No 👣 tracking social sharing

Flatwoods Freethought Publications






GORDO, ALABAMA 35466-3357




Affordable Books

1. AN AWESOME TRINITY: CHARVAKA, CELSUS, MESLIER. Fascinating studies of three early, generally overlooked, freethinkers, to whom modern rationalists are much indebted. 37 pp. $3.00 postpaid.

2. THE SEVEN MIGHTY BLOWS TO TRADITIONAL BELIEFS. Second-edition, greatly enlarged. A thorough discussion of the astronomical, biological, archeological, geological, biblical criticism, apocalyptic, and world religions blows. Blows reduces every "revealed religion" to a think-so religion.

"A freethinker's heaven." --William Burns, N. Ireland. 266 pp. With spiral binding, pages lie flat for easy reading. Detailed index. "All for a mere pittance." --Dave Matson, Oak Hill Free Press. $13.00 postpaid.

3. FREETHOUGHT FOCUS. Contains fourteen essays fearlessly focusing on theology, scripture, and science, showing that the latest studies support the arguments of BLOWS. 42 pp. $3.50, postpaid.

4. INGERSOLL ATTACKS THE BIBLE. A summary under twelve headings of the great agnostic's blistering attack on the Bible. "The best piece of literature I have." --Ira Russell, OK. 45 pp. $3.50 ppd.

5. THE ART OF READING THE BIBLE. Probably the only explanation from a freethought viewpoint of seventeen methods of reading the Bible. "A distilled course in Bible interpretation. I consider it a classic." --Dr. William Balkan, The Universalist Herald. 41 pp. $3.50 postpaid.

6. POLLUTED TEXTS AND TRADITIONAL BELIEFS. A unique introduction for non-specialists to the art of textual criticism, setting forth in English hundreds of differences in the biblical manuscripts, organized under twenty-four headings. Proves that the evolution of biblical texts, like the evolution of biological species, is "a mighty blow" to traditional beliefs. 72 pp. $4.00 postpaid.

7. DISPLAYING THE DECALOGUE. Second edition, revised and enlarged. In the present heated controversy over displaying the decalogue in public places, all concerned citizens need to know what the ten commandments really say and mean and what the Bible itself says about the decalogue. Here is proof that the decalogue cannot be the basis of our judicial system and is unworthy of display. Index. 45 pp. $3.50 postpaid.

8. SCRUTINIZING THE SCRIPTURES: STRAIGHT-SHOOTING SCRIPTURAL STUDIES shattering spiritual certainties: "Confusion's Masterpiece" (Genesis 9:18-29); "Looking at Leviticus"; "A Zoo-Full of [Exegetical] Monsters"; and "The ABCs of the Corinthian Correspondence." "You cannot fully understand the Bible unless you have read Scrutinizing the Scriptures. " -- C. Victor Gabriel, NV. Index.
47 pp. $3.50, ppd.

9. A COSMIC CREED FOR THE COMING CENTURY. After "the mighty blows," what's left? This new profession of principles puts rationally defensible beliefs in the place of discredited traditional beliefs. Here is a five-point creed which is consistent with modern knowledge, a map to show us the way to go. Exposition of creed. Conscience check. Redefinitions of traditional concepts. Substitutes for traditional concepts. Affirmations. Commandments. Graces. Conclusion. "That little booklet is increasingly becoming my Bible." --C. Victor Gabriel, NV. 18 pp. $2.00, postage paid.

10. SWEET JESUS: STRAIGHT-SHOOTING SCRIPTURAL STUDIES SCRUTINIZING THE SAVIOR. These thirty startling studies may be the most devastating analysis yet of the words and deeds of the Jesus of the Gospels. Was he a virtuoso of vituperation? a consummate curser? a thief and robber? a liar? an advocate of capital punishment for children? a text-twister? a self-castrated eunuch? a teacher of tyrannical theology? an authorizer of religious persecution? a foe of laughter? a condoner of slavery? an apocalyptic fanatic? Should we today live by his ethical standards? Is the Golden Rule a perfectly fine moral principle? Can informed people today believe what Jesus believed? All this and more for only $7.00 postpaid. 117 pages. Detailed index. With spiral binding, pages lie flat for easy reading.


Here are sixty-one more devastating studies of the Jesus of the Gospels. Since none of these studies is included in the thirty studies of Volume One, both volumes contain ninety-one different studies, more than sufficient to prove that Jesus was not the perfect man and the perfect example to everyone who wants to live life fully. Topics include "Almighty Abba," "Encountering Evangelical Exclusiveness," "Jesus, Prince of Peace or Man of War?," "Prayer in Public Places," "The Self-Centered Savior," "Seven Mistakes of the Messiah," "Three Tall Tales," "Who's in Charge?," and "Worms and Fire: a Double Whammy." Only $10.00, postpaid. 193 pages. Detailed index. Spiral binding.

Above books by A. J. Mattill, Jr. The fabulous Flatwoods ELEVENPACK is only $40.00 postpaid with prepaid order to The Flatwoods Free Press, 750 Lum Fife Road, Gordo, Alabama 35466-3357.

About the Author: A. J. Mattill, Jr. (B.A., University of Chicago; B.D.; Evangelical Theological Seminary; Ph.D; in biblical studies and theology, Vanderbilt University) taught Bible at Berry College, Livingstone College, and Winebrenner Theological Seminary. His articles have appeared in such periodicals as The Journal of Biblical Literature, and The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. He is now a contributing editor of The American Rationalist and a regular contributor to Freethought Perspective. He is included in Who's Who in Hell, an international directory of freethinkers.

Flatwoods Publications are "the most enlightening freethought literature available. I consider A Cosmic Creed for the Coming Century as the most concise and adept summation of higher moral ideals that I have yet encountered. It is short enough that even the most impatient individual will stop to read it, and even the least intellectually gifted will understand it." --Bill Grigg, North Carolina.

"Cosmic Creed --what a great feast of wonderful ideals and moral suggestions!" --Donald L. Ward, California.

"I have read The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs (second edition) through entirely three times. No doubt about it -- each and every word hits the nail right on the head." --Donald L. Ward, California.

"The Seven Mighty Blows is the total destruction of Christianity. Blows is the only book that attacks Christianity from every angle. I now have the one book that says it all." --James A. Worrell, Oklahoma.

"How sweet the two volumes of Sweet Jesus are. It's made to order. This very day I've used pp. 11-13 for a rebuttal to someone who thought Jesus was the greatest moralist ever to walk on water. That particular commentary, along with the rest of your revelations, is a whirlpool that will suck Jesus and his followers under. You've done all of the homework for those of us who want to rebut the admirers of Jesus."

--Bernard Katz, Contributing Editor, The American Rationalist.

"For anyone who thinks Jesus was a nice guy, Sweet Jesus should be mandatory reading." --William Harwood, The Midwest Book Review.

"Sweet Jesus is a masterpiece of information about the fantasies of the Christian religion. You will find it richly enjoyable reading, as well as an incredibly educational source book." --Dorothy B. Thompson, Associate Editor, Freethought Perspective

Read More »

Oak Hill Free Press Catalog

Oak Hill Free Press


A Short List of Evolutionary Transitional Forms $ 3.50

A whirlwind tour makes it clear that there are plenty of intermediate transitional forms. Common misconceptions are cleared up.

12 pages; bibliography

A Few Sedimentary Problems For Noah's Flood $ 3.00

Explores the hilarious problems than an asteroid impact at Chicxulub presents for Noah's flood. (That was the impact that probably did in the dinosaurs.)

5 pages; short bibliography

Radiometric Dating and Woodmorappe's List of Bad Dates $ 3.00

Here is the ultimate answer to those creationists who list bad radiometric dates as "proof" that the method is no good.

8 pages; bibliography

On Taking the Bible and Noah's Flood Literally $ 3.00

A touch of Babylonian cosmology plus heavy-duty common sense.

Exposes the theological absurdity of Noah's flood.

8 pages; short bibliography / reading list

Errors of Reasoning $ 3.50

Here is a handy list. Throw a little Latin around!

Each error is carefully explained.

10 pages; short bibliography

The Flood $ 2.00

A three-page poem that exposes the moral absurdity of Noah's flood.

3 pages

Calculating Those Odds $ 3.00

A fun tour of the major pitfalls involved in trying to assign a probability to evolution, especially as done by creationists. Written from a novel perspective.

Very handy.

6 pages.

