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  • I just wanted to give a big to mighty_duck in this thread. The clarity of your words made this the most enlightening thread I've read in awhile. Thanks. Very interesting discussion by all.
    The universe itself is more impressive and majestic than any god could ever hope to be. The mind of man is an amazing byproduct of an amazing universe. We should relish that thought, marvel at it, and continue to unravel the mystery of not what is "behind" the universe, but what the universe is.

    Comment


    • Waking up sleeping dogs...

      Hi Hilston,

      Sorry if this is badly formatted, I typed it at home and cut and paste.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      If a magazine is all it took to shake your conception of a young earth, then it could not have been based on anything solid to begin with.
      As usual, Hilston, you assume too much. My conception of a young earth was based upon my interpretation of the Bible, which I suppose yours must also be based upon, given that there are no other sources I know of that would lead someone to take such a view. Admittedly, I may have overstated when I said I had never before questioned the tenet of Young Earth Creationism. Actually, the first questions I had arose when I noticed contradictions within the text of Genesis itself. I don’t really think this was anything like serious doubt though, as I started reading the arguments of Young Earth proponents in full confidence that I would find the Biblical account affirmed.
      Unfortunately, what I found was a whole lot of arguments similar to yours, which essentially boiled down to “evolution can’t be right, because it doesn’t conform to our strictly literalistic view of Scripture, therefore we will interpret all the evidence to fit in with our unalterable preconceived notions”. After a while, I realized that this is exactly what I had been doing, not just with the age of the Earth issue, but with other things that I couldn’t make sense of in Scripture or experience: if they didn’t fit, I’d make them fit. Of course, this is the kind of rationalization that humans do all the time, and by your own admission, this is also what you do. The difference between you and most of the human race is that you do it consciously and intentionally. The fact that you admit it makes me wonder whether there’s any point in having a discussion with you, not because I don’t want to, but because I’m not sure you’re currently capable of understanding perspectives or approaches other than your own.

      Originally Posted by Chilli:
      Many of the arguments in the magazine seemed pseudoscientific and had an air of desperation about them. Furthermore, many of the contributors evinced an insular approach and an arrogant attitude, and the combination of these things sowed the first seeds of doubt… this current debate has done nothing to repair my confidence in young-earth creationism.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      Chilli, let's assume for the moment that your experience with that magazine were the exact opposite. The young earth proponents had bulletproof science on their side. They were not arrogant or desperate, but absolutely humble, nice, and pleasantly confident in their claims, leaving themselves and their findings wide-open to critical assessment and peer review. Let's further suppose you then showed up here and said:
      "I have had very little exposure to actual proponents of evolution, and it was a popular creationist magazine that I have a subscription to that has convinced me that I'm on the right track in believing in a young earth. ... Many of the arguments in the magazine were wonderfully scientific and showed not hint of desperation in their conclusions. Furthermore, many of the contributors seemed to openly welcome opposing views without a bit of arrogance. The combination of these things solidifies my confidence in young-earth creationism.

      If you based your belief in the young-earth model on the above, I would tell you that your view is just as irrational and unjustified as Stratnerd's, aharvey's, SUTG's, mighty_duck's and all the rest. Such a belief, and such a foundation for that belief is tenuous and it's no wonder that you were swayed away from it. You should have been, given those criteria.
      Please see above for clarification on where my confidence in a Young Earth Creation came from. It seems you are assuming I am trying to prove something by my reference to the magazine, or worse yet that my entire worldview is founded upon my reaction to it, but in fact I only mentioned it to indicate what my impetus was for wading through this lengthy and tortuous thread in the first place, I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear. Furthermore, it seems that the Answers in Genesis team, who put out the magazine, use a similar approach to you: they assume the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture, and then they set out to prove it by interpreting the evidence to fit their views, one notable difference being that they at least are not afraid to present evidence. What is your take on the Answers in Genesis team? Do you think they are basically good guys, but they are doing the wrong thing by arguing evidence?

      I really wanted to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, as my entire life and plans for the future were built on this foundation. There is still a part of me that wishes to believe it, and would love to be convinced (although you will probably employ your own apparently infallible psychic powers to tell me what my real motives are).

      Originally Posted by Chilli:
      I think it was perhaps a mistake to pit a scientist against a non-scientist, because despite Hilston’s assertion that in one sense everybody is a scientist, he clearly is not a scientist in the generally accepted sense of the word. Then again, perhaps this was not a mistake, but an intentional strategy aimed at livening up the debate. Unfortunately, if this was the case, the strategy clearly has not worked.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      You're absolutely right. It's probably because I admitted to a lack of scientific credentials in my very first post, which would explain the lack of interest and utter boredom expressed by so many in this discussion. It should come as no surprise that this particular thread has only a scant handful of posts.
      What do you mean by a scant handful of posts? This thread is nearly fifty pages long!

      Originally Posted by Chilli:
      I say this because although Hilston conveniently claims he is loath to argue particularities when it comes to scientific evidence for evolution because he believes it will end in nothing but parties futilely lobbing facts and figures back and forth, he is apparently quite happy to do the philosophical equivalent, with the result that the debate and accompanying grandstand thread has effectively ground to a halt about half way through.


      Originally posted by Hilston
      I wish I could offer something more entertaining, Chilli. If I were to gauge the success of my discussion and debate by this thread alone, I would probably become depressed and wonder what I've done wrong. But by attempting to stick to a strictly biblical approach in my argumentation (I've blundered quite a bit here and there, but my goal was nonetheless to stay bibilical), I've had the pleasure of receiving an unusual number of private messages and e-mails from TOL regulars, from TOL newbies, from TOL lurkers and from people out of the blue who have expressed gratitude and appreciation for what I've attempted to do. Most gratifying has been the winning of converts to a strictly biblical approach to argumentation. So regardless of what you think, Chilli, the intolerable boredom of this thread has been of at least some benefit to others.
      When I said the debate and this thread had effectively ground to a halt, I did not mean to imply it was boring, nor that you were personally a failure or anything else (although I find your argument very unconvincing). Also, I admitted to having found this thread instructive, and I do consider it to have been a benefit, just not for the reasons I had initially hoped.

      I know you sometimes like to bleat about how you are the underdog on this forum and everybody hates you, but you can take some comfort in the fact that you do have at least a few things in common with the majority of Christians who regularly post here: you are extremely arrogant and make snap judgments about people you have never met, you will not accept or even entertain any idea or evidence that does not fit in your worldview, and you routinely ridicule and condemn those who disagree with you. Yep, welcome to Theology Online.

      Originally Posted by Chilli:
      It seems that the greatest hindrance to a fruitful discussion here is that Hilston has already decided he is right, and nothing else will persuade him otherwise.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      By the way, it has been said more than once recently that I've "already decided [I am] right." I'd like to request a show of hands: Is anyone involved in this debate arguing from the standpoint: "I haven't decided whether or not I'm right"?
      Well, the idea that everybody thinks they are right was first posited by you in one of your earliest posts in the debate. I think that may just be excuse for always thinking you are right. Contrary to what you might think, people are often uncertain of what they believe, or do not deliberately affirm most of what constitutes their worldview. I suppose that you will not be convinced of this because you think you are right (by your own admission). In my opinion, it is this attitude that caused the discussion to stop progressing, as it does every other discussion you figure prominently in. Consider this: if you think that you are right, how the hell would you be able to tell if you were wrong? What I’m saying is, by embracing the idea that everyone thinks that they are right, you’re effectively disqualifying yourself from being able to accurately interpret or assess their worldview, seeing as you have an a priori and unchangeable belief that they are wrong and you are right.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      Furthermore, I'm very careful (mostly) to state that it is not the Hilstonian view that I'm defending, but the Biblical view according to my understanding of it. That is to say: I know I've got things wrong about what the Bible teaches. I know I've got things wrong about how the Bible applies. And when I find them, I'll correct them. But in the meantime, I will defend the teachings and applications of that Book, as I understand it, the best I can.
      Let me genuinely (as genuine as I can be in your eyes) congratulate you for your honesty here. I think that this paragraph is the closest you’ve come to exhibiting a semblance of true humility and a teachability. Usually when excuse yourself by saying that it is not you saying it, it is what the Bible teaches, you do not add the qualifier “…as I understand it.”

      Having said that, I’m having trouble reconciling your statement here that you know you’ve got things wrong about what the Bible teaches with your previous claim that everyone thinks they are right. I suppose you could be saying that people basically approach topics with the view that they are probably right, but may be open to the idea that they are wrong, a view which I generally would accept. However, I can’t see how this attitude squares with your belief that people simply interpret evidence to fit their worldview, because it seems to me that if you take the latter approach, you are excluded from genuinely thinking that you may be wrong as you are impervious to evidence. In other words, when you say “when I find [my incorrect beliefs about what the Bible teaches,] I’ll correct them,” how exactly will you find them? How will you become convinced you are wrong? Would you mind more precisely explaining your views in this area?

