For this second presentation by Dr. Bierle I was the only atheist present as far as I know. The presentation was in the main church with about 90 people attending.
The presentation was basically the same as the previous night, except I think he somehow managed to cover even less material.
He kept talking about all the exciting things he is going to get into tomorrow morning. Which is odd, because last night he told me that Sunday morning would be almost identical to Friday night, but I didn’t learn any of these things Friday night.
He began with another summary of his “conversion” story, which after my research this afternoon seemed even more absurd. He went on about how when he went to college he abandoned church, abandoned the Christian faith. He also specified that the conversion process with the chemistry professors lasted 1.5 years, which means it that his professors began converting him back to Christianity as soon as he entered the only secular college he ever attended, and confirming that the time when his academic peers talked him out of his faith was while he was at Christian college.
There was an odd illustration that he did go over last night, but I didn’t mention it because I didn’t understand it and couldn’t explain it without the picture. Tonight he gave a handout with the illustration:
I still don’t really understand it.
The triangle represents the world. And it starts out with just the dirt at the bottom. If the world existed with just dirt and nothing else what would be the purpose of the dirt? It wouldn’t have a purpose, because it would be nothing but dirt. (I’m not sure why the dirt having no purpose is a problem, but he seemed very clear that it was)
Now imagine a world with just dirt and grass. What is the purpose of the dirt? For the grass to grow in. But what is the purpose for the grass? There is none. (To prevent erosion of the dirt? Is there sunlight and CO2 in this imaginary world? Do they need a purpose? Are they somehow less animate than dirt? Do we have bacteria and worms to break down the dead grass and aerate the soil and make this system work? Do they need a purpose? What’s the purpose of this illustration anyway?
Now we add a deer, and I’m guessing you know how that turns out. The grass is suddenly “fulfilled” but the deer has no purpose.
Then we add a man. Actually a Greek statue, but he represents a man. And the man eats the deer, so now the deer is fulfilled and has purpose (tell that to the deer!) but the man has no purpose.
(Then we add a cougar, and the cougar eats the man, so the man has purpose?)
We can’t solve this problem by anything we can add to the triangle, because anything we can put in the triangle is finite.
Nothing ultimately matters because in the end we die. (Apparently feeding the grass is sufficient “purpose” for the dirt, but not for us.) “To give [the things in the triangle, or at least the top thing in the triangle] the information that it lacks you need something infinite.” (I guess meaning and purpose are information that we lack?)
Our universities are teaching that nothing outside of that triangle exists. But God is a circle outside of the triangle. Therefore you don’t need to ask what God’s purpose is, because he’s not a in the triangle. He’s a circle. (Actually the man is halfway out of the triangle too but I’m not sure if that is relevant to the analogy or poor graphic design skills. I’m pretty sure his slides haven’t been modified since the 90s.)
So when you add the circle to the triangle, no more explanation is required, because the circle is not in the triangle.
Got it? If you do, please explain it to me.
He cut out all of the intelligent design talk, presumably because at some point he clued in that it’s a young earth church. So he basically just stated as fact that the Universe is obviously designed, and skipped right into how we know the Christian God designed it.
And in order to design the world, God must be personal and infinite. Because he’s a circle. (Would a square be impersonal and infinite? What about a sphere?)
So which religions fit that description?
- Hinduism and Buddhism are pantheistic. (Wikipedia places Buddhism and Christianity in the same category in the ‘pantheism’ article, in that both have pantheistic elements and some practitioners are pantheists.)
- They place too much emphases on infinite
- God is “not a person, it’s a forest”
- Nordics and Greeks are personal but not infinite.
- The gods have more problems than the people do.
- They fight, and they are jealous (“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God”…)
- “They aren’t big enough to be God.”
- That leaves us with Judaism, Islam and Christianity. (That’s right, there have only been 7 religions in the history of the world. And of course it’s not possible that none of the existing religions are right, and the actual God hasn’t been accurately described yet.)
- These are the only religions that claim to have an infinite, personal god.
- Judaism and Islam base their knowledge of God on God’s revelation to them.
- Christians are tempted to say that’s true for them too. (Because it is)
- But if a Christian understands properly they will realise that the infinite, personal God became flesh and lived with us. (According to God’s revelation…)
- “The circle came into our triangle and lived here for 30 some years” (But we only have recorded stories about 3.5 of those years.)
So the one thing special about Christianity is that the circle came into the triangle. I think he earlier said that everything in the triangle required a purpose, and God didn’t because he was outside of the triangle, so now that he’s in the triangle is it fair to ask that question?
Anyway, after that was the same lecture on Biblical accuracy as he gave last night. He stated that the purpose of the lecture was so that the people there could go out and challenge others and convince them that the Bible was accurate. But it struck me that he had a very bad strategy if that was the case.
He was constantly stating “facts” that contradict scholarly consensus. But he wasn’t even mentioning that they were at all controversial. If someone came up to me and said “I know the Bible is true because we have a copy of the Gospel of Matthew from 66 AD” the first thing I’m going to do is go on Wikipedia and notice that we don’t. I only managed to find the obscure scholar he was quoting because I knew enough to write down names, dates and papyrus numbers. But no one else in that church was taking notes. When they look it up they will think he was just outright lying, which should hurt his credibility.
The same is true for the number of manuscripts. As soon as anyone looks into it they will notice that only 3% of those were written in the same millennium as what happened.
To determine that most of the Gospel authors didn’t claim to be eyewitnesses all they would have to do is read the Gospels.
He’s counting on no one ever seriously looking into what he’s said. Which is bizarre when he’s trying to teach them to be apologists.