The Bauble Box $ 3.50

A collection of lively, short essays on hell, morality, free will, the problem of evil, Pascal's wager, and reins and brains. Includes a worthy freethinker puzzle and a discussion as to whether Christianity is conducive to morality. One long, fine essay explores the deep meaning of morality. It all ends with my poem Doubt. These works have been published in The Freethought Exchange.

14 pages

Ezekiel's Prophecy of Tyre $3.50

The utter failure of Ezekiel's prophecy is examined in depth, and the usual excuses are taken apart. Here is a clear case of a major Bible prophecy that has failed!

15 pages; bibliography, epistemological note


Bible Errors $ 6.40

A handy booklet that examines several Bible errors in depth, even as it explores the concept of error itself. Catches the sophisticated biblicist where he makes his ultimate, slippery stand.

47 pages; blue paper cover; diskette $ 4.00

Is the Bible the Word of God? $ 0.00

This handsome, elegant booklet by Emmett Fields applies common sense to the Bible. It was originally published in Backlash (the Louisville Area Secular Humanists of Kentucky) as a guide for debating a fundamentalist minister. Emmett has requested that his work be given away, but allows us to recover costs. Thus, if you spend $ 20.00, this fine booklet is yours. A few may receive this booklet in the best tradition - no strings attached.

Common Sense and the Bible $ 6.75

Robert A. Bloomer applies a lot of old-fashioned, common sense to Bible and religion, and presses the case for rational thinking. His highly readable booklet cites numerous verses and covers a lot of territory, including the need for church-state separation. Here is a handy, inexpensive and delightful resource for the freethinker.

56 pages; peach paper cover; diskette $ 4.00

Common Sense Versus the Bible $ 8.90

I have rounded up 15 broad, common sense observations regarding the Bible, carefully honed into 15 lethal weapons! Here is the most obvious kind of proof that the Bible is manmade. The section on Noah's ark (most of chapter 12) is already a favorite of early readers, such as Dan Barker, editor of Freethought Today. You will find some old chestnuts, well done, as well as some surprises.

85 pages; coil-bound; green paper cover; diskette $ 4.00

More Light $ 7.25

From golden yesterdays to handling god stuff, freethought's own Dorothy B. Thompson is a beacon of poetic light. I have selected 60 of her wonderful poems and 28 of her fine pen and ink drawings for this booklet. Her work quite often turns up in a variety of freethought, humanist, and other publications.

63 pages; deep yellow paper cover; diskette $ 4.00

Letters to God $ 4.40

A slim, potent companion to the above work. Dorothy B. Thompson strikes again! 16 poems are presented in the form of letters to God, which finally provoke a letter On High! Sprinkled with excellent pen and ink drawings.

27 pages; rose paper cover; diskette $ 3.00


How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments? $ 22.50

(Revised July 1998)

Here is a solid refutation of creationist nonsense, which sports a seven page bibliography. Explodes 30 popular young-earth arguments, not to mention attacks against the carbon-14 dating method and the order of the geologic column. Could light have traveled faster in the past? What about those claims that there is a reasonable way to supply the water for Noah's flood? Were mammoths quick frozen? Some of the answers involve original analysis.

120 pages; plastic cover; massive bibliography, index, appendices, web sites: diskette $ 8.00

The Perfect Mirror? $ 21.00

Here is possibly the best book a lay reader will ever find on Bible contradictions -- an exceptionally attractive and useful book! Darrel Henschell has selected 130 contradictions in their full context and placed them side by side in a double-column format. There is even a chapter on conflicting prophecy! Fat chapter 6, the heart of this book, dissects those standard tricks used in defending biblical inerrancy.

142 pages; plastic cover; selected bibliography, verse and word index; diskette $ 8.00

The Seven Mighty Blows To Traditional Beliefs $ 13.00

A powerful, nontechnical, one-stop supermarket stocked with the reasons why traditional Christianity (and Bible belief) are no longer relevant. Slavish attention to detail makes this fun book an excellent reference work as well! Dr. A.J. Mattill, Jr., received his Ph.D. in New Testament studies and writes a column for the American Rationalist. The largest chapter, on Bible difficulties, is larger than many books! This handbook-sized masterpiece is now coil-bound and opens flat for serious study and copying. Here is a deal for mere peanuts.

For a catalog of works by Dr. Mattill Jr., contact the Flat Woods Free Press
750 Lum Fife Road, Gordo, Alabama 35466-3357

5.4" x 8.5" coil-bound book; 262 pages; index; selected bibliography.

Christianity, Astrology and Myth $ 29.50

Larry argues that Jesus is an entirely mythical being --- essentially another sun/savior god. Whether you agree or not (it is a minority view among scholars), you will find his massive survey of Christianity's pagan roots devastating. Even if only the half of it were true, that part would blow away any pretense of Christian originality. Larry gives the reader some real insight into the sun-god motif, which has greatly influenced how Christians historically viewed Jesus. That is true whether Jesus is made of whole cloth or a historical person shrouded in layers of pagan mythology.

230 pages; plastic cover, massive bibliography; excellent subject/verse index; diskette $ 9.50

Special Sale $ 111.00

Buy all of the titles (diskettes not included) and get them for $ 111.00 instead of $ 144.20

Diskettes can be either ASCII, (DOS Text) or WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows.

Please specify.

Please make your check or money order out to Dave Matson

Make a shorter URL to this article. Highlight link and "Copy To Clipboard"

Read More »


by Dave E. Matson

Naught but common sense is needed to see beyond the trees and deduce the lay of the land, to conclude that the Bible is the work of man. Just open your eyes, your mind, and see the forest and the trees. All it takes is a working brain.

Whence, then, the weighty books, shelves of them from authors of seemingly good repute, arguing that the Bible is the inerrant word of God? I imagine that they come from the same source that produces those equally weighty volumes in favor of an inerrant Koran. There is that awful void, our mortality, our insignificance in this uncaring universe, and religious certainty is the balm.

The balm, so smooth and fragrant, an ointment to make one immortal, an unguent to give the human race purpose and glory, a potion to soothe the troubled mind, is, in truth, a narcotic that intoxicates the brain. The balm user is not interested in searching out truth for its own sake, but only in justifying a comfortable habit. Justifying the habit becomes a way a life, and a wall is built to keep the truth out. The thought of doing without the balm is frightening to those under its spell.

The Bible, declared to be the inerrant word of God, is the balm of the conservative Christian. The Bible-believer's brain is intoxicated by his balm, which generally puts him or her beyond the reach of reason. It often takes four to six years of soul-wrenching contemplation (and plenty of outside reading) for a Bible-believer to completely reject the Bible, to get over the "Bible shakes" as it were.

Those who see the light, who do make it across the gulf, often become the most energetic of Bible critics. They are as genies escaped from the bottle! Farrell Till, Dan Barker, Dennis McKinsey, Dr. Mattill, Jr., Edward T. Babinski, Robert M. Price, Jim Lippard, Frank Zindler, and many other stars in today's firmament were once balm-sniffing Bible-believers.

We can only throw out the life-preserver and hope that some of those now drowning in Bible-ignorance will avail themselves of it. To expect reason to sweep the field is naive. It takes time to overcome an addiction that has become a way of life.

For the brain that is free, that delights in the search for truth, i.e., the working brain, the evidence against a divine author for the Bible is pretty obvious. As I have shown, It's really no more than an exercise in common sense. Most educated Christians fully recognize that the Bible has many manmade errors in it, though they have not given up hope that God's voice can still be found in it. A leading Christian put it rather bluntly, saying that anyone with bat brains could see that the Bible was largely the work of man.

There are many other common sense proofs that I could have explored had I the space. The Bible denigrates women, indulges in obscenities of no particular value, and is centered around the disgusting idea of sacrifices. Did God really get a kick out of smelling burning animals, plants, and, on occasion, children? The Bible seems to think so. The New Testament is no better. Its central plot runs like a mad story out of "Alice in Wonderland."

Ironically, the Bible is absolutely right on one important point. The truth will set you free. When we no longer have to worry about a devil lurking in the shadows, when we can laugh at the imaginary fires of hell, when we no longer have to worry about the threats of a despotic, tyrannical deity, when we no longer feel compelled to force our religion on others or defend its silly, theological doctrines, then we may finally escape the religious fanaticism that so divides humanity and pollutes human goodness.

Akerley, Ben Edward. 1985. The X-Rated Bible
American Atheist Press, P.O.B. 140195, Austin TX 78714-0195

Burke, Ashleigh J. 1983. The X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in The Bible
J.A.B. Press - Dept. 312, 10502 Telephone Road, Houston TX 77075 (This book is also sold by the Freedom From Religon Foundation, P.O. Box 750, Madison WI 53701.)

