The following is the first draft of the letter I will be sending to CBS concerning +quot;A

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

The following is the first draft of the letter I will be sending to CBS concerning "Ancient Secrets of the Bible." Critical comments are welcomed, but please respond through e-mail unless you think your comments are relevant to talk.origins. I focused narrowly on Carl Baugh and some of his claims. I did this because I am most familiar with this topic, and I didn't see the entire show. I still have to double-check the accuracy of my typing in the letter. Please let me know of any mistakes. I am most concerned with being factually correct about details. And please write to CBS if you saw the show! ============================================================================ May 17, 1992 CBS 51 West 52nd Street New York NY 10019 Dear sirs, I am writing to you concerning the show, "Ancient Secrets of the Bible" which aired friday night, May 15th, 1992. My comments will be focused on only a small part of the two-hour program, for I am not competent to speak on many of the controversial issues discussed. I also did not see the entire program. However, the issues that I'm familiar with were covered very poorly, and I suspect that the remainder of the program was of similar quality. The program gave the clear impression that the scientific community was actively engaged in a debate over the issue of whether humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Let me assure you that this debate was settled conclusively over a hundred years ago. Dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago (Eldredge, 1991, p. 118). Humans came along many millions of years later, definitely after the extinction of the dinosaurs. The scientific community argues over this point about as much as it argues over the issue of whether the earth is flat or spherical. In other words, it doesn't. The program contained comments from a creation 'scientist' by the name of Carl Baugh. Mr. Baugh claimed (among other things) to have evidence of human footprints alongside dinosaur footprints in the sediments of the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas. He claims that this evidence shows that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Mr. Baugh also showed an iron hammer with a wooden handle found near London, Texas by others in the 1930's in an 'Ordovician' stone concretion. If this claim were authentic, it would show that either hammer-making humans existed 500 million years ago (the age of the Ordovician period) or current ideas about the history of life on earth are incorrect. I will deal with these two claims separately, but first I want to discuss Baugh's authenticity as an 'expert.' The program gave the impression that Mr. Baugh was a scientist who argues for the coexistence of man and dinosaurs. However, Mr. Baugh has no science degrees relevant to the study of fossils and fossil footprints: "Thus, all of Baugh's alleged science degrees seem to trace circuitously back to Baugh himself and his partner Wilson - through their own unaccredited religious schools and/or branches of them. Last, there is no evidence that Baugh has even an undergraduate degree in any field of science." (Kuban, 1989, p. 16) Carl Baugh is hardly an expert, yet "Ancient Secrets of the Bible" presented him as one. Concerning the alleged 'mantracks' at Paluxy River, it should be noted what Baugh really says. Mr. Baugh claims that giant humans existed several thousand years ago. He claims that these giant humans left behind their footprints. For example, on the basis of five footprints, he claims that a 13 foot, 600 pound, flat-footed human once walked the muddy banks of the Paluxy River (Cole et. al., 1985, p.2). Yet the program did not mention this! Was it too embarrassing? Mr. Baugh interprets the bible to say that giant humans existed, so he believes it. It is fine with me if people wish to use the bible as the basis of their beliefs, but it cannot be labelled as science. The actual footprints that Baugh uses in his arguments have been studied extensively by scientists. It is a long and detailed story, so I will attempt to summarize. I encourage the reader to check out the sources at the end of this letter. Godfrey (1985, pp. 34-35) states that Baugh's 'mantracks' at the McFall Site (at Paluxy) fall into three categories: (1) Clear toe impressions of tridactyl [three-toed] dinosaurs (2) poor dinosaur tracks (3) Invertebrate burrow casts of _Thalassinoides_ that creationists identify as 'toes' of their 'mantracks.' In addition, various scientists have explanations for the supposed 'mantracks'. Godfrey (1981, p. 25) mentions the work of Walter Coombs, a vertebrate paleontologist who has studied dinosaur tracks: "[Coombs] published a marvelous article on this subject in the March 1980 issue of _Science_ [pp. 1198-1200]. In it he shows that tridactyl (three-toed) dinosaurs made very different impressions, depending upon how deeply they sank into the muddy substrate and upon their mode of locomotion - whether walking over the ground or swimming over it, barely touching bottom." Apparently Baugh does not even possess the skills necessary to do careful excavation: "But I noticed that some of the shallow dinosaur prints exposed in June were now destroyed, not so much by weathering as by digging and by debris from nearby 'human' prints being dumped on them." (Hastings, 1985, p. 7) and, "When I telephoned Langston on the 13th, he said it was 'too late' for professionals to be of any help and that the amateur excavation of the skeleton [dinosaur skeleton] had already been botched. It was tragic that this unusual and potentially very important find fell into Baugh's hands." (Hastings, 1985, p. 13) Even more amazing is a confession from one of Baugh's co-workers (Hastings, 1985, p. 14): "Al West, a Baugh co-worker for two years, follower of mantrack claims since 1974......went public with his charge that Baugh never had evidence for manprints as claimed......... West declared, 'I can safely say that I have seen no science in their activities. The facts have flat been dismissed.' He [West] added that Baugh's prints were 'totally contrived from his