have to do with the next best option which is to combine general rules with the exceptions the best we can. While the general rules are easy and simple to apply, evaluating exceptions is the hard work. As the solutions improve and societies become more harmonized, the number of exceptions will diminish.

    Note that even for the lower level systems, such as cells or biological organisms, where the harmonization problem has been worked out much farther than we have at the social level, the “maximum total good” is not synonymous with “no harm to any cell” (e.g. cellular apoptosis, self-sacrifice of immune cells, aging and death of organisms, etc.). Until the harmonization puzzle is solved at all scales and at all levels of organization, no individual subsystem can enjoy a stable optimal solution.

    Universe is a harmonization project in progress with no solution manual available. Otherwise we would have been solved away by now, left in a permanent bliss of an electron (see the second half of this post for TOC on what that is about).

    So torturing babies for fun is not inherently wrong. I think it is wrong only because by sheer random chance I happened to be inculcated in a “don’t torture babies for fun” society.

    Killing or harming or general destruction will as a rule diminish the “maximum total good”, hence it is generally a poor algorithmic subgoal, with occasional exceptions due to special circumstances. Therefore, the aversion (a generalized “pain”, unhappiness…) to such actions is hardwired in all life. We are programmed to feel bad when we harm someone or destroy something, even when we do it deliberately. Generally, the more complex pattern being destroyed, the greater “pain” we will feel. Even the so-called non-live nature manifests the analogous urge in the form of various conservation laws (energy, momentum, charge,…).

    One of my kids freaks out about spiders and any time she sees a spider in the house she screams calling me to kill it. I just take the little bugger with a tissue and carry it outside. Although she doesn’t like harming other creatures and never does it by herself, her biologically built in aversion to harming was overridden by the acute fear of being harmed by the spider, hence she calls me to kill it, the only solution to “maximizing total good” that her inexperienced young mind can come up with.

    The most effective general heuristic I have found is “maximize happiness around you” (as far as effects of my actions go) without weighing my own happiness or pleasure above that of anyone else (i.e. the way internalize the golden rule). In this case, the small risk of getting stung by a spider which would temporarily diminish my happiness, was heavily outweighed by the aversion to permanently destroying such little marvel of nature.

    Such evaluation always comes down to mentally running through possible paths, as well and as far as one can do, and weighing within ones mental model the total “pain” (unhappiness etc) and total “pleasure” (happiness, etc) each would cause. Of course, one wouldn’t consciously run through such evaluations every time, but would reuse a library of previously evaluated instances. The novel circumstances should be evaluated deliberately, and rechecked later, until the best solution for that type of instance settles in.

    “In either case, the evaluation ends up working itself out in the built in biological pleasure-pain circuits and in both cases doing good feels good, doing evil feels bad.”

    I evaluate the holocaust as wrong only because contemplating the murder of millions triggers a pain circuit in my brain? No. The holocaust was wrong in the objective sense of word, and if I were the only person in the world who considered the holocaust to be wrong, I would be right and everyone else in the world would be wrong.

    The above confuses the endpoints of the evaluation algorithm (which terminates at the inner pain-pleasure or happiness-unhappiness feel) with the real world counterpart (actual total happiness-unhappiness caused) of the utility function being evaluated (“maximum total good”). The former is the endpoint in our inner mental model of the world, while the latter refers to actual real world itself i.e. it’s the confusion between the map and the territory.

    The cases of (war) atrocities, whether those from recent history or ancient ones, are result of different evaluations by the opposing sides in the conflict. Since there is no solution manual of the harmonization problem of the universe to tell you what is the “correct” answer, one has to rely on the heuristics of judging them “by their fruits” i.e. re-evaluating the “maximum total good” after the consequences have worked themselves out. While hindsight does not directly solve the present problems, the learning resulting from such re-evaluation process is useful.

  11. 11
    Gregory says:

    Very well said, nightlight.

    “maximize happiness around you”

    If only Barry would agree with you, even if you (and many of us) reject his beloved IDism.

  12. 12
    nightlight says:

    Well, thanks Gregory. At the risk of being confused with another poster here, this song and verse express the same much better than I ever could.

  13. 13
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    One minor problem with using Walter White as demonstrating the incoherence of consequentialism: at the very end of the series, he admits that he is an amoral hedonist. He could be construed as a consequentialist only in the sense that he could be interpreted as appealing to consequentialism as part of his own massive self-deception. But likewise, he could be interpreted as self-deceived deontologist — someone who thinks that his unconditional obligation to provide for his family overrides his own desires.*

    Come to think of it, I think any ethical theory could be co-opted for post hoc rationalizations and ad hoc explanations by self-deceived amoralists (i.e. someone who is not concerned with morality but thinks that they are, or someone who pursues evil but thinks that they are pursuing the good).

    So if it’s a problem with consequentialism that Walter can pervert it, that’s not a problem unique to consequentialism.

    * In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt reports that Eichmann thought of himself as a good Kantian!

  14. 14
    Gregory says:

    nightlight, well played. I didn’t know that one. “ain’t it just like a human?” He did express it very well. This IDist fanatacism will pass.

  15. 15
    butifnot says:

    Nightlight at #10

    That is a spectacularly meaningless post. Grounded or founded upon – nothing that I could discern.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    “He could be construed as a consequentialist only in the sense that he could be interpreted as appealing to consequentialism as part of his own massive self-deception.”

    KN, that is the point I was trying to make. All consequentialists are deceiving themselves. There are some things that one cannot not know.

    Consider nighlight @ 10. He goes on for just north of 1,000 words in an incoherent rant that he sums up with “in the end ya just can’t know.” Well, yes you can know.

    Take this gem for instance: “The cases of (war) atrocities, whether those from recent history or ancient ones, are result of different evaluations by the opposing sides in the conflict.”

    What is the point of that sentence? The Nazis’ efforts to exterminate the Jews certainly resulted from a “different evaluation” than the forces opposing them. So what? Again, the holocaust was objectively evil. What’s more, nightlight knows it was objectively evil. And if he says otherwise he is a liar.

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    What’s more, nightlight knows it was objectively evil. And if he says otherwise he is a liar.

    But not Elizabeth Liddle, Oh no, she’s not a liar.

  18. 18
    nightlight says:

    @Barry Arrington #16

    Consider nighlight @ 10. He goes on for just north of 1,000 words in an incoherent rant that he sums up with “in the end ya just can’t know.” Well, yes you can know.

    While it is true that I will evaluate most decisions and events similarly to you and others here, the difference is that you believe to posses the solution manual to the global harmonization problem (finding solution to the “maximum good” utility function) while I am certain that I don’t and that no such manual with correct solutions even exists since universe is still computing it in earnest, the best it can, at all scales and all places, from physical through social levels (as explained in the earlier post).

    Had the ‘chief programmer of the universe’ known the correct solution, he wouldn’t have bothered creating and running this massive distributed computational process which we call universe, to solve it. Why go to all the trouble with the resulting pain and suffering if you already have the correct answer with ‘how it ought to be’ at the back of the book.

    Speaking of incoherence, that would be incoherent, to say nothing of concluding that the “maximum good” evaluation algorithm that just happens to be presently running in the tiny speck of the universe that contains “you” already has The Solution. Lucky you. The gold medal must be on its way.

