Creationist Wisdom #971: You’re a Believer

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Idaho Press-Tribune of Nampa, Idaho. It’s titled Everyone is a ‘Believer’, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless a letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. This one is a preacher. He’s Dave Gibson, described at the end like this: “Dave Gibson is a resident of Eagle and has been in full-time ministry for more than 40 years.” Here are some excerpts from the rev’s letter (or maybe it’s a column), with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

To be a believer is to be a person of faith — someone who believes in things they have not seen. Believers exist in all realms of life and in all kinds of things. In fact, everyone believes in something or someone they have not seen. There are people who believe in reincarnation or in evolution [Evolution?] even though no one has ever seen or experienced either. My dad believed in Sasquatch.

Sasquatch, evolution, everyone’s a believer in something — even you dear reader. Then the rev says:

Some believe that Jesus is God and that He died to pay for the sins of all people and that He rose from the dead and that He is coming back again, though they have seen none of this. I personally believe all these things about Jesus. I have not seen Him. I take it by faith.

So far, we’re not surprised. But brace yourself, because here it comes:

I also believe in the existence of George Washington. [What?] I believe he was a real man who existed in time and space … that he was the general who led the American revolutionary forces … that he was the first president of the United States.

Shocking. Absolutely shocking! After that he tells us:

Why would I believe all this about him? I believe all this about George Washington because of eyewitness accounts and because of reliable written documents. It is evidence of someone I have never seen and I deem it to be good evidence.

Wowie — the rev wasn’t there, yet he believes! He continues:

As believers in Jesus we do not believe these things without evidence and we do not believe against the evidence. There are eye witnesses and reliable written documents (same reasons we believe in George Washington) and drastically changed lives and a creation overflowing with design. There are 10 first century men who were martyred for their faith and continued to hold to what they believed about the resurrection. Not one of them recanted. The very enemies of Jesus attested to the resurrection. The body could not be produced. More than 500 people in one crowd saw Jesus in broad daylight and listened to Him after His resurrection.

You can’t deny it, dear reader. That’s a load of evidence! Let’s read on:

One scholar said there is better evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than there is for the existence of George Washington. [Gasp!] It is all a matter of faith. But it is faith grounded in good evidence. The evidence for the existence of George Washington is good and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is even better.

We’d like to know who that “scholar” was. Anyway, here’s another excerpt:

We are all believers in something or in someone. [You too, dear reader.] The issue is not whether our worldview requires faith or not — they all do. [Yeah!] The issue is the quantity and quality of the evidence that undergirds our faith.

The rev knows what he’s talking about! Here’s more:

As I reflect on the evidence — a designed and now broken world [Hee hee!], the concept of “justice,” mankind’s relentless drive to worship something, to reflect on origins and destinies, to be obsessed with purpose and meaning, be aware of right and wrong, and to be fearful of dying — then, belief in Jesus, and the biblical narrative about Him, is the only thing that makes any sense to me.

Nothing else makes sense! And now we come to the end:

I am a believer in Jesus. I have not seen Him but I expect to.

And what about you, dear reader? Do you really expect to meet Darwin one day? Of course not! So maybe you should re-think the foolish science you believe in.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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31 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #971: You’re a Believer

  1. The curmudgeonly self proving certificate of truth somehow comes to mind when reading the revs letter.

  2. Yeah! For some reason, I haven’t used it for a while.

  3. I believe that George Washington died for our sins.

    …No, wait, I mean Sasquatch did. Or maybe it was Braterman’s Unicorn.

    Whatever. The point is, I am a believer!

  4. These people are despicable. They deliberately confound religious belief (belief without evidence) with non-religious belief (belief with evidence). In this manner these priests show their flocks that they are just like us (but better because they are saved and we are not).

    I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, not because some religion tells me that it will, but because it has every damned day of my life. According to these people, W.C. Fields was religious because he said “Everybody ought to believe something. I believe I will have another drink.”

  5. Nowadays, everybody has access to Wikipedia so they can easily check statements like whether anybody has seen or experienced evolution. Even many of the YECs admit that evolution happens. They have included “micro-evolution” in their belief.
    This sounds like just repeating stuff that one could hear in seminaries 40 years ago, when it is was recirculated from seminaries from yet another generation, and so on. (120 years ago may be marking the limit when no one survived who had met George Washington personally.)

  6. Heard this crap from other xtians who can’t stand that I have a happy wonderful life and I DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING!!! BUT don’t you believe in evilution? NO! It is a science fact with more proof and evidence than your idiot gawd has!!!

  7. When I started on creationism one of the first things I learned was to avoid using the word “believe”, as it was used as a rhetorical trap by the creationists. I accept the reality of evoltion on the basis of the evidence and the understanding of the variety of life.
    But when someone insists on the ruse about “belief”, I wonder: Do you believe that breathing is good for you? Do you believe that you are understanding English – or any language?

