Author Archives: michaelroberts4004

About michaelroberts4004

A mixture; geologist, Christian, priest, cyclist, mountaineer, heretical environmentalist(i.e. a Bright Green) , retired, historian of science and a few other things. Oh, and I don't like creationism!

Was Jesus latte?

 

Image result for black jesus

Please consider two discussions with youngsters. The first was with our Year Sixes. One thought Jesus’ birthday was 25th December. We pointed out we didn’t know and that was his official birthday. Jesus was born around 6BC. It was light-hearted! The second in another church a lad of eleven said that Jesus was dark-skinned and not white. He was corrected and put in his place. Our Year Six agreed with him when I told them about it. It is appalling that today some still insist that Jesus was white. One year Six said his skin was latte  Now this is not trivial, especially a lad being put down. In the 1930s Nazi Christians were insistent Jesus was Aryan and thus white.

When in apartheid South Africa I often stressed that Jesus was coloured! Soehow it did not always go down with white Christians.


As Jesus was from Judean stock born in Israel 2000 years ago he would not be white and had the darker skin of that area. When we grasp that, we cannot be racist. It is almost that Jesus has the average skin colour of all people, and thus relates to all of us whatever “race” we are.

Image result for coloured jesus

And that leads us to consider why we celebrate the birth of a non-white baby 2000 years ago. As I explained to year 6, it was so unknown that no one recorded it, unlike the birth of the other Sons of God – Julius Caesar and successors.  Probably the best is to say it was about 6BC, though Sir Colin Humphreys of Cambridge has tried to narrow it down to a week or so. It seems most odd to make so much of this unknown wandering preacher who was executed by the Romans in their nastiest fashion.


Many want to choose what they believe about Jesus rather than accepting the whole Jesus package. This particularly applies to those who see Jesus as a great moral teacher and leave out the religious bits. Many, great and small, have done this as did Mahatma Gandhi. It’s also provided the moral basis for much of Europe, but that is now being eroded.


However that ignores so much of the gospels on Jesus. To some it just leaves out the mumbo-jumbo, as the religious bits are sometimes called, especially that about his Incarnation, being Son of God, the atonement and the resurrection. If it had not been for them, Jesus would have soon been forgotten, as he would have been just another wandering eccentric Jewish teacher. The message of those early Jesus followers was not an appeal to morals but trust in a person who is our saviour in contrast either to the teachings of Judaism or the customs of the Roman Empire.


The message was that humans are in a mess and need saving and this happens because this Jesus died on the cross and rose again and thus we should follow his moral teaching. Thus Jesus was seen as the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, saviour and King. Now today that is a standard formula about Jesus but in the first century it was radical as it cast a snook at the Roman Empire where the emperor was known as son of god, lord, king and saviour. That is often lost on us today, but in the roman Empire it resulted in the deaths of those Christians who would not recognise the emperor as God and offer him a sacrifice. Today Jesus is so tame and domesticated that we miss his radical challenge.
So back to Christmas, beyond all the tinsels and donkeys, we need to see that we celebrate the obscure birth of someone who transformed the world and billions of people.


Hopefully he has transformed each one of us.
So this Christmas period let’s ask how Jesus needs to change us.

But how?

 

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Darwin’s Deathbed conversion and Lady Hope

Charles Darwin and religion don’t go together for some people. On one side disciples of Dawkins agree that Darwin made it intellectually possible to be an atheist and then on the other Creationists reckon that for religion Darwin was the worst thing since sliced bread.  (I loath sliced bread and only eat real bread which I have to slice myself.)

Much can be made of Darwin intending to become an Anglican vicar, an idea with fell overboard on the Beagle voyage. And so from either extreme it is claimed that Darwin used his science to support atheism. You also find it in some guides to Church History for unsuspecting theological students. It often takes the form of  “[Darwin} apparently undermining the account of creation in the book of Genesis”. (SCM Study Guide to Church history 2013 p165)

In his Autobiography Darwin reflects on his religious views and from that we can see that Darwin ended up as a vague theist or a rather agnostic agnostic. Rather than repeat myself this is an earlier blog on Darwin’s religion.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/was-charles-darwin-a-christian/

Any my favourite letter of his.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/was-darwin-a-christian-his-shortest-letter/

and to see how Darwin and religion panned out in the next 150 years here is a book chapter of mine.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/evolution-and-religion-in-britain-from-1859-to-2013/

To get back to L.R. Croft who is a creationist living somewhere near Chorley and to some is a local expert on Darwin. Thirty years ago in 1989, he wrote a short biography of Darwin. I have flipped through and found it so appalling that I did not buy a copy. It makes A. N. Wilson’s biography seem quite good in comparison.

Here is an Amazon review 🙂

As a trained biologist I have read dozens of books on Charles Darwin, and wanted to read more about the life and especially the death of Darwin, as the title of this book suggests. I can only say this work is definitly one of the worst Darwin books I have ever read. The author must be a creationist although this is not admitted, but every single aspect of Darwin`s life is twisted in order to ridicule his theories and work. The book is full of quotations which are taken completely out of context and are used to emphasize Darwin`s alleged craziness. Darwin is portraited as a heartless lunatic suffering from schizophrenia. At the end for example there is a remark about his alleged death bed conversion and about a book James Moore (Darwin biograph) was “forced” to write about it. Well, Moore of course comes to the conclusion that there is no historic evidence to support this death bed conversion at all. I can only recommend Croft`s book if you are interested to see how one can distort the truth with quotations taken out of context and consequently omitting facts. Waste of time and truly annoying!