    As noted before, that is a common confusion between the map and the territory, mistaking the certainty you may feel at the endpoint of the evaluations within your internal model of the universe with the endpoint that the universe itself is still working out (through computations done by you, me, along with everyone and everything else).

  19. 19
    Barry Arrington says:

    Nightlight @ 18. I will perhaps take you seriously when you admit that one cannot not know that the holocaust was evil. Until then, you are just another lying poseur with inflated views of his own intellectual prowess. And you are evil. You say the holocaust was the result of nothing but a flawed “evaluation” on the part of the Nazis. One who will not stand up and say unequivocally that unspeakable evil is unspeakable evil is himself evil.

  20. 20
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Nightlight @ 18. I will perhaps take you seriously when you admit that one cannot not know that the holocaust was evil.

    Good point.

    However, Barry, you will equally denounce the genocide of the Canaanites (particularly of innocent children) at the hands of the Israelites as evil?

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    CentralScrutinizer,

    Many times atheists, even though they cannot ground objective morality within their worldview, will try to claim that God, as He is portrayed in the Old Testament, is morally evil. In fact Richard Dawkins, in his cowardly refusal to debate William Lane Craig, upon Craig’s tour of the UK in the fall of 2011, said he would not debate Craig because Craig supported genocide/infanticide in the Bible. This tactic, to try to cover his cowardice to debate Craig, backfired terribly for Dawkins!

    Richard Dawkins Approves Infanticide, not William Lane Craig! (mirror: drcraigvideos)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmodkyJvhFo

    More detailed analysis here

    (Is God a Moral Monster?) Peter J Williams on New Atheists & Old Testament (incl. The Canaanites) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulCbh_1SlwE

    This video I found to be very enlightening as to the overall topic

    Tim Keller- Hell: Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmTAotnklKI

  22. 22
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA @ 21,

    Was the killing of innocent children evil? Yes or no?

    To quote Barry, “One who will not stand up and say unequivocally that unspeakable evil is unspeakable evil is himself evil.”

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, yes the child sacrifices of the Canaanites to their false pagan idols for hundreds of years prior to the Israelite conquest was unspeakably evil. Was the living God unjust to bring an end to that unspeakably evil, and unrepentant, culture by commanding that it be destroyed in its entirety by his people? No, just as God is not unjust to destroy the wicked in hell for eternity. To claim otherwise, as Peter Williams pointed out in his lecture on the Canaanites, one would have to believe he possessed more knowledge than God. An attribute which apparently most atheists have no problem imagining they possess. Myself, I’m not nearly so impressed with the foolishness of atheists!

  24. 24
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA @ 23,

    Was the killing of innocent Canaanite children by the Israelites evil? Your answer is no. Unbelievable.

    Why wouldn’t Yahweh just tell the Israelites to adopt the innocent babies and children instead of killing them?

    P.S. I’m not an atheist.

    P.P.S To quote Barry, again, “One who will not stand up and say unequivocally that unspeakable evil is unspeakable evil is himself evil.”

  25. 25
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    You see, here’s the problem that I’m trying to get you and Barry to come to grips with: if you’re really and truly going to believe the Bible, and also make statements condemning the killing of innocent babies because it’s always evil to do so, and then turn right around and justify the killing of innocent babies contra your own statements and feelings about the killing of innocent babies, then your feelings are not reliable and no basis for your argument.

    And so “the Tao” gets kicked out the door.

    So choose one:

    1. The killing of innocent babies is always evil, including the killing of Canaanite babies.

    2. Or else stop making statements that the killing of innocent babies is always evil.

    You Bible literalists need to at least try to be consistent.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    CS asks:

    “Why wouldn’t Yahweh just tell the Israelites to adopt the innocent babies and children instead of killing them?”

    And again you presuppose more knowledge than God which is a funny thing for someone who claims to be a non-atheist to presuppose. Moreover, though I provided context for the justification of the conquest (hundreds of years of child sacrifices to false idols), you ignored all that context for justification in order to call God’s (and the Israelites) actions evil. Justification is not a word in your dictionary is it?

    The Parable of the Tenants

    Matthew 21
    33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

    35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

    38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

    40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

    41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

  27. 27
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA: And again you presuppose more knowledge than God which is a funny thing for someone who claims to be a non-atheist to presuppose.

    Firstly, you assume I’m a Bible literalist and inerrantist. I am not. Second, what I will say to you is: fair enough. You are Barry disagree. You do not believe that killing innocent babies is always evil. Barry does. (He’s said so in various posts over that last year or so.)

    Barry believes that “the holocaust was objectively evil. What’s more, nightlight knows it was objectively evil. And if he says otherwise he is a liar.”

    Apparently you do not believe that killing innocent babies is objectively evil, or you would denounce the killing of innocent babies because of it’s objective evil nature, in the same way Barry is denouncing the Holocaust.

    Either evil is object or it isn’t. Barry thinks it is. You think it isn’t. Fair enough.

    You can ignore my comments, then, because they were directed to Barry. He acknowledges the Tao. You apparently do not.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, let’s ask ourselves a deeper question and ask if there actually are two different eternities in reality (a Heaven and a Hell) for us to be concerned about where our souls could possibly go upon death? The answer to that question is Yes!

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    It is also very interesting to note that we have two very different ‘eternities of time’ revealed by our time dilation experiments. One ‘eternity’ for being deeper in a gravitation well and another ‘eternity’ for accelerating towards the speed of light:

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop).
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower.
    per wikipedia

    i.e. As with any observer accelerating to the speed of light, it is found that for any observer falling into the event horizon of a black hole, that time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop for them. — But of particular interest to the ‘eternal framework’ found for General Relativity at black holes;… It is interesting to note that entropic decay (Randomness), which is the primary reason why things grow old and eventually die in this universe, is found to be greatest at black holes. Thus the ‘eternity of time’ at black holes can rightly be called ‘eternities of decay and/or eternities of destruction’.

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    i.e. Black Holes are found to be ‘timeless’ singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order such as the extreme order we see at the creation event of the Big Bang. Needless to say, the implications of this ‘eternality of destruction’ should be fairly disturbing for those of us who are of the ‘spiritually minded’ persuasion!

    Matthew 10:28
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    It is also very interesting to note that this strange higher dimensional, eternal, framework for time, found in both special relativity and general relativity, finds corroboration in Near Death Experience testimonies:

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences: (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.)