      Originally Posted by Chilli:
      Hilston, I find it interesting that throughout so many posts, you have pretty much kept your cool, but you seemed to lose it at the very point where you were finally pinned down by Mighty_Duck and SUTG in posts 541 and 542.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      Actually, your psychic skills are slightly off. I've lost my cool in my every post on this thread. Here's what I do: First, I read the posts directed at me (as time allows), then I allow myself to get highly pissed. I then violently get up from my comfy office chair and start breaking things. Once there is no smidge of coolness left in mind or body, I sit down, in a white-hot rage, and answer these posts. For the past month, I've busted nearly everything in my house, I've thrown things, I've kicked my dog, I gave my 7-year-old the finger, I called up and cussed out my Republican congresswoman just for the hallibut, and head-butted the elderly lady next-door. She's so old that she burst into a cloud of dust like an Egyptian mummy. I looked like Tom Cruise in "War Of The Worlds" after his first encounter with the alien incineration ray. Yet, you only single out two posts as "losing my cool"? Please.

      Where's my webcam?
      Wow, that’s hilarious. Not really, but I like the tom Cruise from War of the Worlds bit: was that adlibbed? But seriously, I did not mean that you actually flew into a fit of rage (I’m assuming you didn’t, although I do from time to time), but by “losing your cool” I meant that it was clear that you were floundering when your answers devolved from self-assured and civilized replies to belittling ad hominem attacks. In my experience, this is a common response by those who are cornered, but do not want to admit they are wrong. You are intelligent enough to understand what Mighty_Duck are saying and to realize the import of their lucid points upon what you are proposing, but your stubbornness and your attitude that you are right prevents you from being able to accept it, and so when the arguments have been made in a way that you can no longer evade them or throw up smokescreens or muddy the waters, you revert to juvenile taunts and crass insults.

      Originally Posted by Chilli:
      This is the crux of the issue, and the weakest link in your argument, and you had no recourse but to say things like “what are you talking about?” and resort to belittling M_D and SUTG. I was so relieved when it got to the point where you could no longer possibly pretend to not understand what M_D and others were getting at, and so disappointed by your response, as up until this very post I had held onto the hope that you really were honestly confused.

      Originally posted by Hilston
      I, too, am relieved, because from the above paragraph, it sounds as if you understand m_d's and SUTG's arguments. Please explain them to me, because they're doing an awful job.
      I will certainly attempt to do so in my next post (thank you for your patience), but I must say that they have done a fairly good job, even just by virtue of the fact that they have stuck around for so long to argue with someone who seems so determined not to understand what they are saying.

      Hilston, I don’t know if you are really having trouble understanding or not. I am leaning towards the view that you could understand if you let yourself entertain the idea that you might be wrong. You seem to have a reasonable level of intelligence, but to utilize my psychic powers again, I would say that from your posts it seems that you are lacking in basic insight, and your desire not to be wrong is making you seem stubborn or stupid. It is not stupid to be wrong, but it is stupid to think that you can’t be wrong. Forgive my patronizing attitude, I just don’t know how else to say it and I think it needs to be said. You obviously have a lot riding on whether or not your particular brand of theology is right, and I really do understand how that feels. Sooner or later though, you will need to either give up your attempt to neatly wrap up the mysteries of God and the paradox of human experience in a tidy little bundle, or leave them as they actually are: mystery and paradox.

      I really would like to be convinced of your view, there is nothing I would find more comforting than crawling back into the insulating shell I lived in when I thought I had it all figured out.

      As sincere as I can be in your worldview,
      Chilli
      "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

      Comment


      • Well, just in case anyone is still checking in here, I'm not going to post any kind of recap of mighty_duck's, aharvey or SUTG arguments unless Hilston posts a response.

        There are two reason for this:

        Firstly, I'm not even sure Hilston is reading this anymore, it looks as if he's run with his tail between his legs, like he did in Balder's challenge to presuppositionalists. It's beginning to remind me of Zakath's convenient disappearance halfway through the 'Does God Exist?' debate.

        Secondly, I'm not sure I can paraphrase any of the aforementioned contenders in a way that will help Hilston understand the points being made against his claims, as it is beginning to look like the problem is with Hilston's ability to reason, rather than the reasonableness of the arguments he is presented with.

        Another thought has just occurred to me: perhaps Hilston has not responded because there are no direct questions for him in my last post. If this is the case Hilston, can I request that you view my post more as a discussion than a debate. That is, feel free to respond to my responses to your accusations in order to help clarify your point and possibly facilitate greater understanding.

        *sigh*
        "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

        Comment


        • Hi Chilli,

          Hilston wrote: If a magazine is all it took to shake your conception of a young earth, then it could not have been based on anything solid to begin with.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          My conception of a young earth was based upon my interpretation of the Bible, which I suppose yours must also be based upon, given that there are no other sources I know of that would lead someone to take such a view.
          Using the tools of science properly would lead everyone to take the young-earth view. The problem is that human beings, by and large, want nothing to do with the God of scripture and presume to do science in willful defiance of their Creator.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Admittedly, I may have overstated when I said I had never before questioned the tenet of Young Earth Creationism. Actually, the first questions I had arose when I noticed contradictions within the text of Genesis itself. I don't really think this was anything like serious doubt though, as I started reading the arguments of Young Earth proponents in full confidence that I would find the Biblical account affirmed. Unfortunately, what I found was a whole lot of arguments similar to yours, which essentially boiled down to "evolution can't be right, because it doesn't conform to our strictly literalistic view of Scripture, therefore we will interpret all the evidence to fit in with our unalterable preconceived notions".
          The interpretation of scripture is not arbitrary. There are rules of interpretation that, if followed consistently and logically, provide a coherent, perspicuous, non-contradictory and singularly reasonable worldview.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          After a while, I realized that this is exactly what I had been doing, not just with the age of the Earth issue, but with other things that I couldn't make sense of in Scripture or experience: if they didn't fit, I'd make them fit. Of course, this is the kind of rationalization that humans do all the time, and by your own admission, this is also what you do.
          Not so. The Bible is the sole guide for what fits and what doesn't. I don't "make" things fit. It's not "my" view, per se, but that of the Bible. The Bible provides the sole grounds for truth and rationality, so it follows that all truth claims will necessarily fit the testimony of scripture. Anything that doesn't fit the testimony of scripture is not true.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          The difference between you and most of the human race is that you do it consciously and intentionally. The fact that you admit it makes me wonder whether there's any point in having a discussion with you, not because I don't want to, but because I'm not sure you're currently capable of understanding perspectives or approaches other than your own.
          I think I've demonstrated abundantly that I understand opposing perspectives. The same can't be said for those who oppose Scripture, sadly. Add to that to fact that, again, it is not "my own view" that I'm defending, but rather the testimony of the Bible. It's there for anyone to read and challenge, if they dare.

          Chilli wrote previously: Many of the arguments in the magazine seemed pseudoscientific and had an air of desperation about them. Furthermore, many of the contributors evinced an insular approach and an arrogant attitude, and the combination of these things sowed the first seeds of doubt... this current debate has done nothing to repair my confidence in young-earth creationism.

          Hilston wrote: Chilli, let's assume for the moment that your experience with that magazine were the exact opposite. The young earth proponents had bulletproof science on their side. They were not arrogant or desperate, but absolutely humble, nice, and pleasantly confident in their claims, leaving themselves and their findings wide-open to critical assessment and peer review. Let's further suppose you then showed up here and said: "I have had very little exposure to actual proponents of evolution, and it was a popular creationist magazine that I have a subscription to that has convinced me that I'm on the right track in believing in a young earth. ... Many of the arguments in the magazine were wonderfully scientific and showed not hint of desperation in their conclusions. Furthermore, many of the contributors seemed to openly welcome opposing views without a bit of arrogance. The combination of these things solidifies my confidence in young-earth creationism. If you based your belief in the young-earth model on the above, I would tell you that your view is just as irrational and unjustified as Stratnerd's, aharvey's, SUTG's, mighty_duck's and all the rest. Such a belief, and such a foundation for that belief is tenuous and it's no wonder that you were swayed away from it. You should have been, given those criteria.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Please see above for clarification on where my confidence in a Young Earth Creation came from. It seems you are assuming I am trying to prove something by my reference to the magazine, or worse yet that my entire worldview is founded upon my reaction to it, but in fact I only mentioned it to indicate what my impetus was for wading through this lengthy and tortuous thread in the first place, I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear. Furthermore, it seems that the Answers in Genesis team, who put out the magazine, use a similar approach to you: they assume the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture, and then they set out to prove it by interpreting the evidence to fit their views, ...
          First of all, it isn't my "assumption." It is the Bible's self-attesting claim. When one investigates those claims, one finds that they are not only true, but that they provide the foundation of all reasoning whatsoever. I don't assume the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture. It's what the Bible itself claims. And no one has been able to refute those claims without sacrificing rationality.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          ... one notable difference being that they at least are not afraid to present evidence. What is your take on the Answers in Genesis team? Do you think they are basically good guys, but they are doing the wrong thing by arguing evidence?
          Most of evangelism is fraught with misconceptions about apologetics. I was impressed by one of Ken Ham's papers in which he took a strongly biblical stance. A lot of what the AIG guys do is show the reasonableness of scripture. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem with AIG and organizations like it is that they go too easy on anti-Biblical worldviews. If God is real and the Bible is His Word, then no other competing views are legitimate. Period. Anyone who believes the Bible to be what it claims must be impressed with that. The Bible presents a "take-no-prisoners" approach to apologetics. It's not my method. It's what the Bible teaches.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          I really wanted to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, as my entire life and plans for the future were built on this foundation. There is still a part of me that wishes to believe it, and would love to be convinced (although you will probably employ your own apparently infallible psychic powers to tell me what my real motives are).
          I have no idea what your motives are, and would not presume to ascertain them. But belief in the inerrancy of Scripture does not come by investigating every single claim of the Bible and deciding on one's own authority whether or not that claim is true. If that's your aim, then it is sadly misguided, futile, and never-ending. There are many areas of the Bible that I've not studied, but when I do study it, it's not to see if it's true, but rather to understand what the living God wants me know and went as far as documenting in order for me to know it. The Bible claims to be God's inerrant and infallible Word, and it answers every philosophical question that can brought to bear on human existence and experience, without contradiction. No other book makes that claim and can do that.

