"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..."
(1 Jno. 4:1)
|Volume Four, Number Four
THE MCDONALD-SMITH CORRESPONDENCE
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the correspondence that I had with a socalled freethinker from Sherman Oaks, California between the months of July and December 1994. This correspondence was prompted by a letter that Mr. Smith wrote Dennis McKinsey which was published in the July 1994 issue of Biblical Errancy in which he criticized Christians very heavily even calling us "intellectual cowards." On July 13, 1994 I wrote a letter to Mr. Smith inviting him to debate, but he apparently did not understand what was meant by the word "debate." So he sent me another letter informing me that I could publish our correspondence as the debate if I would allow him to send it to any atheistic paper he desired. I, of course, gave him permission and now I am publishing this correspondence as our debate. I still wish to have a formal debate with Mr. Smith and hold the invitation open, but if correspondence is all that he desires, he has the opportunity to respond to these exchanges. I will reprint Mr. Smith's letter to McKinsey from Biblical Errancy. I believe that this letter shows just how easy it is for an atheist to write a letter to one of his own publications, but how hard it is to respond to someone's objections to that letter.
Reprinted from Biblical Errancy...
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Letter # 585 from RS of Sherman Oaks, California. Dear Dennis, Just want to say hello and thanks again for your great publication. It is a great contribution to intellectual integrity, exposing, as it does, the fantasy world of Christian apologetics where two
plus two equals five and red is green. It's about time someone attacked the head of the snake and exposed the appalling befuddlement underlying Christian "scholarship." Anyone who takes the time to study Christian apologists and their writings will eventually see the convoluted web they weave. It's truly amazing how they can off load such drivel onto an unsuspecting public. Their apologies are really a cut below medieval science and scholarship at best.
If we were forced to believe the arguments of apologists, we would eventually become rambling imbeciles, forever forcing facts to fit fallacies. I often hear Christians regurgitating apologetic denials like magical incantations to ward off Biblical errors. For example, when shown a contradiction in the scriptures, some of them will say the verse has been taken out of context, or the verse is better in the original Greek or Hebrew, or some other such obfuscating nonsense. But in every case when you call their bluff and read the actual verse in the context and analyze the original Greek or Hebrew so that there can be no mistake about it, their argument collapses for sheer lack of support. Eventually, they are wrestled to the mat with their own spurious information and have to take the "faith" amendment. Really, they must reexamine the false information of their apologetic sources if there is to be any light on the matter. Then, maybe, just maybe,
they will see how apologists work with shadows and smoke to effect their miscreant sophistry.
Christians rarely think independently, and, more often then not, rely on some "expert" with a new "magic bullet" against the innumerable problems of the Bible. They'll read apologetic drivel till the cows come home, yet rarely will they review scholarly critiques found outside of Christian bookstores. The reason for this shameful farce is simple. They are not looking for truth; they're looking for a bandaid to cover their selfdeception. They have no real faith to begin with. If they did, they would not fear getting a second opinion from independent scholars. In my mind, most Christians are intellectual cowards. They'll die at the stake for their beliefs, but run like hell when the silver bullet of reason flies at them.
I have encountered similar subterfuges as you have in apprehending apologetic criminals like Carl Johnson. I recently talked to a Christian who had Zondervan books up the kazoo and still he couldn't answer the question: "Why does God create evil?" He gave the same response as Johnson so I had him look up the Hebrew word used in the verses in which it is stated that God creates or causes evil. The meaning of the word includes "calamity" but it most certainly also includes "iniquity." I told him that if the verses were intended to mean "calamity" only, then they should have used the Hebrew word for "calamity" rather than using a word that means "iniquity," especially since the word clearly means "iniquity" wherever it is used in the Bible. Finally I asked him how can anyone trust a God who creates evil. There was no response.
