Response to McDonald's First Defense

Tedd Hadley

I acknowledge the preamble and its proposition, definitions, and affirmations as clearly stated and I have no objections to them at this time.

Response to THE ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

Jerry McDonald wrote:

Major Premise: "If there is even one characteristic, attribute or property of even one human being which could have come into existence only by the creative power of God, then that one human being constitutes proof that God exists."

It might be worthwhile to briefly ask whether or not you would grant that there are any forces that exist that are *not* part of the creative power of God. Are natural forces (i.e. those forces that are derived in some fashion from the laws of physics) an alternative to the creative power of God? Hopefully for the sake of this argument, they are, since they are the only other forces I can appeal to.

It should be noted that it is not a disproof of God to appeal to natural forces, but it does make his active presence unnecessary, and that is what I hope to show.

Response to the first argument for the existence of God

Jerry McDonald wrote:

"Proof for the argument: (1) Either human beings owe their ultimate origin to creation or evolution. (2) If human beings owe their ultimate origin to creation then God does exist. (3) If human beings owe their ultimate origin to evolution then this evolution must have happened on one of two ways. [A] Either some human being was born of some non-human thing, or [B] some human being was transformed from some non-human thing."

What is the defining characteristic(s) that separates humans from non-humans? Is it physical, emotional, biological or what? The reason that this is important is that the ancestors of man, Homo sapiens archaic, according to evolution, where very similar to modern man. They were intelligent, probably the most intelligent species of the time, and they could make tools. The only recognizable differences from modern Homo sapiens are a generally slightly smaller brain size and large brow ridges with receding foreheads and chins. Would Jerry say that Homo sapiens archaic were "human" or not? How about Homo erectus or Homo habilis? Both of these species are also recognized as ancestral to modern man, both of them were probably quite intelligent, and both could make tools. The only differences we can observe from the fossil record are still smaller brain sizes and skeletal differences. Were they "human" or not?

However, if we assume that "human" refers only to Homo sapiens, one may still ask when the first Homo sapiens was born to a non-Homo sapiens.

In evolutionary theory, populations are always evolving and there is a continuous, gradual line of evolutionary change from an ancestor population to its descendent(s) defined at the granularity of mutations. The term "species" identifies points of interest along this line of evolutionary change. The best analogy is a color bar. We identify positions along the spectrum by calling them red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. But in reality, there is a continuous range of colors *between* the positions we've identified. Trying to identify where in a lineage the first Homo sapiens evolved is like trying to figure out where on the spectrum yellow becomes green. There are hundreds of colors between yellow and green that are not entirely yellow and are not entirely green, so the question can not be answered precisely. In the same way, there are likely hundreds of sub-species between the species classified as the most recent ancestor of Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens itself that are not entirely one or the other. The question can not be answered precisely.

In conclusion, I would offer that Jerry's two options, A and B, are insufficient. The correct option if evolution occurred would be [C] a species we've decided to call "non-human" evolved in many tiny steps over time into a species we now call "human".

Response to THE ARGUMENT FOR MAN'S RESPIRATORY SYSTEM

Jerry McDonald wrote:

Major Premise: "If the gaseous interchanges (i.e., of oxygen and carbon dioxide) in the respiratory system of a human being possesses such properties (or involve such things) as to make clear that such interchanges were not brought into being by any part of or the totality of dead matter, then the respiratory system of the human being (in which these interchanges occur) must have been brought into being by a (the) creator who transcends the universe (God."

[In point (1) you describe the features of the respiratory system but I don't see a specific conclusion with respect to the premise. Therefore I assume this doesn't require comment.]

Summary of (2): A fully functioning respiratory system had to have been present in some organism before that organism could possibly be able to survive in the air. Since evolution is a blind, unthinking process, it can not plan ahead. Thus, the respiratory system is the product of intelligent design. Thus God exists.

[If this is not sufficient, please correct it. I didn't quite follow some of your remarks about the time frame needed.]

