Creationist Wisdom #507: Two Preachers

Get ready for a rare treat, dear reader. This time we bring you two letters-to-the-editor, each one from a preacher, and they appear in two different newspapers. We’ll give you only a few excerpts from each, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis.

The first appears in the Buffalo News of Buffalo, New York. It’s titled We need the spiritual dimension in our lives . There’s a comments section at the end. The letter-writer is Charles Lamb, described as “a retired minister [who] works part time as assistant to the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown.” Here we go!

Several recent writers to these columns have scoffed at the idea of God. They want to limit our understanding to physical, material, natural experiences. There is more to life than that. Life has not only the physical and intellectual components, but the spiritual as well. The spiritual is not subject to scientific analysis. The material and spiritual may overlap, but each has its own integrity. … Those who have had a spiritual experience can never prove it to others, but neither can they ever doubt it.

Good start, huh? The rev continues:

Someone asked me once to say in 25 words or less why I believed in God. I had many reasons, but in that limited space I said because I am a follower of Jesus. According to all independent accounts, he did not speak theoretically but authoritatively and told us about God. When I follow him he leads me to God. It works!

Hey — it works. Let’s read on:

A gay friend once told me that arguments would never change the minds of people who are homophobic. The only thing that would change them, he said, was meeting a gay person and learning that the person was good and moral and kind. Then he would have to re-think his prejudice.

By the same token, I hope the skeptics who believe only in what can be measured in a laboratory will meet someone from whom the light of God shines so clearly they have to believe.

A most unusual analogy! Here’s how the rev ends his letter:

At some point, actually at every point in life, we need the spiritual dimension in order to live to the full. May we live so that those who know us, but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know us.

Okay! Now for the second letter. It appears in the Elko Daily Free Press of Elko, Nevada. It’s titled Eternity Explained, and it was written by Rev. Gerald Hennighausen. There’s a comments section at the end. The rev says:

No one can attempt to come anywhere near understand the enormity of what Eternity is by just using our mortal intuitive reasoning’s [sic] gained from this temporal universe that we are living within; within is the correct wording. Just saying that we are here and now, in our seemingly endless universe, so therefore Eternity must be somewhere else; this thinking is simply one dimensionally foolish.

Right — eternity must be somewhere else. Here’s more:

Our universe is in fact contained within the fullness’s Eternity. This is as it has always been since Genesis 1:1. Everything that is, and everything that is not, are all contained within the greater no endings of Eternity. There is nothing that is not within Eternity which is without beginning, or ending, or borders, or divisions, and He was there and knew us when there was not.

You following this? Good, because it gets better:

Why have I stressed the word is? The reason is extraordinarily simple, for the definition of Eternity given by the dictionary is wrong. That erroneous definition is in fact not a definition at all, but merely a mortal description of the unfathomable truth that is Eternity. Descriptions are not definitions. The correct definition of Eternity, as given to me by God Himself, Eternity defined as “IS”, for Eternity has always been and shall always be. Said once again, there is no place that is or is not that is not within everlasting to everlasting Eternity.

The rev got that directly from God. Moving along:

It was into these vastnesses called Eternity that God allowed me to enter March 21, 2005 upon me [my?] earthly body’s death. That is where, when I first opened my eyes, I saw was this wonderful blackness with innumerable points of beautifully colored lights all about; that blackness was not in the slightest bit scary. Nor was I in any way concerned of my surroundings, I intuitively knew that I had been released from mortality; I so very much liked it.

Whoa! The rev died in 2005, yet here we are, reading his letter! Is this amazing, or what? After describing the hereafter, the rev says:

Science has most recently discovered that there are substances within our universe that cannot be seen or detected. But scientists know that these substances are there and for lack of a better name they simply call them dark matter and dark energy.

So what is this stuff anyway; I submit to you that it is nothing less than then the original space time fabric and energy of Eternity itself that remains from the very Word spoken of God in Genesis 1:1. Dark matter and dark energy are nothing less than the very remnants of Eternity that remains in and holds everything here together; the invisible reality of God’s Word that caused this universe’s creation.