Gaylor, Annie. 1981. Woe To The Women: The Bible Tells Me So
Freedom From Religon Foundation,
P.O. Box 750, Madison WI 53701

Lewis, Joseph. 1926. The Bible Unmasked
The Freethought Press Association, New York

Read More »

The All-Important Matter of Salvation

The All-Important Matter of Salvation
by Dave E. Matson

The number one job of the Bible, as perceived by most Christians, is to teach the requirements of salvation. Moreover, God's own instructions will surely be detailed, exceedingly clear and gathered together into one, special place to avoid the slightest confusion as to their identity and completeness. They cannot be anything less than that; they cannot invite confusion or generate speculation.

Accordingly, we have a simple test as to whether the Bible is divinely written.

What we find, dear reader, is pathetic. The instructions for salvation are not only scattered about the New Testament in an informal, haphazard manner, but they appear to contradict one another! The right hand knows nothing of what the left hand is doing, and vice versa. The instructions are inevitably incomplete, judging by their lack of useful details, and it is not always clear as to whom they even apply. Conflicting instructions for salvation are found in the Old Testament as well, and there is no indication in the Old Testament that they are only temporary.

Christians usually claim that the New Testament supersedes the Old. The illusion arises because the two testaments are artificially joined in one book. The newer material would normally supersede the old since it would normally be written by the same author. However, the Bible is akin to an anthology as most of its books once circulated independently. In that situation, one author does not have the right to nullify the work of another. Each author can only speak for his own book or books. Short of assuming that God is the author of the whole Bible, which we may not do since the matter is under examination, we must proceed as though many authors were involved. I.e., we must begin with the historical facts. Without proof in hand that God is the author of the whole Bible, we cannot conclude that the New Testament replaces the Old--even if the New Testament says it does. Consequently, we must consider the salvation requirements listed in the Old Testament as well as those in the New Testament.

The final irony is that no one really knows, for sure, what the requirements of salvation are! Different Christian denominations have staked out different positions with the usual certainty that comes of religious folly. Each view is fiercely defended by theologians who quote the Bible. Which position, if any, is correct? Throw a dart and take your chances! There is no way to scientifically unravel such a mess.

The working brain is quick to grasp a simple truth. The Bible is a manmade product, not a divine guide to salvation.
Let's finish this topic by reviewing some of those salvation verses scattered about the Bible:


Some verses, reflecting the Calvinist position, state that God knew from the beginning who would make the cut. If you are not on that list, tough luck! There is nothing you can do. By some strange coincidence, those who hold this doctrine know that they are on God's list of heaven-bound souls!

Dennis McKinsey lists more than 50 verses supporting predestination (Biblical Errancy #53, p.1-2; #54, p.1-2).

Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his sons...
(Ephesians 1:4-5 TEV)
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the Lord's message; and those who had been chosen for eternal life became believers.
(Acts 13:48 TEV)
you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.
(Psalm 139:16 TEV)


A few verses suggest that salvation is mostly a matter of luck. The potter makes good and bad vessels according to his whims. If you are destined for a bad life, tough luck!

Happy are those whom you choose, whom you bring to live in your sanctuary.
(Psalm 65:4 TEV)
So then, everything depends, not on what man wants or does, but only on God's mercy. For the scripture says to the king of Egypt, "I made you king in order to use you to show my power and to spread my fame over the whole world." So then, God has mercy on anyone he wishes, and he makes stubborn anyone he wishes.
But one of you will say to me, "If this is so, how can God find fault with anyone? Who can resist God's will?" But who are you, my friend, to talk back to God? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it, "Why did you make me like this?" After all, the man who makes the pots has the right to use the clay as he wishes, and to make two pots from the same lump of clay, one for special occasions and the other for ordinary use.

(Romans 9:16-21 TEV)

Good Works

Many verses in the Bible suggest that the ticket to heaven consists of doing good works. Such verses do not mention any need to believe in a special doctrine, and they stand in conflict with those verses that support salvation by faith only. There are plenty of verses, in both the Old and New Testaments, that stress good deeds without mentioning faith.

The following verses are from a collection supporting good works: Dennis McKinsey (Biblical Errancy #3, p.2; #121, p.1-3).

Peter began to speak: "I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Whoever fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what race he belongs to.
(Acts 10:34-35 TEV)
Does anyone think he is religious? If he does not control his tongue, his religion is worthless and he deceives himself. What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.
(James 1:26-27 TEV)
...What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.
(Micah 6:8 TEV)
A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to receive eternal life?"
Jesus answered him, "What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?"
The man answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind."; and 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'"
"You are right," Jesus replied; "do this and you will live."

(Luke 10:25-28 TEV)

Faith Only

Many verses in the Bible make faith the only ticket to heaven. These verses conflict with those that stress good works. Dennis McKinsey (Biblical Errancy #122, p.1-2) gives additional examples of "faith only" verses. These are the least questioned instructions for salvation, at least by conservative Christians, so I will only list two passages.

Then he led them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your family."

(Acts 16:30-31 TEV)
Whoever believes in the Son is not judged; but whoever does not believe has already been judged...
(John 3:18 TEV)

Faith and Baptism
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 TEV)

Faith is One Pathway

Many verses extoll the value of faith but do not specifically claim that there is no other door to salvation (Dennis McKinsey, Biblical Errancy #123, p.1-2).

"I am the bread of life," Jesus told them. "He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
(John 6:35 TEV)
Jesus spoke to the Pharisees again. "I am the light of the world," he said. "Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness."
(John 8:12 TEV)

Faith and Works
My brothers, what good is it for someone to say that he has faith if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!"--if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.
(James 2:14-17 TEV)

Universalism: Will We All Make it to Heaven?

In the scramble to find the ticket to heaven, some interesting verses are usually overlooked, verses that strongly imply that everyone will make it to heaven sooner or later. Dennis McKinsey (Biblical Errancy #71, p.3) found 18 verses that lend "impressive, if not convincing, credence thereto."

For just as all people die because of their union with Adam, in the same way all will be raised to life because of their union with Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:22 TEV)
For God has made all people prisoners of disobedience, so that he might show mercy to them all.
(Romans 11:32 TEV)
We struggle and work hard, because we have placed our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all and especially of those who believe.
(1 Timothy 4:10 TEV)

McKinsey, Dennis (editor) Biblical Errancy (#3, #53, #54, #71, #85, #94, #121, #122, #123, #129, #133, #149)
2500 Punderson Drive, Hilliard, OH 43026

Make a shorter URL to this article. Highlight link and "Copy To Clipboard"

Read More »

Prophecy in the Bible

Prophecy in the Bible
by Dave E. Matson

A failed prophecy is one of the surest signs of a manmade Bible, for God's prophecy cannot fail. What greater failure can we find than Jesus' central prediction that the world would come to an end in the first century? In highbrow terms, this might be referred to as the eschatological problem of the apocalyptic interpretation.

The interesting thing about Jesus' prophecy is that it is repeated so many times and in so many different ways that you would think that the Bible-believer would throw up his hands in despair! Dr. Mattill, Jr. lists 91 passages in the New Testament (Mattill, 1995, p.225-228) that speak of the nearness of the end-time. Mountains of evidence, of course, rarely moves the Bible-believer, who usually lives in a fantasy world governed by wishful thinking. They will find an "explanation" for every one of those 91 passages no matter what it takes. However, such piecemeal patchwork at the expense of a clear pattern is already an admission of defeat.

When pressed on this matter, the Bible-believer will often cite 2 Peter 3:8-9:

And here is one point, my friends, which you must not lose sight of: with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. It is not that the Lord is slow in fulfilling his promise, as some suppose, but that he is very patient with you, because it is not his will for any to be lost, but for all to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:8-9 NEB)

This passage has been seized upon as a license to turn days into thousands of years! If you read the full context of the letter, however, you will find that the author is admonishing his listeners to wait a little longer. He doesn't say, "Forget it! It will be at least 2000 years before anything happens." He doesn't say that one day is the same as 1000 years. He fully expects the end-time to arrive in their lifetime, only there has been a small delay for their benefit. Therefore, they are to keep themselves free of blemishes so that they will be ready when the time comes. 2 Peter is a letter that was written to people living at the time.

That Bible-believers expect their dubious interpretation of this one passage to cancel out the clear meaning of ninety-one opposing passages gives us some feeling as to how their minds really work. They are committed to a doctrine, not to exploring what the Bible really says.