So, is there any way at all that such a system could originate by natural means in a stepwise fashion? If not, then we must assume either pure coincidence resulted in the crucial components of the respiratory system forming and coming together at just the right time, or that an intelligent designer was responsible. (In the absence of a natural mechanism, I also would tend to favor the intelligent designer conclusion.)

We actually have a good deal of evidence that favors the natural mechanism for the origin of of air-breathing structures. The earliest lung was likely nothing more than a simple bladder-like structure. Question: how could an organism survive with such a simple structure? Answer: this organism was a fish and would rely primarily on its gills to extract oxygen from the water. Question: how could such a simple structure actually work to get oxygen into the blood stream? Answer: the fish would first swim to the surface and gulp air into the bladder. Once there, no special mechanism is needed to allow oxygen to diffuse into the blood stream. It happens whenever a gas is in close proximity to blood vessels within the walls of a body cavity. In fact, modern fish can obtain some oxygen from the air by gulping it into the stomach. Question: what advantage could such a structure be to a fish? Answer: to allow an added intake of oxygen from the surface in hypoxic (oxygen poor) waters. This would extend the area in which the fish could exist and broaden its food supply. Question: is this gas bladder idea all speculation? Answer: No, many fish have such bladders today and use them in similar fashion.

With the advent of such a bladder, a fish could now survive for a period of time out of the water. With primitive walking structures and continued natural selection, it is not hard to see how eventually the first amphibian left the water to exploit the rich food supply that was undoubtably waiting on beaches and dry land. Its lung structures were probably not as good as those we use today, but it could always go back into the water to catch its breath, so to speak, if need be. As the lungs evolved in efficiency, it is suggested that eventually gills were no longer needed and they became vestigial structures.

In conclusion, there is good evidence that respiratory structures came into being from previous structures in a step-wise fashion. There is evidence that each step produced a benefit to the organism. Therefore it is not necessary to invoke the work of a creator in the instance of the respiratory system.

Response to ELEMENT NUMBER TWO: "The Bible Is Of Divine Origin."

Response to THE ARGUMENT FOR THE BIBLE BEING OF DIVINE ORIGIN

Jerry McDonald wrote:

Major Premise: "The Bible is either of divine origin, or it is of Satanic origin, or it is of human origin."

Summary: Bad men wouldn't write the Bible because the Bible criticizes bad men. Good men couldn't write the Bible because they would have to lie whenever they claimed divine inspiration. Good men don't lie. Therefore the Bible was written by God.

I will grant that the Bible is not of Satanic origin and I will grant that the men who wrote it believed they were telling the truth. In that sense, these men were "good". However, I think they were also deluded, and thus their statements had no necessary basis in fact.

People are neither all good nor all bad. It is possible for a person who is normally good to do something bad. People are not infallible. If I am to grant any situation of yours that might have basis in reality, you must include the possibility that good people can once in a while exaggerate or twist the truth to further their agenda. I have seen this happen all the time in my experiences within Christianity.

Jerry McDonald wrote:

"Good men do not lie because lying is not good."

You also seem to be using "lie" with two different connotations. One definition assumes that the person telling the lie knows that it is false. That is the "bad" men you are talking about. However, the other sense focuses only on the truth or falseness of the statement and calls it a lie if and only if it is false. In this usage, a "good" person can tell a lie because he or she is not aware that it is not true. To avoid confusion, let's call the first usage a "knowing lie" and the second an "unknowing lie".

Jerry McDonald wrote:

"'But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11,12).'

Either [Paul] received what he preached by revelation from Jesus Christ, or he did not. If he did not then he told a lie. If he did then he told the truth. There is no way around it."

In this case I think he told an unknowing lie. I don't find it at all farfetched that he fervently believed he was conveying the message of God even though ultimately the words were his alone. It is common for religious leaders/teachers to claim divine inspiration and I believe most of them are sincere, albeit deluded.

In conclusion, the argument raises a false dichotomy by assuming that the authors of the Bible must be either all good or all bad. Further, it confuses the distinction between telling knowing and unknowing lies. Thus, it fails to cast doubt on a supposition that the Bible was written by sincere, generally truthful men who were deluded.

Tedd Hadley


CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.


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