          Chilli previously wrote:
          It seems that the greatest hindrance to a fruitful discussion here is that Hilston has already decided he is right, and nothing else will persuade him otherwise.

          Hilston replied:
          Originally Posted by Hilston By the way, it has been said more than once recently that I've "already decided [I am] right." I'd like to request a show of hands: Is anyone involved in this debate arguing from the standpoint: "I haven't decided whether or not I'm right"?

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Well, the idea that everybody thinks they are right was first posited by you in one of your earliest posts in the debate. I think that may just be excuse for always thinking you are right.
          There is a difference between arguing for something that one believes to be right, and always thinking one is right. I know I'm not alway right. I'm wrong quite often, in fact. But what I believe to be right, I believe I am right about. I acknowledge I could be wrong about things, but until I discover otherwise, I will proceed to argue for what I believe to be true. What is right, true, correct is the Bible. Of that we should all be confident. We might bicker about the details, but understood normatively and consistently, the Bible is clear, unambiguous, unequivocal, and pervasively pertinent in all matters that concern man and his existence.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Contrary to what you might think, people are often uncertain of what they believe, or do not deliberately affirm most of what constitutes their worldview.
          I agree with you fully.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          I suppose that you will not be convinced of this because you think you are right (by your own admission).
          I just agreed with you. Now who is making snap judgments and invoking their psychic skills?

          Originally posted by Chilli
          In my opinion, it is this attitude that caused the discussion to stop progressing, as it does every other discussion you figure prominently in.
          You don't think this thread stopped because I stopped participating? You don't think this thread would have continued if I chose to continue it? Have a look at the last few pages. What becomes curiously absent from this thread?

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Consider this: if you think that you are right, how the hell would you be able to tell if you were wrong?
          I would be able to tell by seeing an area of my thinking that does not align with the Bible.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          What I'm saying is, by embracing the idea that everyone thinks that they are right, you're effectively disqualifying yourself from being able to accurately interpret or assess their worldview, seeing as you have an a priori and unchangeable belief that they are wrong and you are right.
          You're missing the point. My point is that no one argues for a position that they do not personally believe to be true. Unless they're just being academic about some hypothetical consideration, which has its place. I assume from the onset that anyone who cares enough to come here and debate has a view that they believe to be correct and wants to have it challenged. Otherwise, why show up? If they just have questions, that will be obvious. But usually everyone has a axe to grind, and they think that axe is the right axe and that it is worth grinding.

          Hilston wrote: Furthermore, I'm very careful (mostly) to state that it is not the Hilstonian view that I'm defending, but the Biblical view according to my understanding of it. That is to say: I know I've got things wrong about what the Bible teaches. I know I've got things wrong about how the Bible applies. And when I find them, I'll correct them. But in the meantime, I will defend the teachings and applications of that Book, as I understand it, the best I can.
          Originally posted by Chilli
          Let me genuinely (as genuine as I can be in your eyes) congratulate you for your honesty here. I think that this paragraph is the closest you've come to exhibiting a semblance of true humility and a teachability. Usually when excuse yourself by saying that it is not you saying it, it is what the Bible teaches, you do not add the qualifier "...as I understand it."
          Look, Chilli, my attitude has not changed throughout this debate. I've been as honest as I know to be. Anyone on the receiving end of my claims is going to view me as a big meanie, an arrogant know-it-all SOB. I know this going in. Nobody likes to be told they're wrong, especially when it is expressed in the kind of absolute and authoritative terms that the Bible uses. It's a sad thing that people get their backs up so readily because of Biblical language, but it is to be expected. The Bible said it would happen. I'm not here to impress you or anyone with my erudition, honesty or niceness. I just want to see the Biblical view defended clearly and coherently, and cogently, if that's possible. But persuasion is not the same as coherence. The Bible puts the priority on the latter.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Having said that, I'm having trouble reconciling your statement here that you know you've got things wrong about what the Bible teaches with your previous claim that everyone thinks they are right. I suppose you could be saying that people basically approach topics with the view that they are probably right, but may be open to the idea that they are wrong, a view which I generally would accept.
          That's exactly what I mean. No one carries around a view that they think is probably wrong.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          However, I can't see how this attitude squares with your belief that people simply interpret evidence to fit their worldview, because it seems to me that if you take the latter approach, you are excluded from genuinely thinking that you may be wrong as you are impervious to evidence.
          It's not that simple. There is a whole network of beliefs that are brought to bear upon evidence. If a person is a methodological naturalist, they not only summarily dismiss any notion of extra-logical considerations, but there is an entire worldview that underpins that assumption. I've done work for the creationist movement for years. I understand the evidence. I understand the arguments on both sides. I understand how one worldview thinks a certain view of the evidence is compelling and how another worldview thinks a different view of the evidence is compelling. The difference is not in the evidence, but in the worldview. Do you see that?

          Originally posted by Chilli
          In other words, when you say "when I find [my incorrect beliefs about what the Bible teaches,] I'll correct them," how exactly will you find them? How will you become convinced you are wrong? Would you mind more precisely explaining your views in this area?
          Yes. I used to think that the Bible's description of believers identified as "The Body of Christ" was the same "New Covenant Israel." I used to believe that the Body of Christ was the fulfillment of Old Covenant Israel, hence name, New Covenant Israel. I had someone suggest to me otherwise. So I checked it out. I re-evaluated the assumptions I brought to the biblical evidence and found that I was in serious error. Another example concerns the role of angels. I once thought that angels were ministering to believers invisibly, and even though it bothered me deep down that I never saw the kind of angelic activity or presence described in the Bible, I decided that I would believe it because the Bible seemed to teach that this was the case. Someone suggested to me that I was mistaken, that the angels do not have an active ministry to believers today, and that the reason we do not see or experience their presence is because they no longer have a role in the lives of believers. So I re-evaluated the assumption that I brought to the biblical evidence and discovered, in fact, that I was wrong. The Bible teaches that the angels are not ministering invisibly or otherwise today.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          But seriously, I did not mean that you actually flew into a fit of rage (I'm assuming you didn't, although I do from time to time), but by "losing your cool" I meant that it was clear that you were floundering when your answers devolved from self-assured and civilized replies to belittling ad hominem attacks. In my experience, this is a common response by those who are cornered, but do not want to admit they are wrong.
          If there were points I could not or did not answer, I could see why you might come to that conclusion. But my ridicule, mockery and insults were offered after the points were answered, not in lieu of.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          You are intelligent enough to understand what Mighty_Duck are saying and to realize the import of their lucid points upon what you are proposing, ...
          That's where we disagree. The points are not lucid. They are fraught with uncritical assumptions and linguistic wrangling. They're just further attempts to accomplish what has already been tried from a different angle. There comes a point where there argument has been made and understood, and the opponent starts grasping for other alternatives, trying other angles. From where I'm sitting, they all seemed to be the same complaints cast in different terms, and I already knew what the outcome would be. I had to give up a couple months of my life to participate in the Battle Royale and the Grandstands. The argument has been made. There comes a point where I must stop and let the argument stand for itself. If you're confused about any part of the argument, I will happily clarify, but I cannot possibly answer each and every variation of the same failed notions that people come up with.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          but your stubbornness and your attitude that you are right prevents you from being able to accept it, and so when the arguments have been made in a way that you can no longer evade them or throw up smokescreens or muddy the waters, you revert to juvenile taunts and crass insults.
          I'm sure it appeared that way. I assure you -- and you can go back and see for yourself -- that all arguments have been met coherently and soundly by what the Bible says about them. My taunts and crass insults are designed to expose the futility and inanity of anti-Biblical worldviews. Jesus did it. Paul did it. We are to follow biblical examples and that's what I've tried my best to do. My insults were crass, yes; but juvenile? Hardly.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Hilston, I don't know if you are really having trouble understanding or not. I am leaning towards the view that you could understand if you let yourself entertain the idea that you might be wrong.
          OK, what are you suggesting I could be wrong about?

