There Shall Come In The Last Days Scoffers

Copyright © 2012 by Gun Lap


 

2 Peter 3:3-4 says that scoffers will come in the last days. Many churches believe that we are living in the last days now, a time just before the return of Jesus Christ. One “proof” they use is what they call the increasing number of “scoffers” who scoff at the Bible. Here is an example of such thinking from a Living Church of God article.

The increasing number of scholars and writers making headlines by openly challenging fundamental teachings of the Bible should come as no surprise to students of Scripture. Long ago, God foretold that “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:1–6). … They will agree with Dan Brown’s phrase, “The Bible is the product of man, my dear. Not of God” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 250). … This is where we are today! Modern writers and scholars are twisting the Scriptures, denying the inspiration of the Bible, rejecting fundamental teachings of Christianity and creating in their imaginations entirely different views about the life of Jesus Christ. Prophecies are indeed coming alive! [Douglas Winnail, Tomorrow’s World, May-June 2007, p. 15]

The LCG makes it sound like prophecy is being fulfilled by modern scoffers and that this proves we are in the last days. All these scoffers “should come as no surprise to students of Scripture” because “God foretold” this and “This is where we are today [exclamation mark]” which shows that “prophecies [of the last days] are indeed coming alive [exclamation mark]”.

There have always been critics who scoff at the teachings of Jesus Christ. If we assume that the mere existance of scoffers proves we are in the last days, then we have been in the last days for 2000 years.

Yes, there was a long period when Europe was dominated by the Catholic Church, and during that period “heretics” were persecuted. I suppose there weren’t too many scoffers then, but there must have been a few, even in Europe.

If there have always been scoffers, how do scoffers indicate that the end is near?

Are soffers more prevalent today than ever before? Probably not. The Bible says Jesus himself was persecuted by an angry mob, spat on, crucified, and scoffed at while he was still on the stake. The original apostles were also persecuted. After that, Christians were persecuted for hundreds of years. Such intensity of persecution is not going on today.

Some churches will argue that the increase in scoffers proves we are in the last days. Note that the LCG says “Modernwriters and scholars are twisting the Scriptures, denying the inspiration of the Bible, rejecting fundamental teachings of Christianity…” (from the quote above).

It’s true that scoffing has increased in “modern times”, but the trend of increasing Bible skepticism has been going on for hundreds of years. Are these churches going to tell us that the last days are hundreds of years long?

Have the last few years seen a drastic upswing in Bible criticism that proves the return of Christ is near, and that this prophecy about scoffers is “coming alive” today?

To help answer that question, let’s get a little perspective on the history of “modern” Bible criticism.

In The History of the Higher Criticism, Volume 1 ch. I, Canon Dyson Hague (see the footnotes more more information) says Higher Criticism “is not modern by any means” but that it has been going on since about 1521 or 1670, depending on which starting point we choose. That’s roughly 350 to 500 years.

I don’t think the LCG would claim that the last days began 350 to 500 years ago. Yet that’s when the “modern” academic “scoffers” started to appear. Surely, the rise of such scoffers does not prove we are in the last days, or we would have been in the last “days” for centuries.

Mr Hague divides the movement into “three great stages.” So perhaps this lastest stage, if we can call it that, brought to us by people like Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code, is just a stage that the world is going through. Perhaps there are a few more stages to come, which will last a few more hundred years. Only time will tell. It’s a long-term trend so it does not prove the end is near. People will continue digging up old artefacts, reading old documents, writing criticisms of the Bible, and making books and movies like The Da Vinci Code.

Unless someone can use statistics to prove we are in a sharp upswing in skepticism, rather than part of a growing but long term trend, I don’t see how anyone can use 2 Peter 3:3 (“there shall come in the last days scoffers”) to claim that the last days are here.

What about Peter’s comment on lust? “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts… ” (2 Peter 3:3). Well, people have always had lust. Lust is the result of hormones. Anyone could have predicted that. Once again, this tells us nothing, and predicting that people would come walking in lust is like predicting the earth will continue to spin.

But there was more to Peter’s prophecy than that. Let’s read it in context.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers [ancestors] died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, NIV)

Notice the quotation marks. This is Peter’s prediction of what scoffers would say in the last days. According to Peter, these scoffers would be saying “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

Does anyone today say things like “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation”? Most of these Bible scoffers probably don’t even believe in divine creation. Most probably believe in evolution, which states that life is changing, not going on “as it has since the beginning of creation.”

So Peter predicted these scoffers would believe in and speak about divine creation, which is the opposite of what most Bible scoffers seem to believe and teach. He was propesying that they would continue to believe in creation. The scoffers would be scoffing at the return of Christ, not at divine creation.