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Here is a Near Death Testimony of someone accelerating through that tunnel:

    “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact. I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!” –
    Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth – quote taken from testimony on radio interview

    here is another testimony of moving through the tunnel

    I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.
    Barbara Springer

    As well, as with the ‘scientifically’ verified tunnel for special relativity, we also have scientific confirmation of extreme ‘tunnel curvature’, within space-time, to a eternal ‘event horizon’ at black holes. Here is a visualization of that evidence:

    Space-Time of a Black hole
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8

    As well, as with the tunnel being mentioned in heavenly NDE’s, we also have mention of tunnels in hellish NDE testimonies. A man, near the beginning of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    The man, in this following video, also speaks of ‘tumbling down’ a tunnel in his transition stage to hell:

    Bill Wiese on Sid Roth – video
    http://vimeo.com/21230371

    But, as you can see if you watched the preceding short videos, there is no mention of the extreme acceleration in the tunnel as was with the positive near death experiences. The way I have reconciled this discrepancy between the two types of tunnels is to note that in the bible ‘Hades’ is referred to as being different from hell. In fact death and ‘Hades’ are both thrown into hell, i.e. thrown into ‘the lake of fire’, at the final judgement according to the bible:

    Revelation 20:13-15
    The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    That even this nuanced discrepancy from physics should line up with the two different types of NDE testimonies and with what is stated in Scripture is impressive. These consistent findings, that corroborate NDE testimonies, especially the hellish NDE tunnels and blackholes, should be fairly concerning for those of us of a ‘spiritual’ leaning,,, at least it concerns me very much that physics would reveal a reality to us that would get all details right as to our eternal destinies. Perhaps we should consider eternity a little more carefully?

    Illustration of ETERNITY – Francis Chan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWk7RUg3ZV4

    Music:

    Hillsong – Mighty to Save – With Subtitles/Lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-08YZF87OBQ

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Thus to play into your twisted Canaanite thinking, it is objectively evil for God to send people to hell for eternity?

  30. 30
    Barry Arrington says:

    Central:

    I adopt Peter J Williams’ answer set forth in the video BA links at 21.

    I assume you will continue to try to score cheap debating points by demanding a “yes or no” answer to a question that requires a highly nuanced answer. But everyone will know that is what you are doing (i.e., scoring cheap debating points), so I am not concerned about it. Score away.

  31. 31
    nightlight says:

    @Barry Arrington #19

    You say the holocaust was the result of nothing but a flawed “evaluation” on the part of the Nazis.

    I didn’t say “flawed” but “different” from our present evaluation. They certainly didn’t think their perspective and methods were flawed. Eugenics, ethnic cleansing and deliberate mass slaughters of enemy civilians of any age were fine tools of the day in the ethical programs of the era, to them and to all others. The disagreements were merely about what the ‘purity’ meant, thus who needs to be ‘purified’ away to achive the utopia.

    In fact the relabeled and ‘humanized’ variants of ‘purification’ techniques are well and alive, and just fine with us too, as long as they bring us closer to our utopia du jour. Of course, as it is always the case, if you’re evaluating from within the matrix and staying within your cubicle as instructed, looking only through the designated pinhole, the ‘evil’ as alive and as afire as ever in which you are active, contributing cog is invisible to you.

    And you are evil.

    Yep, we all are, being a transient computing technology designed and built to help work out a harmonization problem which is far beyond our computing capacity, hence we’re all contributing the best we can to our own discordant solution, the next one in a long series of misses (evils). Looking back at the fate of the previous such technologies, it is quite conceivable that we (enlightened, civilized western societies, humans, or carbon based life altogether) may not figure in the ultimate harmonized solution in the way we hoped for, or even in the more immediate still incomplete ones that are just a bit ahead.

    In case of such outcome, our present efforts are still valuable in the sense of helping successfully work out ‘how it is not to be done’. While that would ‘only’ amount to yet another among myriad dead ends tried so far, someone had to work this one out and uncover that it is indeed a real dead end with no cracks to squeeze through. Our contribution and role in the more harmonized solution would thus be to serve as a warning no-go sign at the very entrance of the path we are now pursuing with all our little earnestness.

  32. 32
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Barry: I assume you will continue to try to score cheap debating points by demanding a “yes or no” answer to a question that requires a highly nuanced answer.

    Barry, I respect you and agree with just about everything you say, in every thread you say it, but here you’re not being consistent. You have no problem demanding “yes or no” answers out of people when it suits you. (Holocaust: evil, yes or no?) And yet when it comes to the Israelites killing Canaanite babies you demand the privilege of a nuanced answer.

    Either the Tao in you judges the killing of babies as evil at all times and all places or it doesn’t. And if you’re not consistent with you application of Tao, why would you expect others to be? Why don’t you humbly allow others the right to their nuanced answers?

    So will you be consistent and fore-go all the “evil, yes or no” type tactics?

  33. 33
    TheisticEvolutionist says:

    bornagain77 the NDE is not evidence for an afterlife it is just hallucination from faulty brain activity. You have been mislead.

    There is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences: how neuroscience can explain seeing bright lights, meeting the dead, or being convinced you are one of them by Dean Mobbs and Caroline Watt.

    http://www.koestler-parapsycho.....attNDE.pdf

    Approximately 3% of Americans declare to have had a near-death experience. These experiences classically involve the feeling that one’s soul has left the body, approaches a bright light and goes to another reality, where love and bliss are all encompassing. Contrary to popular belief, research suggests that there is nothing paranormal about these experiences. Instead, near death experiences are the manifestation of normal brain function gone awry, during a traumatic, and sometimes harmless, event.

    As for your comments about people (Americans) experiencing heaven or hell in their NDE, they are consistent with the religious and social structure of the person creating them. Most Americans have been shrowded in the Biblical concepts and stories from birth or school so it is not surprising concepts of heaven or hell make their way into their NDE. Go and look at the reports from Asia. Hindus who experience an NDE report Hindu stuff in their NDE, Buddhists report Buddhist stuff etc and no mention of Biblical heaven or hell. It’s all subjective and based on social factors. Highly imaginative and fantasy-prone individuals will produce more detailed NDEs.

  34. 34
    Barry Arrington says:

    Central: Are you suggesting there is a nuanced answer as to whether the holocaust was evil? If so, you are wrong. Are you suggesting there is no possible nuanced answer about God’s actions in Canaan 3,500 years ago? If so, you are wrong again.

  35. 35
    Barry Arrington says:

    nightlight @ 31, no you misunderstand me. When I say you are evil I don’t mean evil in the sense of “we’re all just flawed human beings trying to muddle our way though and sometimes we make mistakes.” Nope, not at all. I mean you are a seriously evil (perhaps I should use a capital E) person. Anyone who can speak about the ruthless murder of millions with such insouciance doesn’t need an argument; he needs simple correction. Here, let me spell it out for you in words adopted to the meanest understanding: The ruthless murder of millions is evil. Spare us any more of your blitherings to the contrary. If you do not, you will be shown the door.

  36. 36
    nightlight says:

    @35 I think it’s best to leave it at was said so far since emotional entanglements only add heat not light to the matter.

  37. 37
    BYEC says:

    Hi. Just my second post ever (I think). I usually just hang around reading, almost every day (lurking sounds so sinister). My 2 cents. I think it’s important to differentiate between the actions of men on their own behalf, and what God, being God, has a right to do, or command to be done. From a human standpoint, of course babies are innocent, and should not be murdered. From God’s standpoint the only innocent baby to have ever lived was the Christ child (see Ps. 51:5 for all the rest of us). And though this may seem repugnant to us, God does have the right to take human life, at any age or stage, because no one is innocent by His standards, and he’s GOD. Given His greater perspective (seeing all of eternity), God is much more concerned about what happens to us after death (Matt. 10:28), hence Christ’s mission. I believe that babies are escorted to heaven at death, including those in Canaan, Flood victims, Holocaust victims, etc. But this fact doesn’t mean it’s OK for anybody to just kill babies. The Israelites were acting on God’s behalf, if they weren’t He would not absolve them of guilt for their actions, even as His chosen people. That campaign was for a particular time and circumstance and should not be used to justify genocide today. Besides, God’s people are now involved in spiritual battle, not a physical war. Where modern wars are concerned, God will be the final judge of who was right or wrong in their actions.