imagination.' West had worked directly on excavations and had even made the plaster casts for Baugh of some of the tracks. In this connection, West noted that he had seen some plaster casts which, when they were transformed into fiberglass casts, were made to look more human in the process." Baugh's claims have even been questioned by creationists: "Knowledgeable creationists now recognize that Baugh's 'mantracks' are probably spurious." (Schadewald, 1986, p. 9) So why is CBS airing a program that represents this man as a reputable scientist? Finally, "No paleontologist who has studied the flora and fauna of the Comanchean deposits in Central Texas has ever reported a human footprint in these rocks." (Godfrey, 1985, p. 16) Concerning the hammer: "The stone concretion is real, and it looks impressive to someone unfamiliar with geological processes. How could a modern artifact be stuck in Ordovician rock? The answer is that the concretion itself is not Ordovician. Minerals in solution can harden around an intrusive object dropped in a crack or simply left on the ground if the source rock.....is chemically soluble." (Cole, 1985, p. 46) I have no desire to censor the views of creation 'scientists.' But various United States court rulings have clearly identified the purpose of creation 'science.' Judge William Overton, in striking down the Arkansas Balanced Treatment Act (Act 590 of 1981), stated: "The evidence is overwhelming that both the purpose and effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion in the public schools." (Overton, 1982, pp. 934-43) In 1987, the United States Supreme Court held unconstitutional the Act for Balanced Treatment for Creation Science and Evolution Science in Public School Instruction (Creationism Act). The court opinion, written by Justice William Brennan, Jr. stated: "The preeminent purpose of the Louisiana legislature was clearly to advance a religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind. The term 'creation science' was defined as embracing this particular religious doctrine by those responsible for the passage of the Creationism Act." (As quoted in Strahler, 1987, p. 528) I realize that the program was not primarily concerned with the views of creation 'scientists.' However, I feel that by airing "Ancient Secrets of the Bible," CBS has helped to advance the creationist cause. Now, what is CBS going to do about it? Sincerely, Rob Zuber Astrophysics Graduate Student Johns Hopkins University Eldredge, Niles. 1991. "Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of Species," Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York Kuban, Glen J., "A Matter of Degree: An Examination of Carl Baugh's Credentials," NCSE Reports, Vol. 9, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1989. Cole, J.R., Godfrey, L.R., Hastings, R.J., Schafersman, S.D., "Introduction," Creation/Evolution XV, Vol. 5. No. 1. Godfrey, L.R., "Foot Notes of an Anatomist," Creation/Evolution XV, Vol 5., No. 1. Godfrey, L.R., "An Analysis of the Creationist Film _Footprints in Stone_," Creation/Evolution VI, Fall 1981. Coombs, Walter P. Jr., March 1980. "Swimming Ability of Carnivorous Dinosaurs." Science 207 Hastings, R.J., "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists," Creation/Evolution XV, Vol 5. No. 1. Schadewald, Robert. "Scientific Creationism and Error," Creation/Evolution XVII, Vol. 6, No. 1. Cole, J.R., "If I Had a Hammer," Creation/Evolution XV, Vol. 5., No. 1. Overton, William R., 1982, "Creationism in the Schools; The Decision in McLean versus the Arkansas Board of Education." Science 215 Strahler, Arthur N., 1987. "Science and Earth history: The Evolution/ Creation Controversy," Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear Netters, Last night (May 15, 1992) I saw a program on CBS about the Bible, and how science has allegedly proven that everything in it is the absolute truth. Rather than bore you with the details, I have attached a copy of the letter I am sending to CBS. It's long, but I wanted it to be detailed. I encourage you all to write to CBS, and to make your displeasure at this show known. Please feel free to use parts of my letter, so long as the original intent of the letter is not changed. The more _unique_ letters CBS receives, the better. At the end of this post, I have also included the list of companies who advertised on this program, with their addresses. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! The networks consider 40 letters received to be a significant message. WRITE CBS! WRITE THE SPONSORS! Tell them that you will no longer purchase their products because of their association with this program, unless CBS also airs a program that leans the other way (towards a rational point of view). Let CBS know that you are writing their sponsors. Swamp CBS with letters - tell your friends to write in as well. We can make a difference in fighting the growing tide of religion and superstition that is sweeping the country. But we must act! Lastly, if you _do_ write, please let me know. If your friends write, please have them let me know. I'd like to have a rough count of how many letters CBS is receiving! Hopefully so I can gloat over a successful campaign! :) David Hunt, Graduate Student Department of Mechanical Engineering Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA 15213 ------- BEGIN LETTER TO CBS ------- May 16, 1992 CBS 51 West 52nd Street New York NY 10019 Dear Sirs, I am writing to you concerning the program aired last night about the Bible, called "Ancient Secrets of the Bible." This program was clearly intended to pander to the religious right, and paid the merest token of respect to true scientific methodology. GENERAL COMPLAINTS 1) Many experts were included on the show. Their credibility would have been aided (or eroded?) had their institutional affiliations been clearly stated - most were not. What makes them an "expert", and what are their qualifications? How are they regarded in the scientific community at large - what are their reputations? 