Furthermore, even creationists today would not say that “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” because we live in a world of rapid changes. People today are more likely to say “everything is changing” rather than “everything goes on the same.”

The truth is Peter did not foresee the coming of the theory of evolution and he did not foresee this modern age of rapid changes. He expected people to believe in creation and he expected things to be continue on pretty much the same, not for the world to go through a period of rapid changes.

If we really are in the last days, this passage cannot be inspired because it prophesies viewpoints for scoffers in the last days that do not accurately reflect the views of modern scoffers.

On the other hand, if this passage really is inspired, then we are not in the last days and Bible scoffers will return to believing in divine creation before Christ returns. Even if so, we would have to explain how, after all of the great scientific, technical, and social revolutions that the world has witnessed, people in the last days could say things are going on the same since creation.

If Peter mis-predicted what would happen in the last days, then he was a false prophet and this passage was not inspired.

Summary:

  • There have always been scoffers.
  • Academic Bible criticism is not a recent trend.
  • Bible skepticism has been increasing for hundreds of years.
  • The last days are not supposed to go on for hundreds if years. If they do, the end could still be hundreds of years away.
  • Scoffing, or a gradual increase in scoffing, does not help us identify when the end is near.
  • People like Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code are part of a very old trend that could go on much longer. Where is the statistical proof that we are currently in a dramatic upswing in this trend?
  • This passage (2 Peter 3:3-4) does not accurately describe most scoffers alive at this time.
  • If we are really in the last days, this passage cannot be inspired.
  • If this passage is accurate, we are not in the last days.

Note: In The History of the Higher Criticism, Volume 1 ch. I, Canon Dyson Hague, writes:

It is not easy to say who is the first so-called Higher Critic, or when the movement began. But it is not modern by any means. Broadly speaking, it has passed through three great stages

1. The French-Dutch. 
2. The German. 
3. The British-American. 

In its origin it was Franco-Dutch, and speculative, if not skeptical. The views which are now accepted as axiomatic [self-evident] by the Continental and British-American Schools of Higher Criticism seem to have been first hinted at by Carlstadt in 1521 in his work on the Canon of Scripture, and by Andreas Masius, a Belgian scholar, who published a commentary on Joshua in 1574, and a Roman Catholic priest, called Peyrere or Pererius, in his Systematic Theology, 1660. (LIV. Cap. i.) 

 

But it may really be said to have originated with Spinoza, the rationalist Dutch philosopher. In his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (Cap. vii-viii), 1670, Spinoza came out boldly and impugned [impugn: to fight with words or arguments] the traditional [i.e. of traditional Christianity] date and Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and ascribed the origin of the Pentateuch to Ezra or to some other late compiler. [http://user.xmission.com/~fidelis/volume1/chapter1/hague.php]

Note: It also sounds like Peter expected the scoffers to continue to believe in “the fathers” which often refers to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, some skeptics today even question whether such persons existed. Once again, it calls into question whether Peter really had an accurate foreknowledge of today’s conditions, as Bible fundamentalists assume he did.

Note: For the record, I have preserved the complete Living Church of God article. It appears on page 14 in this PDF file.

Note: To make the analysis easier I’ve ignored the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc, scoffers, and just looked at scoffers in the Christian West. I’ve also ingored most of the scoffing done by scattered Jews for the last 2000 years. To my knowledge, the churches also ignore these scoffers when they look at this verse.

11 Replies to “There Shall Come In The Last Days Scoffers”

  1. Congratulations, Gun Lap, you have identified a classic logic flaw of the order:

    A = B;
    B = C;
    therfore
    A = D.

    Wait! Where did D come from?

    There will be scoffers in the last day.
    There are scoffers now.
    Therefore
    These are the last days.

    The whole proposition, as you point out, doesn’t mean that these are the last days merely because there are scoffers. We’ve always had scoffers. We always will have scoffers.

    And why?

    Because what the scoffers are scoffing is so preposterous that people with ordinary reasoning powers ought to see that what is being scoffed is really stupid and crazy.

    Scoffers are doing us a favor: They are showing us the truth by casting doubt on lies.

    So the Armstrongists, and particularly Booby Thiel (The God of Libel) over at “The Church of God News” (which is nothing of the kind), keep spouting nonsense which is easily proved to be rubbish. It’s difficult NOT to be a skeptic. It’s nuts. It’s crazy. He’s really a master of insanity, as is his “boss”, false prophet of 50 years, Roddy Meredith. Come on, Baron Karl zu Guttenberg is going to be the Beast of Revelation — this time for sure — right after the first four beginning with Mussolini and Hitler? Do you think us daft? Proof? Proof? Where’s your proof? Some time in the undefinable future right up until he dies?

