Page 12: spring 1993
We receive far more letters than we can respond to, but occasionally we
print samples that contribute useful insights to the articles and materials we
The Till-Lockwood debate has been fun to read. The question of burden of proof is not simple. To prove
beyond reasonable doubt that the Bible has errors is tougher than to raise doubts of its inerrancy, although
you and I believe that it is not at all hard to do. I think we're being a little too easy on the believers. I
do not accept the notion that a disinterested party or "judge" should consider the Bible to be The Inerrant
Word of God unless we show beyond reasonable doubt that it has errors. I think that the notion that a written
text is supernaturally free of error is so strange that the burden of proof ought to be the other way (emphasis
In TSR, v3#4, pp. 11-12, part of the discussion is on the antiquity of monotheism. I've seen an interest
ing book: The First Heretic: The Life and Times of Ikhnaton the King, by Fred Gladstone Bratton. He credits
Ikhnaton, who became king in 1375 BC, with the invention of monotheism. The sun-god Ra is much older, but the
universal, immaterial Supreme Being dates from Ikhnaton. Now, do the inerrantists claim that the Moses Pharaoh
ruled before Ikhnaton?
[William B. Lindley, contributing editor of Truth Seeker, P. O. Box 2872,
San Diego, CA 92112.]
At the end of his bizarre debate with you, his every other line being a totally irrelevant slap at you for
the benefit of the anti-intellectual, home crowd, Bill Lockwood finally concluded that you "... surely made a
poor showing in this exchange, and every reader knows it." Either Bill is a politician at heart, akin to Bush
claiming victory in his last days, or else his concept of your typical reader needs a major overhaul.
I reached a different conclusion as, no doubt, most of your readers did. I concluded that Mr. Lockwood
never understood the heart of your rebuttal. He seemed to be off in an imaginary ring by himself, punching
mostly at ghosts of his own making.
The problem is this: Mr. Lockwood has no grasp whatsoever of the role that proof plays in an inductive
argument. Without that reference point one cannot possibly understand the proper weighing of the evidence. He
never even saw your knockout punch.
What Mr. Lockwood needs (and he isn't alone) is some basic tutoring in inductive reasoning. In the world
of atoms and energy, and that includes the interpretation of the Bible, public truth is ultimately determined
through inductive logic. Deductive logic, which can play a supporting role within a framework of inductive
logic, applies to a mathematical or abstract system that is defined by arbitrary (but hopefully consistent)
postulates. Fundamentalists often confuse (or even abuse) the two forms of logic.
You might consider devoting half an issue to educating future debating opponents on the basics of reason
ing. A remedial class seems in order judging by the performance of many of your opponents. Once done, it will
serve as a reference point for future debates.
[Dave Matson, 330 South Hill Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106. See Mr.
Matson's article on pages 9-11.]
In reading the debates in the back issues, I can feel your frustration in trying to convince the "fundies"
of the many, many mistakes to be found in the bible! I'm reminded of the old southern saying:
Never try to teach a pig to whistle.
It just frustrates you,
And the pig don't like it!
In other words, the fundies are not going to admit it, even when you plainly show them they are wrong.
To admit that they're wrong means giving up their social activities (which center around the church),
their entertainment (gospel quartets, snake handling, etc.), their once or twice per week, sometimes more,
chance to "dress up" and show off their finery. Saying they're mistaken means giving up their bonding (herd
instinct) or, as the fundies call it, "fellowship" with other members, and on and on. I think most fundamental
ists know there is nothing to the bible, but they simply can't let go. Little do they realize it will be the
happiest day of their lives when they finally give it up!
Farrell, I am an avowed atheist, yet I love my wife and son better than life itself. I pay my bills; I
pay my taxes; I serve on community projects (helping the homeless, the poor, etc.); I do not and will not
cheat, lie, or steal; I am a good neighbor, and above all I am tolerant of other people and their ideals and
beliefs. My question: How could I be better? Answer: I can't. To pursue organized religion would make me less
tolerant of my fellow man. I would become a liar and a hypocrite.
Besides, to be a good atheist, one must read and know the bible better than your ordinary churchgoer. One
must read several hundred other books on freethought, religion, rationalism, etc. In other words, you can't be
an idiot and be an atheist.
[Bob Fincher, 9809 Waters Meet Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32312-3759.]
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