2 Peter was one of the last books to be written in the New Testament 11, and it had to cheer up the troops because nothing had happened. Promises of an immediate end-time had not been fulfilled; the flock was getting restless. Thus, God's sense of timelessness was appealed to. In several other late verses a similar appeal is made for patience, and the idea of an immediate end of the world is played down. Such verses, however, do not cancel out the obvious meaning of the dozens of verses promising an immediate end-time. They just contradict one another.

Today, nearly 2000 years later, half again the age of the world as the ancients perceived it to be, still nothing has happened. That, in spite of numerous biblical promises that the end-time was "at hand," the time "near," or that Jesus was coming "soon." The prophecy of the Revelation of John is not even sealed up for later generations, as was Daniel's prophecy, because the time is so near (Revelation 22:10). The appointed time has grown "very short" (1 Corinthians 7:29). Indeed, it is "the last hour" (1 John 2:18), and Jesus is already "at the door" (James 5:8-9). Even now "the axe is laid to the root of the trees" (Matthew 3:7-10).

Biblical proof that the Christian community originally expected the world to come to an immediate end may be found in 2 Peter 3:4. We are told that scoffers arose in those days, and they criticized the Christian belief that the end-time was imminent, a doctrine that was beginning to look increasingly foolish as the years slipped by. Such criticism hit home (and hurt) precisely because those first Christians expected the world to come to an immediate end, a belief that is preserved to this day in various passages throughout the New Testament. Who taught the first Christians that the end-time was near, if not Jesus? How can one pretend that Jesus believed otherwise? I would think that the major doctrines of a new religion must reflect its founder, at least in the earliest stages.

Let's now take a close look at a few of those 91 verses that support an early end-time:

I tell you this: the present generation will live to see it all.
(Matthew 24:34 NEB)
Remember that all these things will happen before the people now living have all died.
(Matthew 24:34 TEV)

Exactly what is it that those people would witness? The Bible is only too happy to oblige.

As soon as the distress of those days has passed, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light, the stars will fall from the sky, the celestial powers will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign that heralds the Son of Man. All the peoples of the world will make lamentation, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. With a trumpet blast he will send out his angels, and they will gather his chosen from the four winds, from the farthest bounds of heaven on every side.
(Matthew 24:29-31 NEB)

Pretty impressive, huh? Those early Christian folks were to live to see it all. Such was the glorious prophecy. Now come the excuses.

Some biblicists are so desperate that they actually deny the connection between Matthew 24:34 and the earth-shaking events of Matthew 24:29-31. However, the connection is so obvious that even Gleason Archer, that stout defender of biblical inerrancy, accepts it (Archer, p.338). Need I say more?

The main argument, which Archer and others give, claims that genea, the Greek word translated as "generation," should have been translated as "race." Thus, the Jewish race would live to see it all.

Not only is this meaning uncommon for genea, but it is nowhere found in the New Testament! It is a poor translation that uses a rare meaning for a word when a common meaning will do nicely. Few, if any, translations use "race" for that very reason. Even the NIV, which often goes to extremes for the sake of doctrine, renders genea as "generation," leaving "race" as a footnote option. With the Bible translators solidly behind "generation," that should settle it. Moreover, the meaning given by "generation" is in harmony with the other early verses in the New Testament. By comparison, the idea of a race living to see it all is an awkward expression that does not fit in very well.

Archer recognizes most of these problems and tries to explore the possibilities in Aramaic, which Jesus may have spoken. But the word he has in mind (from the Syrian Peshitta) can also mean "generation." What reason do we have for believing that this word was rendered incorrectly in the Greek? (Most scholars believe that Matthew was originally written in Greek.) No reasons are forthcoming from Archer, let alone good ones.

Nor should we overlook the general context of Matthew 24. Jesus gives his disciples the signs that they should look for when the end-time comes. In its original setting this revelation appears to have been a personal warning to the disciples so that they would not be caught short. Such a warning would have been a farce if matters were not coming to a head in their generation.

Another favorite defense, mentioned by Archer, assumes that the generation that Matthew 24:34 refers to is the one which will actually experience the end-time. Accordingly, that future generation would not perish before the Tribulation had run its course. Some of them would witness Jesus' return in all its glory.

This desperate interpretation is just a baldfaced attempt to rewrite the text. A quick spin through several excellent translations of the Bible, such as the one I quoted, will be enough to put it to route. Do check it out!

And he went on to say, "I tell you, there are some here who will not die until they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power."
(Mark 9:1 TEV)
I assure you that there are some here who will not die until they have seen the Kingdom of God."
(Luke 9:27 TEV)
For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his deeds. I assure you that there are some here who will not die until they have seen the Son of Man come as King."
(Matthew 16:27-28 TEV)

The Kingdom of God is to arrive with power! Some of those listening to Jesus will live to see it happen! Can anything be clearer than that?

The Bible-believer, of course, must deny the obvious or lose his shirt. Here are the chief excuses as to why these prophecies did not come true:

DEFENSE A: Since the transfiguration immediately follows in the text, it is often claimed as a preliminary fulfillment of the above. The disciples Peter, John and James witnessed a portion of the transfiguration miracle and, thus, fulfilled the prophecy.

Gleason Archer (Archer, p.327), normally quick to defend the Bible at any cost, rejects this solution. The discussion during the transfiguration centers on Jesus' coming death (departure) whereas the prophecy talks about his return (arrival). The transfiguration had to precede any of the hypothetical stages of Jesus' return, and, therefore, could not be a partial fulfillment of the prophecy.

A second problem arises as the transfiguration was only six days away, which would make Jesus' statement trivial and silly. Of course, some of those standing there would still be alive six days later! Obviously, the transfiguration is not what Jesus had in mind.

DEFENSE B: A preliminary fulfillment is claimed on the basis of Acts 2:2-4. (The Holy Spirit descended on the church at Pentecost.) However, the recipe calls for the Son of Man with angels, not for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the babbling of tongues!

The prophecy makes no mention of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and certainly does not associate it with a preliminary phase of Jesus' return (Mattill Jr, 1979, p.60). The prophecy, whether given by Matthew, Mark or Luke above, makes no mention of an initial phase of Jesus' return, one separated by 2000 years or more from the main fulfillment! The text is simply being rewritten on the basis of two arbitrary assumptions.

Dr. Mattill, Jr. also shows that Luke's "seeing of the kingdom" refers to a physical event (as in the parallel accounts of Matthew and Mark) and not to some inner vision as some claim (Mattill Jr., 1979).

This defense also suffers from the same problem as above, namely that it makes Jesus' statement trivial and silly. Of course, some of those standing there would be alive a year or two later. Clearly, no adequate answer is to be found in this defense.

DEFENSE C: The destruction of Jerusalem is viewed by a few Bible-believers as a judgment brought by Jesus. In that sense Jesus has returned. But, where is his physical glory? Where are his mighty angels? Roman battering rams and legions did the job! Even Gleason Archer finds that this event "...could hardly be said to display Christ's regal splendor or the glory of His mighty angels..." (Archer, p.327). It is pure desperation that connects Jerusalem's destruction with Mark 9:1 and Matthew 16:27-28.

DEFENSE D: The spread of Christianity has actually been offered as a defense, at least for the parallel account of Luke 9:27. But Alas! That has been answered as well.

Against the identification of the coming of the Kingdom with the outpouring of the Spirit and the astonishing progress of Christianity in the first century is to be set the fact that the people who lived through these great events did not make the identification. Paul, who was at the head of the triumphant march of the gospel through the Empire, still looked for some greater thing.
(T.W. Manson, The Teaching of Jesus, pp.281-282;
from Mattill Jr., 1979, p.62)

We could go on and on, belaboring the obvious. The New Testament is chock-a-block full of imminent end-time prophecy, and no amount of squirming and hoop-dancing will change the fact that Jesus was dead wrong in making such a prophecy. Edward Blair, who bends over backwards to be fair, sums up what every good Bible scholar knows:

The whole New Testament represents [the time of Christ's coming] as near. Jesus apparently expected it during the generation of those living when he was speaking. ... Paul was convinced that it was near ... Other New Testament writers expected it soon...
(Blair, 1987, p.503)

A. J. Mattill, Jr. summarizes the mentality of those first century Christians:

The early Christians thought of themselves as living in the last century, not in the first, for the hammer of the cosmic clock had risen to strike the last hour.
(Mattill Jr., 1979, p.5)

The working brain can only conclude that the Bible is a manmade product, given that its central prophecy by Jesus was dead wrong.

11. 2 Peter was written after Peter's time. The author quotes Paul's writings, which were not part of scripture during Peter's active lifetime.