    The Scripture should read:

    “In the last days, scoffers shall abound because they are necessary to get to the truth by impugning the insane”.

  2. “Notice the quotation marks. This is Peter’s prediction of what scoffers would say in the last days. According to Peter, these scoffers would be saying “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

    Does anyone today say things like “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation”? Most of these Bible scoffers probably don’t even believe in divine creation. Most probably believe in evolution, which states that life is changing, not going on “as it has since the beginning of creation.””

    The above is a weak argument. As Douglas says, people scoff. I don’t believe in any religion, and religions have been forming since the first human thought about a god. Nothing has changed. People will continue to do that until there are no more people. Perhaps there is some indication of the need for religion bound in Godel’s theorem. In any consistent axiomatic formalization suitable for number theory there exists an infinity of undecideable propositions. IOW, our thinking, even at the most disciplined formal level, is incomplete. Therefore, we tend to “see beyond” that which we cannot define, identify, or label. There is nothing, however, to indicate such thinking to be true. Therefore, it should be scoffed at, which again brings us to Matthew 24:23. N need to follow anybody who claims to know what canot be proven.

  3. This also brings me back to a question Gun Lap asks me earlier: Do I believe there are other divinely inspired texts, other than the bible?

    First, I have never stated that the bible is divinely inspired. I believe the message is true, as far as I can understand, but my understanding is not divine in any sense. I would make that same statement about any other text which is considered divine. The reasons should be obvious.

    First, if I can prove the bible is divinely inspired, I would have to show a spark of divinity in my own mind in order to show such proof to others. This, however, would require that they, too, have sparks of divinity in their own minds in order to see the “divinity”, to “divine” the truth of my statement.

    Second, if we had such an ability, we could combine all the necessary truths of all texts into one, and therefore eliminate all unnecessary texts. This, in fact, is what occurred with the Jews about the time that Jesus allegedly walked the earth. Over time, the Jews had developed books of “legislation” regarding their culture. These books were a kind of statutory exposition developed by broad experience, not directly covered by the Torah. The problem was, there was the Mishna, the Gemorra, and the emerging Talmud, with so many different statements and “dicta” that the most disciplined Jewish minds were wondering if there really was a way to reconcile it all with Torah. The question was in a form similar to what Gun Lap asked me: are there other divinely inspired texts, and how can we know what is actually divine?

    A generation or so before Jesus, a rabbi named Hillel came along, and developed a system of seven laws or rules by which we can reason and know the parallels between human reason and Torah, or what we call the Old Testament. These rules were later formulated by JS Mill into “methods of agreement” by which we can show the probable truth of a statement in terms of its agreement with other truths. For example biblically, “if this is true with man, how much more it is true with God”.

    We see Paul using a form of this argument in his writings, which Talmudists say he uses incorrectly, ecause there is no way of measuring the relatedness of truth, only that what is true for man, must also be true for God. Fr example, if a statement is self evidently or axiomatically true for man, how much more is it true for God!

    This became a process of “reductionism” for Jewish minds, by which we use basic rules to eliminate all unnecessary comparisons. Hillel, i n effect, said, “Yes, t5he human mind can use reason to know the truths of God, BUT it can only be correctly be applied by rabbis who devote their life to proper use and study of God’s laws”.

    This was the historical beginning of the idea of “works” versus “faith”. IF rabbis, by lifelong effort and study, could refine the laws of God so that they wer reduced in parallel to the laws of man, THEN it would be possible to establish a “government of God” by which all men could be truthfully ruled. This, however, would ONLY mean that those whose dedicated “works” over a lifetime would qualify them for rulership under God’s lawful guidance.

    Into this, apparently, came a man we call Jesus, who said, in effect, “Bullshit! call no man rabbi(Matthew 23), call no man father, call no man master…”

    He further said that the Pharisee rabbis “shut up the kingdom of heaven to men(Matt 23:13)”. IOW, Jesus was “democratizing” the message as it had been intended, for every family to teach their children, and their children’s children, about the laws of God.

    What the Pharisees ignored was a very simple fact of logic: if one man can perceive the “Godliness” of a statement, then any other man, using the same principles, can see the same truth. What one person arrives at after a lifetime of studyt will also become obvious to any other person for use in their own life. There is no “mystery” to maintain, there is no “higher calling” that separates the availability of knowledge.

    Once the message is communicated, everyone has equal access to it. At the Pentecostal appearance of the “Holy Spirit” in Acts 2, notice that the message was translated so that every person of every language gathered would understand. No hierarchy, no hidden wisdom, nothing except a message available for all of every language.