  8. @TomS, exactly. More of my self-promotion: https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/why-i-do-not-believe-in-darwins-theory-of-evolution/

    “Darwin’s” and “theory” were other problematic terms

  9. Words like “belief” and “faith” are tricky, because creationists use them, and claim that our acceptance of evolution is no different from their belief in creationism. I wrote this last year in The Stupid-Driven Life — Part XIII:

    What’s the appropriate word to use when one understands a scientific theory and accepts it, based not only on the verifiable evidence, but also on the fact that in all the theory’s tests, it has never been disproved? Obviously, “faith” is inappropriate. Our preferred word is “confidence” — that is, one has confidence in the theory — which is justified as long as the theory is consistent with the evidence.

  10. In Dutch it’s “overtuiging”- I am convinced that Evolution Theory is correct. Unfortunately both “confidence” and “faith” are translated as “vertrouwen”.

  11. “We’d like to know who that “scholar” was.”

    Henry Morris Sr. commonly made that claim* many decades ago. Of course Morris was just a hydraulic engineering professor whose main “teachings” and indeed occupation was religious apologetics. Of course the “scholar” being referred to (oftentimes plural) is (are) never named because that would provide for a way to check on the veracity of the vacuous claims.

    In the exactly that same vain Christian creationists often claim that scholars have “proven” that Christianity is the one “true” religion, etc. It is all nothing more than extreme hubris that is designed to keep the ultra-credulous faithful believing in their superstitious and totally unevidenced nonsense. If a religion were actually true it would not require apologetics to create lame, irrational, and counterfactual arguments to coax believers into supporting it.

  12. The twisting of religious faith into being exactly like acceptance based on evidence is also a common religionist trick. Religious apologetics often redefines words to mean whatever they want at the specific time. Anything contradicting religion is always a “false” claim. (See “Fake News” claims made by Trump and his dullard supporters.)

  13. Eric Lipps

    One scholar said there is better evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than there is for the existence of George Washington. [Gasp!] It is all a matter of faith. But it is faith grounded in good evidence. The evidence for the existence of George Washington is good and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is even better.

    Which scholar? Name, please. And what evidence is there for Jesus’ resurrection? (Outside the New Testament, that is.)

  14. What evidence is there for Jesus’ Return?
    The Bible tells us that it was to be soon, in the lifetimes of the first Christians. You can believe in the Return, but what evidence is there?

  15. @zetopan
    I think that the making of Christianity to be like science is the doing of the early 19th century “Princeton Theology”, folowing up on “Scottish commn sense realism”.
    Acting as if Francis Bacon’s ideas of the :”Scientific Method” had any validity in descriting real science.

  16. @Zetopan: “The twisting of religious faith into being exactly like acceptance based on evidence is also a common religionist trick.”
    Indeed. I remember one theologian arguing that confidence in/acceptance of science is the same as belief in god, because: if you’re sitting in a rowing-boat in the middle of the sea you can’t test Newton’s Laws either.

  17. Eric Lipps

    I find it hard to believe you could test God’s laws while sitting in a rowboat, especially if you’re alone there.

    And by the way, you can (in principle) test Newton’s third law in a rowboat, if you know the combined mass of yourself, the boat and the oars and have some means of measuring your velocity and the force you apply to the oars.

  18. Steve Gerrard

    “I am a believer in Jesus. I have not seen Him but I expect to.”

    Fun fact: the global rate of death today is 7 people every 4 seconds, including 2 Christians. If Jesus is waiting to shake hands with all the new arrivals, each person gets about two seconds of personal time. Jesus will be busy 24/7 with the newbies, so no chance for a second encounter for anyone. If you get to take your phone with you, you could get a bunch of crowd shots, but you’ll get only one selfie with the man.

  19. A caveat to “believing” in George Washington. Even someone who is well established in recent history with records, portraits, false teeth etc. can still have apocryphal stories written about him. For example did George Washington chop down a cherry tree as a boy (and then admit it to his father)? What about Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River? Both stories are both regarded as story telling flourishes and not literally true.
    I’ve heard the comparison between Washington and Jesus before. The case for Jesus’s miraculous stories are likely embellishments similar to cherry trees and silver dollars. To say Jesus is as well documented as other historical figures is absurd.

  20. @Troy
    Jesus is as well docmented as many other people of that time and place. Not as well documented as Augustus. (For example, we do not know the dates of the birth and death of Jesus.) And Augustus is not as well documented as George Washington.