2) Most of the experts were clearly biased. The program had one skeptical expert with a 10 second sound bite, then the program spent 20 minutes with other experts, along with glitzy productions that illustrated the story in question without actually illustrating the explanation given. By this I mean that a possible scientific explanation for a "miracle" is given, then the re- enactment shows a supernatural (i.e. Biblical) version of the event. The two were not consistent. For example - a strong wind is given as the explanation to the Red Sea parting, yet the production shown had no evidence of such a wind. Rather, it was the miraculous parting of the sea that was shown. 3) The program didn't touch on the myriad contradictions contained in the Bible. Nor did it touch on the New Testament miracles, or on many topics such as the flood (except in passing) that could have proven damaging to the claims being put forth. 4) The logic used in the narration was abysmal. If a lawyer used that style of logic in a courtroom, he/she would be the laughing stock of the entire legal community. Just because a thing is possible does not mean it exists. By the logic used in the program, I can claim that fairies make flowers grow. Since it is theoretically possible, and you can't disprove it, it must be true! This is not science, it's faith - something that has nothing to do with true rational, scientific inquiry. 5) The show made strong claims - "We have proven that...", "It is clear that.." and "Since it cannot be disproven it must be true that...". True science rarely works with that much conviction. Most scientists allow for the possibility that they might be wrong - a humility that the program's writers could learn from. 6) Most Biblical skeptics concede the fact that the Bible quite possibly has a great deal of historic accuracy. The program's logic, that since various cities have been discovered their mere existance proves the veracity of Biblical miracles, is faulty to the extreme. By that logic I could claim that the Greek Gods truly exist because of the ancient ruins in Greece and the recent discovery of Troy. 7) The program covered quite a variety of topics. If you had truly been interested in producing a quality program, you should have had a series with one topic per program, each one examining in great detail all of the available evidence. Picking and choosing of evidence is not allowed - and have more than one skeptic. Balance the odds and have a real debate, if you want to be taken seriously. Better yet, have a proportional representation of the camps - if skeptics are 90 percent of the population, have them be 90 percent of the debators. People might learn something from the proportions. 8) In the segments where a natural explanation was offered - wouldn't that remove the need for Divine Intervention? If an earthquake stopped the Jordan River, why does God have to be brought into the picture? Again, this logic is faulty to the extreme. SPECIFIC COMPLAINTS 1) Sodom & Gomorrah These were some questions that came to mind: What possible explanations other than a volcanic eruption are possible? Is there a history of such eruptions in the area? What corroberating evidence do you have - e.g., ice cores from Antarctica? Are all the ruins from the same time? These are all common-sense questions, for a rational inquiry, yet they were not even touched on. 2) Babel About the Ancient Astronaut theory - where's the evidence? Where is one single shred of tangible, physical evidence that there were extra-terrestrial visitors during that time? And biologically, there's no reason they'd look human. About the quartz/radio idea - try asking a Physicist or an Electrical Engineer if that would be possible, let alone likely. As an engineer, I have my doubts! Given the speed of light, any radio communication would have been tremendously slow, as we have not found any signs of intelligent life within a 20 light-year radius. In fact, even if there were an advanced civilization at the closest star, Proxima Centauri, the round trip message time would have been 8 years. This would have taxed anyone's patience - even if they knew that it would take that long. And if they knew, I find it highly suspicious that no records have been found to that effect. Racial diversity - again, just because something is theoretically possible does not mean it happens. Your expert was one expert - what about other biologists? Is there a consensus on this theory? What about the DNA-comparison evidence showing racial splits not 3000 years ago, but more than 50,000 years ago? Another ignored piece of evidence that would have damaged your claims. Regarding the storms about the tower depicted in your mini-movie: Anything tall would have attracted lightening. So what? I thought there was a rainy season in that region of the world - wouldn't that explain why storms were constantly around? Finally, your presentation of Saddam Hussein was not called for. While I do not defend his deplorable actions, your description and jabs at him were despicable and clearly political posturing, something not relevant to scientific inquiry. 3) The Burning Bush Any flame requires both heat and fuel, and I find it hard to believe that a bush could survive a flame without some signs of damage. Why only israeli experts - surely there are some others who are also qualified? Does being an israeli automatically make one an expert? This was implied. Does the bush claimed to be the actual bush date from those times? Has an attempt to date the bush ever been made? What about this super-volotile oil theory - it sounds good. Surely there are other bushes around so that it could be tested? Why was this not done? It would be an easy test, and would be very convincing if it worked. 