Archer, Gleason. 1982. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties
Regency Reference Library; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Babinski, Edward T. 1990(?). The Lowdown on God's Showdown!
408 Halcyon Circle, Greer, SC 29650-2931

Babinski, Edward T. 1988. Theistic Evolutionist Forum (pp.35-45); 408 Halcyon Circle, Greer, SC 29650-2931

Blair, Edward P. 1987. The Illustrated Bible Handbook
Abingdon Press, Nashville

Mattill Jr., A. J. 1995. The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs (Chapter VI); The Flatwoods Free Press, Route 2, Box 49, Gordo, Alabama 35466-9517

Mattill Jr., A. J. 1979. Luke and the Last Things
Western North Carolina Press, P.O. Box 29, Dillsboro, NC 28725

Paine, Thomas. 1794 [1974] The Age of Reason
Citadel Press, 120 Enterprise Avenue, Secauces, NJ 07094

Sigal, Gerald. 1981. The Jew and the Christian Missionary: A Jewish Response to Missionary Christianity
KTAV Publishers House, Inc., New York

Spong, John Shelby. 1991. Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism
HarperSanFrancisco (a division of HarperCollins Publishers),
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Stein, Gordon (editor). 1980. An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism (pp.127-143); Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York, NY 14228-2197

Till, Farrell. . Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled
Skepticism, Inc., P.O. Box 617, Canton, IL 61520
Read More »

A Cold Waste of Space

A Cold Waste of Space
by Dave E. Matson

Think of all the wonderful things that God might have written into the Bible. How many deep thoughts, inspiring poems, fantastic tips and wondrous chunks of knowledge had to be left on the "cutting-room floor" because of a lack of space? The competition for space in the Bible must have been incredibly fierce if God is its true author. No doubt, he had to consider many more possibilities than any human editor could have imagined--and only a tiny fraction of a fraction of that material would make it into the Bible. Consequently, we expect to see a very judicious use of space in the Bible--if it is the very word of God.

The worst possible waste of space is a senseless duplication, for there is no need to judge the duplicated material. The only possible defense is to claim that the material was so important that God sacrificed precious space to summarize or repeat it. That can scarcely apply to more than a few verses of obvious importance. A good example might be a concise summary of the steps to salvation, something that the actual Bible lacks.

What we find in the Bible is a shocker. 2 Kings 19:1-37 is almost a word for word copy of Isaiah 37:1-38. And, 2 Kings 20:1-19 is almost a carbon copy of Isaiah 38:1-8 + 39:1-8. Thus, whole chapters are essentially devoted to duplicating an account of King Hezekiah's reign. Whole pages have been wasted!

The history of King Hezekiah does make for interesting reading, but one can hardly imagine that he is so important as to rate a whole page or so of duplicated space in the Bible. That would be insane! Even Jesus doesn't get anything close to that in the way of pure, duplicated text. God could not be responsible for such a useless waste. Therefore, the working brain has no trouble rejecting the Bible as the inerrant word of God. At the very least, the Bible has suffered severe corruption.

Read More »

The Bible Knows Nothing of Science

The Bible Knows Nothing of Science
by Dave E. Matson

Many educated people reject the Bible because of its total ignorance of science, ignorance to the point of making horrendous blunders. We are not talking about a few miracles that contradict the laws of nature. We are talking about really gross blunders that can have no place in a book by God.

One such blunder, which we have already seen in another context, is the Bible's failure to distinguish between mold in houses (or on leather goods) and leprosy. All these growths were dreaded and probably viewed as different forms of leprosy. Note the desperate and similar measures taken against them. Though modern translations of the Bible tend to obscure the fact, the ancient Hebrews used the same word in all three cases. (See: "Silly Laws Attributed to God")

Surely, a book that doesn't know the difference between mold and leprosy cannot be the word of God.

A second major scientific blunder is the story of Noah's ark. To begin with, the ark far exceeded the maximum size for wooden ships 6. The largest wooden ships ever built were about 300 feet long, and they were restricted to coastal waters in good weather.

The ark's various joints would have been constantly popping open under the changing stresses and strains, and water would pour in far faster than Noah's crew could bail. (Leaking water was a problem even for relatively small wooden ships on long trips, and it gets dramatically worse the larger the ship.) Noah's ark floats in one of the roughest seas ever imagined. The impact of giant meteorites 7, the violent rains, the screwed up weather patterns, and the violent upsurge of water from below would contribute to an incredibly violent ocean. Let's be honest, God's design for Noah's ark was not even close to specs.

Intelligent planning would call for a whole fleet of smaller, wooden arks. Who, you might ask, would have taken care of the animals on these other arks? Who possibly had the time, dear reader, to take care of all the animals on Noah's ark? God had simply goofed by saving only eight people to do the job of a dozen zoos, and under impossible conditions. Remember, the animals living today are only a small fraction of all the animals that had ever lived. All those kinds had to be preserved.

Gathering the animals calls for another round of miracles. Creationist Henry Morris tried to ease the problems by claiming that the climate was uniform and that animals were distributed evenly over the earth. Thus, Noah need not go very far to get all his animal kinds. Unfortunately, the geological record nixes the whole idea; evidence of extreme variations in climate go back to Precambrian times. Also, many animals that are found today in isolated places (such as Australia) have their fossil record restricted to that same region. By creationist reckoning, those animals had to have lived there before Noah's Flood, so that the Flood could lay their fossils down in that region and nowhere else. Finally, a uniform environment would actually cause the extinction of many types of animals as the available ecological niches would have been greatly reduced.

Thus, poor, old Noah had to travel to the four corners of the world, dig snakes out of the ground, chase down speeding animals, round up insects that live high in the canopy of jungle trees, dig others out of the bark of trees, locate creatures living deep within caves, handle hornet and bee nests, dig up a queen ant for every type of ant, discover the hiding places of those small animals that only come out at night, cover every mile of the world's numerous marshes, tread the expanses of the hottest deserts, penetrate the densest jungles, search all the mountains, visit vast numbers of small islands, round up lions and tigers and bears, catch a couple of T. rex dinosaurs, persuade quite a few giant sauropod dinosaurs to leave the safety of their herds and follow him back to the ark, find and capture seven pairs of every kind of bird, stumble about the rocks off various shores in order to catch walruses and seals, visit Antarctica to collect penguins and polar bears, and do many more impossible feats. Imagine poor Noah trying to find the male of an all-female species of lizard! (Crews, 1994)

Creationist Henry Morris (for years the head of the Institute for Creation Research) imagines that those animals needed for the ark would magically develop an instinct and migrate to the ark. I suppose that a couple of koala bears simply abandoned their eucalyptus trees (their only form of natural food) and started a long trek from Australia. I suppose that the kiwi bird, which is flightless, joined those koala bears in swimming across a great ocean. I suppose that snakes that live only in the canopy of jungle trees decided to slither across deserts, rivers, and through icy mountain passes! And other snakes, that live in the tropical seas, had to swim through cold waters and slither through deserts. Perhaps a pair of pandas gave up their bamboo diet (their only natural food) and started a trek from China. Those 17-year cicadas, which "hibernate" for 17 years at a shot, would have missed the ark for sure. Once the bug emerges from its underground life, it doesn't live long enough to make it to the ark. Ditto for the 13-year cicada. It's all so very simple if you are a creationist! Just invoke a few miracles and forget about the sticky details.

Let us not overlook the impossible job of getting all those animals onto the ark. Start with Genesis 7:11-15 in which the Bible allots a day for the boarding of the animals.

If we assume that Noah took aboard five million species, that the gangplank was only twenty-five feet long, that each pair of animals had a space of six inches between them, that their average size was a measly three inches in length, then, in order to get into the boat within twenty-four hours, they would have to march up that gangplank at about thirty miles per hour! After the snails, slugs, and slower insects got through, the other animals could hit supersonic speeds and still not save Noah's schedule.
(Dave Matson, from: Mattill Jr., 1995, p.90-91)

Of course, there are the usual problems as well. Does any Bible-believer have any idea as to how many LARGE dinosaur kinds roamed the earth? According to Henry Morris, they all lived in Noah's time. Thus, Noah's ark had to accommodate dozens of the largest dinosaurs at the very least, and that included a pair of T. rex's and their various relatives. Add to that the hundreds of middle-sized dinosaurs and you won't need a storm to sink Noah's ark! Some mammals such as Indricotherium (the giraffe-rhinoceros), now extinct, were as large as a fair sized dinosaur. Of course, the elephants, mastodons, mammoths, walruses, hippos and giraffes must be loaded. (Don't forget to take seven pairs of giraffes!)