Croft has long been fixated by the Lady Hope story of Darwin’s deathbed conversion. This old chestnut claims that a few months before Darwin died an evangelist came to Downe with Lady Hope in tow. During the visit Darwin had a conversion and rejected his scientific theories on evolution.  Popular accounts go back a century and always have a ring of untruth about them. They illustrate how some devout Christians are so desperate to believe certain things that they will either make them up, fantabulise or repeat the ramblings of others.

Way back in 1994 Jim Moore shredded the whole story with clinical precision in The Darwin Legend.

But Croft carried on and in 2012 wrote a book on Darwin and Lady Hope. Somehow one of the senior Lancashire clergy came across it and, in passing during some pastoral contact, asked my opinion – which I gave as gently as possible! I do wonder how many have fallen for the story, especially in evangelical churches. (He once sent me an e-mail at 6 a.m. where among other things he said I was wrong to agree with Richard Dawkins , who said bishops should do more to criticise Creationism. Well, bishops should be doing so forcibly and follow the example of their conservative Victorian predecessors, especially William Buckland and Adam Sedgwick !

Sedgwick had great fun with Creationists in the 1830s and 1840s!!

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/how-to-deal-with-victorian-creationists-and-win/

This fantabulising about Dawin and hopeless Lady Hope 2012 makes me despair of some Christians, who forget that Pontius Pilate asked “what is truth?”

And now we have a biography of Lady Hope. We find the Lady married into a title  and trailed after evangelists on both sides of the pond. Moore gives us what we need to know, but, perhaps, a more serious and scholarly study, would illuminate an obscure facet of Victorian religion.

[Too often the history of evangelicals has been ruined by pietistic hagiographers and then the scepticism of liberal Chrstians and those of no faith.

If you want more then read this review. I will read the book if someone sends me a free copy.

Lady Hope

 

http://friendsofdarwin.com/reviews/croft-lady-hope/?fbclid=IwAR0U0E6ZzS6mMQD__n1uRyLjnOOQCU0mK209E5I0SrBKfO3SCaSCBUl41Ew

Perhaps a decent short study of Lady Hope is needed to illuminate much on the religious life of late Victorian England and how that mutated into anti-Darwinian fundamentalism.

Clair Patterson: Chapel of Scientific Thought

He, with Arthur Holmes, gave us the age of the earth.

He also got rid of leaded petrol to the beneifit of us all – including creationists !

science meets faith

On 5 December 1995, Clair Cameron Patterson (1922–1995) passed away at Sonoma County, CA. He was a geochemist known for his work using uranium-led (₂₃₈U → ₂₀₆Pb) and led-led (₂₀₆Pb → ₂₀₄Pb) radiometric dating to determine the age of the earth. Using the mass spectrometer at the Argonne National Laboratory, he studied an isolated iron-meteorite, collecting data on the abundance of its lead isotopes. This lead to his 1956 publication ‘Age of Meteorites and the Earth’, in which he hypothesized that the true age of the solar system was 4.550Gy ± 70My.

From an interview at Caltech.edu: “[M]y religious background was that my family belonged to what was called the Unitarian Universalist Church. It’s sort of a liberal-type Christian church. My grandfather founded the church in Michellville that we went to. On Sunday I’d get up real early and go on cold winter mornings to build a fire to warm…

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Bumping off Christians in 115 AD, the classic imperial letter

 

 

Worship Caesar or face torture: Pliny reminds us why Christian martyrdom matters – Premier Christianity

Pliny the Younger was a lawyer and magistrate of Ancient Rome, born around AD 61. He wrote to the Roman emperor Trajan (ruled 98–117) on a number of occasions.

Source: Worship Caesar or face torture: Pliny reminds us why Christian martyrdom matters – Premier Christianity

Behe demolishes Darwin (yet again!)

Michael Behe hasn’t changed his tune (mostly wrong notes!) since he publish Darwin’s Black Box in 1996. his is a god of the Gaps argument and can be summed up as godofthegapswrappedupinaminoacids.

Intelligent Design has been a failure and has offered nothing except as a featherbed for a falling young earth creationist.

There are many better alternatives for a Christian  and other theists which don’t involved mucking up the science

 

Primate's Progress

Michael Behe has a new book coming out, Darwin Devolves, which according to the mendaciously mislabelled Evolution News “Topples Foundational Claim of Evolutionary Theory.” I am unlikely to be sent a review copy, so I am relying on the Evolution News summary.

In brief, Behe continues to assert the existence of irreducible complexity in animal organs, while maintaining that

Darwinian evolution proceeds mainly by damaging or breaking genes, which, counter-intuitively, sometimes helps survival. In other words, the mechanism is powerfully de-volutionary. It promotes the rapid loss of genetic information.

and encapsulates this conclusion in what he calls the First Rule of Adaptive Evolution:

Break or blunt any gene whose loss would increase the number of offspring.

I reviewed Behe’s earlier statement of this Rule some years ago, in PandasThumb, and friends have suggested that I repost it. So here it is. (I am proud to say that…

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10 questions to ask Christians who believe in evolution – Premier Christianity

Premier Christian Radio b have published two blogs on creation/evolution. Mine and one by John Mackay, which I reblog here.

 

The international director of Creation Research John Mackay, is convinced that the Genesis accounts of creation are literally true. He shares ten questions he’d like to ask Christians who accept evolution

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An amazing fellar who exorcises cats and dogs !!!! I will leave readers to decide the inteellectual quality of his arguments.

A book for sale at the Ark Encounter gift shop. You can see on the cover that the felines all came from a single common ancestor cat on the Ark.

I “debated” him in 2003. It was a weird experience

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/creation-john-mackay-comes-to-blight-blighty/

Please read his arguments and answer them!!

Source: 10 questions to ask Christians who believe in evolution – Premier Christianity

 

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