          Originally posted by Chilli
          Sooner or later though, you will need to either give up your attempt to neatly wrap up the mysteries of God and the paradox of human experience in a tidy little bundle, or leave them as they actually are: mystery and paradox.
          Please give me an example of a mystery or paradox I should be willing to accept.

          Originally posted by Chilli
          I really would like to be convinced of your view, there is nothing I would find more comforting than crawling back into the insulating shell I lived in when I thought I had it all figured out.
          From what you've written, it doesn't appear you've ever really stood on the solid foundation of God's Word, especially if you're so willing to sacrifice rationality on the altar of mystery and paradox.

          Are you following the One-On-One between SUTG and me? The subject is not dead, and if you think SUTG raised points that I have not answered, I'm sure that they'll come up again in that debate. Or perhaps you can remind him.

          Pretty colors,
          Jim

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Hilston
            Using the tools of science properly would lead everyone to take the young-earth view. The problem is that human beings, by and large, want nothing to do with the God of scripture and presume to do science in willful defiance of their Creator.
            A very interesting claim...and typically outrageous! Since you presume that all people knowingly and purposefully reject the Judeo-Christian God, with the choice of any non-Christian religion amounting to a conspiracy against Christianity, it should not be surprising that you see a conspiracy afoot also in science. What is the proper use of the tools of science, in your view?

            Originally posted by Hilston
            The interpretation of scripture is not arbitrary. There are rules of interpretation that, if followed consistently and logically, provide a coherent, perspicuous, non-contradictory and singularly reasonable worldview.
            What are these rules of interpretation, and why don't all Christians agree on them? If they do, why is there so much fragmentation and disagreement? It seems the "rules of interpretation" you are asserting are themselves the result of a particular interpreation of the Bible, which sort of gets you into a catch-22.

            Originally posted by Hilston
            Not so. The Bible is the sole guide for what fits and what doesn't. I don't "make" things fit. It's not "my" view, per se, but that of the Bible. The Bible provides the sole grounds for truth and rationality, so it follows that all truth claims will necessarily fit the testimony of scripture. Anything that doesn't fit the testimony of scripture is not true.
            So if there a number of different methods used to calculate the distance of stars, the speed of light, etc, which indicate that the universe is older than the Bible indicates, how do you proceed? By assuming the calculations must be faulty? By ignoring them?

            Originally posted by Hilston
            I think I've demonstrated abundantly that I understand opposing perspectives. The same can't be said for those who oppose Scripture, sadly. Add to that to fact that, again, it is not "my own view" that I'm defending, but rather the testimony of the Bible. It's there for anyone to read and challenge, if they dare.
            No, you haven't. You've claimed to have been unable to make heads or tails of arguments I have made that others here have been able to grasp and rationally evaluate.
            "Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something that needs our love" ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

            Comment


            • Hilston wrote: Using the tools of science properly would lead everyone to take the young-earth view. The problem is that human beings, by and large, want nothing to do with the God of scripture and presume to do science in willful defiance of their Creator.

              Originally posted by Balder
              A very interesting claim...and typically outrageous! Since you presume that all people knowingly and purposefully reject the Judeo-Christian God, ...
              It's not my presumption. It's what the Bible says. Try to get this, Balder.

              Originally posted by Balder
              ... with the choice of any non-Christian religion amounting to a conspiracy against Christianity, it should not be surprising that you see a conspiracy afoot also in science. What is the proper use of the tools of science, in your view?
              Forget "my view." The Bible says that the proper use of the tools of science must acknowledge and submit to God as the very foundation for their use and application.

              Hilston wrote: The interpretation of scripture is not arbitrary. There are rules of interpretation that, if followed consistently and logically, provide a coherent, perspicuous, non-contradictory and singularly reasonable worldview.

              Originally posted by Balder
              What are these rules of interpretation, ...
              Click HERE.

              Originally posted by Balder
              ... and why don't all Christians agree on them? If they do, why is there so much fragmentation and disagreement?
              They don't agree because the Bible said that there would be disagreement.

              Originally posted by Balder
              It seems the "rules of interpretation" you are asserting are themselves the result of a particular interpreation of the Bible, which sort of gets you into a catch-22.
              Not at all. Read the link.

              Hilston wrote: Not so. The Bible is the sole guide for what fits and what doesn't. I don't "make" things fit. It's not "my" view, per se, but that of the Bible. The Bible provides the sole grounds for truth and rationality, so it follows that all truth claims will necessarily fit the testimony of scripture. Anything that doesn't fit the testimony of scripture is not true.

              Originally posted by Balder
              So if there a number of different methods used to calculate the distance of stars, the speed of light, etc, which indicate that the universe is older than the Bible indicates, how do you proceed? By assuming the calculations must be faulty? By ignoring them?
              I proceed to show how false underlying assumptions erroneously dictate how those findings are evaluated and interpreted.

              Hilston wrote: I think I've demonstrated abundantly that I understand opposing perspectives. The same can't be said for those who oppose Scripture, sadly. Add to that to fact that, again, it is not "my own view" that I'm defending, but rather the testimony of the Bible. It's there for anyone to read and challenge, if they dare.

              Originally posted by Balder
              No, you haven't. You've claimed to have been unable to make heads or tails of arguments I have made that others here have been able to grasp and rationally evaluate.
              You're right. I'm not smart enough to make heads or tails out of your arguments. I can't even see "arguments" in what you write. I'm just too stupid.

              Mamma's got a squeeze box she wears on her chest,
              Jim

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Hilston
                Hilston wrote: Using the tools of science properly would lead everyone to take the young-earth view. The problem is that human beings, by and large, want nothing to do with the God of scripture and presume to do science in willful defiance of their Creator.

                It's not my presumption. It's what the Bible says. Try to get this, Balder.
                No, I understand very well that human authors of the Bible have made this claim also. But I don't think you can white yourself off the page when you make your comments. I made some comments about this on another thread:

                Originally posted by Hilston
                The Presuppositionalist claim [that only the Judeo-Christian God can account for such-and-such] is not based on personal experience or history, but rather upon the self-attesting claims of the Bible, the Word of God. No presuppositionalist would make such a claim based on his own experience or authority, but rather refers to the claims of God Himself.
                I find this to be a confused argument. One, it attributes personal will and agency to an artifact. Some individual authors have made specific claims, which have been enshrined in print and are now being attributed to the book itself.

                Two, even allowing this anthropomorphizing of an artifact, there are a number of non-Christian religious texts which are similarly "self-attesting." Even The Teachings of Don Juan and The Da Vinci Code are self-attesting. There is no reason to believe a book simply because "it" attests to its own verity, accuracy, or divine origin. The moment you begin to determine whether a "self-attesting" book is indeed reliable, you must bring in evidence and methods of interpretation, which go beyond the mere fact of "self-attestation" that presuppositionalists assert.

                Three, the presuppositionalist may want to leave personal experience and history out of the picture, but will ultimately fail in this endeavor. Because the presuppositionalist has personally chosen to believe that the Bible is infallible, or else chosen to believe that he has been personally regenerated (an experience which supposedly compells him to place unwavering faith in the Bible).
                Originally posted by Hilston
                The interpretation of scripture is not arbitrary. There are rules of interpretation that, if followed consistently and logically, provide a coherent, perspicuous, non-contradictory and singularly reasonable worldview.

                Click HERE.
                Interesting article. I think it's naive, though, if the authors expect that the everyone using the same tools in exactly the same way will produce exactly the same interpretations of every Biblical teaching or claim. Postmodern hermeneutics has abundantly revealed the problems with this naive expectation.

                Originally posted by Hilston
                They don't agree because the Bible said that there would be disagreement.
                This is not a "reason," just a prediction. Unless God compells men to disagree.

                Originally posted by Hilston
                I proceed to show how false underlying assumptions erroneously dictate how those findings are evaluated and interpreted.
                What false assumptions are causing scientists to grossly overestimate the age of the universe?

                Best wishes,

                Balder
                "Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something that needs our love" ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

                Comment


                • Hi Hilston,

                  Thanks so much for your response, I do appreciate you taking the time to discuss this, as it is quite an important topic to me.

                  Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will post a full reply after the weekend, but there is one thing I would quickly like to respond to in reference to the following exchange:

                  Originally Posted by Chilli
                  I'm not sure you're currently capable of understanding perspectives or approaches other than your own.


                  Originally posted by Hilston
                  I think I've demonstrated abundantly that I understand opposing perspectives. The same can't be said for those who oppose Scripture, sadly.
                  I made the above statement in reference to an earlier challenge you made, where you implied that you didn't understand m_d's and SUTG's arguments:

                  Originally posted by Hilston
                  I, too, am relieved, because from the above paragraph, it sounds as if you understand m_d's and SUTG's arguments. Please explain them to me, because they're doing an awful job.
                  I was simply wondering if there was any point in me trying to paraphrase their arguments, as they seemed quite lucid to me. Add to this the fact that as Balder has already pointed out, you admit to not being able to understand his arguments on the presuppositionalism thread, and you have basically admitted to not being able to understand the arguments of some of the most articulate and intelligent posters on TOL. Seeing as many others, including those who do not agree with their arguments, are able to grasp them, I think you need to ask the question whether the fault lies not with their lack of ability to reason or explain themselves clearly, but with your inability, or unwillingness, to entertain the points they are making.