    For TheisticEvolutionist:

    What Happens When We Die?

    What was your first interview like with someone who had reported an out-of-body experience?

    Eye-opening and very humbling. Because what you see is that, first of all, they are completely genuine people who are not looking for any kind of fame or attention. In many cases they haven’t even told anybody else about it because they’re afraid of what people will think of them. I have about 500 or so cases of people that I’ve interviewed since I first started out more than 10 years ago. It’s the consistency of the experiences, the reality of what they were describing. I managed to speak to doctors and nurses who had been present who said these patients had told them exactly what had happened, and they couldn’t explain it. I actually documented a few of those in my book What Happens When We Die because I wanted people to get both angles —not just the patients’ side but also the doctors’ side — and see how it feels for the doctors to have a patient come back and tell them what was going on. There was a cardiologist that I spoke with who said he hasn’t told anyone else about it because he has no explanation for how this patient could have been able to describe in detail what he had said and done. He was so freaked out by it that he just decided not to think about it anymore.

    Heaven and Hell NDEs are easy to dismiss for those who don’t think there’s anything more. But how do you explain unconscious people seeing what is going on with their bodies?

  38. 38
    TheisticEvolutionist says:

    BYEC you need to look more closely at the article you pasted in, it is pseudoscience. There’s nothing paranormal about the OBE. I have had an OBE myself, in my case it was a case of sleep paralysis.

    The OBE and the NDE experience can be self-induced by taking drugs, or stimulation of parts of the brain such as the vestibular cortex. Both the OBE and NDE are hallucinatory constructs that can arise from different psychological factors. There’s nothing paranormal about them. It’s true there’s countless paranormal articles and blogs claiming a paranormal interpretation of the OBE but in reality there’s no evidence for this, psychology explains it. It’s self-deception and wishful thinking claiming that people have visited the afterlife in an NDE experience. There is not a single case on record of an totally inactive “dead” brain whilst someone having an NDE. It’s all due to the brain. There are even case studies showing that fantasy proneness has been shown to be high among OBErs than those who have not had an OBE. Please note I am not opposed to an afterlife (I believe in it) and if there was evidence I would love it, but there isn’t any.

    Zusne, L., & Jones, W. H. (1982). Anomalistic Psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    S. Bünning and O. Blanke. (2005) The out-of body experience: precipitating factors and neural correlates. Progress in Brain Research, vol. 150, p. 331-50.

    Parra, Alejandro. (2009). Out-of-Body Experiences and Hallucinatory Experiences: A Psychological Approach. Journal: Imagination, Cognition and Personality , vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 211-223.

    Gow, K., Lang, T. and Chant, D. (2004). Fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs and personality features in out-of-body experiences. Contemp. Hypnosis, 21: 107–125.

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    TheisticEvolutionist,

    You may be interested in this study that was recently done by atheists trying to prove that NDEs were merely hallucinations:

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    What is interesting in the paper is that even though the researchers in this preceding study found evidence directly contradicting what they had expected to find, they were/are so wedded to the materialistic/naturalistic view of reality, the view of “I’ am my body”, that it seemed sadly impossible for them to even conceive of the fact that they may be wrong in their naturalistic presuppositions which they had going into the experiment, and to even admit to the possibility of the reality/truth of the soul, i.e. to the “I’ am a soul distinct from my body” view of reality. As to the severely distorted, hypocritical, view of evidence atheists have in this area, this article by neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is very interesting,,,

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Here is a Doctor commenting on just how real his NDE was:

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    Further notes refuting all the excuses that have been proffered by atheists to try to circumvent the reality of NDE’s

    The Scientific Evidence for Near Death Experiences – Dr Jeffrey Long – Melvin Morse M.D. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4454627

    Dr. Jeffrey Long: Just how strong is the evidence for a afterlife? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mptGAc3XWPs

    Moreover, there actually is now ‘scientific proof’, if I may so bold as to use the term, of a beyond space and time component within man:

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

    Further notes:

    A Harvard neurosurgeon confronts the non-material nature of consciousness – December 2011
    Excerpted quote: To me one thing that has emerged from my experience and from very rigorous analysis of that experience over several years, talking it over with others that I respect in neuroscience, and really trying to come up with an answer, is that consciousness outside of the brain is a fact. It’s an established fact. And of course, that was a hard place for me to get, coming from being a card-toting reductive materialist over decades. It was very difficult to get to knowing that consciousness, that there’s a soul of us that is not dependent on the brain.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

    A Conversation with Near Death Experiencer Harvard Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, M.D. with Steve Paulson (Interviewer) – video
    http://www.btci.org/bioethics/...../vid3.html

  40. 40
    bornagain77 says:

    Theistic Evolutionist, as to your claim here:

    “Most Americans have been shrowded in the Biblical concepts and stories from birth or school so it is not surprising concepts of heaven or hell make their way into their NDE. Go and look at the reports from Asia. Hindus who experience an NDE report Hindu stuff in their NDE, Buddhists report Buddhist stuff etc and no mention of Biblical heaven or hell.”

    Which is an interesting claim for you to make since I know for a fact that it is a false claim:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    India Cross-cultural study by Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India
    Excerpt: “Suddenly I saw two big pots of boiling water, although there was no fire, no firewood, and no fireplace. Then, the man pushed me with his hand and said, “You’d better hurry up and go back.” When he touched me, I suddenly became aware of how hot his hand was. Then I realised why the pots were boiling. The heat was coming from his hands! When I regained consciousness, I had a severe burning sensation in my left arm.” Mangal still had a mark on his left arm that he claims was a result of the burning. About a quarter of Dr Pasricha’s interviewees reported such marks.
    http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/apr/06pas.htm

    But you are right in one regards, some cultures, such as the Japanese and areas of China, have some rather weird NDE’s, that are merely unpleasant and that are not full blown hellish NDE’s in their description:

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    But regardless, foreign NDE’s are still in stark contrast to the extremely positive NDE’s of Judeo-Christian cultures:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

  41. 41
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Barry: Central: Are you suggesting there is a nuanced answer as to whether the holocaust was evil?

    Yes, there certainly is the possibility of one. For example, what if you discovered (because, say, God gave you a metaphysical certainty) that all the Jews that were killed by the Nazis were actually incarnate demons. Would not such a “nuanced explanation” make you re-classify the “absolute evil” of the Holocaust?

    Are you suggesting there is no possible nuanced answer about God’s actions in Canaan 3,500 years ago?

    Of course not. If God gave me metaphysical certainty that all those slaughtered Canaanite babies were actually incarnate demons, then it would mitigate my view of the situation.