    There is a variation of this with computers implied in the Church-Turing thesis: If a truth is discovered, and if it can be translated to language, it can further be programmed into any computer, making it available to anyone with a computer or “ears to hear”, our brains, of course, being a computer. We can translate a “universal truth” across cultures a nd languages. For example, Lao Tzu’s statement that “the way that can be named is not the true way”, can be taken to show the reason for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:23: “If any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ(or the way) believe it not”.

    From this, we arrive at Godel’s theorem, which tells us there is simply no way to package all truth into one system. Therefore, mathematically, Matthew 24:23 is correct. All texts have truth, but no texts can be shown to have ALL truth. All religions that claim to have a higher truth to follow, are mistaken. The same would apply to government, since government is invented by the same human brains that created religion.

    I am not the measure of all things, but my measure is as accurate as any other person’s in regard to truth, assuming I properly use logical tools.

    Paul, a renegade Pharisee, spit in Hillel’s face with Romans 8:7. Hillel said the human mind CAN be subject to God with effort, while Paul said the natural mind CANNOT be subject to God with any degree of proof that shows special relations(Romans 9:16-22). Paul’s statement more correctly fits what we now understand.

  4. Ralph, and I’m not certain that there is an absolute static “truth” for human beings.

    While macro physics seems to be very absolute and stable and all experiments under the same conditions very well should lead to the same results, we are subjected to the Hiesenberg Uncertainty Principle and chaos theory interesting.

    Moreover, because of the complexities of the human brain, posited by Sir Roger Penrose in the “Emperor’s New Mind” as tapping into the Quantum Universe, thus transcending the normal electro-chemical processing of the brain and “The User’s Guide to the Brain” by John Ratey demonstrating the unique properties of each person’s brain functioning, certainly there cannot be one truth for billions of people: Neural networking produces an “average” for a conclusion which may only approximate the best solution, as bounded by the requisites layed down by Occam’s Razor.

    I suspect that some things remain static: For example, brain scans show damage to particular areas of the brain when someone deliberately lies, making it easier for that person to lie more persuasively (one would probably be in shocked horrors over brain scans of Armstrongist cult leaders having great “Unidentified Bright Objects” (UBOs) galore where the part of the brain governing ethical behavior is just gone). There are some very clear physiological static “truths” for human beings. As you say, once one person “gets it” it should be available to everyone else.

    This creates another problem because the patterns of one person’s brain may differ significantly from another’s. For this reason, some people may never “get it”. Of course, too, people who develop distorted perceptions experience false realities that no one else will get because they are outright mentally ill.

    Laurence Tancredi has an interesting take on “truth” in his book, “Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality”. Again, there seems to be sociological constants which are hardwired, although it is clear that there are always new frontiers to be explored with difficult ethical questions which have never arisen before. An extreme example not yet faced and one which is explored often in Science Fiction is the question of whether an android of sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence to make it self-aware should have access to the rights and privileges assumed to be the domain of human beings.

    One may get quite an eyefull exploring “Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth” by Derrick Bell. It speaks directly to the daunting challenge faced by thousands of people who are torn between the dictates of their conscience and the practical realities of a remoreselessly and often brutally competitive society. It is something Armstrongists should consider carefully because few associations are as demanding as the remoreseless and brutal competition set up in an isolated society with extreme demands of a leadership devoid of conscience setting up impossible requirements which people cannot fulfil to be spiritually perfect and give much more than is available without shorting out family members and neglecting necessities in a reality devoid of reality. The extreme demands completely distort and overwhelm both reason and emotion to create an abusive, intrusive and neglectful society inimitable to the welfare of those who consider themselves faithful believers.

    It is doubtful that any reasonable deity would lade such unbearable burdens upon a willing and responsible people, if said deity were compassionate and merciful.

  5. Douglas writes:

    “Ralph, and I’m not certain that there is an absolute static “truth” for human beings.”

    To say truth is “static”, one would have to recognize an unchanging factor that simply will not change at all. While the bible says of God, “I change not”, how would we even begin to interpret an unchanging God? We can’t. However, to say there is any part of truth that does not correspond to all truth would be false from the outset. Truth will correspond to all truth. If I say, “There is no truth” then the statement itself must be true in order for there to be no truth; a paradox. If I say “what is true for you is not true for me” is merely a reflection of different perceptions of what is true, but is not a correct reflection of truth, since there is no way of knowing whether “I” have truth or “you” have truth. Most likely, we all have some truth.
    Douglas writes:
    “we are subjected to the Hiesenberg Uncertainty Principle and chaos theory interesting.”