4) Parting of the Red Sea There was the skeptical Rabbi in the beginning who talked about the probable numbers of people involved in the Exodus as being greater than 2 million. How were the logistics of the travel done? Food and distribution? Movement coordination? Where are the traces of the migration - surely a movement of 2 million plus people (plus herds of animals) would have left quite significant traces on the landscape. The alleged israelite markings - those markings look like stick figures! While I readily concede the difficulty of carving rock, I know that art had evolved far beyond stick figures at that point. How were these dated? What about peer review - independent confirmation? Are the markings consistent from location to location? Are they consistent with known israelite practices of the time? Are there traces of a 2 million-person migration in the area of these markings? All these potential flies-in-the-ointment questions are not even asked, let alone dealt with. As to the actual crossing of the Red Sea - the Pharoh was delayed by a pillar of fire. This wasn't even mentioned - why? What explanation was there for it? Or could such an explanation not be found that fit into the scheme of the program, and therefore was it ignored in the hope that the error of omission would be overlooked? Finally, that cute fluids experiment showing the wind blowing the water away has tremendous flaws. What wind speed would be required to actually do that to the Red Sea? What could possibly cause a wind to blow that hard naturally, for the required duration to allow 2 million people (plus animals) to cross? If the wind speed required turns out to be greater than the speed of sound, then the wind theory is automatically disproven. And how could the israelites have stood, let alone walked, in a wind of that force? Have egyptian relics been found in that area, and have they been dated to the proper time? 5) Dinosaurs and People (evolution) More than 99 percent of U.S. scientists believe in the veracity of evolution. While having a majority does not mean that the view held is true, in a community whose fundamental principles call for constant re-examination and re- evaluation I feel it unlikely that a false theory would have lasted for over 100 years. There is a tremendous amount of evidence in favor of evolution - and while the anomolies quoted by the (creationist?) scientists should be addressed, the program ignored the mountains of other evidence. As to dinosaur footprints alongside human ones - that has been disproven several years ago. It is a habit of creationist "scientists" that, despite having their claims carefully debunked, they keep making these claims hoping that some listeners will not have heard the evidence refuting their claims. They hope that if they keep chanting the same theme repeatedly, the scientific community will eventually tire of constantly having to re-refute their "evidence". And about the 1977 discovery of an alleged dinosaur carcass - why haven't most credible scientists heard of it? Or was it so long ago disproven that it has become a non-issue for most scientists? While I was in elementary school at the time, a true discovery of such an artifact would have been national news for weeks - yet I remember no trace of any discussion on the topic. Behemoths are mentioned - if dinosaurs really were around, why are there no artistic depictions of them? Cave-dwellers surely would have drawn them if they'd seen them, not to mention China, which has had a continuous civilization back at least 3000 years. Lastly, the standard creationist argument is the claim that since evolution is obviously wrong, their particular mythos is correct. Why not another of the religions? Why not Shintoism? Hinduism? One of the African religions? Why does the "refutation" of evolution automatically mean that the judeo-christian creation is the true one. Faulty logic, again! 6) The Ark of the Covanent Was there the necessary technology? Sure - wood and gold working were well advanced by this time in history. Why couldn't the israelites have made one? As to there actually being one - why not? People have undertaken colossal projects to appease their gods. Just look at the temples of many different religions, and the cathedrals that took over a century to build! What's a small, gold-covered box in relation to these projects? About the ark being under the temple mount - the 3 Rabbis never said they saw the ark. They just supposed it might be there. Then the narrator announced that "...clearly, the ark is underneath the temple mount." This is clearly exaggeration and extrapolation of a supposition - no hard evidence given. 7) The Bible as Scientific Predictor The earth was known by the greeks to be a sphere for quite a long time - they even had a reasonably accurate estimate for how large it was. There was nothing miraculous about it - just good observation and keen minds. Consider that in Genesis the world is described and it is nothing resembling a sphere. The spherical description comes much later, when the news from Greece could have made its way to that area of the world. As to the scientific predictions - if you're looking for a pattern to match, you will find it. For example, in PI if you want a pattern of 10 7's to be found, the odds are rather low. But if you ask for any unusual pattern, then your odds increase dramaticaly. Such patterns could be 10 1's, or 2's, etc. Or 1123581321, or 1234567890, or 0987654321, or 2718281828 (base of the natural logarithm). The same thing happens with "paths in the ocean". If you want to match a prediction, expecially one that vague, you will. Water tunnel 1700 feet long: Sure - it's amazing what you can do with slave labor and a little simple geometry. The greeks did it. There was quite a lot of engineering skill in those days, and cheap labor was readily available. 8) Walls of Jericho Wall sapping has been known for millenia. Sapping is the technique of tunnelling under a wall, supporting the roof with wood. Then the wood is lit on fire and when the tunnel gives way the walls collapse. Why rely on a miracle when a rational explanation is readily available? Nor is lightening mentioned in the story, yet your mini-movie had lightening striking the walls. As to the grain not being plundered - has the possibility that the grain was poisoned been investigated? Tainted grain would have stopped any force from plundering. What about gold, and other valuables? Have they been found in sufficient quantities to justify the no-plunder restriction? This would have been a telling point in the support of the story, yet no mention was made. 9) Brotherhood and Comfort The Bible has some of the most vicious stories in history - the slaughters of entire peoples at God's direct command, the institutionalism of slavery, and the subjugation of women as near-chattel. God himself comes across as a vain and arrogant diety, full of loathing