    So, your “yes or no” type bully-questions are of little value in a mature philosophical discussion. It’s always possible that unknown facts could “save the day” and alter one’s perception of the “absolute evil” such that it become not absolute evil at all, whether we’re talking about Nazis killing Jews or Israelites killing Canaanites babies.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  42. 42
    vjtorley says:

    Central Scrutinizer,

    A very quick answer to your question, as I’m off to work in a minute. The killing of innocent babies is not intrinsically wrong for God, Who is the Author of their being, if He kills them in a manner that causes them neither pain nor distress of any kind, and if He does so because He knows (with infallible certainty) that they would suffer a great harm were they to go on living, from which He intends to rescue them. I am not the author of another person’s being, and I don’t know for sure what future harms may befall them; hence I have no right to “play God.” For a further discussion of the issue, see here: http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....wkins.html (scroll down to the end). Cheers.

  43. 43
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    vjtorley,

    That’s a satisfactory “nuanced explanation.” Is that what you believe about the Israelite treatment of the Canaanite babies?

    But what about my explanation? What if those babies were incarnated demons? Would God be justified in having the Israelites kill them in a harsh way, irreleva

  44. 44
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    vjtorley,

    Hmmm, got cut off. Try again:

    That’s a satisfactory “nuanced explanation.” Is that what you believe about the Israelite treatment of the Canaanite babies? If so, fine business.

    But what about my explanation? What if those Canaanite babies were incarnated demons? Would God be justified in your mind in having the Israelites kill them in a harsh way, irrelevant of any suffering, as described in Psalm 137:9? “Happy is the one who seizes your (Babylonian) infants and dashes them against the rocks”, if they were incarnated demons?

    Regardless of how God is justified, the point I’m making to Barry is that evil acts against “innocent” people are not necessarily “absolutely evil” just because they are disgusting and repugnant to him, personally. If you have to justify the act by appealing to some explanation beyond the “obviously evil act” then the “obvious” evil act is not the result of it being absolutely evil.

    Either killing innocent babies is always bad, in every place and time, or it isn’t. And how you feel about it personally is not a basis for judgement on the merits of it being “absolutely and obviously evil.” I respect Barry for so much of what he writes, but puzzlingly, Barry likes to demand in a rather sophomorical way “yes or no” answers regarding evil. “It’s obviously evil, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re evil too.” But it doesn’t fly. Not if one is interested in being consistent.

  45. 45
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    vjtorley,

    By the way, if you believe the story about Yahweh telling Israelites to kill Canaanites babies, why didn’t Yahweh just tell the Israelites to adopt the babies?

    Sidebar: For what it’s worth, I don’t believe the True God ever commanded any Israelites to kill anyone, let alone babies. The think the story is a myth created around the time of Ezra. There was never any harsh invasion of Canaan by Israelites. It was a slow assimilation. The dirt archeological evidence backs this up in spades.

    God doesn’t order the killing of babies. Period. That would be obviously and absolutely Evil. And if you disagree with me, then you’re evil too. (See how that works? Not much of an argument, is it?)

  46. 46
    BYEC says:

    TheisticEvolutionist,

    Thanks, but still I ask:

    How do you explain unconscious people seeing what is actually going on with their bodies?

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    As to archeological evidence: That Joshua’s destruction of the Canaanites in Jericho had a supernatural element to it (the walls suddenly falling down) is evidenced from archeological evidence in the following video (at around the 13:00 minute mark):

    Jericho Unearthed Bible Proof – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-cmdl4Cqdo

    The following video is downright jaw-dropping with its ‘supernatural’ archeological evidence for the authenticity of the Bible:

    The Physical Ashen Remains Of Sodom and Gomorrah – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwTVFk1HK3Y

  48. 48
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77,

    Bryant Wood made a good attempt, but the latest assessment of the evidence contradicts his views. Kenyon’s dating was right and Wood is wrong:

    http://www.biblicalchronologis.....ntwood.php

    As for a miracle involved in crumbling the wall, I have nothing to say. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

  49. 49
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, by the way, archeology has indeed confirmed that Jericho existed. But it cannot tell us who, if anyone, conquered it, how the walls fell, and why the city was burned. The Biblical author ascribes this to Joshua’s forces (and is off by 150 years.) How do you verify it?

    Whoever was responsible for compiling the Torah obviously had no qualms about assigning to Israelite heroes and progenitors acts that derived from difference sources that were more ancient. For example, the Adam and Eve creation story being remarkably similar to the Sumerian creation of Adam by Enki. Noah’s flood and the Gilgamesh flood myth. The Tower of Bable and Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. Etc. These stories pre-date any known Biblical text.

    Archaeology cannot prove that Yahweh knocked down the walls of Jericho, any more than it can prove that Zeus and Poseidon had a hand in the Trojan War. You have your pet religious reasons for believing the Bible story is the “real account.” But it’s merely a matter of faith.

  50. 50
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    By the way, can an earthquake be considered a miracle? If so, then it’s quite possible a miracle toppled the Jericho walls. Considering that the area was prone to earthquakes, it’s not a stretch. What rating on the Richter scale would it take to topple essentially mud walls?

  51. 51
    bornagain77 says:

    Bryant Wood, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at University of Toronto found the? exact diagnostic pottery, the imported pottery from Cyprus mentioned around 27:00, that effectively dates the city in concordance with Joshua’s Jericho. The pottery was found in a more prosperous area of the city which Kathleen never excavated.
    http://www.bible.ca/archeology.....ottery.htm

    from your site:

    “Radiocarbon dates on charcoal give the date the wood grew, not the date it was burned.”

    Response from Wood:

    My dating of the destruction of Jericho to ca. 1400 B.C. is based on pottery, which, in turn, is based on Egyptian chronology. Jericho is just one example of the discrepancy between historical and C14 dates for the second millennium B.C. C14 dates are consistently 100–150 years earlier than historical dates.,,,
    Because of the inconsistencies and uncertainties of C14 dating, most archaeologists prefer historical dates over C14 dates.

    http://www.biblearchaeology.or.....px#Article

    So it appears you have chosen the (much) weaker position., Plus I’m left wondering what type of non-atheist you are in that you are always arguing the atheistic position? Does that not strike you as strange? It certainly raises my eyebrow!

  52. 52
    bornagain77 says:

    For an example of me trying to see what type of non-atheist you actually are, you state:

    By the way, can an earthquake be considered a miracle?

    But as a Theist you should believe that everything, even Earthquakes and tidal waves are a miracle. The only way a ‘non-atheist’ can believe otherwise is to be a deist! Are you a deist? If so let me inform you that quantum mechanics has now given us a very strong indication that the Theistic presupposition, of God upholding this universe in his infinite power, is correct. A universe that is not self sustaining but one that requires a non-local, beyond space and time, cause in order to explain its continued existence through time:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    i.e. Photons, on which everything in the universe is dependent on so as to derive their most minute movements, are found to require a beyond space and time, ‘non-local’, cause to explain their continued existence in space time. It is also very interesting to point out how these recent findings for quantum non-locality of photons, (and even for material particles), dovetails perfectly into some of the oldest philosophical arguments for the existence of God and offers empirical confirmation for those ancient philosophical arguments. For instance, quantum non locality provides empirical confirmation for the ancient philosophical argument for ‘being’, for ‘existence’ itself!