    Yes. Heisenberg points out that the measurement of one eliminates possibility of correct measurement of its complement. If we know, position of an electron, we can’t know velocity, or whether electrons exist as waves or particles or both. However, this shows the limitations of measurements, not of existence or even truth itself. Godel refused to compare his theorem to Heisenberg’s uncertainty, but he demonstrated that our ability to arrange truth axiomatically was incomplete. In any axiomatic formalization suitable for number theory, there exists undecidable propositions. This doesn’t say there is no truth. It points out that, at best, our understanding will remain incomplete.

    Douglas writes:

    “Moreover, because of the complexities of the human brain, posited by Sir Roger Penrose in the “Emperor’s New Mind” as tapping into the Quantum Universe, thus transcending the normal electro-chemical processing of the brain and “The User’s Guide to the Brain” by John Ratey demonstrating the unique properties of each person’s brain functioning, certainly there cannot be one truth for billions of people: Neural networking produces an “average” for a conclusion which may only approximate the best solution, as bounded by the requisites layed down by Occam’s Razor.”
    Yes, absolutely, and here you point out the moral of the tower of Babel. It was this “average of human reasoning, based on same language and same linguistic formation of ideas, that would ultimately lead to death by entropy. Simply because the united effort to build one tower would so deplete the energy available to the culture, that chaos would be the result as all local energy would be destroyed for use building a tower.
    One of the main effects of entropy is that the more we organize in one area, the greater the chaos resulting in other areas. God, in the account, confused language so that such orderings of “reality” would be widely different. Whether this is true or not, it shows a deep understanding of the necessity for those deep differences in our neural networks.

    Laurence Tancredi has an interesting take on “truth” in his book, “Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality”. Again, there seems to be sociological constants which are hardwired, although it is clear that there are always new frontiers to be explored with difficult ethical questions which have never arisen before. An extreme example not yet faced and one which is explored often in Science Fiction is the question of whether an android of sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence to make it self-aware should have access to the rights and privileges assumed to be the domain of human beings.

    Douglas writes:

    “Laurence Tancredi has an interesting take on “truth” in his book, “Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality”. Again, there seems to be sociological constants which are hardwired, although it is clear that there are always new frontiers to be explored with difficult ethical questions which have never arisen before. An extreme example not yet faced and one which is explored often in Science Fiction is the question of whether an android of sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence to make it self-aware should have access to the rights and privileges assumed to be the domain of human beings.”

    Keep in mind that “inalienable rights” is a concept that has evolved thorough time, even for humans. In 1776, “privileges and immunities” dealt with those privileges and immunities ceded by the king to his subjects that crossed over to America. That definition is still used by SCOTUS legally in regard to 14th amendment reference(Slaughterhouse cases). Inalienable rights that come from God are of a different nature, as seen in the “due process” clause of both the 5th and 14th amendments, showing such rights to belong to “persons” whether “citizens” or not. The poi nt is, we will undergo the same general evolution in deciding androids’ rights that we are in deciding human rights. However, the very fact that we are defining our own rights rings a “self reference’ to the effort that will resist definition, the same as it will resist definition for androids.

    Since androids will obviously be built along the same axioatic schemata as is ruled by Heisenberg and Godel, their knowledge, however advance, will be subject to the same incompleteness. They will no more know the answers from any provable perspectives than we do.

    Douglas writes:
    “One may get quite an eyeful exploring “Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth” by Derrick Bell. It speaks directly to the daunting challenge faced by thousands of people who are torn between the dictates of their conscience and the practical realities of a remorselessly and often brutally competitive society.”

    Absolutely, but this also requires a knowledge of the foundations of such a society, and proper ways to overcome such brutality. On tat too, we have near infinite possible solutions. As I’m so fond of saying, “you can;t get there from here”, which means that emphasis must be continually be placed on individual responsibility and freedom, rather than an elitist concept that “decides” in our absence.

    Douglas writes:

    “It is doubtful that any reasonable deity would lade such unbearable burdens upon a willing and responsible people, if said deity were compassionate and merciful.”
    In the immortal words of the stooge Curly; “Soitanly!”. The burdens laden on us are put there by us. There is nothing within Jesus’ teachings that indicate we should enslave ourselves to men. Paul wrote that the natural mind can not be subject to God, so there is no reason to believe that any human can come any closer to God than ourselves. “Ye are bought with a price. Be not ye the servants of men”.

    Studies in “jumping genes” show that in each fetus, genes rapidly re-arrange themselves in the brains, thus making each person unique in processing and response to the environment. Our attempts to collectivize truth and reach a kind of “hive mind” average works quite well for FINITE applications, but can never be proven in regard to infinity or to God.

  6. The big questions we all seek answers to: The Origin of the Universe and the Origin of Man.

    Why are we here?
    Where did we come from and what if any purpose do we have?