and disgust for anyone who dares not toe the line. This book has been the cause of some of the bloodiest acts in history - witness the Crusades, or the Inquisition. What of the 100 Year's War, where Catholics fought Protestants in wholesale slaughter? The list goes on and on. While there is much wisdom in the Bible, especially the Golden Rule, it is sandwiched between artocity after atrocity. And as to providing comfort - surely the Roman gods provided comfort to those who worshipped them. By the program's "logic" the fact that some people derived comfort from Jupiter et al means that they existed as well. CONCLUSION I am writing to each and every company that advertised during this program, and I will tell them that their advertisement on this program linked their name with a program that was nothing more than religious propaganda thinly veiled as science. I will inform them that I am working on spreading the word of their support for the program, and am encouraging people not to buy their products. Additionally, in these days where poll after poll of the american population shows a frightening lack of knowledge of basic science and the scientific method, your representation of the methods and logic in this program as scientific is nothing short of criminal. Many people in this country have the TV as their sole source of information - your airing of this program (among others, such as the upcoming "Intruders" info-drama) reduces you from a respectable network willing to find the truth to the "National Inquirer" of TV networks. I am calling on you, as a national network with national responsibilities, to produce another program which truly and scientifically investigates the Bible and the stories in it. There are many persons and organizations who would appreciate a chance to publically examine the claims made in the Bible. I challenge you to produce such a scientifically-valid program. Sincerely, David Hunt Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Carnegie Mellon University ------- END LETTER TO CBS ------- Again, please write to CBS and to the sponsors, listed below. Ask your friends to write as well. And keep me posted on the numbers of letters - I WANNA KNOW! I do not have the address of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or American Atheists. If some kind soul would send these on to them, so they can alert their members, I would greatly appreciate it. Please pass along my request for being posted on the progress as well. Thanks, David Product Address DEPENDS Kimberly-Clark Corp., Consumer Services, Dept. DUEE-10, PO Box 2020, Neenah, WI, 54957-2020 VISA International PO Box 8999, San Francisco, CA, 94128 ULTRA-SLIM FAST PO Box 5047 FDR Station, New York, NY, 10150 RAGU CHICKEN Ragu Foods Company, Rochester, NY, 14606 SIMMER SAUCES ACE HARDWARE unknown as of this writing MOTRIN IB The Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, MI 49001 MIRACLE GRO unknown as of this writing ALL DETERGENT Lever Brothers Company, New York, NY, 10022 ADVIL and Whitehall Labs, Inc. New York, NY, 10017 PREPARATION H FRISKY'S CAT FOOD Office of Consumer Affairs, Frisky's, PO Box 29055 Glendale, CA, 91209-9055 MITSUBISHI CARS unknown as of this writing HELLMANS MAYO Best Foods, CPC International Inc., General Offices, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 07632-9976 KRAFT MIRACLE WHIP Kraft Inc, Glenview, IL, 60025 CRISCO Proctor & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, 45202 GIANT EAGLE unknown as of this writing (supermarket in PA) DEXATRIM unknown as of this writing LITTLE CAESAR'S unknown as of this writing PIZZA EGGOS and Kellogs, Consumer Affairs, PO Box CAMB, Battle Creek ASSORTED CEREALS MI, 49016-1986 ROLAIDS and Warner-Lambert Co., Morris Plains, NJ, 07950 BENADRYL ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Karl Kluge The show was unquestionably a well done case of the pretense of objectivity masquerading as objectivity. It was interesting that the preview quotes were all skeptical -- obviously trying to hook people in expecting an expose of all the problems with the Bible, then show them how wonderful the evidence for the Biblical stories is. CBS should hear about this, as should the sponsors. Note that it is easy to raise the many critical questions which were not addressed, but that has very little impact unless you document the answers that show the program up for the garbage it was. Here are some preliminary notes I made based on a reviewing of the tape. SODOM SEGMENT: Recreation of angels visiting Lot -- isn't it interesting that they chose to omit Lot offering his daughters to the mob? Randall Younker -- mentioned layer of ash. But is it volcanic? After all, the cities may have been sacked for all we were told in the show. The five sites listed were Bab Edh-Dhra (Sodom), Numeira (Gomorrah), Safi (Zoar), Feifa (Admap) and Khanazir. Would someone who knows the appropriate indices check for papers on these sites and let us know what you find? Even if there is evidence of destruction of the Cities of the Plain, that offers no support to the claim that the diaster was a Divinely visited judgement, now does it? The Koran says that Irem was destroyed cataclysmically by Allah as punishment. Archaeologists recently found Irem, and most of the city was destroyed when it collapsed into a sinkhole. By the logic of ANCIENT SECRETS, I guess that means the Koran is true. TOWER OF BABEL SEGMENT: John Oller -- talked about tracing of Indo-Europeans back to approx 3000 B.C. Steven Collins -- talked about growth of ancient civilizations out of area between Caspian and Black Seas. I assume he also means the I-E's. The show suggested Etemenanki outside Babylon or the Ziggurat of Ur as the Tower -- someone should locate the date of construction of these two monuments, and point out that the evidence places humans in the Americans tens of thousand years earlier. Citations will impress the suit-wearing pinheads who ultimately read the letter, even though I doubt they'd bother to check any of them. Still, it shows you've done your homework and they didn't. EXODUS SEGMENT: Phillip Haney and the Flaxinella (sp?) -- why not show this to us? Light the friggin' bush and show us that volitile oil buring without the bush