                  Kind regards,

                  David.
                  "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

                  Comment


                  • Always seem to get the wrong date...

                    Hi Hilston,

                    Please forgive me, but I won't be able to post my response in full just yet. I will be going away for a few days, and I can see no reason why I won't have finished by the time I get back. I considered posting the first half, but I would prefer if it was given as a whole, as this means I will make fewer mistakes, and will hopefully be able to make myself clear and avoid repeating myself.

                    Thanks for your patience.
                    "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

                    Comment


                    • An excercise in semantic nitpicking?

                      Hi Hilston,

                      I have quoted most of your post in its entirety here, as it makes it easier for me to formulate my responses. For the sake of clarity, I have simply quoted large chunks, including comments I have made that you have quoted and the initial things you said that I was responding to. I’m not sure if this will make it easier or more painful to read, but let me know if it’s confusing and I’ll try to stick to the more traditional TOL formatting next time. Okay, so here we go…

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Hilston wrote: If a magazine is all it took to shake your conception of a young earth, then it could not have been based on anything solid to begin with.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      My conception of a young earth was based upon my interpretation of the Bible, which I suppose yours must also be based upon, given that there are no other sources I know of that would lead someone to take such a view.
                      Using the tools of science properly would lead everyone to take the young-earth view. The problem is that human beings, by and large, want nothing to do with the God of scripture and presume to do science in willful defiance of their Creator.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Admittedly, I may have overstated when I said I had never before questioned the tenet of Young Earth Creationism. Actually, the first questions I had arose when I noticed contradictions within the text of Genesis itself. I don't really think this was anything like serious doubt though, as I started reading the arguments of Young Earth proponents in full confidence that I would find the Biblical account affirmed. Unfortunately, what I found was a whole lot of arguments similar to yours, which essentially boiled down to "evolution can't be right, because it doesn't conform to our strictly literalistic view of Scripture, therefore we will interpret all the evidence to fit in with our unalterable preconceived notions".
                      The interpretation of scripture is not arbitrary. There are rules of interpretation that, if followed consistently and logically, provide a coherent, perspicuous, non-contradictory and singularly reasonable worldview.
                      I am fully aware of what constitutes a normative hermeneutic, in fact I have taught a course on the subject myself. What I am trying to say is that a normative hermeneutic will typically lead to a literalistic interpretation of the first chapter in Genesis (usually not the second chapter though, interestingly), which when coupled with the non-negotiable view that Scripture is inerrant in all that it affirms, often leads one to interpret scientific evidence in such a way that it fits with what one already believes. Is “using the tools of science properly” as simple as interpreting the evidence to fit with a six day creation and a 6000 year old earth? You may prefer to think of it as looking at the evidence in light of Genesis, but I can really see no difference here. I would appreciate it if you would make this clearer, and please bear with me if you are covering old ground here, as I have somehow lost the rest of the thread, and I don’t have the internet at home.
                      Regardless of whether or not this is what you mean by your claim that “using the tools of science properly would lead everyone to take the young-earth view,” you apparently advocate interpreting the scientific evidence to fit a literalistic reading of the first chapter of Genesis. Of course, your proposal is that scientists who believe in evolution simply interpret the evidence to fit with their worldview as well, in this case an evolutionary paradigm, and that in fact everybody interprets evidence in a way that fits with their presuppositions, with the result that there are no “brute facts,” but this is problematic for several, somewhat interrelated, reasons:

                      1. If you are claiming that everyone simply interprets the evidence to fit their presuppositions or preconceptions, there really is no rational basis for a ‘normative hermeneutic.’ In fact, such a view comports much more accurately with a postmodern literary approach. What I mean is that such an approach undermines the idea that we are to interpret the writings of Scripture in their grammatico-historical context, because we are actually interpreting them in line with our presuppositions. This is nothing if not arbitrary.

                      2. If it is disingenuous of a godless scientist to interpret scientific evidence to fit their worldview, why is it alright for a Christian scientist to do so? If you say it is because the Christian believes in the God of the Bible, then this also seems like an arbitrary approach. Furthermore, such an approach undermines any kind of scientific method, seeing as it is driven not by evidence but by sheer bias. I am aware that there are a number of prominent anti-theistic scientists who take such an approach, but surely you agree t¬hat this should not be normative? Can you see that the logical outcome of such a belief entails doing away with science altogether?

                      3. I’m not sure if when you say there are no uninterpreted, plain facts, you are including all scientific data. If this is what you are claiming, would you please explain how you would consider scientific facts such as the strata in which various fossils are discovered, or the time it takes for light to travel from one point to another to be tainted by interpretation or bias?

                      4. Furthermore, can you see that your claim that all facts are interpreted in a way that comports with a person’s presuppositions is again more in line with a postmodern epistemology, and undermines your claim that you can prove your own worldview and disprove all others? The logical outcome of such a belief will be that truth is relative and subjective, and cannot be transmitted, or that if there is objective truth, it is unknowable. If you know of another option, please tell me.

                      5. As stated above, I admit that theories about evolution may come about as a result of anti-theistic sentiments on the part of those who hold to them, and I suppose that given your ardent espousal of Van Til’s claim that there are no “brute facts,” you will find the following hypothetical situation difficult to imagine. I have also noticed that you tend to avoid arguing hypothetical situations, but please try to humor me. Please do not imagine that I really believe this, it is simply a hypothetical situation I am using to illustrate a point. Imagine that God created someone instantaneously as an adult with full reasoning capabilities but no prior conditioning, and was presented with all the wonders of creation as well as all the scientific data we have regarding it. They were not given a Bible or any other religious text, and they were not given revelation by any higher being. Now imagine that this person was asked to estimate the age of the earth using the information they had been given. I tend to think that such a person would arrive at the conclusion that a creator was a basic requirement as an explanation of the beauty and intricate design in everything they saw, but don’t you think that when they looked at the scientific data, they might also reasonably infer that the earth is much older than 6,000 years, and that various species were not all created at once? If God is not trying to trick us, and intends for us to believe in a 6,000 year old earth, with all species instantaneously created at the inception of this time period, why doesn’t he make the evidence more incontrovertible? For instance, why do all YEC explanations for the age of the earth as estimated by the time it takes for the light from distant stars to reach us necessitate some kind of deceptive “appearance of age” theory?

                      6. Scientists who believe in evolution are not a homogenous group, and generally do not fit the caricatured view of rabid antitheists espoused by creationists, and in fact many of them trust in Christ for salvation. Scientists hold many different worldviews and presuppositions, and even if you say that they have the commonality that they are all against the God of the Bible on some kind of fundamental subconscious level, how do explain Christian scientists who believe in evolution? Furthermore, many people who have a belief in the inerrancy of Scripture and YEC are convinced of evolution on the basis of the evidence. How do you explain this, or do you have to explain it away by putting on your Judgment Day hat and pronouncing that these people are not real Christians? How do you reconcile these things with the view that it is an opposition to the God of the Bible that causes people to interpret scientific evidence in such a way that leads them to believe evolution is true?

                      I know you addressed some of these things in your discussion with Stratnerd, but I can’t remember exactly what your answers were and as I said I don’t have that thread with me at the moment, so I’m sure a brief answer to any questions I have asked that Stratnerd has already asked will refresh my memory, but I would appreciate it if you could answer the other questions in a little more depth.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      After a while, I realized that this is exactly what I had been doing, not just with the age of the Earth issue, but with other things that I couldn't make sense of in Scripture or experience: if they didn't fit, I'd make them fit. Of course, this is the kind of rationalization that humans do all the time, and by your own admission, this is also what you do.
                      Not so. The Bible is the sole guide for what fits and what doesn't. I don't "make" things fit. It's not "my" view, per se, but that of the Bible. The Bible provides the sole grounds for truth and rationality, so it follows that all truth claims will necessarily fit the testimony of scripture. Anything that doesn't fit the testimony of scripture is not true.
                      Actually, it is your interpretation of the Bible, and is therefore your view, unless you are claiming that when God regenerated you he also somehow faxed a 100% accurate interpretation of Scripture into your brain. I know you do not believe this, not just because it is silly, but because you have said elsewhere (Italics Mine):

