Creationist Wisdom #414: West Virginia Preacher

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Coal Valley News of Lindytown, West Virginia. The title is For Such A Time As This: Creation or accident?.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), but in this case the letter-writer is a preacher. He’s Walter Lofton, Pastor of The Church of God, and he’s a frequent contributor to that newspaper. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go:

A debate has been going on for several generations on whether our universe was created by a divine Being or if it just somehow happened on its own accord. Which side you are on depends largely on which nature you allow to have sway over you.

We never heard it put quite that way before. This should be interesting. The rev says:

There is a divine nature given to mankind from the God of creation which enables one to believe through faith that there is a God and that He cares for His creation. Then there is a secular nature that discounts all spiritual things and insists on proving everything before accepting them.

We can guess which nature prevails over the rev. Let’s read on:

The only problem with this [secular] system of thought is that the methods used to “prove” their theories are flawed. Different “proofs” are offered that depend on other “proofs” with none of them having a sure foundation. This is what the Scripture calls false science. Read it in First Timothy 6:20 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

Aha! The methods of the secular nature are flawed, and its proofs are bogus! The rev continues:

It is hard to see how a level headed person capable of rational thinking could believe in the so-called big bang theory. It would make just as much sense to believe that an explosion in a print shop could result in producing a dictionary.

We’ve seen that before. It’s a welcome variation on the junkyard tornado. Here’s more:

How could anyone believe something took place one hundred million years ago when there is no way for modern man to go back that far to see if it really did? What kind of real solid proof could he offer to substantiate such a claim?

It’s the ol’ “Were you there?” argument. Always a winner! As for what kind of proof could be offered, see The Lessons of Tiktaalik. But we suspect that the rev wouldn’t be impressed.

Now, dear reader, as a reward for following this so far, the rev offers an original argument:

Also if evolution is true why did man stop evolving and level off to what we have today.

Admit it — the rev’s got you stumped! And here’s another original argument:

This theory would disrupt all medical knowledge and research since the science of the human body is well established and unchanging.

He’s right! Medical science has never encountered any genetic variations among humans — at least, not in West Virginia, where it’s rumored that everyone has the identical genome. On with the letter:

Since space is limited I will say no more but I would like to leave you with a poem that you may find interesting.

We’re not going to copy the rev’s poem, which is the conclusion of his letter. If you really want to see it, click over to the Coal Valley News and let us know what you think.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #414: West Virginia Preacher

  1. I really have no desire to read more of the reverend’s regurgitations. I probably already know what I would think! Others can report back to us should they desire.

  2. This man, and so many others like him, do not know enough about what they criticize to have anything valid to say about it.

  3. West Virginia, Giving People Reason to Believe Stereotypes about West Virginians are Real Since 1863.

  4. The word “science” does not occur in the Bible, let alone First Timothy, you Lindytown loon. It does not occur in the Hebrew parts or in the Greek parts.

  5. waldteufel

    Ain’t West Virginie one of them states where guys go to family reunions to hunt chicks, and many family trees don’t got branches?

  6. 1 Timothy 6:20 (KJV) O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

  7. waldteufel

    Also Daniel 1:4 (KJV). . . .Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

  8. Stephen Kennedy

    The Physics of the Big Bang are very difficult to understand. It was not like the explosion of a bomb in existing space. It is an expansion of space-time itself that is constantly creating new space-time where there was previously nothing, not even space. This is difficult for even professional astronomers and physicists to comprehend, so it is not surprising that this dim witted West Virginia preacher Walter Lofton does not get it. What is surprising is the number of people who have obviously never studied Astronomy who keep making statements about the Big Bang even though they know nothing about it. His statements do not diminish the credibility of the Big Bang theory, they only expose the rev’s ignorance concerning the theory.

  9. Read it in First Timothy 6:20 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

    Versions other than the KJV use the word “knowledge” instead of “science”. However it is phrased, it is interesting that as early as the late first or second century, christians were already being challenged on their beliefs by knowledgeable people of the day. It’s 2,000 years later, and nothing has changed.

  10. SC: ” Medical science has never encountered any genetic variations among humans — at least, not in West Virginia, where it’s rumored that everyone has the identical genome.”

    Now that’s not going to win any friends for you in West Virginia — at least, not among those who can read.