The more I talk to persons of the Christian persuasion, the more I realize what a foul mess of sloppy thinking they have gotten themselves into. If the propensity to believe Christian apologists reflects the intellectual development of the Christian millions
who populate the earth, then we are definitely headed for a grave decline in moral and intellectual achievement. B.E. provides the only "review board" that examines apologetic authors and exposes their intellectual depravity at the root. By the way,
your tape transcripts were excellent. (Roy Smith's address is 15237 Sutton St., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403)
97 Florence St.
Sullivan, MO 63080
July 13, 1994
15237 Sutton St.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
I am a subscriber to Dennis McKinsey's publication Biblical Errancy. I read your letter to the editor on pages 4&6 of issue 139 in which you are very critical of Christians. You stated, "(i)n my mind, most Christians are intellectual cowards. They'll die
at the stake for their beliefs, but run like hell when the silver bullet of reason flies at them." Do you really believe that garbage? Do you honestly think that we are cowards who run from you people? I have been defending the Bible in debate for 15 years now. To date I have had eight written and oral debates and exchanges with atheists like Farrell Till, Adrian Swindler, Ernie Brennaman, and yes, even your beloved leader "Dennis McKinsey." And I have yet to run from any of them. As a matter of fact I am in negotiations with Farrell Till and Dan Barker for future debates on the historicity and resurrection of Christ, and the inspiration of the Bible. I was just telling a friend of mine, the other day that I needed to get another written debate going with an atheist, but I didn't know who to ask. Well, it seems that providence has smiled upon me for when I read your statement, I decided to ask you. You ought to be willing to debate an intellectual
coward who will run when the silver bullet of reason flies at him. So say "yes" and make my day.
You charge us with reading apologetic drivel till the cows come home, but rarely will we review "scholarly critiques found outside Christian bookstores." You say that the reason for this is because we have no real faith to begin with. Well, go ahead and accept my challenge and see just what kind of faith I have to begin with. I know your arguments better than you do. I have read from Joseph Wheless; Bertrand Russell; Robert Countess; Steven Hawking; Richard Elliott Friedman; Ian Wilson and other atheistic philosophers past and present. And I have never seen anything that any of them have ever said that would cause me to even be concerned about my belief in God and his word.
So the time has come. Either "put up or shut up!" I am tired of atheistic propaganda about how intellectually weak we Christians are. If you think you have a "sense of total control over [your] interchanges with Christians," then you ought to be willing to debate me. Since you believe yourself to be "a competent spokesperson" for the atheistic cause, I will gladly open the pages of my publication Challenge to you and let you preach to my readers, who are mostly Christians. You see, I have a quarterly debate journal which allows both sides of the issue on the Bible inerrancy doctrine to be heard. If your argument on the word "evil" is any example of the kind of arsenal that you have against us, we certainly have nothing to fear. I would like to see you "call my bluff" when I charge you with taking verses out of their context or not understanding the Greek or Hebrew. You say: "It's about time someone attacked
the head of the snake and exposed the appalling befuddlement underlying Christian 'scholarship'" Ok, let's debate. You should have nothing to fear, after all I am nothing more than a "rambling imbecile" who forces facts to fit fallacies. What have you got to worry about? After all I will eventually end up taking the "faith" amendment, according to you. So go for it, what do you have to lose?
I await your response, if you have the intestinal fortitude to respond at all.
I await, Jerry D. McDonald.
15237 Sutton St.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
July 16, 1994
97 Florence St.
Sullivan, MO 63080
Congratulations for being one of the few to come out of the closet to defend the lost cause of fundamentalism. Its [sic] to find your breed after the beating you took at the Scope's Monkey Trial, and it's a wonder the head of the snake is still alive and kicking.
Yet, here you are in all of your cockiness, ready to do battle against the indisputable findings of science, reason and scholarship that have long since laid your case to waste. I doubt you can make even a small dent in the growing wall of facts arrayed against you.
In your letter you stated that you've gone head to head with Til [sic], Swindler, Brennaman, and McKinsey; that you've read, Wheless, Russell, Countess, Hawking, Friedman, and Wilson; that you have a publication called Challenge, that purports a free forum for
debate, etc. I suppose you think yourself an informed debater though you failed to mention the countless numbers of other scientists, scholars and researchers who have long since undermined the credulity of your backward doctrine. What's more, you haven't said anything
that even remotely convinces me you've won any of your arguments, and this is suggested by the way you sidestepped the issue of my letter which pointed out the fact that the Bible states that God creates evil. Are you conceding the point?