    Aquinas’ Third way – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V030hvnX5a4

    God Is the Best Explanation For Why Anything At All Exists – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuqBxg_5mA

    As well, non local, i.e. beyond space and time, quantum actions provide solid support for the argument from motion. Also known as Aquinas’ First way. (Of note, St Thomas Aquinas lived from 1225 to 7 March 1274.)

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    Aquinas’ First Way
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    Or to put it much more simply:

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    Of related interest to ‘the first mover’, in the following video Anton Zeilinger, whose group is arguably the best group of experimentalists in quantum physics today, ‘trys’ to explain the double slit experiment to Morgan Freeman:

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    Prof. Zeilinger makes this rather startling statement in the preceding video:

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”
    Anton Zeilinger

    further note:

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett’s Inequality)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Verse and Music:

    Colossians 1:17
    “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

    Kerrie Roberts – No Matter What –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA3MSqufJP4

  53. 53
    Box says:

    CentralScrutinizer is making a persuasive case about being consistent. On the other hand, Peter J Williams does make some excellent points about regarding context.
    One more question, which Williams did not address:
    What could be the reason for God to involve the Israelites in this annihilation? Why did He invoke their help? Williams said: ‘God did most of the fighting’. My question is: why did He not do all of the fighting?

  54. 54
    Axel says:

    He was teaching the Jewish people, like a parent does a child. He wasn’t teaching them to kill )they evidently knew how to do that already, as one of the many unfortunate results of the Fall); but to trust him to help them them – not to do everything for them.

  55. 55
    bornagain77 says:

    Box, of note: If the justice of God is not a valid moral principle by which to justify and judge the Jericho conquest, as Peter Williams alluded to in providing the overall moral context for the situation at Jericho, then the principle of justice can also carry no weight for the propitiation of our sins before God’s eyes through Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins. Either justice is a objective moral principle that must be satisfied in God or else Christ’s death on our behalf is of no real benefit for us as to providing justification for our salvation.

    Notes:

    G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) poetry slam – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

    Falling Plates (the grace of propitiation) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlx11BxF24

    This following video revealed a very surprising holographic image that was found on the Shroud. An image that goes to the heat of the Gospel:

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041205

    Solid Oval Object Under The Beard
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/s.....-the-beard

  56. 56
    bornagain77 says:

    correction “goes to the heart of the Gospel’,,

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    correction 2: I should have also included the entire Canaanite conquest instead of just the Jericho conquest

  58. 58
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77: “Radiocarbon dates on charcoal give the date the wood grew, not the date it was burned.”

    You didn’t read all of the article, did you?

    In the very next paragraph:

    As mentioned earlier, no other radiocarbon dates from samples from City IV Jericho were available in the early 1990’s. In 1995, however, results were published by Hendrik J. Bruins and Johannes van der Plicht from high-precision radiocarbon measurements made on eighteen samples from Jericho. Six of these samples were charred cereal grains from the City IV destruction. Bruins and van der Plicht did not set out to disprove Wood’s thesis. Their stated purpose was to contribute “toward the establishment of an independent radiocarbon chronology of Near Eastern archaeology. The chart below is the same as the chart shown earlier. Heavy black bars have been added showing the range of dates radiocarbon gave from the six charred grain samples from City IV Jericho.

    The charred cereal grains were certainly not 150 years old!

    They support Kenyon’s 1550 BC dating.

  59. 59
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA: Plus I’m left wondering what type of non-atheist you are in that you are always arguing the atheistic position? Does that not strike you as strange? It certainly raises my eyebrow!

    Are you saying that a theist must accept all the stories in the Bible as true, literal and/or reliably dated or else not be a theist?

    At any rate, feel free to raise your eyebrows.

  60. 60
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Box @ 53, What could be the reason for God to involve the Israelites in this annihilation? Why did He invoke their help? Williams said: ‘God did most of the fighting’. My question is: why did He not do all of the fighting?

    My question is: if the story is literally true, why didn’t Yahweh instruct the Israelites to at least adopt the babies instead of killing them?

  61. 61
    bornagain77 says:

    CS and the Response from Wood:

    My dating of the destruction of Jericho to ca. 1400 B.C. is based on pottery, which, in turn, is based on Egyptian chronology Jericho is just one example of the discrepancy between historical and C14 dates for the second millennium B.C. C14 dates are consistently 100–150 years earlier than historical dates.,,,
    Because of the inconsistencies and uncertainties of C14 dating, most archaeologists prefer historical dates over C14 dates.

    http://www.biblearchaeology.or.....px#Article

    Thus my position (which Wood heavily referenced) is much stronger than yours and as far as the archeologists themselves are concerned there is something fishy with the Carbon dating! Moreover, the sequence of events in Jericho matches the Bible! i.e. you are left with a questionable piece of evidence in the Carbon dating and I have the chronology to Egypt pottery right and I have the sequence of events in Jericho right. Pretty good evidence compared to one that is questioned as to veracity!

    You also objected to me questioning what kind of non-atheist you are, yet from as far as I can tell you are arguing the atheist’s position down the line. If you truly are a Theist I can hardly tell it from your argumentation. Perhaps that may change when we get on another topic such as fine-tuning or molecular machines, but for now the eyebrow is left in questioning mode!

  62. 62
    bornagain77 says:

    But to iron this out a bit more, here is Dr. Wood’s newer video from 2009:

    Jericho and Archaeology, by Dr. Bryant Wood
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....JNjhnTe4B0

    I’ll watch it in a bit and see what he says about the Carbon Dating so that we may more fully understand this important topic.

  63. 63
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, Thus my position (which Wood heavily referenced) is much stronger than yours and as far as the archeologists themselves are concerned there is something fishy with the Carbon dating!

    What archeologists are “concerned” with the carbon dating of Bruins and van der Plicht of the cereal grains which could not have been 150 years old when they were burned?

    You also objected to me questioning what kind of non-atheist you are, yet from as far as I can tell you are arguing the atheist’s position down the line. If you truly are a Theist I can hardly tell it from your argumentation.

    Apparently because of your false assumptions about what is means to be a theist.

    You also objected to me questioning what kind of non-atheist you are, yet from as far as I can tell you are arguing the atheist’s position down the line. If you truly are a Theist I can hardly tell it from your argumentation. Perhaps that may change when we get on another topic such as fine-tuning or molecular machines, but for now the eyebrow is left in questioning mode!
    I couldn’t care less. But I do find it amusing, and a window into how you process information.

    You didn’t answer my question: Are you saying that a theist must accept all the stories in the Bible as true, literal and/or reliably dated or else not be a theist?

    Never mind. I was momentarily amused by your obliviousness to your assumptions behind such a ridiculous assessment of me. By now it’s really quite irrelevant. Yawn.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, ignoring your ad hominem, which coincidentally is another popular atheistic debating tactic by the way, as far as I’m concerned the pottery evidence he goes over at the 21:00 minute mark of the video gives solid evidence for the Biblical timeline and brings severe doubt to your position.

    CS you also ask:

    What archeologists are “concerned” with the carbon dating of Bruins and van der Plicht of the cereal grains which could not have been 150 years old when they were burned?