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      I'm very careful (mostly) to state that it is not the Hilstonian view that I'm defending, but the Biblical view according to my understanding of it. That is to say: I know I've got things wrong about what the Bible teaches. I know I've got things wrong about how the Bible applies. And when I find them, I'll correct them. But in the meantime, I will defend the teachings and applications of that Book, as I understand it, the best I can.
                      Therefore, it is your view that you are defending, whether or not parts of that view are accurate interpretations of Scripture, and you decide to accept or reject evidence on the basis of your interpretation of Scripture, which you admit you may be wrong about. If you don’t like to think of this as “making the evidence fit your view,” we can say instead that you are “accepting or rejecting evidence on the basis of whether or not it fits with your interpretation of Scripture.” Is this a fairly accurate description of your method for interpreting scientific evidence? If you do not agree with it, please tell me specifically which part or parts are incorrect.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      The difference between you and most of the human race is that you do it consciously and intentionally. The fact that you admit it makes me wonder whether there's any point in having a discussion with you, not because I don't want to, but because I'm not sure you're currently capable of understanding perspectives or approaches other than your own.
                      I think I've demonstrated abundantly that I understand opposing perspectives. The same can't be said for those who oppose Scripture, sadly. Add to that to fact that, again, it is not "my own view" that I'm defending, but rather the testimony of the Bible. It's there for anyone to read and challenge, if they dare.
                      Please see my previous post for my comments on your claim that you’ve demonstrated abundantly that you understand opposing perspectives. I would like to clarify my point by saying that when I wondered whether you were capable of understanding perspectives other than your own, I meant more that I wondered if you were willing to admit the rationality of an opposing perspective if you did understand it. I apologize, because reading back over what I wrote, I can see that I didn’t word it very clearly at all. As I’ve said elsewhere, I do think you are capable of understanding opposing viewpoints, in fact, I said this in response to [I]your own claim[/] to not be able to understand the arguments made against you on this thread by m_d, SUTG and aharvey.

                      The reason I think you may be being disingenuous when you say you can’t understand these people is that other people whose intelligence you easily match, including other Christians, can understand them. Is it not just a little too convenient that the only people who cannot make "heads or tails" of these arguments are those who have a presupposition that no beliefs other than their own can make sense? Can you see why people are having trouble accepting your claims that you do not understand these arguments, and instead believe that you are just trying to save face while you bail out of the argument?

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Many of the arguments in the magazine seemed pseudoscientific and had an air of desperation about them. Furthermore, many of the contributors evinced an insular approach and an arrogant attitude, and the combination of these things sowed the first seeds of doubt... this current debate has done nothing to repair my confidence in young-earth creationism.
                      Hilston wrote: Chilli, let's assume for the moment that your experience with that magazine were the exact opposite. The young earth proponents had bulletproof science on their side. They were not arrogant or desperate, but absolutely humble, nice, and pleasantly confident in their claims, leaving themselves and their findings wide-open to critical assessment and peer review. Let's further suppose you then showed up here and said: "I have had very little exposure to actual proponents of evolution, and it was a popular creationist magazine that I have a subscription to that has convinced me that I'm on the right track in believing in a young earth. ... Many of the arguments in the magazine were wonderfully scientific and showed not hint of desperation in their conclusions. Furthermore, many of the contributors seemed to openly welcome opposing views without a bit of arrogance. The combination of these things solidifies my confidence in young-earth creationism. If you based your belief in the young-earth model on the above, I would tell you that your view is just as irrational and unjustified as Stratnerd's, aharvey's, SUTG's, mighty_duck's and all the rest. Such a belief, and such a foundation for that belief is tenuous and it's no wonder that you were swayed away from it. You should have been, given those criteria.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Please see above for clarification on where my confidence in a Young Earth Creation came from. It seems you are assuming I am trying to prove something by my reference to the magazine, or worse yet that my entire worldview is founded upon my reaction to it, but in fact I only mentioned it to indicate what my impetus was for wading through this lengthy and tortuous thread in the first place, I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear. Furthermore, it seems that the Answers in Genesis team, who put out the magazine, use a similar approach to you: they assume the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture, and then they set out to prove it by interpreting the evidence to fit their views, ...
                      First of all, it isn't my "assumption." It is the Bible's self-attesting claim. When one investigates those claims, one finds that they are not only true, but that they provide the foundation of all reasoning whatsoever. I don't assume the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture. It's what the Bible itself claims. And no one has been able to refute those claims without sacrificing rationality.
                      Can’t you see that by believing what the Bible says about itself, you are assuming its truthfulness? Even if you investigated every claim that Scripture makes, how would you find out that it was true, seeing as you believe that all epistemology that is not based on a belief in the God of the Bible leads to wrong conclusions? What I am saying is that in your view, wouldn’t you need to have the right assumptions about God before you set off to investigate the claims of Scripture, because otherwise you would interpret the evidence to fit in with your presuppositions? In order to have the correct view of God, you would had to have it shown to you by Scripture or some other means of special revelation, and you would be assuming that source to be true and inerrant. If there is some other evidence that will lead to a correct view of God, then how could someone interpret it correctly unless they already had the right presuppositions? I would really appreciate it if you could clear this up for me, as I consider it one of the central issues in the points made against your argument elsewhere on this thread.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      ... one notable difference being that they at least are not afraid to present evidence. What is your take on the Answers in Genesis team? Do you think they are basically good guys, but they are doing the wrong thing by arguing evidence?
                      Most of evangelism is fraught with misconceptions about apologetics. I was impressed by one of Ken Ham's papers in which he took a strongly biblical stance. A lot of what the AIG guys do is show the reasonableness of scripture. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem with AIG and organizations like it is that they go too easy on anti-Biblical worldviews. If God is real and the Bible is His Word, then no other competing views are legitimate. Period. Anyone who believes the Bible to be what it claims must be impressed with that. The Bible presents a "take-no-prisoners" approach to apologetics. It's not my method. It's what the Bible teaches.
                      I suppose it all hinges on the condition that you have given: “if God is real and the Bible is His Word.” Until recently, you have been arguing that believing the Bible was not a precondition, but a conclusion of correct presuppositions, whereas here you seem to be leaning more towards the idea that the truthfulness of Scripture must be assumed before one can have correct views about the world.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      I really wanted to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, as my entire life and plans for the future were built on this foundation. There is still a part of me that wishes to believe it, and would love to be convinced (although you will probably employ your own apparently infallible psychic powers to tell me what my real motives are).
                      I have no idea what your motives are, and would not presume to ascertain them. But belief in the inerrancy of Scripture does not come by investigating every single claim of the Bible and deciding on one's own authority whether or not that claim is true. If that's your aim, then it is sadly misguided, futile, and never-ending. There are many areas of the Bible that I've not studied, but when I do study it, it's not to see if it's true, but rather to understand what the living God wants me know and went as far as documenting in order for me to know it. The Bible claims to be God's inerrant and infallible Word, and it answers every philosophical question that can brought to bear on human existence and experience, without contradiction. No other book makes that claim and can do that.
                      You certainly presumed to know the motives of poor old JackTheSeeker though, didn’t you? I had written that statement just after reading that thread where you attempted to expose his true motives after he had asked a couple of questions about Christianity. I was expecting more of the same brutal treatment, but I have noticed that if someone anticipates what you will do next you seem to take a perverse delight in doing the opposite.

                      How do reconcile your statement that the veracity of Scripture “is the Bible's self-attesting claim. When one investigates those claims, one finds that they are not only true, but that they provide the foundation of all reasoning whatsoever” with your statement that “belief in the inerrancy of Scripture does not come by investigating every single claim of the Bible and deciding on one's own authority whether or not that claim is true”? How can you say that you “don't assume the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture. It's what the Bible itself claims” if you cannot investigate these claims to see whether or not they are true? When you say that if one investigates the claims of Scripture, “one finds that they are not only true, but that they provide the foundation of all reasoning whatsoever”, are you talking only about people who already believe in the truthfulness of Scripture? Why is this not assuming the truthfulness of Scripture? How does someone come to believe in the veracity of Scripture if they do not assume it is true beforehand, and cannot investigate its claims to see if they are true until they believe in it? Please, please clear this up for me, because it sounds like sheer absurdity to me.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      It seems that the greatest hindrance to a fruitful discussion here is that Hilston has already decided he is right, and nothing else will persuade him otherwise.
                      Hilston replied:
                      Originally Posted by Hilston
                      By the way, it has been said more than once recently that I've "already decided [I am] right." I'd like to request a show of hands: Is anyone involved in this debate arguing from the standpoint: "I haven't decided whether or not I'm right"?
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Well, the idea that everybody thinks they are right was first posited by you in one of your earliest posts in the debate. I think that may just be excuse for always thinking you are right.
                      There is a difference between arguing for something that one believes to be right, and always thinking one is right. I know I'm not alway right. I'm wrong quite often, in fact. But what I believe to be right, I believe I am right about. I acknowledge I could be wrong about things, but until I discover otherwise, I will proceed to argue for what I believe to be true. What is right, true, correct is the Bible. Of that we should all be confident. We might bicker about the details, but understood normatively and consistently, the Bible is clear, unambiguous, unequivocal, and pervasively pertinent in all matters that concern man and his existence.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Contrary to what you might think, people are often uncertain of what they believe, or do not deliberately affirm most of what constitutes their worldview.
                      I agree with you fully.
                      So you fully agree that people are often uncertain of what they believe?