    We can chose to trust religion which has explanations from ancient people who’s days are now spent, or we can trust verifiable facts about our universe, origins of the earth, and scientifically proven process’s to determine the answers we seek.

    The earth was not created 6,000 years ago, and God did not create man. Until the coreligionist can prove this scientifically I give not a thought to their explanation(s). I will stick to the big bang theory and the evolutionary evidence for the existence of the universe and origins of man until.

    When you personally make scientific observations, you should try to be objective, which means that you describe only the facts. Creation stories from ancient or modern religions abound. We have Armstrongism, Mormanism, the JW’s, Catholics, and thousand of other religions with their own unique blend of story telling. Stories that they proclaim are not only the “truth” but factually correct. And they’ll even offer evidence they claim to be scientifically verifiable. Subjective thinking limits their intellectual ability to reason.

    Learning to see the world objectively:
    Thought that come to mind that create struggle and confusion are thought our minds cannot reconcile. Accept reality, give up the ego and the conflict will cease. Use the intuition you were born with. This is part of the survival strategy, the evolutionary process that has bought mankind to the 21’st century.

    Thinking subjectively:
    When we think subjectively, we tend to add our emotions or motivation to our observations. This is what the religious groups do when they defend their belief system. Facts are not part of the reasoning process. When challenged they scream persecution.

    Be a scoffer:
    Don’t believe everything you read or what someone told you. This goes not only for religion, but also the all encompassing state. Trust none of them. They are cut from the same roll of chain that is attached to your shackles, those very shackles that you proclaim only others wear.

  7. Religion is too limited and narrow to define anything we might consider truth.

    In the first place, religion is based on faith, and while there is substantiative “faith” embedded in science, it is nowhere near the same “faith” required of religion. “Faith is evidence of things not seen” or measured for that matter, is not a major part of science. In the latest “Analog”, Dr. Stanley Schmidt points out that the “scientific method” as taught in school isn’t used in practice and is more flexible and extended than the average person of the masses may think they know: For example, asstronomy. Dr. Schmidt asks the question, “Who has ever set up an experimental pregalactic gas cloud to watch how stars and planets form? Or even a protostar in a laborator to test a theory of stellar evolution?”

    There are times when scientists can’t perform controlled experiments. They have to make do with observing what nature provides. We make observations. We run computer simulations. It’s not as good as being there. The “faith” part is a solid belief in the consistency which extends our realm with “virtual controlled experiments” as approximations of whatever scientific observations we would like to make, but can’t directly measure.

    This kind of faith is not that of religion which rejects observations if it does not fit with its belief system. British Israelism in Armstrongism is a good example of this. DNA test shows that it is absolutely false, but the faith of the Armstrongists reject the science because it would ruin everything — just absolutely everything — for them.

    And Ralph, thank you for reminding us of entropy with the example of the Tower of Babylon: It extends our understanding greatly. The proposition that religion is used to increase entropy, particularly in terms of economy and society is a vital one and perhaps you can comment further (some of us don’t get it the first time or at least don’t get the full “flavor” of it).

    Just because there isn’t necessarily a singular all-encompassing static truth, or, if there is, we can’t know it, it is no excuse not to embrace the things we do know (scientifically) as truths.

    One more point: Herbert Armstrong clearly wanted to kill science. He said that Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden performed the first scientific experiment: Taking and examining the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It ended badly for them (according to the Scripture) and by extension, all experimentation by us will end badly. According to his precepts, we are to conclude that we should avoid science and rely upon God as the sole source of truth. And because God does not talk to us directly today, we had to rely on Herbert Armstrong entirely as the sole relelation of God for all real important questions to life, the Universe and everything.

    This was a deft and subtle move to enslave the masses as his livestock. He stood as God as God is God to live like a god (mostly like the carnal Greek gods, replete with a terrible temper and ghastly ego). This slavery should be unthinkable to analytical reasoning people — an anathema, contravening all concepts of freedom and living as equals.

    The question after one learns that “They lie to you, and then they take your money,” should always be, “Who died and left you God?”

  8. James writes:
    “The earth was not created 6,000 years ago, and God did not create man.”

    As far as we know. “Creation”, however can have a wide variety of meanings. For example, we can reasonably conclude that God didn’t get a handful of clay and assemble a man, but it is possible that humans emerged from a longer process of genetic “informing” in which our development occurred as a result of constant interaction among both viruses and bacteria, cutting and pasting, to form pattern that emerged as intelligence.

    In other forums, I have explored this process, and did an essay on this in the study of the Cambrian era, in the “Painful Truth” page. We are, in a very real sense, built from the world around us, constantly exchanging information at all levels, from viruses to genes to civilization, and we are embedded deeply in the world. However, only human have the ability to stand apart and look at the world from an “outside” perspective. Whether that is an illusion is still to be discovered.