Perhaps, we are already seeing an example of your ability to debate here, and that it was never your intent to debate on the issues in the first place, but rather to spew out a rambling series of statements as to how great you are in the field of debate and in defending your unworthy cause. Or, will you answer here and now why anyone should believe in a god who creates evil:
(Judges 9;23, 1 Sam. 16:23, 18:10, Lam. 3:38, Ezek. 20:2526, Micah 2:3, Jer. 23:6, 18:11, 19:3, 19:15, 36:3, 32:42, 11:11, 14:16, 23:12, 26:13, 35:17, 36:31); deceives (2 Chron. 18:22, Jer. 4:10, 15:18, 20:7, Ezek 14:9, 2 Thess. 2:912); lies (Gen 2:17, 2 Sam 7:13); tells people to lie (Ex 3:18, 2 Sam. 16:2); makes false prophecies (Gen. 35:10, Jon 3:4); causes adultery (2 Sam 12:1112); sanctions slavery (Ex 21:2021, Deut 15:17); practices injustice (Ex 4:2223, Josh 22:20, Rom 5:12); punishes many for the acts of one (Gen 3:16, 20:18); punishes children for the sins for their fathers (Ex 12:29, 20:5, Deut. 5:9); prevents people from hearing the word (Isa 6:10, John 12:3940); supports human sacrifice (Ex
22:2930, Ezek 20:26); orders cannibalism (Lev 26:29, Jer 19:9); demands virgins as part of war plunder (Num 31:3136); sanctions the violation of enemies [sic] women (Deut 21:1014); excuses the beating of slaves to death Ex 21:2021) [sic]; requires a woman to marry her rapist (Deut 22:2829).
Mr. McDonald, you've sidestepped the issue of my argument and that's a good example of intellectual cowardice, rambling, dodging the silver bullet of reason, and how you have no real faith to begin with. Second, you refer to me as an atheist although I haven't stated my position; that would seem to suggest a propensity to force facts to fit the fallacy, as well. I support Biblical Errancy [sic] because it exposes the appalling befuddlement underlying Christian "scholarship," not because of a particular philosophy. Mr. McDonald, your bluff has been called and you have failed to answer. Are you taking the "faith" amendment now?
I await your response if you have the intellectual integrity to respond at all.
sincerely, Roy Smith
P.S.: You have my permission to publish my letter in Challenge if you give me permission to publish your letter in Biblical Errancy or other publication [sic] of my choosing.
CHALLENGE 97 Florence Street, Sullivan, Missouri 63080, 314/8602821/4684991
December 5, 1994
15237 Sutton St.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Is your letter dated 7/16/94 what you want me to print in Challenge as your part of a debate? When I challenged you to a debate, I was in hopes that we might have a real debate. I was in hopes that we might have something like Brennaman and I had. In that debate we did not spend time talking about how great we were, instead we spent our time discussing the issue under consideration. I do not feel that you fully understand what a debate is. However, if exchanging letters is what you want printed, I will gladly oblige you. You, of course, have my permission to print my letters (in their entirety) in any atheistic publication you choose.
Let me say that I have not come out of the closet, I have never been in the closet. Your problem is that you are too arrogant to see that the socalled devastating results of the socalled "Monkey Trials" were not so devastating as you atheists would like for the rest of the world to believe. If those results were so devastating against the Bible inerrancy doctrine, then why is it that your beloved leader Madilyn Murray O'Hair boasted that 10% of the U.S. population were atheists. She seemed to think that such was a pretty good percentage. That meant that 90% were not atheists.
You say that here I am in all of my, "cockiness, ready to do battle against the indisputable findings of science, reason and scholarship that have long since laid your case to waste." Right. What science has laid my case to waste? Would you care to elaborate on that? Also, I know of no group of people more cocky than atheists (Oh, I'm sorry, you haven't made the claim to be an atheist. What are you, then? Surely you are not one of
those people like Ron Labbe who claims to be a Christian theist while rejecting the only book that tells him how to be a Christian? Just what are you?). If "scholars" have laid my case to waste so terribly, I have yet to see the evidence. Just who are these scholars? Dr. Antony G.N. Flew? He debated Dr. Thomas Warren in 1974 and before the debate was over he was saying that he would not be writing any more saying that there is no God. Who, Dr. Wallace Matson? He took the agnostic position (after signing an atheistic proposition with Dr. Warren) in 1978. Just who are these scholars?