    Well I can only quote what Wood wrote on the Carbon dating and the ‘heated debate’:

    C14 dates are consistently 100–150 years earlier than historical dates. There is a heated debate going on among scholars concerning this, especially with regard to the date of the eruption of Thera (Santorini). The literature on the subject is enormous, so I will not attempt to give you references. A recent overview can be found in Manfred Bietak and Felix Höflmayer, Introduction: High and Low Chronology, pp. 13–23 in The Synchronisation of Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B.C. III, eds. Manfred Bietak and Ernst Czerny, Vienna: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2007. Because of the inconsistencies and uncertainties of C14 dating, most archaeologists prefer historical dates over C14 dates.
    http://www.biblearchaeology.or.....px#Article

    I have no reason to doubt that Dr. Wood is a man of integrity and that there actually is a ‘heated debate’ on the discrepancy between C-14 dates and historical dates.

  65. 65
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, you never did give me your opinion on this video:

    The Physical Ashen Remains Of Sodom and Gomorrah – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwTVFk1HK3Y

    What is your honest opinion of that?

  66. 66
    bornagain77 says:

    CS you ask:

    “Are you saying that a theist must accept all the stories in the Bible as true, literal and/or reliably dated or else not be a theist?”

    No, you could be a Muslim for all I know and you would still be a Theist. ,,,, But for clarity what parts of the Bible, generally speaking do you hold to be true? But I guess the most important thing I could ask, is do you believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice?

  67. 67
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, I guess to bring clarity to my position, and remove any needless confusion I may have caused. I, at a very low point in my life, reached out to Jesus for help and, quite unexpectedly, had a profound ‘spiritual experience’ that left no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Jesus Christ is real. And although I don’t see big miracles like that all the time, I still do see God move in many small miraculous ways in my life quite regularly (if I keep my eyes and ears open for the guidance) For me, that is what I consider most important as to being a ‘Theist’. i.e. I consider a ‘personal relationship’ with God to be of primary importance and consider strict, dry, wooden, religious observances of traditions, and religious text to be suspect. Though I know such observances bring much comfort and faith to many people. For me, personally, there is nothing that can compare to recognizing a small miracle in my life where God has done something special in my life.,, The following article should help you see the ‘different way’ I view the bible than most people:

    Strange But True – Miracle Testimony
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfNTNocmRjZGtkdg&hl=en

    also of note, I thought this was an interesting ‘small miracle’ story from John Lennox;

    One of John Lennox´s Great Personal Stories Told to Harvard Students – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh0M0EG2jKY

  68. 68
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, But for clarity what parts of the Bible, generally speaking do you hold to be true? But I guess the most important thing I could ask, is do you believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice?

    Not germane to an academic discussion, and none of your business besides. Kindly keep your proselyting directed elsewhere.

  69. 69
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, since you trying to attack the bible, I asked you,

    But for clarity what parts of the Bible, generally speaking do you hold to be true? But I guess the most important thing I could ask, is do you believe in Christ and his atoning sacrifice?

    To which you bluntly responded:

    Not germane to an academic discussion, and none of your business besides. Kindly keep your proselyting directed elsewhere.

    But alas CS, if Jesus rose from the dead then it is directly ‘germane to an academic discussion’ on the Bible such as we are having. For, as a British agnostic once said

    “let’s not discuss the other miracles; let’s discuss the resurrection. Because if the resurrection is true, then the other miracles are easily explained; and if the resurrection is not true, the other miracles do not matter.”

    Moreover this is a miracle that is evidence far more powerfully than any other historical fact:

    “I have been used for many years to study the history of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them; and I know of no fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
    Thomas Arnold — Professor of History at Oxford University; author of a 3-volume history on ancient Rome

    The (Unmatched Historical Reliability of the) Resurrection of Jesus – Dr. Gary R. Habermas (On Guard Conference 2013) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMqertodsVk

    History proves Christ’s resurrection – article
    http://www.c-bstatesman.com/ne.....RISEN.html

    Moreover, the Shroud of Turin, that ancient linen that atheists thought they had also gotten rid of with Carbon dating (as you are now trying to do with Jericho)

    Shroud of Turin – Carbon 14 test proves false (with Raymond Rogers, lead chemist from the STURP project) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxDdx6vxthE

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE – Evidence of Authenticity
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    The Shroud of Turin testifies powerfully to the resurrection of Christ:

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    per – The Independent

    Shroud Of Turin – Photographic Negative – 3D Hologram – The Lamb – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5664213/

    Kevin Moran, a scientist working on the mysterious ‘3D’ nature of the Shroud image, states the ‘supernatural’ explanation this way:

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”

    And Moran’s ‘supernatural’ explanation for image formation on the Shroud bears the scrutiny of others:

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    Moreover, the explanatory power of Christ’s resurrection goes far deeper into science than most people realize:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy, and The Shroud Of Turin – updated video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

    Thus Jesus victory over death is very ‘germane to an academic discussion’ on the Bible!. In fact, nothing else matters!

    Music and Verse:

    Metallica & San Francisco Symphony Orchestra – Nothing Else Matters
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziThYl6B2vw

    1 Corinthians 15:17
    “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins”

  70. 70
    bornagain77 says:

    CS corrected link:

    On Guard Conference: Gary Habermas – The Resurrection of Jesus – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNdmSQKyzgc

    Also of interest:

    How Reliable Is the New Testament? – Dan Wallace (16:30 minute mark of video “The New Testament has an ’embarrassment of riches’ compared to other ancient texts”) – video
    http://www.watermark.org/media.....ment/2305/

  71. 71
    vjtorley says:

    CentralScrutinizer,

    Thank you for your comments at #44 and #45. Re adoption, I think Glenn Miller has answered this question better than anyone else. See http://christianthinktank.com/rbutcher1.html and scroll down to the question, “So, if the Amalekite aggression virtually required the elimination of the warrior-class, what practical options for survival remained for the women/kids?”

    Re the absolute wrongfulness of killing innocents, as I argued in my Dawkins article, there are moral absolutes which apply to both humans and God. For instance:

    1. It’s wrong to intentionally take someone’s life purely as a means of promoting the good of another individual – for that would be turning the person killed into a mere means to an end.

    2. It’s wrong to intentionally take someone’s life unless you created them, and you know for certain that it would be better for them that their life should be taken. (Re 2: some might want to add, “[unless you created them] OR you’re acting on an order from the Creator.”)

    3. It’s wrong to intentionally take someone’s life in a painful manner.

    Are those absolute enough for you?

  72. 72
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    vjtorley,

    Thank you for your reply.

    But the question still lingers in the air:

    Why didn’t Yahweh command the Israelites to adopt the babies instead of kill them?

  73. 73
    bornagain77 says:

    CentralScrutinizer

    Why didn’t Yahweh command the Israelites to adopt the babies instead of kill them?

    Hidden in this question is the presupposition that the person asking the question knows more than God as to what is morally right in the situation. Something that I’m not willing to concede to CS, (a non-atheist), or any atheist, such as Dawkins, who usually asks the question!