    Of course, the Rev just doesn’t understand how evolution works (as if he cared). Homo Sapiens is evolving — continuously, inexorably, with every birth; and with every premature death. Some of us will be more successful at reproduction and get more of our genes into the next generation; others, not so much. Future generations will look more and more like today’s more prolific. That’s evolution, Rev. The problem is, no one lives long enough to personally observe it, but we can see it in statistics. For instance, we are becoming taller as a species. Now, this could be due to better nutrition, or it could be genetic. Perhaps taller people are more successful in life, and are able to better support larger families.

    The point is, contrary to what the Rev thinks, we are evolving. Like the other complex forms of life, we are a transitional species. That is, if we don’t become extinct.

  11. I think the Rev’s been sniffing too much coal dust.

  12. Someone should send this letter to good old William Lane Craig. At the other hand someone should also send a summary of good old WLC’s Cosmological Argument to Walter Lofton.
    The debate that follows I would very much like to watch on telly: two christians disproving each others belief systems.

  13. I posted the following at the Coal Valley News:

    The only thing the Rev has revealed here is the depth of his ignorance of science. He apparently knows nothing of astronomy, physics, mathematics above what he needs to count what’s in the collection plate, or biology. He derives his knowledge from a bible that teaches that snakes can talk, rabbits eat their cud, and the earth is flat with the sun going around it. His morals come from the same bible that endorses slavery, genocide, and perpetual and eternal punishment for the thought crime of thinking for one’s self if that thinking rejects the Rev’s magical, invisible wizard.

  14. Waldteufel: Good! I think such responses to letters to editors is a good idea. I encourage others to do the same. Often such letters in smaller newspapers get no opposition. One does not have to be a local or a subscriber to write a response. I have often written such responses and they do usually get published. Editors seem to like letters on perceived controversies.

  15. Retired Prof

    Stephen Kennedy says: [The Big Bang] “was not like the explosion of a bomb in existing space. It is an expansion of space-time itself that is constantly creating new space-time where there was previously nothing, not even space.”

    What a relief. This past grouse/woodcock hunting season I feared I was succumbing to old age, because I missed more birds than in the old days. However, your description explains what was really happening. The birds nowadays are surrounded by a greater expanse of space-time than ever before, providing more room in which my shots can go astray.

  16. Sorry, Prof, you are indeed succumbing to old age (as am I). As the universe expands, it is only the intergalactic space that is expanding. Gravitationally bound systems like galaxies are not expanding, nor are smaller systems like your errant (lucky?) groups of birds. Now, where did I put my trifocals?

  17. @Retired Prof: Sorry, Doc, you have no such excuse. The space surrounding the birds isn’t the only thing increasing in size — so are the birds and the spread of your shot pattern. Just face it — you’re getting old with the rest of us. So … join the Audubon Society. You’ll feel better about not hitting the birds.

    (I could really stir things up by suggesting you hunt feral cats instead, but I won’t do that.)

  18. @waldteufel: How do you know? Were you there???

    (By some warp of space/time, we responded simultaneously. It must be designed.)

  19. I’ll say it again – the word “science”, meaning the study of all natural objects, processes, and phenomena of the Universe, does NOT occur in the Bible. Using that word, in English, in the Bible, as a translation of a Hebrew or Greek word, is dishonest and misleading. Actually – creationists love that sort of thing.

  20. Read it in First Timothy 6:20 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

    Interesting that the translation of the KJV bible uses the word “science.” Only one other translation version of the bible uses “science” whereas a multitude of translations use “knowledge.” (search wikipedia for First Timothy 6:20). But the notion of science did not exist in biblical times, though the concept of knowledge did. And certainly Darwin’s evolution was not in vogue back then, or was it?

  21. What a nasty little piece of doggerel appended to the letter. No monkey ever composed a symphony, wrote a novel, founded a charity, trained as a nurse, invented the internet, devised a school curriculum, implemented a vaccination programme, sent help to a disaster zone or organised a children’s party. Such a worm’s eye view of humanity.

  22. James St. John points out

    I’ll say it again – the word “science”, meaning the study of all natural objects, processes, and phenomena of the Universe, does NOT occur in the Bible. Using that word, in English, in the Bible, as a translation of a Hebrew or Greek word, is dishonest and misleading.