You listed the scholars and scientists that I told you I had read from and state: "I suppose now you think yourself an informed debater though you failed to mention the countless other scientists, scholars and researchers who have long since undermined the credibility of your backward doctrine." Does that mean that you don't think that Hawking, Countess, Russell, Wheless, Friedman, and Wilson have been able to do that. Hawking, as Farrell Till puts it, is one of the worlds foremost authorities in theoretical physics. I chose those names because they are pretty well known by all. But since you don't think they are very reputable, just who do you think has put my "backward doctrine" to rest? What about Dr. Robert Jastrow, who stated:
"For the scientist who has lived his life by faith in the power of reason, the story (the quest for origins) ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries" (God and the Astronomers).
Dr. Robert Gange, a research scientist, engineer, and professor and who has been repeatedly honored by NASA, states that God did create the world:
"The awesome splendor of a 30 billion lightyear wide universe so precisely balanced that a butterfly can stay perched at the edge of a flower petal points not to chance, but to cause; not to matter, but to maker; and more than that, to a maker who matters"(A Scientist Looks At Creation).
Maybe these men aren't known to you, but they are known to most. Jastrow is a famed astronomer and agnostic. Gange used to be a skeptic until he began looking at the evidence, now he is convinced that there is a God.
You say that I have said nothing to convince you that I have won any arguments. I didn't know that I was suppose to convince you. Convincing you is not a very high priority on my list of things to do. I just want to debate you to expose your anemic doctrine. I have not set myself to do the impossible task of convincing you (or any other atheist ?) of anything. So I'm not real concerned with whether you are ever convinced or not.
My reason for not dealing with your argument on the word "evil" in my letter is because I wanted you to make that argument in the debate so it could be dealt with there. However since you seemed to have missed the entire idea of what a debate is, and since you think that I am unable to deal with your argument, I will deal with it in this letter.
In your letter to McKinsey you made this statement:
I have encountered similar subterfuges as you have in apprehending apologetic criminals like Carl Johnson. I recently talked to a Christian who had Zondervan books up the kazoo and still he couldn't answer the question: "Why does God created evil?" He gave the same response as Johnson, so I had him look up the Hebrew word used in those verses in which it is stated that God creates or causes evil. The meaning of the word includes "calamity" but it most certainly also includes "iniquity." I told him that if the verses were intended to mean "calamity" only, then they should have used the Hebrew word for "calamity" rather than using a word that means "iniquity," especially since the word clearly means "iniquity" wherever it's used in the Bible.
The English word "evil" is translated from the Hebrew word "rawah" or "rah". The word has several meanings. It means to be displeasing, to be sad, to be injurious, to be wicked, to suffer hurt/injury, to break, to be broken into pieces, to be wicked, misery, distress, calamity, adversity, distress, and so on. You cannot arbitrarily take only one meaning, and place it on the word "evil" every time you see it. There are some times the word "evil" is referring to iniquity, and some times it is referring to calamity. If you doubt this notice the following example.
Atheists have often said that God cannot exist because evil exists. One of the things that they call evil is natural calamities. They say, as Brennaman did: "Not all of the evil in the world is caused by men. Nature also causes evil" (McDonaldBrennaman
Debate, Brennaman's Fourth Affirmative, p.4). Now, was Brennaman saying that nature causes iniquity or calamity? I think that anyone who honestly reads this will have to admit that Brennaman was using the word "evil" to mean calamity. Iniquity is not even implied in the the statement. Nature does not cause iniquity, but rather calamity.
Now it is admitted that sometimes the word "evil" does mean "iniquity," but such is not the case, "wherever it's used in the Bible."
The Bible tells us that God creates "evil." The Bible tells us that God allows "evil." And the Bible tells us that God cannot behold "evil." Now how can God create and allow that which he cannot behold? One has to look at the word "evil" in the context that it is in and then determine how it is used. In some contexts "evil" refers to "wickedness." In some contexts the word "evil" refers solely to "calamity." Let's take your passages one by one and see just what they say.
I await your response.
Respectfully, Jerry D. McDonald
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate
123 Hull Drive
Waynesville, MO 65583