  74. 74
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Torley, I think you might really appreciate this new philosophical argument that has been derived from the cutting edge of physics:

    Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

    Digital Physics Argument
    Premise 1: Simulations can only exist is a computer or a mind.
    Premise 2: The universe is a simulation.
    Premise 3: A simulation on a computer still must be simulated in a mind.
    Premise 4: Therefore, the universe is a simulation in a mind (2,3).
    Premise 5: This mind is what we call God.

  75. 75
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77, you see, here’s the rub:

    Barry makes a statement like this: Nightlight @ 18. You say the holocaust was the result of nothing but a flawed “evaluation” on the part of the Nazis. One who will not stand up and say unequivocally that unspeakable evil is unspeakable evil is himself evil/blockquote>

    Then he makes a statement like this:

    Central: Are you suggesting there is a nuanced answer as to whether the holocaust was evil? If so, you are wrong. Are you suggesting there is no possible nuanced answer about God’s actions in Canaan 3,500 years ago? If so, you are wrong again.

    Can you see the inconsistency here? If not, I have nothing else to say.

    Hidden in this question is the presupposition that the person asking the question knows more than God as to what is morally right in the situation.

    Fine. You believe (despite your (and Barry’s) deepest feeling about evil, is that sometimes obvious moral evil is not really morally evil… because “God commands it.”

    Sorry, but barf.

    You contradict what you know is obviously evil by some lame excuse that a book says otherwise and that “God knows better.” You essentially are equating a book with God. Why you do that is non-trival discussion. You (I suspect) back-justify all this because you believe in Jesus and Jesus believed in the Old Testament, and therefore Yahweh commanding the killing of babies is justified despite your (and Barry’s) revulusion at the very idea.

    I submit, you would not kill babies even in “God” told you to do it. If you would, you are a monster. Or to use Barry’s conclusion, “you are evil yourself.”

    I view people like you as essentially worshiping a book that is loaded with contradictions. I wonder how you put up with the cognitive dissonance. I really do.

    Killing babies is evil. God never told anyone to do it. If you believe that killing babies is good under any circumstances, you are evil too.

    Barry knows I’m right. And so do you.

  76. 76
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Pardon the formatting error

    (When is there ever going to be an edit function here?)

  77. 77
    bornagain77 says:

    CentralScrutinizer, you are entitled to opinions but you are not entitled to your facts. The facts, the way I read them, are that God is the moral law giver. Not you, and certainly not Dawkins! Period! I also hold that God, in whom morality is grounded and all justice is, and must be, fulfilled, commanded the complete destruction of the Canaanites after fore-bearing their exceedingly evil, child sacrificing, culture for hundreds of years (I believe he even sent them warnings).

    The “new atheists” call God’s commands to kill the Canaanites “genocide,” but a closer look at the horror of the Canaanites’ sinfulness, exhibited in rampant idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality, reveals that God’s reason for commanding their death was not genocide but capital punishment. After all, the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die. Also, God made it clear in His conversation with Abraham regarding the Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that He knows who would or would not repent, and in the case of those cities, not one person would heed the warning and even Lot’s family had to be forcibly pulled away from the coming destruction.
    http://www.equip.org/articles/.....anaanites/

    Moreover, I hold that a supernatural sign, the sudden destruction of the wall surrounding Jericho (as is evidenced in the archeological record), preceded the complete destruction Canaanites, thus I hold that the Israelites had ample evidence to believe this to be a genuine command from God! And did not have the luxury that you now enjoy of questioning whether God really commanded the complete destruction of Jericho. Which reminds me of another time someone questioned whether God really said something was morally right or not:

    Genesis 3
    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
    The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    You, on the other hand, do not believe that Jericho account is even true, much less the Genesis account, yet instead of having the courage of your convictions and arguing from the archeological record to obverturn the argument, you argue from a position that presupposes your moral superiority to God! Excuse me, but “barf”!

  78. 78
    Tim Gardiner says:

    @CentralScrutinizer – From where does your belief that murder is evil come from?? Is it obective? Then why? If not then there is no real evil, right?

    How do you know sex slavery is evil in Somalia where know one is there to stop it?? That is the way of the culture is over there..Who are we to point the finger at them?

    Why? Why do you have a moral compass?

  79. 79
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Tim @ 78,

    Ask Barry. Same place.

  80. 80
    bornagain77 says:

    But alas Tim, I’m afraid CentralScrutinizer’s purpose is not to give an accurate account for how he himself derives objective morality, for, unless he claims prophetic type connection with God, the answer will be found that he believes moral perfection resides within himself, and thus defeat his argument, but alas his only real purpose, as far as I can tell, is to attack the Bible.

  81. 81
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Craig addresses the issue, in all its nuances, here:

    Slaughter of the Canaanites
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....canaanites

  82. 82
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77,

    Blah blah blah. You won’t answer a simple question.

    That’s OK. I still love you anyway.

  83. 83
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Now, it’s friday night. Take a break, listen to this, and remember what you were up to back when this song was playing on the radio 20 times day, and, enjoy…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rgepWg4rzw

  84. 84
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    CS, great song. I was only a boy when it played on the airwaves.

    Just to note, I hear that if you listen to I’m Not In Love while watching this video of Blondie’s Heart of Glass with the sound off, they sync up in an eerie sort of way.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxpe1oSp_sg

    BTW, AFAICT it’s Saturday night here in this hemisphere. 🙂

  85. 85
    Upright BiPed says:

    CS,

    I was listening to it on KOMA and X-Rock 80 from Jaurez Mexico because those were the only signals that reached into the Big Bend of Texas.

    Good tunes.

  86. 86
    bornagain77 says:

    CS, after being given a link, by me, to a Dr. Craig response that goes over the Canaanite issue in all its nuances blatantly lies and says:

    “,,,You won’t answer a simple question.”

    Well that certainly was not chopped liver I gave you! The truth is CS, is that it is an answer that you do not want since it does not agree with the answer that you want to be true, but an answer it is none-the-less. You may not agree with the answer, or even take time to read the answer I provided you in the Dr. Craig link, as is evidenced in your ‘blah, blah, blah’ response to me, but an answer it is none-the-less to the Canaanite issue.

    And if you truly love me, why do you lie to me?

  87. 87
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks for the song CS. Here is one to, hopefully, brighten your day:

    Overcomer – Mandisa
    http://myktis.com/songs/overcomer/

  88. 88
    DarelRex says:

    “If I were the only person in the world who considered the holocaust to be wrong, I would be right and everyone else in the world would be wrong.”

    Three questions:

    1. What do you mean by “I would be right?” Do you mean that you would hold to your position even in the face of everyone else disagreeing with you? Do you mean that the omnipotent creator of everything that exists would agree with you? Do you mean that the holocaust would still be a net detriment to human progress? More specificity of the meaning of “I would be right” is needed.

    2. Are you trying to convince your readers that the holocaust was wrong? That seems unlikely; hence, what are you really trying to say? What position are you trying to staple to the wrongness of the holocaust, and what is the logical justification for such stapling?

    3. Your hypothetical, “if I were the only only person in the world who considered the holocaust to be wrong,” is completely lacking in detail. Under what set of circumstances could that development occur? A specific answer to that question might be necessary before it is even possible to evaluate your claim that you would be right and everyone else would be wrong.

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