    One basic pattern that convinces me the bible is basically true, is that it does not seek to organize all humans into a concept of God, but rather, seems to focus on keeping humans FROM organizing under one banner.
    It starts at the tower of Babel, and continues with the command to israel to keep separate and not partake of the “leaven” of other cultures.

    It continues with jesus telling his followers that he didn’t come to bring peace and unity, but divisions and a sword (Matthew 10:34-38), and not to follow others who claimed a better understanding of God. Paul tells us that we can;t, by our natural minds, be subject to God, and that there is no way to prove any closer relation to God(Romans 8:7, Romans 9:16-22).

    What this tells me is that we are NOT supposed to “convert” others to “one way”, but that is the impulse of humans, not truth. Conversion to one single way is accelerated entropy. Diversity of opinion and individuality is the way of adaptation and intelligence. IOW, “there is a way that seemeth right, but the end thereof is death”.

  9. Douglas writes:

    “There are times when scientists can’t perform controlled experiments. They have to make do with observing what nature provides. We make observations. We run computer simulations. It’s not as good as being there. The “faith” part is a solid belief in the consistency which extends our realm with “virtual controlled experiments” as approximations of whatever scientific observations we would like to make, but can’t directly measure.”

    Of course. In 1980, I was sitting in a college biology class, and the instructor said something that, to me, was absolutely ridiculous. He said that viruses had no useful purpose in evolution. It was at that instant a n entire concept of the virus in a completely new way hit me. It was an epiphany of sorts, but as it turned out over time, I was correct.

    I approached my biology instructor and told him of something that had occurred to me during his lecture. I based my conclusins on what I called the “cockroach theory of history”. I told my instructor, “Cockroaches grow and are increasingly resistant to our most advanced poisons. In fact, they can now eat and get fat on poisons that once killed them. This suggests to me that life evolves and develops an immune system that adapts to all attempts to destroy it.”

    The instructor looked blank. “So?”

    “This tells me that life will find a way to grow and evolve, no matter how hard we try to destroy it, which means that life operates on an information system that takes even poison into account.”

    “What does that have to do with viruses?”

    “It shoudl be obvious” I told him. “What is a virus? It’s a bit of DNA locked in protein that injects itself into a cell, which then takes that DNA and replicates the virus”.

    “But the virus destroys the cell”.

    “Exactly, yet the organism will begin developing defenses that allow it to overcome the virus. This means that the organism must enhance its intelligence by developing adaptive strategies that take into account the DNA of the virus, the same way a cockroach adapts to poison and adapts by developing strategies that allow it to reproduce, incorporating that same poison into its offspring.”

    I then explained to him the steps of my little “epiphany”:
    1.The organism is infected with a virus which starts replicating itself within the cell, which then ruptires and the viral offspring infect other cells.
    2.The organism must have a method of “recognition”, which means there must be some kind of “awareness” of a threat to the organism’s integrity
    3.The organism seeks to identify the virus by sending out T-cells and anti-bodies that attach themselves to the virus and neutralize its effects.

    I looked at my biology teacher. “This means that the immune system actually enhances the intelligence of the organism by developing necessary adaptive strategies”.

    “So you’re saying the more we try to poison the cockroaches, the more intelligent they become in their adaptive process?”

    “Yes. Living systems will adapt to toxic environments as readily as they will adapt to healthy environments. They will survive, and they will incorporate toxic effects into their strategy”.

    This has implications for human societies as well. Once several generations have adapted to toxic effects, they assume the toxic environment to be “good”, and have no way of telling the difference between what is “good” or “bad’ for them. They will simply adapt to the prevailing strategies, and they will seek to extend their reproductive success acording to that strategy. Therefore, if christian “conversion” becomes successful in terms of reproductive success, it will become a “self evident truth” that will be adopted by the masses. At ths point, I am reminded of a statement by Philip Slater in “EarthWalk”, published in 1974:

    “Imagine a mass of cancerous tissue, the cells of which enjoyed consciousness. Would they not be full of self congratulatory sentiments at their independence, their more advanced level of development, their more rapid rate of growth? Would they not sneer at their more primitive cousins who were bound into a static and unfree existence, with limited aspirations, subject to heavy group constraint, and obviously ‘going nowhere’? Would they not rejoice in their control over their own destiny, and cheer the conversion of more and more cells as convincing proof of the validity of their own way of life? Would they not, in fact, feel increasingly triumphant right up to the moment the organism on which they fed expired?”

    The proselytizing zeal is the manifestation of this tendency. It is cancerous, and humans tend to accept the “successful” religion as one which “converts” more and more members to its “truth”.