A sampling of other large mammals often overlooked are: Teleoceras (about the size and looks of a hippopotamus), Aphelops (resembling a cross between a rhinoceros and a pig, but the size of the former), Amebelodon (something like an elephant), Zygolophodon (something like an elephant), Megatylopus (dwarfs the largest living antelope), and the giant ground sloths of South America.

Is it even possible to send two 80-ton brachiosaurs up the gangplank side by side, as described in the Bible? How big must the passageways in the ark be? Since the purpose of the ark was to preserve each kind of every air-breathing animal, why did the dinosaurs (along with the vast majority of animals) become extinct? Was God's plan thwarted after all? What prevented God from saving all the animals as was clearly his intention? One joke has it that a second ark, carrying the dinosaurs, exploded when a lamp touched off all that dinosaur gas!

In sheer desperation, some creationists have suggested that the dinosaurs were not taken aboard Noah's ark. However, God's instructions to Moses are plain enough. No exemptions were given for dinosaurs! God gives no exemptions for the large, extinct mammals. God gives no exemptions for thousands of other extinct animals. Are these animals a wee bit inconvenient for the Bible-believer? To say that they got left out is to say that God is a bungler, an incompetent planner! In the Bible, God clearly instructs Noah to bring aboard all the air-breathing, land animal kinds. If we are going to take the Bible literally, we ought to take it literally here too. Thus, the dinosaurs and all the rest of the extinct animal kinds mentioned above had to be aboard Noah's ark!

Another desperate suggestion envisions that only babies or eggs were taken aboard. The Bible nixes that idea also by stating that the animals came off the ark by families. Two of each kind (of most animals) went aboard the ark; they came off according to groups of their own kind. Clearly, the Bible is talking about adults with families (Genesis 8:19), and many translators actually render the Hebrew word as "families." Thus, adults (or animals that would reach adulthood while on the ark) had to have been taken aboard. Food was to be provided for them, according to the Bible. One does not provide food for a pair of eggs. Finally, who is going to babysit those tens of thousands of helpless, baby animals until they reached adulthood? Nothing in the Bible suggests that Noah nursed animal babies for years after the ark landed! The Bible strongly implies that after the animals departed they were on their own.

Caring for the animals requires yet another basket of miracles. Did you know that even the kind of floor that some animals stand or walk on for a year can be critical to their health? How is Noah to know this? There are numerous quirky requirements for the safe transportation of many animals, and they all have to be met. Many of those requirements are poorly understood, if at all, even today. Shall we invoke yet another miracle in the form of a thick, heavenly manual? Perhaps God gave Noah a set of animal-care manuals to study. Odd, that the Bible doesn't mention it even though such obvious details as taking food aboard and caulking the ark are covered. Such trivial details are carefully listed, but the critical instructions for miles of air ducts and for pumping out leaking water and sewage are missing. The Bible is strangely silent on those and other vital points.

Most animals require daily exercise and fresh air at the very least. How do you exercise a large dinosaur? And, what about all that manure to clean up? Consider that in addition to the constant need to bail out water leaking in from all those popping hull seams. It would take a battery of full-time electric pumps just to keep the leaking water out. A few oxen-powered pumps, taking up scads of valuable deck space, just isn't going to do the trick.

Does anyone have any idea how much poop dozens of large plant-eating dinosaurs could unload in one day? Creationist thinkers speak of slatted and slanted flooring and troughs to automatically funnel the manure and urine to the bottom of the ark, where it might be buried under a layer of oil or something. Hey! With a little more planning Noah could have flush toilets and hot showers too!

The large animals must go on the upper decks lest access passages to the lower decks take too much space. The Bible says that the animals left the ark, not that Noah had to tear down half the ark to get them out!

Each cage must have its own vertical waste pipe feeding into the large ones above and below, and since the largest ones must start from the upper decks, there is a considerable loss of space.

Slatted floors mean that considerable space is wasted below the cage to collect the poop before it is sent down the waste pipe. The slats, of course, will still get dirty. They would have to be hosed down daily with salt water as Noah could not afford to use fresh water, at least in the later stages of the Flood. The Bible says nothing about a modern plumbing system, so all that salt water must be hauled up to the ark's window from the ocean. Of course, all the salt water used must be collected again and pumped out the ark's window, which means raising it the same distance or more once again. Thus, even if we don't count the fact that Noah's ark is virtually a sieve, Noah still must move many tons of water a considerable height every day. Add to that the tons of manure and urine, not to mention the constant leaking, and you will need a modern power plant to keep that ark afloat!

Once the poop hits the bottom of the ark, a costly covering of olive oil isn't going to do the trick. The poop would have to be evenly distributed so that the oil could cover it. Violent sloshing, as the ark rocks to and fro under incredible sea conditions, would likely break up this cover of oil unless it was incredibly thick. (In that case, precious space would be wasted.) As the ark rolls, sewage in contact with the hull and bulkheads would likely adhere to those surfaces, only to be exposed when the oil returns to its normal level. Before long, the oil, itself, would become polluted. And, what about all those aweful gasses bubbling up through the whole mess. Since we are not dealing with modern plumbing, we must also consider the noxious gasses that would be emitted from all parts of the waste system, and that includes the generation of ammonia, which is poisonous. The accumulation of methane would turn the ark into a time-bomb. In short, channeling the poop to the bottom of the ark is not a solution. It spells disaster.

What is Noah going to do if an animal "misses" the potty or vomits in its cage? Does that mean an extra round or two of cleaning each day? Are the animals—large and small—to be so tightly restricted that they can't move at all? How will they mate and take care of their young? Will animals even mate under those conditions? Zoos, despite their space and excellent care of animals, often have one heck of a time getting many of them to successfully mate. Remember, those animals came off the ark by families. Well, it's miracle time once again!

At this point some creationists have actually introduced the ludicrous idea of having Noah potty-train his thousands of animals before they go on the ark! Poor Noah! Not only must he round them all up, but he now must train them as well! Do these creationists have any concept of reality? Suddenly Noah must have the resources of a Roman Empire at his disposal! However, even their resources would fall pathetically short. Just how do you train a T. rex, a crocodile, a giant python? (Nice dino! Nice dino!) Even a trained pet, if upset, disorientated or ill, may easily miss the mark. Some animals "miss" on purpose to show their displeasure, and you may be sure that those on the ark will not be happy campers. Other animals urinate to mark their territory. Many pets will abandon a dirty sandbox despite their training, and what could stink more than the end of a raw sewer pipe on which the animal is supposed to relieve itself? Do creationists ever think of these little things? In short, Noah is still going to have to clean those cages every single day--if not twice a day.

When some of Noah's hardier animals start mating, after recovering from the shock of being on the ark, those that are still alive that is, Noah is going to have more fun than ever. Is he going to start a new potty-training program for the young animals? Where does Noah get all this spare time, the Twilight Zone?

So much methane would be released in dinosaur gas, as well as from cattle and other grazers, that the whole ark would become a floating time-bomb! Lamps would be out of the question. Imagine identifying, feeding and caring for the animals on the lower decks without decent lighting! The ever-inventive creationist talks of bioluminescence. Sure! Catch a few fireflies, put them into a fine net, and see how much light you get before they croak! Modern chemical lights can be useful in an emergency, but even they would not suffice on a daily basis. Let's not forget that we're dealing with the technology of 2000+ BC.

Disease, mildew, and molds of every description would soon take over the interior of Noah's steamy, dripping ark. Clothes would literally rot off Noah's back, should he and his relatives choose to wear any. The heat from all those tightly confined animal bodies would be oppressive in the extreme, if not fatal. The buildup of ammonia (from degenerating animal waste), hydrogen sulfide and methane would soon poison the air of the lower decks.

At this point some creationists throw tables of numbers at you and explain how easily barns and other modern housing for animals can be ventilated. I guess they think that Noah's ark is just an overgrown, Midwestern barn or something! If you have ever visited a real barn, the one thing that catches your eye is the enormous space that they enclose. The roof is way above your head. There may be hay lofts or other things taking up part of that space, but the bulk of it is just plain, open space. It controls the humidity level, maintains oxygen availability and even helps to control the temperature. In addition to that, it makes forced ventilation a relatively easy task. Modern animal housing, due to electric power, can cut back some on that space without becoming inefficient. However, the principle still remains.