  21. There’s a peculiar similarity between the life stories (as written) of Jesus and Hercules. Both were sons of a supreme deity and a mortal woman. Both were unsuccessfully targeted for death by jealous rulers (Herod, Hera). Jesus had 12 disciples; Hercules, 12 labors. Jesus was betrayed to his death by a jealous disciple, while Hercules was poisoned by a jilted lover. Both ascended to heaven (Olympus, in Hercules’ case) as immortals.

    Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it? Especially given the Greek influence on early Christianity. (The first known edition of the New Testament was written in Greek.)

  22. “Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?”
    Not really. Judaea and Galilea had been under Greek influence since Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire.
    Another example: Saint Nicholas of Myra became Dutch Sinterklaas from Spain became American Santa Claus from the North Pole …. became Kerstman in The Netherlands!
    Also remember: correlation is not causation, so you’ll need more before you can conclude that Jesus was modelled after Herakles.
    Like TomS said, the simplest explanation for all known historical facts is a historical Jesus. Like Troy said, apocryphal stories attributed to historical characters was the most normal thing back then and even pretty common in our modern times. A fine example is the famous quarrel of Winston Churchill and Nancy Astor (the poisoned tea).

  23. @Eric Lipps
    From the Wikipedia article “Shirt of Nessus”:
    “Fearing that Heracles had taken a new lover in Iole, his wife Deianeira gives him the “shirt” (actually a chiton), which was stained with the blood of the centaur Nessus. She had been tricked by the dying Nessus into believing it would serve as a potion to ensure her husband’s faithfulness.[2] In fact, it contained the venom of the Lernaean Hydra with which Heracles had poisoned the arrow he used to kill Nessus. When Heracles puts it on, the Hydra’s venom begins to cook him alive, and to escape this unbearable pain he builds a funeral pyre and throws himself on it.”
    That doesn’t remind me at all of the betrayal of Jesus.
    12 labors and 12 discioles?
    Hera doesn’t remind me at all of Herod. And baby Hercules strangling the snakes isn’t at all like the Flight into Egypt.

  24. @TomS, @Eric Lipps, Robert Graves developed a whole theory in which there were correspondences between Greek and Hebrew mythology, which he traced back to an earlier, goddess-worshipping religion (well he would, wouldn’t he?) In this scheme, Heracles’ counterpart was Sampson; I forget what his evidence was. Paris’s Apple of Discord was overwriting an earlier version in which the Goddess in her triple aspect of wisdom power and beauty (Athene, Hera, Aphrodite) was giving him the Apple, just as Eve gave the Apple to Adam.

    I take this a lot less seriously now than I did sixty years ago, when I first met it.

    Another common and more plausible process of parallel-drawing is between Christianity and Mithraism (don’t remember any details). This is much more plausible, since the two religions overlapped in their formative stages.

  25. @Paul Braterman

    Does anybody remember the supposed parallels between Lincoln and Kennedy? There is a debunking of it by Snopes:
    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/linkin-kennedy/

  26. @TomS, I remember it as the preamble to a smutty suggestion about Kennedy and a woman famous at the time.

    There is the serious point, which perhaps you are driving at, that there will inevitably be coincidences between any two eventful life histories of people prominent in the same arena

  27. Eric Lipps

    I didn’t necessarily mean that Jesus was fictional, only that the Biblical account of his life was influenced by Greek culture in ways that made it parallel the life of Heracles (Hercules).

    I suspect that a great deal of what the Bible says about Jesus was added long after his death (at least decades after), and some parts of his life were edited out, in both cases to serve both theological and political interests within the turbulent early Christian movement.

  28. Eric Lipps

    I wasn’t suggesting that the parallels were exact, only that they existed. Some of them may be coincidental, as I’m sure the name similarity between Hera and Herod was. Nor was I implying that Jesus was made up based on Greek myth. I just found the (admittedly rough) similarities intriguing.

    Of course, if fundamentalist creationists ever gained power in this country, even discussing such subjects could lead to burning at the stake (or roasting in the electric chair).

  29. @Eric Lipps
    I’d suggest rather mentioning how things in the gospels are made up to fit things in the Hebrew scriptures. The idea that there was a census which required people to go to their family’s original home is clearly just a way of getting Jesus born in Bethlehem.

  30. @TomS, quite so, even when quite inappropriate. Thus the slaughter of the innocents is a way of dragging in “Rachel weeping for her children”, so as to fulfil what it said in Jeremiah, even though Jeremiah’s meaning is quite plain and refers to the Babylonian conquest of Judea. And indeed the birth in a manger, to drag in the ox and ass, although their meaning in Isaiah is clearly poetical. And of course the virgin birth… “So as to fulfil…” was a common method of exposition at the time, and occurs several times in the Passover narrative.

  31. Michael Fugate

    Hagiography anyone?