    Notice what type of treatments are offered. HWA said we must simply pray more, read the bible more, and assume that it is a deficiency on our part to adapt to the truth of the group. This, as Gun Lap points out, is not just the tendency of Armstrongism. It is a problem that occurs within ALL religions.

    In more secular circles, if we feel trapped in a toxic environment, we do not seek to simply walk away from the environment. Instead, Western society offers drugs that allow us to “deaden” ourselves to the toxic effects. Drugs are just the alternative to the emotional deadness proposed by religions. Instead of praying more, denying our “lusts” more, drugs simply offer a way of “feeling good” while we adapt to the continuous toxic effects. If the drugs start to fail, there are more powerful drugs. If our religions seems to be A TRAP TO US, we have many more religions, built on exactly the same deadening concept of homogenized growth, interchangeable with the other religions that allow us to choose among alternatives, NONE OF WHICH EVER ALLOW US TO ESCAPE. What do they all say?
    “YOU ARE NOT SUBMITTING ENOUGH. YOU MUST OVERCOME BY GIVING UP YOUR SELFISH WAYS. YOU MUST SURRENDER TO “CHRIST” OR TO THE HIGHER IDEALS OF SOME ‘ISM’ “.

    The moral of this little essay? In both biology and civilization, there MUST be some process in which we are continually forced to confront the contradictions and threats to our existence. Otherwise, we will do as those at the tower of Babel and simply qwork to one single goal until we have destroyed ourselves or so poisoned our environment that we cannot tell good from bad. That is why Jesus said not to follow other men who said “here is Christ”. That is why Jesus said he never came to bring peace, but a sword. He came to FORCE us to question our own decisions as individuals, to “scoff”, to find the courage to question for ourselves.

    “Straight is the way, and narrow the path, AND FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT”.
    Notice; not “choose” it. FIND IT.

  10. Excellent posts Ralph! Clear and concise!

    “Simply because the united effort to build one tower would so deplete the energy available to the culture, that chaos would be the result as all local energy would be destroyed for use building a tower.”

    And who now days, who builds towers? Compare the story of the tower of Babel with the building of Gerald Flurrys palace or the soon to be constructed Dave Pack house of horrors. The members gather all their energy (expended labor) to build these palace/auditoriums and for what reason?

    We hear Geralds cult creak under the debt load as members exit and try to recover from their cult experience. We will see the same with Packs little Jr. auditorium. In the end who will own these monuments to men? The counties or cities that buy these white elephants at a foreclosure auction.

    Watch!

    *Herb escaped the collapse due to continued growth of the wcg cult. The times were different, the economy and political situation was more stable. I will say that he was the master when it came to deception. Good that the new leaders are morons!

  11. Thanks, James. You bring out another point, demonstrated by Hoffer in “The True Believer”. Religions, whatever their doctrine, are merely reflections of the times in which they are born. Hoffer shows that all cults and mass movements were “cog in the machine” type systems, developing traits of collective obedience among the followers, all of whom could interchangeably join different religions, yet with little loss of “efficiency” from one to another. Jared Diamond points out that the Catholic Church was probably the first to develop the idea of “franchise”, in which there could be settlements all over the world, but all operating from a replicated set of instructions that gave “universal” significance in all the little spots.

    The debt loads of such groups as WCG were merely reflections of economic times in which extended debt also contributed to massive growth and expansion of economic prosperity, corresponding to the “Great Awakening” of the 1800s, which also corresponded to the “Legal Tender Cases”, in which the Supreme Court ruled that paper money could be used for legal tender due to the “sovereignty” of the US Constitution. The expansion of nationalistic “faith” was supported by the unrestrained expansion of money as debt under the Federal Reserve. The “Tower of Babel” was being built by organizing people into collectivist “faith” structures that allowed them to ignore the reality of entropy itself, as well as the chaos resulting from such expansion.

    The business guru, Peter Drucker, in “The New Realities”, points out that the mass movement began right here in the USA , with support of newspaper magnates such as Hearst and Pulitzer, who developed the “homogenized” concept of religion, which supported the market of their mass media chains.

    This same nationalistic “faith” idea was extended by the Hearst newspaper ayndicate, who selected such men as Billy Graham, and lent them “authority” because they preached a doctrine of homogenized christianity, mere “conversion” into a common bond that had little difference, supporting “God and country”. HWA took those non-aligned individuals who could see something wrong with the prevailing structure, and re-incorporated them into cogs in the machine, sacrificing to develop the kingdom of God on earth, working together in the same passive fellowship as Mormons, JWs, or any similar group. The real “great awakening” now are those individuals who recognize it ALL as pure crap.

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