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      I suppose that you will not be convinced of this because you think you are right (by your own admission).
                      I just agreed with you. Now who is making snap judgments and invoking their psychic skills?
                      I am a pro at making snap judgments, and like you I come across as arrogant and harsh, hyper-critical and opinionated; maybe its the residual effects of the churches I have been a part of, maybe I’m just a cocky bastard. Sometimes I think its because I’m passionate about knowing what is true, and I’m intolerant of irrational self-serving arguments that obscure truth. Actually, no... the cocky bastard idea may have been closer. I did not mean it as a personal insult when I said those things about you in a previous thread, I just think that your complaints that you don’t fit in here and that you are hated by most people on TOL are a gross exaggeration. Put it this way: you are not hated any more than anyone else that disagrees with the prevalent view on this thread that Open Theism is a Biblical idea.

                      As far as the “psychic skills” thing goes, again I wrote this after that disturbing JackTheSeeker thread, and you seemed to be starting to make similar judgments about me when you said that my belief in YEC must not have been based on anything solid to begin with. As I’ve stated, it was based quite solidly on God’s word, and I’m sure if you had known me personally at the time, you would have been hard-pressed to disagree. What I am beginning to realize is that your statements about the true condition of other people’s hearts and minds is perhaps not driven so much by conceit as it is by the Biblical proposal that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately sick. If this is the case, I do not agree with the way you interpret or apply scriptures such as these to mean that you can judge the hidden things in people’s hearts, especially in light of Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 4:5, which says “judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts”.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      In my opinion, it is this attitude that caused the discussion to stop progressing, as it does every other discussion you figure prominently in.
                      You don't think this thread stopped because I stopped participating? You don't think this thread would have continued if I chose to continue it? Have a look at the last few pages. What becomes curiously absent from this thread?
                      Well, when I wrote the above statement, you had still been regularly posting in this thread. Sorry, sometimes there is a delay because i start writing at home, and then I might finish it a week or more later. Anyway, my statement that the discussion had stopped progressing was in reference to what I and others perceived as a halt in qualitative progress, which I think happened some time back. It just seemed as if things were going around in circles for a while there. I am glad you are still willing to post in this thread, and I really hope we can continue a progressive and fruitful discussion.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Consider this: if you think that you are right, how the hell would you be able to tell if you were wrong?
                      I would be able to tell by seeing an area of my thinking that does not align with the Bible.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      What I'm saying is, by embracing the idea that everyone thinks that they are right, you're effectively disqualifying yourself from being able to accurately interpret or assess their worldview, seeing as you have an a priori and unchangeable belief that they are wrong and you are right.
                      You're missing the point. My point is that no one argues for a position that they do not personally believe to be true. Unless they're just being academic about some hypothetical consideration, which has its place. I assume from the onset that anyone who cares enough to come here and debate has a view that they believe to be correct and wants to have it challenged. Otherwise, why show up? If they just have questions, that will be obvious. But usually everyone has a axe to grind, and they think that axe is the right axe and that it is worth grinding.
                      Just for the record, I have not made up my mind about many of the issues discussed in this thread. I came here in the vague hope of finding some persuasive arguments in favor of a literal interpretation of Genesis, because I believe that the reliability of Scripture rests largely on issues such as this. I think it is difficult to claim to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and interpret it with a consistent hermeneutic while at the same time believing the first chapter of Genesis is not to be taken literally. I do not believe I have an axe to grind; it just seems as if some crucial parts of your argument are inconsistent with other parts.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Hilston wrote: Furthermore, I'm very careful (mostly) to state that it is not the Hilstonian view that I'm defending, but the Biblical view according to my understanding of it. That is to say: I know I've got things wrong about what the Bible teaches. I know I've got things wrong about how the Bible applies. And when I find them, I'll correct them. But in the meantime, I will defend the teachings and applications of that Book, as I understand it, the best I can.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Let me genuinely (as genuine as I can be in your eyes) congratulate you for your honesty here. I think that this paragraph is the closest you've come to exhibiting a semblance of true humility and a teachability. Usually when excuse yourself by saying that it is not you saying it, it is what the Bible teaches, you do not add the qualifier "...as I understand it."
                      Look, Chilli, my attitude has not changed throughout this debate. I've been as honest as I know to be. Anyone on the receiving end of my claims is going to view me as a big meanie, an arrogant know-it-all SOB. I know this going in. Nobody likes to be told they're wrong, especially when it is expressed in the kind of absolute and authoritative terms that the Bible uses. It's a sad thing that people get their backs up so readily because of Biblical language, but it is to be expected. The Bible said it would happen. I'm not here to impress you or anyone with my erudition, honesty or niceness. I just want to see the Biblical view defended clearly and coherently, and cogently, if that's possible. But persuasion is not the same as coherence. The Bible puts the priority on the latter.
                      Reading back over this, I can’t believe I used the word “teachability”, as it is so prone to being misunderstood. What I meant was basically an attitude that you may be wrong, and the willingness to really listen to other people arguments without having made up your mind beforehand. This is what I mean by the word “teachable”, my use of it here is another residual effect of the churches I have been involved with. Please understand that I did not mean this in any kind of snide way, nor as a backhanded way of saying you were generally dishonest. I was essentially trying to point out that usually when you excuse yourself from criticism by saying that it not your view you are espousing, but the view of the Bible, you do not add the qualifier "...as I understand it", which makes a huge difference to your argument.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Having said that, I'm having trouble reconciling your statement here that you know you've got things wrong about what the Bible teaches with your previous claim that everyone thinks they are right. I suppose you could be saying that people basically approach topics with the view that they are probably right, but may be open to the idea that they are wrong, a view which I generally would accept.
                      That's exactly what I mean. No one carries around a view that they think is probably wrong.
                      Okay, I’m glad we could clear that up, even though it basically makes moot much of my last post.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      However, I can't see how this attitude squares with your belief that people simply interpret evidence to fit their worldview, because it seems to me that if you take the latter approach, you are excluded from genuinely thinking that you may be wrong as you are impervious to evidence.
                      It's not that simple. There is a whole network of beliefs that are brought to bear upon evidence. If a person is a methodological naturalist, they not only summarily dismiss any notion of extra-logical considerations, but there is an entire worldview that underpins that assumption. I've done work for the creationist movement for years. I understand the evidence. I understand the arguments on both sides. I understand how one worldview thinks a certain view of the evidence is compelling and how another worldview thinks a different view of the evidence is compelling. The difference is not in the evidence, but in the worldview. Do you see that?
                      I do see what you are saying, and I think I fully understand your argument on this point. I agree that worldviews and presuppositions and the limitations of human reason need to be taken into consideration when interpreting evidence and that it is naïve to think that we can assess anything with true objectivity, although I think it is an unwarranted generalization to say that everyone interprets evidence to fit their worldview, seeing as it logically excludes the possibility of all rational discourse and argument. Indeed, if you really believed this, I doubt you would bother presenting any of the evidence for your worldview that you have so far.

                      You have not really responded to what I am saying here at all, you have just restated your claim that people interpret evidence to fit their worldviews, something which was included as a premise in what I said. The question implied in my above statement is how do you reconcile the view that people interpret evidence in keeping with their presuppositions with your claim that you allow for the fact that you may be wrong, and you are open to correction? Because if you are impervious to evidence that contradicts your worldview, you cannot genuinely think that you may be wrong, and you have no method for being convinced that you are wrong, seeing as you will consider any evidence presented against you as a result of your opponents worldview. Could you please answer this question?

                      Furthermore, when you say that “one worldview thinks a certain view of the evidence is compelling and how another worldview thinks a different view of the evidence is compelling. The difference is not in the evidence, but in the worldview”, I would be interested to know how you interpret a situation in which a person with a particular worldview is convinced by evidence to modify or even totally change their worldview. For example, what about an atheist who converts to Christ on the basis of the historical evidence for the reliability of the Scriptures and the resurrection of Christ? Conversely, consider a Christian missionary Bible translator who believes the Bible to be God’s inerrant Word but eventually leaves Christianity because of inconsistencies and discrepancies that he sees in Scripture, not being able to reconcile them with a truthful and consistent God.

                      Or, to make it more personal, please consider my own struggle to understand issues such as the age of the universe in light of the information presented in Genesis. I come from a background of ardent belief that the Bible is God’s Word, and that it is inerrant. I tend to agree with the argument that if the first Chapter of Genesis is arbitrarily allegorized, we might as well allegorize the rest of Genesis, which provides the historical and theological background for the most crucial (pun intended) events in Scripture, and that our confidence in Scripture and ultimately in Christ’s redeeming work is therefore seriously undermined. I am presented with evidence such as the time it takes for the light from the most distant star to reach us, and I find it compelling, but confusing because it contradicts my view that the Earth is 6,000 years old. At this point I can decide that it mustn’t be true because it contradicts my worldview, or I can try to be honest with God and with myself, and consider that perhaps there are elements of my own worldview that need adjusting.

                      How do these considerations square with your belief that people are not convinced to change their worldviews by evidence? Also, even though it is against your raison d’etre, I would really appreciate discussing the scientific evidence for the age of the Earth with you, perhaps in another thread, particularly because you have said that you have studied these things for some years. Would you consider this? I am not a scientist, so I should make easy pickings.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      In other words, when you say "when I find [my incorrect beliefs about what the Bible teaches,] I'll correct them," how exactly will you find them? How will you become convinced you are wrong? Would you mind more precisely explaining your views in this area?
                      Yes. I used to think that the Bible's description of believers identified as "The Body of Christ" was the same "New Covenant Israel." I used to believe that the Body of Christ was the fulfillment of Old Covenant Israel, hence name, New Covenant Israel. I had someone suggest to me otherwise. So I checked it out. I re-evaluated the assumptions I brought to the biblical evidence and found that I was in serious error. Another example concerns the role of angels. I once thought that angels were ministering to believers invisibly, and even though it bothered me deep down that I never saw the kind of angelic activity or presence described in the Bible, I decided that I would believe it because the Bible seemed to teach that this was the case. Someone suggested to me that I was mistaken, that the angels do not have an active ministry to believers today, and that the reason we do not see or experience their presence is because they no longer have a role in the lives of believers. So I re-evaluated the assumption that I brought to the biblical evidence and discovered, in fact, that I was wrong. The Bible teaches that the angels are not ministering invisibly or otherwise today.
                      The examples you give of times you have been corrected are both regarding issues of Biblical interpretation, and presumably involve someone in your fellowship whom you respect and admire. They are derived from your worldview, but could hardly be said to constitute your worldview as you define it. It would be similar to an evolutionist changing their views from phyletic gradualism to that of puntctual equilibrium; the change is essentially superficial and the basic worldview of evolution remains the same. What is really relevant to the topic at hand is whether you think it possible that there are elements of your basic worldview that may be wrong. Do you think you might be wrong about anything other than particular interpretations of Scripture, and can anyone other than Christians who share your general worldview present you with evidence you may find compelling? How would you tell if you were wrong about evidence that contradicts your basic worldview?

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      But seriously, I did not mean that you actually flew into a fit of rage (I'm assuming you didn't, although I do from time to time), but by "losing your cool" I meant that it was clear that you were floundering when your answers devolved from self-assured and civilized replies to belittling ad hominem attacks. In my experience, this is a common response by those who are cornered, but do not want to admit they are wrong.
                      If there were points I could not or did not answer, I could see why you might come to that conclusion. But my ridicule, mockery and insults were offered after the points were answered, not in lieu of.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      You are intelligent enough to understand what Mighty_Duck are saying and to realize the import of their lucid points upon what you are proposing, ...
                      That's where we disagree. The points are not lucid. They are fraught with uncritical assumptions and linguistic wrangling. They're just further attempts to accomplish what has already been tried from a different angle. There comes a point where there argument has been made and understood, and the opponent starts grasping for other alternatives, trying other angles. From where I'm sitting, they all seemed to be the same complaints cast in different terms, and I already knew what the outcome would be. I had to give up a couple months of my life to participate in the Battle Royale and the Grandstands. The argument has been made. There comes a point where I must stop and let the argument stand for itself. If you're confused about any part of the argument, I will happily clarify, but I cannot possibly answer each and every variation of the same failed notions that people come up with.
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      ... but your stubbornness and your attitude that you are right prevents you from being able to accept it, and so when the arguments have been made in a way that you can no longer evade them or throw up smokescreens or muddy the waters, you revert to juvenile taunts and crass insults.
                      I'm sure it appeared that way. I assure you -- and you can go back and see for yourself -- that all arguments have been met coherently and soundly by what the Bible says about them. My taunts and crass insults are designed to expose the futility and inanity of anti-Biblical worldviews. Jesus did it. Paul did it. We are to follow biblical examples and that's what I've tried my best to do. My insults were crass, yes; but juvenile? Hardly.
                      I am confused about some of your arguments as presented earlier in this thread, and I might get around to rehashing the earlier exchanges in a future post, but for now I’ll just leave most of these comments of alone for the sake of brevity.

                      Ironically, though, your statement here that “there comes a point where there argument has been made and understood, and the opponent starts grasping for other alternatives, trying other angles” could be just as easily be levelled against you by mighty_duck and Co., with the difference that the only other angle you have at your disposal seems to be crass insults. On that topic, let me also point out that Jesus and Paul were of a somewhat different order than James Hilston. Jesus may have done it, and Paul may have done it, but that does not mean you can do it. The Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, and although he may have insulted his opponents, he warned that anyone who says “you fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell. If Jesus jumped off a ten story bridge, would you do it too? The Bible says Paul is an Apostle of God who penned most of the New Testament, in which he has certainly bandied around a few crass insults, but he says that “the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone… those who oppose him he must gently instruct” and “in your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us”. Do as I say, not as I do? Maybe. When you claim you are following the Biblical model by crassly insulting those with whom you don’t agree, you again sound like you fit right in on TOL, as most of the base insults lobbed by Christians in these forums usually end up with some kind of disgusting self-righteous gloss smeared over them.

                      Do you really want to argue that crassly insulting those who don’t believe you is the Biblical idea of the Christian life, or would you rather relegate this behavior to the human foibles of James Hilston? By the way, most people consider crass insults to be very juvenile.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Hilston, I don't know if you are really having trouble understanding or not. I am leaning towards the view that you could understand if you let yourself entertain the idea that you might be wrong.
                      OK, what are you suggesting I could be wrong about?
                      Your entire worldview.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      Sooner or later though, you will need to either give up your attempt to neatly wrap up the mysteries of God and the paradox of human experience in a tidy little bundle, or leave them as they actually are: mystery and paradox.
                      Please give me an example of a mystery or paradox I should be willing to accept.
                      Okay, how about the mystery of the Triune God? Care to explain how someone can exist as three persons in one and one person in three? How about Jesus being simultaneously 100% God and 100% human? How does he do that? How about the mystery of eternality? Can you make that a bit less mysterious for me? How about the union between Christ and his Bride? How about the tension between predestination and human responsibility? How about the idea of an impartial God who chooses a special people for salvation and condemns all others, even though all are equally deserving of punishment? Perhaps you’ve got this one all figured out. How about the huge gap between our own concept of justice (which is apparently derived from God’s nature) and God’s idea of justice as eternal punishment? You believe the only way of salvation is through Christ don’t you? What about all the unsaved who have never heard of Jesus? What happens to babies who die in the womb without having heard of Jesus? As far as I can tell, in your own view most of these are things Christians should be willing to accept, and I would be very impressed if you can show how they are not mysterious and paradoxical. If you’ve got the answers, don’t keep them to yourself! Perhaps you could post them on your ministry’s website, or teach a course on them. Please be specific, and trite answers need not apply.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Originally posted by Chilli
                      I really would like to be convinced of your view, there is nothing I would find more comforting than crawling back into the insulating shell I lived in when I thought I had it all figured out.
                      From what you've written, it doesn't appear you've ever really stood on the solid foundation of God's Word, especially if you're so willing to sacrifice rationality on the altar of mystery and paradox.
                      When I first read this, I took offense at your continuing cheek in asserting that you know how I stand in relation to God’s Word better than myself, my family and my friends. Haven’t I already stated that my belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis was based on the Word of God? Its is this kind of behavior that made me think you must be trying to brush up on your psychic skills. But, as I stated earlier, I think I can now understand where you are coming from a little bit more.

                      That doesn’t make your attitude right though. It’s pretty easy to get a bunch of categories for people based on what you believe and then force everybody into the category you think they belong in, but it’s also pretty arrogant and cruel. You are not God, you do not judge the hearts and minds, you are in no position to make such statements, and one day you might feel pretty embarrassed for having done so.

                      I am not willing to sacrifice rationality, but I have never been a friend of rationalism. You believe in meta-arguments, do you believe in meta-rationale? For the record, let me say that I am willing to sacrifice what seems rational to me in order to know the Truth.

                      Originally posted by Hilston
                      Are you following the One-On-One between SUTG and me? The subject is not dead, and if you think SUTG raised points that I have not answered, I'm sure that they'll come up again in that debate. Or perhaps you can remind him.
                      I saved your discussion with SUTG to my hard drive, but have not gotten around to reading it yet. Perhaps I will read it when I get home from holidays.

                      I look forward to your responses Hilston, and I would just like to assure you that I am not “against” you, and I think you make some good points. I hope we can continue this discussion in a fruitful manner.

                      Cheers,

                      Chilli
                      "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

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                      • This is a good, thoughtful letter, Chilli. I hope it gets a response!
                        "Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something that needs our love" ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

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                        • Originally posted by Balder
                          This is a good, thoughtful letter, Chilli. I hope it gets a response!
                          Thanks, I'm sure Hilston will respond eventually, lets's just hope its worth the wait.
                          "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

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                          • Wow, after taking the time to read this; the participant in this Battle Royal and the other creationists here wouldn't last a second over at the IIDB Evo forum. Something tells me many of you already know this...

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                            • I was asked try and post this here as it is a serious question to creationists

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                              • Come on Hilston, C'moooonnnnnnNNN!.
                                "You can learn from anyone, even your enemy" - Ovid

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