    The originial Greek term, at 1:Timothy 6:20 is “γνώσεως” (‘gnoseos’), from the same IE root from which our word ‘knowledge’ is derived, and ‘knowledge’ is indeed a good translation for it. But the Latin translation of γνώσεως is indeed scientia, which also translates to English as ‘knowledge’ (as in ipsa scientia potestas est = “knowledge itself is power”), so the translators of the KJV were not “dishonest and misleading” in rendering gnoseos as “science”; it’s just that ‘science’ at the time the KJV was prepared did not mean ‘science’ as we have known it since the Enlightenment.

    What is certainly ignorant–if not indeed dishonest and misleading–is when Creationists take this reference from 1:Tim 6:20 to refer to modern science and not, as it did at the time the KJV was produced, to knowledge

  23. To add to Cardinal Megs’ point, IIRC, Shakespeare also occasionally used the word “science” in the sense of “knowledge”. It would indeed be a bizarre bit of literature study to equate the Shakespearean and modern usages of “science”.

    Meanwhile, our Revver Walter Lofton is persuaded that “the methods used to ‘prove’ [this secular system of thought’s] theories are flawed.” I am left wondering whether the good Revver advocates prayer as an effective alternative to medication. Or perhaps speaking in tongues as the proper working process for transcontinental communication. Or an abundance of faith in lieu of earthmoving machinery.

    The mind boggles at the Revver’s blithe spuriousness.

  24. @Mega: at the other side of the small pond the protestant Dutch Statenvertaling from the 17th Century uses “wetenschap” (science), while the Catholic Nieuwe Willibrordvertaling (very recent) uses “kennis” (knowledge), thus confirming your point.

  25. “Wisdom”: “A debate has been going on for several generations on whether our universe was created by a divine Being or if it just somehow happened on its own accord.”

    And that debate is 100% separate from the “debate” on evolution vs. potential alternative equivalent and testable explanations. Because of the pervasive misinformation, science illiteracy and sensationalist media, I will forgive anyone once for confusing the 2. The 2nd time, which must be the case for many (most?) of these 400+ letter-writers, is clear indication that one is either severely mentally challenged or at least partly in on the scam. And yes, that means even when some pro-evolution people do it, which is unfortunately far too often.

    Much of the problem is careless use of the words “creationism” and “creationist(s)” (the C-words). Most people who are mostly unaware of the anti-evolution-movement see the “divine Being” part as the key part of the C-words. But in fact it is the fatal combination of evolution denial and misrepresentation of evolution that are essential features. The latter includes a deliberate bait-and-switch between ultimate causes and the testable “what happened when, where and how” of science. That is why the trend in anti-evolution activism has been away from any semblance of supporting its own testable “what happened when, where and how,” and increasingly about “problems” with “Darwinism.” With the latter evolving away from “not enough evidence(s)” and toward paranoid beliefs that the “masses” would not behave properly if they accept evolution (the “Expelled” nonsense). While committed Biblical literalists keep “slouching towards Omphalos,” the shrewder activists keep sharpening their bait-and-switch tactics to keep unity in their “big tent” while dividing critics. Ironically, Dembski himself provides the best advice: Don’t take the bait.

  26. More “wisdom”: “It is hard to see how a level headed person capable of rational thinking could believe in the so-called big bang theory.

    Here’s another example of a fatal disagreement among evolution-deniers that is rarely exploited by our side. Many evolution-deniers, particularly some “species” of anti-evolution activist fully admit that the big bang happened, and that it happened 13-14 billion years ago. But they usually spin it as another sign of God or design. Dembski even once speculated that the “design” might have been front-loaded there. Which would be 100% consistent with evolution, but as you all know, the DI always tries to have everything both ways.

    In any case, the proper reaction to big-bang-deniers is “Too bad many other ‘creationists’ disagree. Take it up with them, and get back to us when you find some common ground.” Skilled activists will of course weasel out of that, and Gish-gallop to some other “weakness” of “Darwinism,” but some will be caught off guard. And many fence sitters in the audience will smell a rat even with the slickest of activists.

  27. Stephen Kennedy

    @Retired Prof

    At a Hubble Constant of about 70km/s/megaparsec, the distance between the birds would grow about one centimeter in 60 million years. You need to spend more time at the skeet range before hunting season begins.