Wow — this is bigger than the cosmic background radiation from the Big Bang! The rev goes on like that for a few more paragraphs. You’ll probably want to read it for yourself. We’ll jump to the end of his fantastic letter:

Yes, I know our Universe is ever-expanding and that is to the glory of the Lord. Our picture example is of a static nature whereas the dark matter and dark energy of Eternity have the necessary elasticity that accounts for this ability of ever expansion of our finite universe within a limitless Eternity. This expansion shall not end until every last thing has been completed. Then comes the great white throne judgments where every sinner’s knee shall bend before our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now that was a great letter!

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22 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #507: Two Preachers

  1. Oh, I don’t know. He sounds like a sweet guy. So, he gets a little lost in non-logic-so what. I mostly go along with curmudgeon ness- but he does not deserve to be attacked. Maybe giving up literal interpretations of speech once in a while benefits the heart.

  2. I don’t understand why the first letter merits derision. He seems to be very careful to separate the spiritual realm in which he believes (as does Kenneth Miller who is not ridiculed here) from the material realm, and he is not asking scientists to falsify evidence to accord with his beliefs. If only every believer were this undemanding and reasonable.

  3. Sounds like a nice guy??? Totally bonkers!!!
    He says ‘By the same token, I hope the skeptics who believe only in what can be measured in a laboratory will meet someone from whom the light of God shines so clearly they have to believe.’ OH!! I do!! know that your delusions are absolute so no I will not try to convince you of anything, just keep your BS to yourself, and live happy!

  4. I forgot to add that I think his final sentence is entirely admirable. He is not announcing a plan to convert atheists. I took it as meaning that he hopes to lead a live of such virtue that he reflects the divine light in which he believes.

  5. Jill Smith says: “I don’t understand why the first letter merits derision.”

    I don’t need a spiritual dimension, whatever it is. The traditional dimensions seem sufficient. Once you start down that road, you’ll end up with string theory!

  6. Science has most recently discovered that there are substances within our universe that cannot be seen or detected. But scientists know that these substances are there and for lack of a better name they simply call them dark matter and dark energy. …

    If these things couldn’t be detected, science wouldn’t discover them. They are in fact detected by their gravitational effects. Creationists shouldn’t talk about things they don’t understand. (But then, if they didn’t, they’d be completely silenced.)

    And I am really tired of people insisting that if you believe in evolution you can’t believe in God. Countless millions of people prove every day that that is a lie.

  7. That second letter is . . . well, is “epochal” too strong a word? One of your best catches yet.

  8. SC: Whoa! The rev died in 2005, yet here we are, reading his letter!

    Whoa, now I understand where all those zombies on TV come from. The rev is one of them as well.

  9. michaelfugate

    I think the first rev’s final sentences could be taken many ways. What if those terrorizing others in the name of their God are actually the one’s showing us what God is really like? Maybe God is hate not love. Who’s to know?

  10. The first Rev is pitching for somewhat overlapping, but mostly separate magisteria, and for non-materialism with a dash of “other ways of knowing”. It’s another version of omphalos, with improvements, and represents the final retreat of faith, which is actually into itself. You can’t prove omphalos wrong, so it is tenable, in a sense – the same sense that any universal absolute negative can’t be proven. The only response is to shrug and remark that it might not be disprovable, but it is functionally useless. The Rev would undoubtedly rejoin “Your view is that the Universe is indifferent, consisting only of material; what entitles you to assume that an idea should be useful to you?” and around we go again. Meh. But I do commend his conclusion: his religious experience cannot be demonstrated by factual evidence, so the only way to show its truth is to live a better life. I hope by that he means a more kindly, more charitable, more gentle, less angry, less wasteful life. Would that the Christian churches throughout history had maintained that shining principle.

    The second Rev appears to think that there is something eternal, which he capitalises, because he wishes to call it God, whatever it is. At this, anyone who values the meanings of words starts wondering what on earth he’s on about. It doesn’t rise to the level of argument, reading more like a rhapsodical and slightly delerious arrangement of somewhat random verbiage. No doubt it pleases his congregation, which probably imagines that it is hearing profound philosophy. It’s regrettable that the good Rev is somewhat prone to common errors of orthography, which rather vitiate his credentials as a scholar. I suppose you could describe his utterance in the same terms that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy described Earth: “Mostly harmless”.