being damaged. Instead of having that idiot blathering about the baked bricks in the Tower of Babel acting as quartz crytals in a giant radio set to contact the spirit world of demons, they ought to have talked in this segment to William Stiebing, who wrote an entire book on the Exodus problem (OUT OF THE DESERT?), as well as addressed the claim that Ipuwer papyrus is an account of the Plagues of Egypt in ANCIENT ASTRONAUTS, COSMIC COLLISIONS. Ramses II (c. 1335 - 1205 B.C.) is identified in the show as the Pharoah of the Exodus, but Brad Sparks ("Archaeological Researcher") makes the claim that the Ipuwer papyrus, which dates to the end of the Middle Kingdom (~1850 B.C.) is a description of the Plagues. Not to mention the dating of the fall of Jericho to Apr. 9, 1421 B.C., a century before Ramses II. Bit of a problem, isn't it? Unmentioned was the fact that you have to assume a 500 year error in conventional Egyptian chronology to make the Ipuwer papyrus contemporary with the Exodus. In addition, the claimed parallels between the Ipuwer papyrus and the Exodus account aren't that strong. Here is my analysis of Velikovsky's section on this from AGES IN CHAOS from the talk.origins Velikovksy FAQ file: > Velikovsky was convinced that he had found an Egyptian account of the > plagues of Egypt in the Ipuwer papyrus. The translation I'm using can be > found in THE LITERATURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT, ed. William Kelly Simpson, under > the title "The Admonitions of a Egyptian Sage." > > On page 25 V. says: > > "The papyrus is a script of lamentations, a description of ruin and horror. > > "PAPYRUS 2:8 Forsooth, the land turns round as does a potter's wheel > "2:11 The towns are destroyed. Upper Egypt has become dry (wastes?) > "3:13 All is ruin! > "7:4 The residence is overturned in a minute. > "4:2 ...Years of noise. There is no end to noise. > > "What do 'noise' and 'years of noise' denote? The translator wrote: 'There is > clearly some play upon the word HRW (noise) here, the point of which is to > us obscure.' Does it mean 'earthquake' and 'years of earthquake'? In Hebrew > the word RAASH signifies 'noise,' 'commotion,' as well as 'earthquake.' > Earthquakes are often accompanied by loud sounds, subterranean rumbling and > roaring, and this acoustic phenomenon gives the name to the upheaval itself. > > "Apparently the shaking returned again and again, and the country was > reduced > to ruins, the state went into sudden decline, and life became unbearable." > > Apparently no such thing. Let's look at the context of two of the sentences > he grabs out of the text in the above quote. Papyrus 2:11 reads "Indeed, the > land turns round as does a potter's wheel; the robber is a possessor of > riches and [the rich man is become] a plunderer." In other words, this is a > "wheel of fate" image, and is not referring to any sort of earthquake. > > Looking at 7:1 to 7:4, in context that quote reads "Behold, things have been > done which have not happened for a long time past; the king has been deposed > by the rabble. Behold he who was buried as a falcon (footnote: the dead > king) of biers, and what the pyramid concealed (footnote: the > sarcophagus) has become empty. Behold, it has fallen that the land has been > deprived of the kingship by a few lawless men. Behold, men have fallen into > rebellion against the Uraeus (footnote: the cobra-symbol of loyalty), the > [...] of Re, even she who makes the Two Lands content. Behold, the secret of > the land whose limits were unknown is divulged, and the Residence is thrown > down in a moment." In other words, in context it appears that the phrase is > a figure of speech much like the English phrase "a palace revolution" which > does not imply a spinning chateau. > > You may be wondering what an earthquake has to do with the plagues of Egypt. > Well, it's V's claim that this was the origin of the Slaying of the > Firstborn, "firstborn" being a scribal error for a word meaning "chosen". On > page 30 he says: > > "The residence of the king and the palaces of the rich were tossed to the > ground, and with them the houses of the common people and the dungeons of > the captives. > > EXODUS 12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord > smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn > of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the > captive that was in the dungeon. > > PAPYRUS 4:3, also 5:6 Forsooth, the children of princes are > dashed against the walls. > 6:12 Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the > streets. > > The sight of the children of princes smashed on the pavement of the dark > streets, injured and dead amid the ruins, moved the heart of the Egyptian > eyewitnesses. No one saw the agony in the dungeon, a pit in the ground > where prisoners were locked in, when it was filled by landslides. > > Papyrus 6:3 The prison is ruined (footnote: In his notes to > another passage Gardiner translates 'storehouse' as 'prison.')" > > This is all sheer fantasy on Velikovsky's part. Wrt 4:3 I would remind > people > of the ancient custom of killing children in a sack by bashing their heads > against a convenient nearby surface. "Happy is he who bashes the heads of > their babies against the rocks," to quote the Psalmist. 6:12 is referring to > a state of anarchy in which public records are cast into the street and the > children of nobles are dispossessed. > > His pulling of 6:3 out of context is particularly outrageous. Here is the > text of 6:1-5: > > "Indeed, [men eat] herbage and wash down with water; neither fruit not > herbage can be found the birds, and [...] is taken away from the mouth > of the pig. No face is bright which you have <...