Far from being an oversized barn, Noah's ark would resemble the miles of tight, honeycombed passageways and cubicals found in a battleship, only worse. The idea that such a convoluted space can be properly ventilated by wind blowing in through the windows is ridiculous, especially if the air outside is 100% humid and full of rain. That's why large ships have miles and miles of air ducts that feed fresh air into every inhabited cubical, crack and cranny. Other ducts remove the bad air. I once served on a carrier in the OI Division, and we sailors were packed rather tightly into a large berthing area just below the flight deck. Each bed had its own ventilation pipe, in addition to ventilation for the berthing area as a whole. When the system went down, it was worse than living in the Amazon. Try something like 100+ degrees at 100% humidity--despite electric fans desperately set up!

Noah would have lost most of his animals on the lower decks due to a lack of oxygen and the buildup of noxious gasses, if not to disease. Indeed, Noah would be quite lucky if lightning or a spark didn't blow his methane-laden ark to itty-bitty pieces!

Roaches and flies would be everywhere, assuming that the oppressive environment didn't suppress them. Flies would get into the manure and spread disease like wildfire. Rats would get into the grain sacks, and any exposed grain would quickly rot. By the way, how do you dump a dead dinosaur in the middle of the Flood? Do you break out the hand saws and shove little bits of dino out the upper window? Why, you would be so busy bailing water, removing manure, and keeping the lower decks ventilated that you would have no time for it!

To put things into a realistic perspective, the entire facilities of the spacious, world-renown San Diego Zoo, including its multimillion dollar budget and trained staff, a research department and an animal hospital, could not properly house and care for more than a fraction of Noah's animals. And, the San Diego Zoo doesn't have to worry about ventilation problems, a rocking boat, poor lighting, or ridiculously confined quarters.

Some creationists imagine that Noah's animals went into a supernatural sleep until their ride was over. However, the Bible nixes that idea as well. God commanded that food be brought aboard for both the animals and Noah's family. Again, the animals left the ark by families. The Bible, itself, gives us every reason to believe that normal activity prevailed during the Flood. God did not say "Lay up only a little food because these animals will be snoozing." God says, "Provide for them." That can only mean: "Provide for their normal needs." Special needs would have required special instructions.

A very popular view imagines that Noah only took a few very basic kinds on board the ark. After the Flood, through the magic of rapidly speeded up evolution, the full stock of animals was restored.

Brother! Talk about opening Pandora's box! Aren't these the same folks who say evolution doesn't have a ghost of a chance to work? Yet, they invoke a vastly speeded up version that would embarrass even the most opportunistic evolutionist! If evolution works that well, then maybe these folks should stop attacking it. Secondly, this speeded up evolution would not replace those animal species and genera lost in the Flood. New (and different) species would have evolved from the basic stock. Thus, God's plan for preserving each type of original animal would be thwarted by that approach.

By identifying the basic kinds as the "cat kind," the "bovine kind," the "dog kind" (including wolves, foxes, etc.) and, perhaps, the "trilobite kind" and the "T. rex kind," creationists have boxed themselves in. To be consistent, they must now include man as part of the "ape kind," or maybe even put him in with the "monkey kind"! The genetic differences between man and ape are far smaller than those within any of the above "kinds." Accordingly, any attempt to keep mankind separate while invoking the above "kinds" is really an attempt to have one's cake and eat it too.

In nature, it seems that the only meaningful dividing line is at the species level; the borderlines of all other groupings are somewhat arbitrary. Consequently, the idea of "kinds" suffers from yet another problem--it is not well defined. As if proof were needed, different creationists often come up with different groupings for "kinds," and they all lack the rigor of nature's "species." A rigorous definition is necessary for real scientific work.

The whole idea of taking "basic kinds" aboard Noah's ark is nixed on still another, important front: genetic variability.

For each trait, such as eye color, your chromosomes only have space for two alleles. (An allele is a member of a related group of genes that account for some trait such as eye color.) Let us suppose for the sake of argument that there are alleles for blue, green, hazel, gray, black and brown eyes, six different alleles in all for eye color. If the human population were reduced to two, then at least two of those alleles are lost. Our two survivors can carry at most two alleles apiece for eye color.

As many as 40 or more alleles account for the tremendous variety found in some of the traits of certain animals, alleles that are normally dispersed throughout a large population. If only two of those animals survived Noah's Flood, only four of those 40 or more alleles can be preserved. The rest are lost! Once an allele is lost, it is lost forever unless restored by a fortunate mutation or series of mutations, and even that isn't enough. The mutations must take hold in the population so that today's measured frequency is obtained.

Our two survivors can preserve in their bodies at most four different alleles for each trait. Thus, we are looking at a tremendous reduction of genetic variety since some traits are associated with more than four alleles. (The mouse has 92 different alleles associated with location K in its MHC complex 8.) Such an overall genetic loss cannot be made up in a few thousand years. That's one reason why the story of Adam and Eve, and that of Noah's ark, are clearly mythological.

Genetic variety is mostly built up slowly in large populations by non-lethal mutations. (More rare mutations can happen--and be stored--in a large population of plants or animals.) The key word is "slowly." Blacks who colonized Australia some 60,000 years ago are still black. The American Indians, whose ancestors colonized the New World some 12,000 or more years ago, still bear a striking resemblance to populations in Siberia. Chinese have looked like Chinese, and Egyptians have looked like Egyptians, since the dawn of recorded history. Forget about Noah's family generating all the races of the world in a few thousand years!

One can make rapid progress in artificial selection because the variation is already there in the population, and a large population is collecting new mutations all the time. Building new alleles (genes) by mutations, and establishing them according to their observed frequencies, is something that takes a lot more than a few thousand years.

This problem of genetic variation is inescapable. The genetic diversity of many animals today could not have been built up from a pair (or even seven pairs) of animals from Noah's ark in the 4350 or so years since. Noah had to take each species aboard (and often quite a few of that species) to account for their genetic diversity observed today.

Thus, we can forget about Noah taking representatives of the "basic kinds" aboard. (Just imagine how many tiger and lion alleles would be lost if Noah took aboard two domesticated cats to represent the "cat kind"!) Considering that there are at least five million species of life on Earth, not counting many more that have become extinct, Noah would have needed a whole fleet of arks!
(Paraphrased from:
Robert Bloomer, Common Sense and The Bible)

Poor Noah must now round up Tyrannosaurus rex (50' North American, Asian) and his numerous relatives to preserve their genetic diversity. Some of T. rex's large relatives are: Yangchuanosaurus (33' Asian), Allosaurus (35' North American, Australian, African), Albertosaurus (25' North American), Daspletosaurus (28' North American), Megalosaurus (30' European), Eustreptospondylus (23' European), Dilophosaurus (20' North American), Tarbosaurus (33' Asian), Acrocanthosaurus (40' North American), Carnotaurus (25' South American), Alioramus (20' Asian), Carcharodontosaurus (50'? African), and Giganotosaurus (South American), which seems to be even bigger than T. rex! Now for the bad news. Each one of those names properly describes a genus (a grouping of species), and Noah needs, at the very least, each of the species! For some species, he may need many pairs.

When Noah tires of chasing T. rex's relatives, he can start collecting the huge relatives of Brontosaurus (also called Apatosaurus). They include such great beasts as Supersaurus, Ultrasaurus, Seismosaurus, Mamenchisaurus, Brachiosaurus (up to 40' tall; 80 tons), Cetiosaurus, Diplodocus (up to 90' long) and other giant plant eaters. Again, each name represents a number of species, and poor Noah needs each species to preserve the genetic diversity invariably found in nature. Worse, he would probably need quite a few of some species.

No wonder Bible-believers would just as soon forget about the dinosaurs! How do you pack herds of dinosaurs into Noah's ark, anyway? And, we haven't even considered the "smaller" dinosaurs, which made up the greatest number of dinosaur species by far. Quite possibly, though of intermediate size, their large numbers may require even more space than that of the giant dinosaurs.

If all those dinosaurs and other large and small animals could get aboard Noah's ark, it would look something like a triple-scoop, ice-cream cone! The animals would be piled up in a great heap. The ark would roll over and Noah would lose his cool.

Although it is rather academic at this point, there is yet another horrendous problem Noah must face. When the ark finally lands on Mt. Ararat, the surviving animals are released and on their own.

The plant-eaters emerge and find themselves on top of a muddy mountain. They have an excellent view of a muddy world! There is not a green leaf in sight 9! There are no trees for those creatures that live in trees. There are no grasslands to support the grazers. There is no brush for those small creatures who depend on it for food and protection. Nothing! (Perhaps, as was true for the desolate landscape at Mt. St. Helens after the explosion, a few things, in time, will sprout.) Even the ground is still soggy and unfit for most animal burrows. A year of salt-water, violent churning, fluctuating temperatures and the destruction of established plant communities along with the soil (and the precious topsoil) has taken its toll.

The meat-eaters emerge from the ark. The first thing they see are their prey right in front of them, i. e., our poor herbivores! A hungry T. rex or two could finish off quite a few species right then and there! Is that why so many animals went extinct? Of course, the lions, tigers, and wolves are also hungry. I ask you, dear reader, is this any way to preserve and distribute animal species? This whole scenario is insane! A lunatic asylum could have written a better script!

One creationist suggested that many of the animals that died in the Flood would miraculously be deposited on the surface of the ground and be intact enough to serve as temporary food for the carnivores! Wouldn't that also be true of dead humans, whose pre-Flood population was put in the billions by creationist Henry Morris? Anyway, imagine a hungry T. rex eyeing a carcass that had been rotting and moldering for a year, one covered with a thin layer of mud. Then he sees a tender deer from Noah's ark that is stuck in the mud nearby. Care to guess what T. rex is thinking? Ditto for the lions and tigers and bears. Surely, this creationist "solution" must be some kind of joke! Either that or someone has reached the pits of desperation.

The story of Noah's ark is not only scientifically absurd, but it makes God look like an idiot! Thus, you have two very good reasons for rejecting that biblical account.

A third scientific blunder, the last we will touch on, is the biblical claim that the human race began with Adam and Eve. Evolution has long since overtaken this simple folk tale among open-minded, educated people.

The fossil record can easily be traced back to a time when there were no humans on earth, an age ruled by other animals, including humanoid creatures that could make primitive stone tools. Going further back, we find only a kind of small, ape-like creature representing the human and ape lineage. Much further back, we find that the earth was ruled by dinosaurs. And, so, life can be traced further and further back into the fossil record until the most advanced life form is nothing more than a jellyfish. Long before that only primitive "bacteria" lived. In a few places life has left nothing but a chemical signature in the rocks. Before that there is nothing.

This view, of course, is idealized as erosion may allow contamination of older layers with "out of place" fossils. Single-celled life forms also have an uncanny ability to penetrate rather deeply into some strata, thus becoming potential out-of-place fossils. Moreover, overthrusts and other complications arising from the collision of tectonic plates can result in out-of-order strata. Extended erosion, often down to the Precambrian bedrock, and the absence of many layers at some locations because they were never deposited, account for further deviations from the ideal geologic column. Nevertheless, there are enough relatively undisturbed areas around the world to prove that there is a clear and universal order to the geologic column.

Even in the disturbed, mountainous areas, a good geologist can often find numerous clues as to which way is up in the strata. In most cases, careful large-scale mapping reveals the true story of some local oddity. In a number of places in the world, contrary to creationist claims, all the major strata of the geologic column are present, and they are always in the same order. The order of the geologic column is further (and dramatically) confirmed by radiometric dating.

The order of first appearances in the fossil record is mirrored almost perfectly by a study of certain molecules, such as cytochrome c, which have preserved a quantity of random mutations over the ages. By studying the similarities and differences between the cytochrome c of many different species, one can reconstruct the chronological order of life. It is similar to the above fossil order of life!

A critical study of the inherited differences and similarities between living creatures, a field called cladistics, also yields the chronological order of life. The results strongly support the above order of life as determined from the fossil record! Substantial agreement is possible between these three independent fields of study precisely because life has changed over time. That is the only common factor that can unite these three fields of diverse study!

In the first case, that of the geologic record, the chronological order of life is obviously related to the first appearance in the fossil record of each type of creature.

In the second case, that of special molecules, the order of life is related to the similarities and differences between mutation patterns. Cytochrome c (and certain other molecules) have areas that collect neutral mutations at a reasonable rate. Thus, two species that had evolved apart relatively recently will have similar patterns in their cytochrome c mutations. The more evolutionary distance between any two species, the greater the difference in their cytochrome c mutation patterns. In that way the order of life is encoded into these special molecules and can be worked out by a careful, statistical study.

In the third case, that of cladistics, a study of the inherited characteristics of living plants and animals accomplishes the same thing. A careful study of inherited structures allows a reconstruction of life's chronological order. Species that have recently diverged will have similar inheritance patterns. From that clue the order of life can be reconstructed to a large extent.

Thus, we have three entirely different ways of independently reconstructing the chronological order of life, and they stand in magnificent agreement. Some small deviations do exist in these methods, as might be expected for complex procedures involving statistics, but they are nothing compared to the magnificent, general agreement obtained.

Therefore, we may conclude that the order of the fossil record, as depicted in the standard texts giving the geologic column, is real and not due to the hydrodynamic sorting, ecological zonation and animal mobility factors that creationist Henry Morris and others associate with their Flood geology. Once we have accepted the chronological reality of the fossil record, it becomes clear that life has changed greatly over the eons by descent with modification, and that is the essence of the "fact" of evolution. It is the only scientific explanation that anyone has ever come up with that makes sense of all the basic facts.

Legitimate scientists debate the historical turns and twists of evolution, its speed at different times, and its main mechanisms, which lead to various theories of evolution being criticized. But the "fact" of evolution has long been settled in the scientific community. Mainstream biology, paleontology, and related fields have long ago accepted the "fact" of evolution (common descent with modification). Look at any of the last 100 issues of Nature or Science, which are among the world's leading scientific journals, and you will find evolution treated as a fact. You won't find the kind of nonsense put out by "scientific" creationists.

There will always be fringe elements in the scientific community, and many creationists do love to cite them—along with obsolete data and out-of-context quotations from mainstream scientists.

The working brain is not impressed by a collection of suspicious quotations given in lieu of good reasoning. Indeed, the excessive quoting of authority figures sporting non-mainstream views is characteristic of creationist argumentation.

Since the biblical story of Adam and Eve does not square with the "fact" of evolution, not to mention the other findings discussed above, they must be rejected as God's literal word. The Bible is dealing in manmade folk tales.

A second lethal argument against the Adam and Eve story is the need to account for the genetic diversity of humanity, a point we just covered in our discussion of Noah's ark. Adam and Eve could only have carried four alleles for each trait. Since some human traits today have significantly more than four alleles associated with them, carried by the population at large, those extra alleles must have been created by fortunate mutations and worked into the population since the time of Adam and Eve. However, six thousand years or so is not nearly enough time 10 to have developed such variation.

6. Even the use of diagonal iron strapping on the wooden six-masted schooners, which were smaller than Noah's ark, was not good enough to make them fit for the open sea. They also had serious leakage problems despite being built by the highly skilled Maine shipyards.

7. Large meteorite impacts, traces of which may be found throughout much of the geologic column, would have caused massive waves at the very least. That is inescapable if much of the geologic record is attributed to Noah's Flood.

8. Morton, Glenn R. 1995. Foundation, Fall and Flood, alleles, p.49
DMD Publishing Company, 16075 Longvista Drive, Dallas TX 75248

9. ibid, p.71
An ordinary flood in the Midwest, though infinitely less destructive, will severely damage the vegetation. The ground cover and forest understory are essentially lost. Large deciduous trees, if totally immersed, are lost. Evergreens of all types are lost even if only partially flooded.

10. ibid, p.48

Bailey, Lloyd R. 1989. NOAH: The Person and the Story in History and Tradition; University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina 29208

Bloomer, Robert A. 1996. Common Sense and the Bible
The Oak Hill Free Press, Pasadena CA

Creation/Evolution XI (Winter 1983).
"The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark"
A special issue on Noah's Flood by Robert Moore
NCSE, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709

Creation/Evolution XIII (Summer)
"The Voyage of Noah's Ark -- An Epilogue" p.39-48
NCSE, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709

Crews, David. 1994. "Animal Sexuality"
Scientific American, January 1994, p.108-114

Dawkins, Richard.1995. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life; BasicBooks, A Division of HarperCollinsPublisher

Gould, Stephen Jay (general editor).1993. The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth W. W. Norton and Company

Mattill Jr., A. J. 1995. The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Belief (chapters II and IV)
The Flatwoods Free Press, Route 2, Box 49,
Gordo Alabama 35466-9517

Morton, Glenn R. 1995. Foundation, Fall and Flood, Second Edition; DMD Publishing Company, 16075 Longvista Drive,
Dallas, Texas 75248

Zindler, Frank (editor). 1989. The Question of Noah's Flood: A Debate; May, 1989 debate: John Morris vs. Frank Zindler, an annotated transcription; Central Ohio Chapter of American Atheists, P.O. Box 8457; Columbus, OH 43201

Make a shorter URL to this article. Highlight link and "Copy To Clipboard"

Read More »

Friends and Colleagues