  11. Dave Luckett

    Oh, and Rev 2 says ” I know our Universe is ever-expanding”, which is, as I understand it, not something that is known by cosmologists, who argue over it. Perhaps the good Rev should present the basis for his knowledge to them.

  12. Lamb sounds like he’s never read the first thing about neuroscience.

    Hennighausen reads like Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway in a blender while on a ba-a-a-ad acid trip.

  13. Unusually, I have to disagree with Con-Tester on this particular occasion.

    Surely the Joycean ingredient in Hennighausen’s word salad isn’t Ulysses, but rather Finnegans Wake.

  14. The whole truth

    Speaking of religious loons, look at what I just came across on craigslist:

    Beginning Demonologist Looking for a Mentor

    Greetings,

    I am a fledgling Demonologist looking for an experienced mentor to take me under their wing. I have been doing a lot of studying and research and I feel like I am ready to serve God in the battle and help people become free from demonic infestation. I need field and investigation experience from a seasoned Demonologist or Paranormal Researcher. I have mainly studied Catholic based text like Adam Bial or The Warrens, however, I am starting to research other religious beliefs and their rituals.

    Please, seriously experienced Demonologists or Paranormal Researchers only. I take this very seriously.

    May God’s perpetual light shine on us all. Amen.

    do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers
    post id: 4829462687

    —————————————————

    From here: http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/act/4829462687.html

  15. Retired Prof

    Ha! I had wondered how long it would take for some creationist to identify dark matter and dark energy as the substance of their deity. Scientists’ certainty that the two things are operating in the universe, together with their inability to determine exactly what they are, makes a perfect gap for gap theorists: “Something is definitely there. Scientists don’t know what it is. Therefore it must be God.”

  16. A most unusual analogy!

    Except that it’s not an analogy of any kind. It would have been if he agreed with the first part (gays and homophobes), before offering what he thinks is an equivalent example (what he calls “skeptics”). But (unless it’s buried in the letter and I just missed it) he is strangely silent on his position on the former, while clearly displeased with the latter.

    That’s not an analogy, but a deliberate attempt to change the subject from one where he knows he can’t fool most people, to one where he knows he can.

  17. Dave Luckett observes about the now-apparently-deceased Rev. Gerald Hennighausen, “It’s regrettable that the good Rev is somewhat prone to common errors of orthography, which rather vitiate his credentials as a scholar.”

    That’s a very polite way of putting it, Dave. I was all set to say it appears the dead rev attended the Billy Bob School of Divinity & Pecan Pralines.

    Before publishing, most newspapers check the ID & verify the address of those submitting letters to the editor. I’m curious as to how the Elko Daily Free Press accomplished that feat in this case. If it’s true that the rev died on March 21, 2005, the newspaper is in possession of a much bigger story than a simple letter to the editor.

  18. @retiredsciguy

    My guess is that the Rev. Hennighausen had a near-death experience (NDE), and is now convinced he visited the afterlife.

  19. “Those who have had a spiritual experience can never prove it to others”
    “skeptics ….. will meet someone from whom the light of God shines so clearly”
    Nice contradiction.

    “actually at every point in life, we need the spiritual dimension in order to live to the full”
    Weird ….. my life only got better when I gradually turned my back on “the spiritual dimension”.

    “This is as it has always been since Genesis 1:1.”
    Oooohhh! How beautiful! Genesis was written around 800 BCE, so for billions of years our Universe was apparently not contained with “the fullness’s Eternity”.

  20. @realthog: A near-death dream was my guess as well. I just now read his full letter at SC’s link, and the rev doesn’t explain.

    Perhaps he was in an accident and came to in a hospital room to a cable showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  21. “I know our Universe is ever-expanding and that is to the glory of the Lord. … This expansion shall not end until every last thing has been completed. Then comes the great white throne judgments where every sinner’s knee shall bend before our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Ever-expanding? Then I guess we needn’t worry about judgement and having to bow the knee.

  22. Diogenes Lamp

    So the Rev’s been to Heaven. I’ve been to Hell.

    I was so glad when I saw the sign, “You are now leaving Fresno.”