> (footnote: verb omitted) > |for| me |through| hunger. Indeed, everywhere barley has perished and men > are stripped of clothes, |spice,| and oil; everyone says: 'There is none.' > THE STOREHOUSE IS EMPTY (my emphasis -- kck) and its keeper is stretched on > the ground; a happy state of affairs!" It is not the prison which is in ruin > due to an earthquake, it is the storehouse which is in ruin (i.e., empty in > this translation) due to a famine. > > On page 28, in 6:1 Velikovsky sees a reference to the plague of locusts from > Exodus. Unfortunately, according to Ipuwer the source of the famine is a > failure to farm due to the state of anarchy in the land. Page 211-212 > "Indeed, the plunderer [...] everywhere, and the servant takes what he > finds. Indeed, the Nile overflows, yet none plow for it. Everyone says: 'We > do not know what will happen throughout the land.'" > > I invite anyone who cares to to read the translation of the papyrus, Exodus, > and chapter one of AGES IN CHAOS for themselves if they still have any > doubts as to Velikovsky's use of fantasy to force the Ipuwer account to fit > his theory. They didn't address Rabbi Wine's point about how do you move several million people (the Bible mentions 603,000 males alone) across a 5.2 mile ridge that is wet and muddy from normally being underwater. DINOSAURS SEGMENT: Gish and the '77 thing: > "A more typical story, however, is that of the New Zealand monster. In > April 1977 a Japanese fishing ship trawling off the coast of New Zealand > snagged a rotting carcass at a depth of nine hundred feet. The thing was > thirty-two feet long and its estimated weight was four thousand pounds. It > smelled awful and ooozed a slimy whitish substance all over the deck. The > fisherman feared that the carcass would contaminate their catch. One of the > crewmen took some photographs, made measurements, and clipped off a few > tissue samples. Then the carcass was tossed overboard. > > When the photographs were developed they became a sensation in Japan. A > variety of authorities quickly offered guesses as to what the thing might > be: a whale, a basking shark, an elephant seal. But by far the most popular > guess was that the thing was the remains of a plesiosaur. The photographs > and a drawing made by the crewman indicated that the thing had a distinctly > plesiosaurlike shape: small head, long neck, thick body with four flippers, > and a long tail. There is no known large sea creature alive today that has > such a shape. > > Very few of the scientists who commented on the New Zealand monster at all > would give tentative support to the plesiosaur theory, but newspapers around > the world adopted it with enthusiasm. However, in addition to the photos > and drawings there were the tissue samples. These were subjected to a > variety of tests--which indicated that the chemical structure of the tissue > was identical to that of a shark. > > The shark identification should have come as no surprise to anyone familiar > with the history of sea monsters. On many other occasions the decayed body > of a large shark, particularly the giant basking shark (which may grow to a > length of over forty feet), has been mistaken for a plesiosaur's remains. > This happens because of a peculiarity of the shark's anatomical structure. > The shark's most notable feature, the huge jaws, are only loosely attached > to the backbone. When a basking shark carcass begins to rot, the jaws fall > away easily, as does the dorsal fin, another shark characteristic. Since > the shark's backbone runs only into the upper half of the shark's two-lobed > tail fin, the lower lobe may also disappear. What remains is a small > cranium attached to a long backbone, a thick body with lower fins but no > dorsal fin, and a long pointed tail: a perfect pseudo-plesiosaur. A carcass > exactly like this washed up on the beach at Scituate, Massachussets, in > November 1970, but this one was not tossed back into the sea and was > conclusively identified as the remains of a shark. > > Still, it would be rash to conclude that the oceans hold no more surprises, > and we may yet discover one or perhaps several different types of sea > monsters." [1] > > [1] Cohen, Daniel; "Monsters", in _Science and the Paranormal_, Abell & > Singer, Editors (New York: 1981, Charles Scribner's Sons), pp. 30-31 On the Glen Rose "man tracks": Martin Gardener in his book on the New Age cites TIME, 6/30/86 and the August '86 issue of DISCOVER as covering the admitting by Creationists that the so called human tracks weren't. John Morris of the ICR withdrew his book on the subject. Here are extracts from a post I saved from talk.origins on the subject: > From: rdippold@cancun.qualcomm.com (Ron Dippold) > Subject: Re: The Dinosaur Tracks (was K e n and his T h e o r y) > Date: 21 Mar 92 04:02:16 GMT > A special on Nova showed the tracks to everyone - the "human" tracks > had three toes and the uneroded tracks showed webbing. > > Here's what Dr. James Kennedy had to say on the James Ankerberg show > in the fall of 1987. The taped episodes of this show, in which Dr. > Kennedy spews his unending bull completely unopposed, are distributed > by the Ankerberg ministry: > > "What you alluded to was a discovery in the Paluxy River near Glen > Rose, Texas. I saw a movie they made about it [ Probably "Footprints > in Stone ]. They found what looked like chicken tracks at first, but > then you could see they were much bigger - they were Tyrannosaurus > tracks. And there there were these human tracks that were in this > rock. Now at one time this rock was mud when these people and > creatures were walking in it - clear human tracks, clear dinosaur > tracks. At once place one of these men... by the way, there were two > kinds of human tracks. There were normal tracks about our size and > there were giant tracks. They estimated that the person was about > nine and a half feet tall that had these particular tracks. He had a > six-foot stride when he was walking in mud. Then he sort of got up on > his toes and started running. He had a nine-foot stride. Now that > was a big man! And at one point this dinosaur track comes right on > top of this human track. You get an idea of perhaps what he was > running from! And you have those tracks in another place... and > they're looking into them very carefully and they're going to do some > very careful work on the other footprints that are there. And I think > if they can actually convince the scientific community, it's going to > throw their whole chronology into a cocked hat." > > Okay, as you've guessed, Kennedy is full of shit here. The Paluxy > River tracks were one of the most popular of creationist claims. > However, Milne and Schafersman refuted it in 1983, Cole and Godfrey > did so in 1985, and Godfrey and Cole again in 1986. (Keep in mind > that Kennedy is claiming this in late 1987). First, the Paluxy > tracks which are from the Lower Cretaceous, are not even > Tyrannosaurus. T. Rex is found only in the Upper Cretaceous. > Apparently it was the only dinosaur Kennedy could think of at the > time. Some of the alleged human tracks have claw marks and webbing, > and the tracks have sizes, shapes, paces, and strides which are > completely characteristic of dinosaur tracks. The tracks are too > narrow for human feet. Other alleged human tracks are fake carvings. > They don't show any of the features you'd expect from a human print, > and they have mysteriously changed in the past few years, after > supposedly being unchanged for millions of years... Others had been > artificially darkened to make them appear more human. > > Changes of coloring around some of the tracks made the dinosaur nature > of the tracks so conclusive that even Henry Morris, one of ICR's liars > surpreme, write in creationist journal "Impact" no 151 that > > "The 'Impact' article in this issue is different from our usual feature > [no kidding, a creationist admission of error is almost unheard of], in > that it raises questions about the well-known association of fossil > human and dinosaur tracks in central Texas. Although the evidence is > inconclusive, it must be recognized that a number of fossil tracks > formerly regarded as probably mantracks now seem to show features which > are best interpreted in terms of some unidentified two-legged reptile > [it's called a dinosaur, Hank] or other animal. Further studies are > under way, but creationists should not, at least for the present, cite > these particular footprints as evidence against evolution." > > > The whole affair gives the creationist movement in a nutshell. A > previously unheard of nine-foot species of man with two narrow feet is > the "obvious" explaination. Fakery in the film, which was then widely > circulated. Numerous scientific findings regarding the prints from > 1981 to 1986 completely ignored, no interest in newly appeared color > distinctions, and retreating from the claim only when they looked like > complete fools. Kennedy's promotion of the Paluxy fraud over a year > after all the evidence received wide coverage, and over half a year > after Morris's letter just continues the tradition. > > Although it is rather unique that they admit in print that they are > wrong. > > If you want to look into it yourself, the following articles are > informative: > > Godfrey, Laurie and Cole, John (1986), "Blunder in Their Footsteps," > Natural History 95, 4-12 > > Hastings, Ronnie (1985) "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists," > Creation/Evolution No. 15, 16-36 > > Hastings, Ronnie (1986) "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists - The > Trail Continues," Creation/Evolution No. 17, 19-27 > > Hastings, Ronnie (1985) "New Observations on Paluxy Tracks Confirm > Their Dinosaurian Origin," Journal of Geological Ed. 35, 4-15 > > Hastings, Ronnie (1987b) "Tracking Those Incredible Creationists - The > Trail Goes On," Creation/Evolution No. 21, 30-42 > > Milne, David H. and Schafersman, Steven D. (1983) "Dinosaur Tracks, > Erosion Marks and Midnight Chisel Work (But No Human Footprints) > in the Cretacious Limestone of the Paluxy River Bed, Texas," > Journal of Geological Ed. 31, 111-123 > > The titles of some of them might give some insight as to how > scientists viewed the creationists in this instance, after a while. > Rather stupid and malicious idiots. SCIENTIFIC FACT FORETOLD SEGMENT: Ah yes, Hugh Ross and Isaiah 40:22. Here is the passage from the KJV: > {Isaiah 40:22} > It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the > inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the > heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: Note that the word used is circle. A 2-D object. *NOT* a sphere. This is further emphasized by the second part of the passage. A tent is an object one spreads over part of a surface to enclose that part, not something you put around a sphere hanging in space. Nothing like those staunch defenders of literal Biblical interpretation twisting the Scriptures to suit their own purpose. The other examples are equally tendentious. Karl Kluge (kck@cs.cmu.edu) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- > From: David O Hunt > Message-ID: ge5KYXi00iV042jVce@andrew.cmu.edu > Dear Netters, > Last night (May 15, 1992) I saw a program on CBS about the Bible, and how > science has allegedly proven that everything in it is the absolute truth. > Rather than bore you with the details, I have attached a copy of the > letter I am sending to CBS. It's long, but I wanted it to be detailed. Well said! I think it needs some tightening up and some factual review. I noticed one glaring inaccuracy, the Hundred Years War was not religious, it was dynastic. You are thinking of the Thirty Years War that racked the german territories of the Holy Roman Empire. And you need to be careful how you cite it, in many instances religion was used as a cover for politics: catholicism was slightly sympathetic to social reform and supported imperial centralism, while protestantism encouraged local princes to assert autonomy and tacitly supported their repression of discontented peasants. There may be other factual problems so please get the text looked over thoroughly. As to the overall thrust, i applaud you wholeheartedly. And i suggest, that in addition to snailing copies to the network and advertisers, that you petition your NPR or Pacifica radio station to let you read it outloud as a guest editorial. +--------------------------+--------------------------------------+ | 10 2 | Garden Grove Institute of Technology | | DR PEPPER | Community Outreach Center | | 4 | | +--------------------------+ Snail Addr: Unit #1, 7872 Trask | | Un-pa-tri-o-tic (adj): | Westminster, Ca 92683 | | protesting when the | Modem: 714-894-7039 | | government wants to kill | Fidonet: 1:103/241 | | people. | Candynet: 42:1001/1 | | | Signet: 26:26/100 | +--------------------------+--------------------------------------+

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank