Today on Mormon Stories Podcast we are interviewing Dr. Frank Turek—a Christian apologist, author, and speaker with Cross Examined and Dr. Mike Licona—a New Testament professor/scholar at Houston Baptist University. Both are highly sought after around the world for their efforts to provide scholarly and intellectual evidence that the Bible is true.

Today’s episode will focus on making a scholarly case for belief in Christianity, including a response to our previous interview with Dr. Bart D. Ehrman. In this interview, we will attempt to address some of the same questions as we did with Dr. Ehrman, including:

  1. Did the historical figure we know as Jesus actually exist?
  2. How did the historical figure Jesus come to be viewed as divine/the Son of God?
  3. Who wrote the New Testament?
  4. Do important contradictions exist between the four gospels of the New Testament, and what does that tell us?
  5. How was the New Testament assembled?
  6. What are their thoughts on the historicity of the Book of Mormon and Mormonism as an authentic Christian denomination?

…and more.

Additional links:

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Part 2:

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  1. Happy in Oregon October 25, 2018 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I’m about half through the first segment and this sounds like Mormon apologetics or like William Lane Craig.
    For any believer I come across I will, from now on, ask the following 5 questions. That will determine whether I seek further in what he wants to teach me.

    1. If you are born and raised in a non-Christian country such as one in the Middle East, will you be a Christian or a follower of that country’s
    religion? And upon your death, as a non-Christian will you endure eternal torment in the Christian hell through no fault of your own?

    2. If an advanced universe and all that is in it requires an advanced designer, then it would follow that there must be an even more advanced
    designer to design that designer. Why do Christians stop at the first designer and not follow their own logic?

    3. How can you be sure of what Jesus said in the modern Bible when you have no original biblical manuscripts to compare with?

    4. If Jesus’ life is prophesied in the Old Testament, as Christians say happened with Isaiah, then why do Jews not believe that Jesus is the

    5. Since there is no such thing as universal truth (Each religion has a different concept of truth.) how can you say what is truth?

    • Bryan Palmer October 26, 2018 at 5:30 am - Reply

      I would like to have heard Franks and Mike’s answers to these questions, but I’ll take a stab at it.

      1. I read a book called Heaven’s Doors. It argued convincingly that God would eventually redeem all of his creation. It was based on the Bible. It’s quite likely that many/most Christians are wrong about this.

      2. Where did the designer come from? It’s a great question. But the Big Bang says that there was nothing, and then a fraction of a second later there was everything. How do you explain that? There are many materialistic explanations (like the multi-verse), but none have any real evidence. Consider that before the Big Bang there was no time. Anything existing outside of time would be outside of the cause and effect we see in the natural world. Philosophical logic requires an uncaused first cause or and infinite regress of causes. Since the universe and time had a beginning then there must be an uncaused first cause.

      3. Biblical accuracy is like blockchain currency. It’s true that we don’t have any original biblical manuscripts. But we have thousands of second and third century manuscripts which were found at different times all over the Mediterranean world. Most were found within the last few hundred years. When they were compared with each other they were something like 98.5% the same. If any of the copies were changed then that change would be part of the 1.5% that didn’t match, and it was thrown out. Similarly, with bitcoin, accuracy is assured by comparing thousands (millions) of records and only if they match are we assured of accuracy.

      4. It is true to say that Jews don’t believe that Jesus was their prophesied Messiah. But that non-belief is part of what makes them Jews. But at the time of Jesus many Jews did believe. Most of the early Christians were Jews.

      5. Just because people disagree doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as truth.

      • Kathleen Melonakos October 26, 2018 at 10:46 pm - Reply

        Bryan Palmer, it is true that because people disagree doesn’t mean there is no such thing as truth. I’m sorry you felt I didn’t do a good job with apologetics. In my defense, John Dehlin did not warn me that he was going to grill me for an hour on my beliefs. I had no idea. And I felt he spent a lot more time talking about his own beliefs than letting me talk about mine. He didn’t do that with Sandra Tanner. Having said that, I am really glad that he interviewed these excellent scholars who explained Christian beliefs better than I could. And I thank John Dehlin for giving his audience through this means the chance to accept or reject Christianity for what it really is, not the Mormon/Masonry syncretism that Joseph Smith made up, or the caricature of the Bible that many of the secularists hold.

        • Bryan Palmer October 28, 2018 at 7:27 am - Reply

          Kathleen Melonakas, I should have been more clear in my other comment that the reason the 4th hour of your podcast with John wasn’t as good was because you probably were prepared to talk about your book and not prepared to defend Christianity. And because he didn’t really allow you to answer fully.
          My main point was to respond to the other comments of people saying they were going to buy the book but decided not to after the 4th hour. That’s completely unfair, buy Kathleen’s book.

        • Jay R November 4, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

          If you had advance notice that John was going to ask you a lot of questions about your beliefs, how would you have prepared for the interview?

    • Peter October 26, 2018 at 11:01 am - Reply

      I personally think that Mormon apologists and William Lane Craig take a very different approach. Beyond the fact that Mormons apologists and WLC disagree about just about everything (even when they occasionally come to the same conclusion, the reasoning for their thinking is usually pretty different), Mormon apologists tend to focus on truth based on feelings/burning in the bosom, don’t generally have any academic training, and their work focuses on justifying/explaining why Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are true. Meanwhile, William Lane Craig (regardless of if you agree with him or not) is a trained philosopher whose work is rooted in established schools of thought based on natural law and even pre-Christian philosophy. Also, in my limited experience listening to and reading WLC, much of his work seems to be based on exploring and defending the existence of a God (not even necessarily a traditional Christian God and particularly not the Mormon view of God).

      Interesting questions. Here are my thoughts:

      1. I think that it gets dangerous when some people of faith think that all non-Christians go to hell just because they’re not Christians. First, that’s the judging that Christians aren’t supposed to do (how could a person understand the intestacies of someone’s heart and life?). Even though faith is often described as a response to grace and Christians believe that all creation receives God’s grace, it would be overly simplistic to view salvation depending solely on whether someone is a Christian. Sure, where in the world you’re born increases the likelihood of what faith you adopt. But, even in a predominantly Christian region, there is so much pain, prejudices (not talking about the racial kind here!), etc. that hinders a person from fully or adequately responding to grace regardless of if they identify as Christian or not. Really, a loving God meets people where they’re at. Even if Christianity has the fullest understanding of theological truth, a response to God (orienting oneself towards God) to the best of your reasonable ability regardless of the culture, non-Christian faith, etc. is the most important thing. So, if someone grew up as a Hindu, response to God is very possible even if they never become a Christian or never even hear about Christianity. I’ll also say that a turning towards God isn’t a checkbox moment where everything is “all good” going forward. It’s a continual, life-long process of continually turning towards God within your ability. It isn’t something done to avoid hell, it’s something done to be in relationship with God.

      2. I’m not sure that Christians technically stop at the first designer as much as an unmoved mover/first cause. God or no God, many theist and non-theist physicists points to a beginning no matter how far back you go, but since physics is always advancing and evolving we probably shouldn’t solely rest our hat on that view! This seems more like a philosophy question more than anything else (not actually a Christian-specific view); particularly exploring the philosophical problem with infinite regress. That’s pretty complex for this already lengthy post, but there are some good philosophical resources out there (and some not so good ones too, be careful!) that build up and lay out issues associated with infinite regress.

      3. I think Mike talked about this a little bit and clarified a bit of Bart Ehrman’s and many other scholar’s views that through textual criticism “the text we have is essentially what was originally written.” That Joseph Smith distrust of translations isn’t as accurate as some non-scholars believe. Plus, as far as I can understand from Mormon apologists, the modern view of “as far as translated correctly” has less to do with actual translation and more to do with “as far as the LDS Church determines the meaning of the text” (but I think this might be a newer approach from LDS apologists resulting from Biblical scholarship becoming more accessible to the masses).

      4. I think that there are a lot of reasons that a Jew might not view Jesus as the Messiah (born Jewish and never looked into it, looked into it and wasn’t convinced, etc.). Certainly, many Jews have converted to Christianity because they were convinced that Jesus was the true Messiah. But, person X joining or not joining religion Y should never be the reason someone does or doesn’t join a religion. Just like someone shouldn’t be a Mormon because they feel their bishop or stake president is smart or successful. Those decisions can’t ultimately be based on following other’s examples.

      5. I don’t think that just because religions disagree on things means that there are no universal truths. I think the discussion really needs to begin with whether it is rational to believe that universal truths do or can exist. Then you can start exploring what those truths are that are somehow woven into the structure of the universe; even if those truths are basic such a truth being that killing, no matter how justifiable, has an inherent badness to it. That discussion goes beyond religion and goes into the area of ethics. Within the ethics portion of philosophy, the post modern view that there are no universal truths is very new and controversial; because of this, I believe that the view that the only universal truth is that there are no universal truths should be viewed skeptically (apologies for the cheeky last sentence poking a little fun at post modernism!)

      I also wanted to make one note about the “inerrancy ” of the Bible as this might be of interest too. Maybe my thinking is too Catholic/orthodox/early Church, but when we talk about “inerrancy” of the Bible, we’re not talking about historical accuracy. Like Mike said, these books were written in writing styles that re-arrange, edit, etc. events to convey a larger message. Really, when people discuss “inerrancy” it should only be viewed as the Bible “teaching solidly, faithfully and without error truth for the sake of salvation” which is a super fancy way of saying that it inerrantly expressesing “theology.” As far as I can ascertain, this was the view that the first Christians held towards scriptures. To think otherwise, in my opinion, risks focusing on making the Bible its own type of “god.” The view that the Bible is historically inerrant results in problematic views such as a 6,000 year old earth while missing what the story of creation is telling us theologically (for example, the creation – both physical and spiritual – is good, the goodness of human sexuality, the responsibility for stewardship over creation, the central role of relationship and agape-type love in Judeo-Christian theology).

    • Dave November 11, 2018 at 1:46 am - Reply

      Sounds like you are merely repeating common ideas from various other thinkers.

      1. You may well be born into the geographic religion of your immediate environs. However, that does not indicate the truth or lack of truth of that particular religion. The demographics are a separate issue. You still need to look at evidence and examine your own sense of faith and connection with the divine.

      2. I am aware that you are simply repeating what you have heard elsewhere. But think!! Why do you think that is logically true? Does logic always work with that? What makes you think that God isn’t more complex than the universe?
      I built my own computer from scratch. I was the creator!! Yes in some respects I am much more complex than my computer. But on the other hand my computer can do things I can’t.

      3. If you don’t have the original manuscripts. How do you know they are in error? If you want the original words of Jesus then learn to speak Aramaic. English as a language and as a nation didn’t exist then. The New Testament is translated and therefore interpreted into English. The question is; is the New Testament an accurate interpretation? The answer has to be yes. We have early documents and documents from various sources which pretty much seem to agree. You also have to take into account that the gospels are not ‘histories’, in the modern sense. They are statements of faith or testimonies.

      4. Are you, or have you been a Mormon? If so, you should know better. You must know the answer to that. Not even Jews agree amongst themselves nor Mormons, Christians, Hindus etc. What makes you think it should be as logical or as clear cut as you suggest?

      5. You ask the same question Pilate asked of Jesus. ‘What is truth?’
      Maybe that is what you need to do. Ask Jesus or God what is true and what you should do. Begin your journey again.

      Listen to what others say. But don’t rely on it.

  2. Phil October 25, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    At the 44 minute mark…

    Paranormal phenomenon and spirit beings…real interesting…credible stories.

    okie dokie then

  3. howard mims October 25, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    John, I think your first questing should have been. Which bible are we choosing to be THE BIBLE and why? As you know there are a number of different Christion denomination that use THE BIBLE that have more or less books than most likely these apologetics are discussing. For example the Roman Catholic Church’s bible has more books. So who’s freaking book is the THE BIBLE not to mention the other denomination’s bibles. What do you think the chances are that it’s there bible, the apologetics, that is truly Gods Word.

    Not one person on this planet is ever going to tell me what God said. Sorry, the heavens are going to have to part and I will have to hear it from him directly. Just way to much circular speaking and mental gymnastics for me.

    However, I do believe its self evident that there is a Creator

  4. Bryan Palmer October 25, 2018 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Thanks John! This is just what we needed after the Kathleen Melonakos podcast. She was good with Mormon origins, not good with Christian apologetics. So it was very nice to have these guys who explain Christianity for a living. They needed more time. Ask them if they can come back!

  5. RobG October 26, 2018 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Well, that’s 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back after browsing thru both videos. They don’t seem much better than Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel, nor any improvement on William Lane Craig. Or Benny Hinn or Jimmy Swaggart.

    Jesus seems to me to have almost certainly existed, but I see no good reason to believe in the resurrection or the “empty tomb.” Or believe that Jesus died for sin. Or that he was some sort of lord or savior, son of God, or messiah. Or that he was God or Elohim, Yahweh or Jehovah or the great I AM. And no good reason to accept Paul’s gospel, either. I do kinda wonder if John the Baptizer convinced Jesus that he was the end-times Jewish messiah. That didn’t work out too well for Jesus, but things didn’t work out well for John, either.

    It seems rather obvious that Jesus is dead and not coming back. And never was coming back. And that such was Roman empire and provocative and violent Jewish messianics. It’s hard to imagine that Jesus didn’t know that he was daring and begging Pilate to kill him.

    Wherever else one thinks Judaism’s been right or wrong, it seems pretty clearly to have been right about Jesus all along. And about the NT and Christianity. And that Yahweh simply has no use for Jesus, whether dead or alive. And his creation no need, and Jewish scripture no interest. In the end,

    There also seems no good reason to believe the Bible’s the word of a god, anyway. And while the invention of Mormonism is interesting, it’s not nearly as interesting as the invention of Christianity from out of Jesus’ life and death. Nor as interesting as who wrote the Bible.

    Having interviews like this, even as ‘equal time’ for Bart Ehrman, seems misguided to me. But there are people who leave Mormonism and stick with Jesus and Christianity, and who’ll probably like it and find it worthwhile. And if a person for some reason still believes they need to bathe in the blood of a 2000-year dead Jew, it may be the only option.

    Looking forward to the next episode of MORMON stories.

  6. Bill McClymonds October 26, 2018 at 4:24 am - Reply

    The first thing I want to do is to thank John for having Frank and Mike on his program. I am one of the Christian people who emailed John to tell him it was unfair to present only one side of the story. I sent that email after he did the interview with Bart Ehrman. I think John conducted the interview in a manner that was both tough and fair. I commend him for that. I also commend Frank and Mike for providing what I thought were good honest answers to some of John’s more difficult questions.

    I am not even close to Frank or Mike in my theological training or understanding but I did have some thoughts after the interview. In spite of some changes and difficulties, the text of the Bible has been preserved fairly well down through history. Mike pointed out that Mormonism was establish to correct errors in the Bible. My understanding of The Book of Mormon is that it was primarily written to correct that which had been lost. The difficulty I see with that position is that very little had been lost. According to my understanding of another textural scholar, Michel Kruger, the majority of the three most significant changes to the Bible were additions. Based on the discovery of many earlier Bible manuscripts that have been discovered since the writing of the original King James Version Joseph Smith used, no plain and precious truths have been lost. That is a really big problem for Mormonism. If no plain and precious truths were lost, there was no reason to establish a religion to correct those allegedly lost truths. I think that is the point Mike was trying to make.

    Another problem for Mormonism is the 2017 BYU article, A Recently Recovered Source: Rethinking Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation That article was referenced by Jared Egley during the Mormon Stories podcast he and Juli did. The article indicated that Joseph Smith “borrowed from” a six volume Methodist commentary of his day when he wrote the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Borrowed from is kind way of saying plagiarized. In addition, Joseph or someone he knew “replaced” the missing parts of the facsimiles (illustrations) in the Book of Abraham. Those facsimiles were part of an ancient Egyptian funerary (funeral) document . Replacing portions of ancient documents without revealing that they were replaced is generally considered forgery. It seems reasonable to think that Joseph was involved in both forgery and plagiarism during the production of at least two of his significant LDS documents. The Christian Bible, on the other hand, does not seem to contain any intentional misrepresentation by the original authors. It appears they are trying to relay the information as they understood that it happened. That does not seem to be the case with Joseph Smith. In my opinion, that is a huge difference between mainstream Christianity and Mormonism.

  7. James Crane October 26, 2018 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Just because people in the first or second century believed something doesn’t make it true. People may have believed Jesus was God, people may have believed mark wrote a book but to assert more than that is speculation.

    • Peter October 26, 2018 at 11:11 am - Reply

      I think people in the first century believing in specific authorship claims supports that the authorship claims weren’t made up a couple hundred years after the fact. I suppose it could have been a fraud from day one, but since people with some level of direct connection to the claimed author believed him to be the author, it’s at least a vote of confidence. Same goes for the first century Christians believing Jesus was God, it doesn’t prove that he was God, it just supports that this was a very early belief that was likely/potentially taught by Jesus.

      • James Crane October 26, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

        Earlier people as made claims about their diety. These scholars would likely dismiss the truth of their claims. Egyptians come to mind. They believed their pharoah was diety. They wrote think older that the bible. We can document their beliefs. It does mean their beliefs are true. These men are scholars. They are professionally trained apologists.

        • Peter October 29, 2018 at 2:59 pm - Reply

          I totally agree that just because early Christians believed that Jesus was God, that doesn’t mean that he actually was God. Just that it supports that people were thinking and talking about it during the first century. That’s what I’m viewing as scholarship, particularly since this is a view held by scholars that come from different faith backgrounds, even atheist scholars believe this fact.

          My view is that it transfers over into apologetics once someone starts arguing that Jesus actually is God. That seems like a much taller mountain to climb for me!

          The portions of this podcast that were non-apologetic scholarship were my favorite! A good survey that dug a little deeper than John was able to do with Bart. Hope it continues.

  8. Peter October 26, 2018 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I had a couple “oh no, this is going down the drain fast” moments during the interview like when they were talking about their thoughts on Mormons at the beginning. Looking at John’s face, I could tell his stomach was churning as much as mine was! Thankfully, John got it back on course every single time and made for a fairly non-partisan and fairly non-evangelizing discussion. I wasn’t familiar with Mike or Frank, but ended up enjoying this episode of Mormon Stories, particularly Mike’s measured academic approach; I need to read some of his scholarship. If John ever wants to bring Bart and Mike on together, I’d listen to it. There have been so many good discussions about Mormon-specific research over the years, hearing some Biblical research from three different scholars now has been particularly engaging. Thanks John.

  9. Jerry October 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

    I’m about 3/4 of the way through. First, I want to say that I love these conversations. I think it is important to have Christian and Mormon apologists on to balance the critical opinions. I also feel that you have found two great people to fill this role. Great podcast, John!

    This quote above from (I think) Carl Sagan came to mind when the example of Julius Caesar being killed on the Ides of March was given in the podcast. The point was that there is only one source for this information,and that source wasn’t even present at the assassination. When it comes to everyday information I think we can be a little lax with the strength of the sources. If we find that one person wrote in their diary that there was a parade in town it might be enough to decide that there was indeed a parade in town that day. This is because we can assume that the writer isn’t trying to persuade or even deceive the readers. Also, since it is such a mundane event we can assume that he is not being deceived himself (or herself).

    However, most religious events are miraculous in nature, and therefore need more than one source who knew a source who witnessed a miracle. If a person wrote in their diary that they saw an alien spaceship one would be appropriately suspicious that they were either trying to deceive or had been deceived themselves. Personally, I would need a lot more than the writings of someone who had seen an alien to believe that the alien was real.

    Also, I think too much time is spent arguing about the exact amount of time between the events and when they were written down. In Mormonism we have examples of miraculous events that were written about within a ten year period (sometimes less) and yet I’m sure both these men would still have trouble believing them. Just because someone believes something and writes it down does not mean it happened exactly as it was written – even if they wrote about it the same day it happened.

    • David October 30, 2018 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Great Comment. Thanks.

      “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan?

      • Rico November 1, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

        Carl Sagan’s TV series “Cosmos” would always begin with this preamble: “The Cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever will be…”

        Now how did Sagan know that? Is that really a scientific statement based on hard evidence? Or is it just pure sentimentality? As far as I know, no scientist has ever conducted an experiment to determine the truth of Sagan’s statement. Extraordinary claims indeed. Even by Sagan’s standards, he would fail them himself.

  10. Jerry October 26, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply


    I can’t help myself – I have to make another comment. Sorry. This one is about the back and forth between John and the guests concerning the accuracy of the Biblical text. I feel like they are talking in circles around different definitions of what is considered to be accurate. So, let me break this down into the different definitions to see if it makes more sense.

    1) Absolute accuracy of the text as if it is inspired directly from God. In this sense, each word is used for a reason and one can depend on it being the word of God. In other words, if someone randomly opened the bible to a page and pointed to a verse they can read the text as written and believe it word for word. They would not have to take into account the literary style of the author or what was written in other parts of the bible. This kind of accuracy cannot be supported by the bible itself, because it contradicts itself in many places. Certainly, you can argue that the meaning is the same, or that there is a reason for the conflicts, but that takes you away from this definition of accuracy, which states that every word can be taken as truth. For some reason, the guests have a hard time admitting that this kind of accuracy does not exist in the Bible. I think it comes from the fact that most Christians believe the Bible to be the literal word of God, and saying otherwise is heresy.

    2) Accuracy as being faithful to the original story line. This is how you would describe most movies that are based on a true story. This allows for artistic license of the author, which was argued in the podcast as a reason for discrepancies in the text. I have no problem with this kind of accuracy. I think it is reasonable to assume that small parts of a story can be purposely or accidentally changed by the writer. This does not mean that the overall story line or purpose of the narrative is wrong. This is the kind of accuracy that I assume most historians would use to define most historical records.

    3) Accuracy from one copy of a text to another. This is obviously a bigger issue with older texts, since we now have technology that creates identical copies. I have no problem believing that the text as we know it now is very similar to the original text. Granted, it is possible that things were changed here and there, but with the New Testament I can see that this may not have happened as much as the LDS church would like to believe.

    4) Accuracy of the text to the actual events. It’s hard to scientifically prove that the events of the Bible actually took place. There is a big jump between determining that the text matches what the writer wanted to say and that the writer is accurate in describing the events. If one just looks at contemporary religious movements they will find that eye witnesses give miraculous descriptions of events that most rational people would dismiss as being exaggerations. If you can’t believe the words out of the mouth of an actual eye witness, how can you believe the written words of someone 2000 years ago? I really don’t believe apologists are being balanced with their skepticism. Even these two guest have no problem dismissing Mormonism, even though its history is filled with eye witness accounts of miracles, but have a hard time using the same skepticism to criticize the Bible.

    I just thought it was weird how neither of the two guest could say that the Bible cannot be taken as 100% accurate, word for word, as if from the mouth of God. I don’t understand why this is so hard to say. It is obvious. It’s almost like they are afraid of a slippery slope that goes from admitting their are errors to not being able to believe any of it. They go as far as saying it doesn’t matter if it is not word for word accurate – which I agree with- but won’t actually admit that it is not.

  11. Bill McClymonds October 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    This comment is addressed to anyone who doubts the existence of a higher intelligence. I would like to provide some information that suggests to me there is an intelligence behind the human mind. That is not proof of God, but it strongly suggests the possibility. I think it was Frank who said either mind comes from matter or matter comes from mind. For anyone who takes an atheist position, the mind is the brain, nothing more. It is approximately three pounds of meat.

    Within that three pounds of meat are neurons and synapses. They are essentially wires (neurons) and connections (synapses). Neuroscientists who study those wires and connections call the science connectomics. Robert Marc is one of those research scientists. He posted on his website the following statement. “The Sunlight Taihulight (the world’s fastest computer in 2016) running since the beginning of time could not compute all of a human brain’s possible networks. He lists the amount of time since the beginning as 13.7 billion years.

    The reason it takes so long to compute all those networks is because, according to his website, there are over 10^300,000 possible or potential brain topologies. They are not actual connections in the brain, they are potential or possible ways the brain could be wired or connected. Those who do not believe in God are relying on a process with no external intelligence to adequately wire and rewire those potential connections into actual ones through some sort of natural evolutionary process that has no end goal in mind.

    Some reading this comment may enjoy a short video of a flight through a mouse retina. Keep in mind there are only 950 neurons or wires in the section of retina used for this video. The human brain has approximately 86 billion neurons. The video essentially displays a three dimensional wiring diagram within the mouse retina. Those connections are similar to the wiring in the brain.

    The brain is a complex functional biological information processing system. I am not aware of any complex functional information processing system that can be progressively altered and improved without external intelligence. Since the human brain is the most complex of all the functional information processing systems we know about, it seems absurdly improbable that it developed without external intelligent input.

    There are two options for the development of the human brain. Either it was cobbled together by a process with no intelligence and no end goal, or it was produced by some intelligent process. Personally, I prefer to think my brain was intelligently designed by an intelligent designer.

  12. John H Emmett October 26, 2018 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    PSYCHO BIBLE BABBLE! Stehphen Hawking has the best answer to this centuries old discussion. “There is no god and no one controls the universe”.

  13. Nancy October 27, 2018 at 10:31 am - Reply

    It’s disingenuous to claim that the Bible doesn’t teach that only Christians will go to heaven. Jesus clearly taught Nicodemus that you can’t see the kingdom of heaven unless you’re born again by the water and spirit. Most Christians agree that water means baptism and some sort of spiritual conversion to Christianity.

  14. Happy in Oregon October 27, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    PEW Research, using statistical analysis, tells us that by the year 2100, at the current rate of growth the Islam religion will pass Christianity in numbers due to higher Muslim birth rate. At that time when there are more Muslims than Christians, how will Christians explain why their god is allowing his religion to be dominated by another? By then will the Qu’ran have replaced the Bible with its many varied translations and revisions, as God’s Holy Word? Or will the Christian god have to again resort to genocide as he did during the so-called world flood and destroy those Muslims?

  15. Peter October 27, 2018 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Since this podcast was on Biblical scholarship, I wanted to comment on the “many varied translations and revisions” comments that are common in some Mormon and ex-Mormon circles. Discussion about the “correct” English translation of the Bible really isn’t an issue outside of Mormons and a select subset of Evangelical Fundamentalists who have a strong preference for the King James translation (the preference is mostly based on historical rather than theological roots that are shared with the LDS Church). Some translations of the Bible are written to be more readable (like the New American Bible and NIV) while others are written to be closer to the original language. Here’s a brief article explaining the different types and purposes of Biblical translations:

  16. Rico October 28, 2018 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Happy in Oregon,

    Interesting questions, here’s my two cents…

    1.If you are born and raised in a non-Christian country such as one in the Middle East, will you be a Christian or a follower of that country’s religion? And upon your death, as a non-Christian will you endure eternal torment in the Christian hell through no fault of your own?

    Answer: Religions are not created equal. Not too long ago, pagans practiced human sacrifice (like the Aztecs in Mexico). In some areas in India, when a man dies, his surviving widow is burned alive when his remains are cremated. Their caste system is one of the worst example for discrimination based on ancestry. Christianity by far is still the best.

    In Catholic theology, sinners go to hell because they refuse God’s mercy even at the point of death. So, unless it’s really your fault, you won’t go there.

    2.If an advanced universe and all that is in it requires an advanced designer, then it would follow that there must be an even more advanced designer to design that designer. Why do Christians stop at the first designer and not follow their own logic?

    Because that’s not Christian logic. That’s Richard Dawkins’ logic, and Dawkins is awful on philosophy. He doesn’t understand why infinite regress is bad reasoning. What he says about a designer designing God is a strawman argument, a basic logical fallacy. He does not know what Christians really mean when they define God. Read some Thomas Aquinas and you will see why. Or better still, watch Dawkins’ debate with Prof. Lennox on God.

    3.How can you be sure of what Jesus said in the modern Bible when you have no original biblical manuscripts to compare with?

    Because the gospel about Jesus was first preached orally, and only much later was it written down. The people in Jesus’ era were good in passing oral traditions. People back then had prodigious memories. They can recite entire books from memmory.

    4.If Jesus’ life is prophesied in the Old Testament, as Christians say happened with Isaiah, then why do Jews not believe that Jesus is the Messiah?

    Because faith is a gift from God. That some Jews rejected Jesus while others accepted him is what the gospels all consistently report. Those who come to accept Jesus and his message are drawn to him by the grace of God.

    5.Since there is no such thing as universal truth (Each religion has a different concept of truth.) how can you say what is truth?

    If there is no universal truth, then science is impossible. If scientists cannot agree on what really constitutes, for example, the Periodic Table of Elements, then Chemistry is impossible. There has to be universal truths.

    Each religion may have its own truths, but clearly not all religions are equal. Some are better than others. Some are closer to the truth than others. Christianity, or Christian civilization produced Science as we know it because Christian philosophy presupposes a universe created by an Intelligent Being. As such, the universe is not irrational, but intelligible. Take away this intelligibility, then science itself becomes impossible.

    • Happy i Oregon October 29, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      There cannot be universal truth or else all religions and cultures would agree. A Christian says that his truth is universal and a Muslim says his truth is universal. And they disagree. And the periodic table changes. When I had my rock collection in high school, I learned all the elements in the table. Now there are many I have never heard of. Science changes. That is how the scientific method works.

      When you say Christianity is the best (the least evil when it comes to killing), that is only your opinion. It is not mine. Joshua was commanded to kill every woman and child and YAHWEH talks of a flood that wiped out the entire earth life save a few. Genocide seems a bit rough to me. And there are at least 20 more scriptures in the Old Testament where violence is commanded. I don’t believe in hell or the devil or a deity, though I cannot prove that the god of the bible did not exist. I cannot prove unicorns did not exist either.

      As for the Bible believers being perfect in their passing on of stories, I thought there was supposed to be only one perfect being And why would illiterate copyists be perfect then but not now? And why did those copyists copy the stories of Jesus’ resurrection, for example,and make so many mistake?. You’d think the thousands of manuscripts they copied would be the same.

      The reasons why Jews do not believe in Jesus is that from reading the Hebrew Bible, their idea of the coming messiah did not fit with him being killed as a common criminal, but he was to come as one who would liberate them from those who had subjugated them. There are different sects in Judaism that believe somewhat differently on the subject of messiah, but only Christian Jews believe in Jesus. I finished a DVD lecture class on Judaism, last year, taught by a Jewish professor from Hebrew U. in Jerusalem and I don’t remember whether Jesus was even mentioned. And when Christians Rationalize about Isaiah 7:14, to prove Jesus, that is no difference from the Mormons citing Ezekiel 37:15-17 to prove the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

      And I don’t care what some delusional philosopher tried to tell me about a designer being advanced but not requiring a designer, etc. Christian apologists like Mormon apologists can easily hoodwink their followers, because the basis of Abrahamic religions is fear and members will follow blindly and believe what they are told for fear they will burn in a made up place of eternal hellfire. It is so great to be free of religion. And I enjoyed “The God Delusion”, especially the part with the minister who actively teaches young people to be in so much fear that they will be a good Christian. What a deity! At least Thomas Jefferson did not believe the Jesus to be the god of the Bible and he seemed like a pretty smart guy to me.

      And you imply that Christianity must be good because it produced science. People who were Christians may have produced science, but so did Muslims, does that mean their religion is also correct. And following your reason, Christianity must have produced Hitler. I think he was a Christian. He was baptized a Catholic, and surely you think of Catholics as Christians.

      • Rico October 29, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

        Happy in Oregon,

        Is the statement “There cannot be universal truth” true or false?

        If it is true, then the statement itself is a universal truth. And if it is, then it just contradicted the very idea it is asserting. Therefore the statement is absurd. On the other hand, if it is false, then there’s no point believing it.

        I think you’re confusing truth and knowledge. Truth exists even if people have no knowledge of it, or even when they don’t agree with it. For example, your statement “There is no universal truth” is a self-contradicting statement. That’s the truth as demonstrated above. But since you believe it to be true, then your knowledge of that statement does not align with the truth. I’m not sure if you will change your mind after this.

        And that’s why people hardly agree on certain truths. Their ability to grasp and apprehend it is not the same. Some people will readily see the absurdity in the statement “There is no universal truth” once it is demonstrated to be such. But others will stick to their beliefs no matter what.

  17. Q October 29, 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Given that the guests point to the big bang as proof of their ideas about the nature of God and creation, am I correct in assuming that they do not believe in a literal 6-day creation? If so, which parts of scripture are literal and which are not?

    • Peter October 29, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

      Hi Q, I agree with your assessment! Many of us (mistakenly) think that a literal 6 days of creation and a 6000 year old earth is the default Christian position. But, viewing creation as a literal 6 days, etc. is very new, it started in the 1800s, and is primarily believed by only a subset of Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians.

      When Fr. George Lemaitre, a Catholic priest and physicist, discovered/proposed what is now called the big bang theory, it wasn’t particularly controversial theologically (although there was skepticism in some scientific communities about a priest proposing that the universe has a beginning since that would imply a creator).

      The “classical” approach to reading the Bible is to read it in the context of the genre that it was written (e.g., poetry, history, allegory). This can be trickier in today’s day and age because of the extreme historical literalism that seems to be imprinted on the American culture, but there are many good commentaries (both modern and ancient) that can help dissect the genre and theological message that the author is trying to convey. I can give some suggestions if you’re interested.

      This traditional approach to reading the Bible actually allows for much more freedom and depth rather than the “modern” view of treating the Bible as a science book. It also helps to remember that, as I said above, when people discuss “inerrancy” of scripture, it should really be viewed as the Bible “teaching solidly, faithfully and without error truth for the sake of salvation” which is a super fancy way of saying that it inerrantly expresses “theology.” This unpacks the intended meaning from the two creation accounts in Genesis as presenting the created universe as good, the goodness of human sexuality, the responsibility for stewardship over creation, the central role of relationship and agape-type love in Judeo-Christian theology, and much more.

  18. Rex October 29, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    I think the question of why there isn’t any contemporary writings or recordings from the actual time of Jesus or whoever this person was at the time is more important than the two guests give it credit for. We receive the writings of Aristotle, or Caesar, or even Shakespeare under some suspicion if these people, or events/writings surrounding these people actually existed or took place, but in the end it doesn’t matter, because they are immortal in their writings, their lore, their lessons, not necessarily in their actuality, nor is our salvation dependent on such literalality. Whereas the entire premise of Jesus presented here is not the beautiful writings of the King Jamesian Jesus, with it’s beautiful allegory, parable, and myth, but it’s about the resurrected Jesus needing to be literal to be important. What neither Mike nor Frank understand is that we Mormons have already seen this movie, the movie of Mormon tellings, written accounts, oral stories getting richer and more grandiose and time moves by. The account of the first vision, the priesthood restoration, and Joseph’s own prophetic mantle, Brigham morphing into Joseph, all increase in stature as time went by. It took only a few years for the account of the first vision to morph into a great event that involved both God and Jesus, and only a few years for the priesthood restoration to form and turn into visitations by the early apostles and John the Baptist. We know how this works, so when the two guests give a shrug to the fact that all written accounts came almost 60, 70 80 years later, including much of the secular history, well, like said, that rang familiar to my ears, and how easy the myth and stature of Jesus could evolve in that amount of time.

    I certainly learned today that Christian apologists are no better than Mormon apologists, as some of the old and tired fallacies of logic, assumptions, conclusions ring just about the same. I wish the questions of Noah’s flood, Tower of Babel, the existence of Moses, Abraham, Adam and Eve would have come up, then we would have been able to see that not only do these two nice men believe that all people who do not take on the Christian mantle in this lifetime doomed to hell and fire, but they also believe in the deeper crazy of literal Adam and Eve, a literal flood, and languages being confused at the Tower of Babel. To me this already puts them so far outside realityville, that it’s hard to take them at face value when they assert that they are driven by evidence for the resurrected Jesus (If you read in Matthew, after the death of Jesus the veil of the temple is rent in twain, the earth shook, the rocks split and the graves opened and the numerous saints walked about and appeared to many, making as Hitch would say; “resurrection seem like a banality”.) If their employed apologetics towards the history of Jesus is anything like the apologetics employed by many Christians towards evolution, the age of the earth, the the origins of the universe, well then we can be safe to say that honesty is not a big part of the equation here. In fact most Christians’ approach towards evolution in particular, is some of the most dishonest, obfuscated and ignorant representation of the facts I’ve ever come across. So again, I take both of these men and their bias with huge spoonfuls of grains of salt. I appreciate their scholarship, but if they really believe that most people will be lost/damned who don’t accept Jesus or something even remotely in that neighborhood, then this atheist calls upon these and all Christians that holds such wicked and immoral views to repent.

    • Bill McClymonds October 29, 2018 at 7:18 pm - Reply


      You seem to have used somewhat of a shotgun approach in your comment. I’m not an apologist so I’m only going to address one item from your comment. Before addressing your comment I would like say that I have listened to a number of the Mormon Stories podcasts. As a Christian, I have not experienced what anyone in or coming out of the LDS Church has experienced. In spite of that I have related in other comments on this site that I am deeply sympathetic to the pain others have expressed as a result experiences while in and while leaving or out of Mormonism. I have a great deal of respect for the Mormon people … both in and out of the Church.

      You quoted the following. “In fact most Christians’ approach towards evolution in particular, is some of the most dishonest, obfuscated and ignorant representation of the facts I’ve ever come across.” The reason I choose that particular sentence in your comment is because I think it is basic to your entire world view if you now have no belief in God. I am going to post a link to a video by PhD synthetic organic chemist Jim Tour. I have posted this link before and asked people to watch at least the first 20 minutes to get the gist of the information Dr. Tour is providing. In your case, I would suggest that you watch the entire video. Jim is a Christian but he is also a highly respected scientist.

      If you watch the video you will hear Dr. Tour say that no one has been able to explain to him the most basic initial evolutionary step in abiogenesis (life from non life). That step is chemical evolution. You will also hear him say that he isn’t even asking for an explanation of the information content in the first living cell. That information is in the DNA of the cell and it is much more complex than the simple chemical explanation he is requesting. You will also hear Dr. Tour say the cell is a factory … literally a factory.

      Anyone who does not believe in God, needs abiogenesis to even begin to have any type of higher evolution. According to the natural explanation of evolution, abiogenesis starts with absolutely no intelligence … rocks and chemicals on the early Earth … and builds a miniaturized factory … the cell… that contains the most complex coding system we know about in the universe. That coding system is DNA.

      If you can find someone with a good explanation for abiogenesis, please go have lunch with Dr. Tour so that person can explain it to him. After that, please read my comment above about the human brain. The video I linked about a flight through the mouse retina only showed the “wiring diagram” of a small number of neurons . The real problem for evolution is progressively developing and connecting about 86 billion wires (neurons) in the human brain by means of synaptic connections that are, in and of themselves, mind boggling in their complexity. From the atheistic perspective, it is all done by a process with no external intelligence and no foresight.

      You may think molecule to man evolution has been well explained. It should be obvious from my comment that I don’t agree. I also want you to know that I respect your opinions and appreciate the problems you have raised in your comment. These are difficult issues. I am the last person who will tell you I have all the answers.

  19. Rex October 30, 2018 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Thanks for the reply and thoughtful tone. There are many and notable Christians who accept evolution, including Francis Collins whose book I’ve read. However Dr Tour is not one of them. He rejects evolution across species, and rejects the basics of the theory. ….”the notion of macroevolution, that new species evolve on their own. ‘I’ve asked people to explain it to me, and I still don’t understand it … .’ Tour notes rejecting macroevolution has caused problems for him in academia.”1 With Tour we are already off into dishonest apologetics where conclusions are first, building a path of evidence comes second leading to already decided conclusions. We have those in Mormonism in the form of BYU professors, one in particular Kerry Muehlstien I think his name is actually said concerning the problems with the Book of Abraham; “I start with the assumption that Joseph Smith is a prophet and translated the Book of Abraham through the power of God”. I see Tour, and the two guests of this podcast the same way.

    Your comment has the “God of the gaps” argument flavor. Yes we do not have a current working theory for abiogenesis, but asserting that “God did it” has been shown in the past to be risky as gaps have a tendency to get filled by naturalistic explanations. You are right that the human brain is complex, but it’s complexity is a result of billions of years of very gradual evolution. Our brain got its start as just a few molecules of crude and first time self replicating RNA. Some people think that evolution is a hard concept to grasp, I think what is hard to grasp is deep time, and the compounding change that occurs with just tiny little mutations of DNA over such time.

    You comment that it’s atheistic to think evolution has no foresight and no intelligence. You don’t have to be atheistic to note that it is a human/ego centric position that has to place mankind in the center of existence. A few hundred years ago this attitude howled when Galileo showed that we were not the center of the universe, and it howls today when Darwin showed that we are not the center of creation. It doesn’t take an Atheist to observe that the history of life appears directionless and non guided as 99.something percent of all life that has existed is extinct, and will continue along that trajectory, humans included, all of us with our inneficiencies (including one of the biggest inefficiencies in my opinion, that is the requirement to sleep about 1/3 of our lives away). It seems your philosophy is that the human brain is the pinnacle of creation, whereas an evolutionary approach sees our big frontal lobes as just another adaptation for survival. It may be that we never go extinct, but I’d we do, it will proabably be because the frontal lobes created an environment that will not be efficient for our kind of life. Hope not. Good exchanging with you.

    • Bill McClymonds October 31, 2018 at 6:12 am - Reply


      Thank you very much for your reply. I appreciate your cordial tone. I think you may not understand my point. I am not arguing that macro evolution is impossible even though I think it is highly unlikely myself. I am simply trying to point out that molecules to man evolution is not well worked out at the present time. I think it is reasonable to allow for the possibility that we all didn’t originate from a process with zero initial intelligence. I know all about Francis Collins and Mary Schweitzer as well as Hugh Ross and others. All very intelligent scientists who believe in long ages. Dr. Schweitzer even believes in long ages in spite of finding soft tissue, including what she herself believed to be red blood cells, in dinosaur bones. Her findings shocked the scientists who believed in long ages when she initially made the discovery. They tried very hard to discredit her because they knew the implications of her findings … but they couldn’t. Her findings were confirmed by further study.

      Since her initial discovery, Dr. Schweitzer has proposed a method of preservation for soft tissues in dinosaur bones. She has managed to preserve some soft tissue for a few years by a method that could easily be questioned by secular scientists. That has not happened. They all got very quiet when she proposed something … anything … that could get them out of the jam they were in as a result of her initial findings. Even if dinosaur bones are only thousands of years old instead of millions …as preserved soft tissue suggests … an explanation for that length of preservation is still needed. You and I could sit down and spend hours discussing other soft tissue findings in supposedly millions of years old specimens, but we can’t do it here. My point is that soft tissue findings in dinosaur bones and other creatures at least provide some serious challenges to long ages.

      Even though Francis Collins, Mary Schweitzer and Hugh Ross believe in long ages, they don’t believe in the absurdly improbable atheist claim that life originated from a process with zero initial intelligence. If you take an atheist position, that is your only option that I know about.

      You said Dr. Tour rejects macroevolution. I don’t think that is completely accurate. I think he allows for the possibility that it could have occurred but he cannot fathom how it could have happened from a chemical perspective. I’ll link another of his video’s that I think clarifies what he believes a little better. There is some repetition initially but he goes on to explain what he believes later in the video. In this video Dr. Tour relates that no one had been able to give him details of how macro evolution could have happened chemically. I disagree with your quote ” With Tour we are already off into dishonest apologetics where conclusions are first, building a path of evidence comes second leading to already decided conclusions.” Dr. Tour is clearly a scientist first. He is an evidentialist of the first degree. He is simply stating that the chemical evidence does not support macro evolution. No one has been able to give him a reasonable chemical pathway for it to occur.

      I will link another video that explains his position more clearly. I’m sure you can find some points that you will not agree with. In spite of that I appreciate that you have taken the time to view what I have suggested. In my opinion, it is not unreasonable to consider what I think is an inference to the best explanation. That inference is that there had to be intelligence behind the origin of life. In my opinion, it is reasonable to consider God as that intelligence.

      There is so much I could write about the human brain that it would make an already long comment far too long. Look at the numbers once more. There are over 10^300,000 possible ways to wire the human brain. Do you have any idea how big that number is? There are fewer than 10^90 total particles (protons, electrons etc.) in the universe. The atheist position is that a process with no initial intelligence … and that doesn’t even understand how the system works … is wiring those potential connections into actual ones. I have a great deal of difficulty with that position.

  20. D&C 74:1 October 31, 2018 at 1:43 pm - Reply


    Enjoyed the podcast & some of your tough questions. If you have these gentlemen back please ask my question.

    Establishment clause:
    Do these men agree God is All Knowing & All Powerful? If yes ask them my 2 part question.

    Part One
    How is it then that this life is NOT a big Shenanigan we’re people are mere puppets as God already knows all their actions in advance? Let me give you an example. God is all knowing & all powerful & he already knew what Hitler would do on earth BEFORE he even created him. God could have chosen NOT to create Hilter in the first place? Is this not a predestined, manipulation or simulation? If all of our actions on earth were already known to God before he even created us we are not mere puppets?

    They should cite “FreeWill” to justify God

    Part Two
    Is it not logical to conclude God simply chooses to created a mechanism of the “freewill” concept to burden shift the responsibility for his creations evil acts to the creation it’s self to absolve the creator of all responsibility for creating problems he knew in advance his creations ‘would cause other created beings on earth?

    Most likely you will be given excuses & apologetics regarding “FreeWill” not being a created concept. If they go their please point out they are denying God has All Power; furthermore a Hell concept proves beyond any doubt FreeWill is a created concept. God can simply take away “FreeWill” any time he wants from whom ever he chooses. God is basing his denial of “FreeWill” (ie: sending them to Hell) on ALL READY KNOWN ACTIONS BY HIS CREATIONS BEFORE HE EVER CREATED THEM??

    THIS IS A MASSIVE PROBLEM I would like an answer to my Questions should you have the privilege to have your two fine Scholars on your show again.

    I have never had anyone successful answer my question scholar or not. I hope you can find someone who can: however I have cracked the code & already know the answer. This question I ask goes to the very most basic fundamental question every person of faith should be asking about Gods existence. Because it has a direct impact on their lives their choices their very existence.

    Thanks John
    D&C 74:1

    • Bill McClymonds November 1, 2018 at 7:31 am - Reply

      D&C 74:1

      Your comment intrigued me. You seem to claim you have an answer to questions that have plagued theologians for centuries. When I Goggled predestination free will I got about two million hits. That would be a place to start your inquiry if you really want opinions from expert theologians or apologists on your questions.

      If you are going to grant the apologists an omniscient and omnipotent God, then you also have to grant the possibility that God, in his infinite wisdom and power, would be able to create a world in which his creatures have some limited ability to choose freely … even though He still knows what their choice will be. It is not something we as mere creatures could fathom, but it is certainly possible with someone who has the characteristics of the God of mainstream Christianity.

      You quoted the following.”I have never had anyone successful answer my question scholar or not. I hope you can find someone who can: however I have cracked the code & already know the answer. This question I ask goes to the very most basic fundamental question every person of faith should be asking about Gods existence. Because it has a direct impact on their lives their choices their very existence.”

      If you truly have “cracked the code” and have an answer to the dilemma, I would appreciate it if you would share the answer. I think it would be unkind not to share an answer that has such a direct impact on everyone’s life. As I have written previously, I don’t have all the answers. I am very open to learning something new. I sincerely want to see the solution you have found to your questions.

    • Peter November 1, 2018 at 10:46 am - Reply

      D&C74:1, I like how you’re approaching this. It reminds me a lot of the issues tackled by the ancient Roman Boethius in his The Consolation of Philosophy. I had to write a report in it when I was in 10th grade at a public high school and it is still one of the most impactful reads of my life. Although it was written over a thousand years before the development of Calvin’s concept of predestination and Arminianism’s concept of free will, Boethius agree with your questioning the validity of such concepts. Boethius takes a more agreeable approach to free will and predestination/determinism with different definitions that views the answer as both/and rather than either/or. I suppose it’s Catholic in the sense that Boethius was a Christian in the early Church and it aligns with Catholic beliefs and the beliefs of the early Church, but Christianity isn’t really the discussed in the book, it’s all about questioning truth through philosophy and the search of knowledge. I’d highly recommend it!

  21. Marsha Fish October 31, 2018 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    John, you are attacking your guests that don’t agree with you. You used to be more tolerant, but have noticed that you are an angry man who likes to manipulate the guests to believe your beliefs. Can we get the nice John to come back???

    • Jay November 4, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply


      Can you give me a time stamp in the interview where John was angry? I didn’t notice it in the interview but I’d like to go back and take a look at even one instance of John being angry.

      thanks . . .

  22. cl_rand November 1, 2018 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    I’ll admit that chasing my own tail was a major source of amusement as an adolecent and young adult, and while I still get a chuckle out of watching the occasional pup engage in the activity, today, for the most part, I find it to be an incredibly exhausting waste of time and energy. This discussion was like that.

  23. Rico November 1, 2018 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    There is a fundamental difference between Early Christianity and Mormonism that is seldom pointed out. Mormonism, as a movement based on the Book of Mormon, is essentially a scripture-based church, just like your typical Evangelical church is a Bible-based church. Without the Book of Mormon, there is no Mormon church.

    But Early Christianity is not. Christ told his apostles to preach his gospel, baptize in his name, and make disciples everywhere they went. In short, they were told to first build the Church. And the Church was able to fulfill the mission assigned to her long before the first NT book was written down.

    But after the Church was built, and once the first witnesses to Jesus started to die off, did the Church start to write its “scriptures.” Even then, those writings were not intended to be scriptures on par with the Old Testament canon. Paul’s epistles were mostly written to address local issues in the different churches. He probably did not think that one day his writings will become scripture. And so, the Church came first, and only after did the New Testament scriptures come out from it. Therefore, no Church, no NT scriptures.

    This principle is further tested when, some two to three hundred years after the last NT book was written, certain spurious writings appeared and presented themselves as apostolic in origin. Examples of these are the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, etc. They are called pseudepigrapha. These were judged by the Church to be problematic and thus excluded from the NT canon. This demonstrates that the Church knew what really belonged to her, and could tell the genuine from the fakes.

    In this sense, the Church really produced the Bible, or the Bible eventually came out from the Church. If the Church did not sift out bad scripture from the good, we would not have the Bible in its present state. A “Bible-based” church is therefore an oxymoron. The Church did not come from the Bible, it’s the other way around. The Church knew and preached the gospel message long before the NT was written. To see apparent contradictions, like the different rendering of Pilate’s sign on top of Jesus’ cross among the gospels, those are not errors in the eyes of the Church.

    Unfortunately, those whose worldview are seen through a “Bible-based” church will not surprisingly be badly shaken once the Bible is shown to have “errors.” This is how Bart Ehrman lost his Christian faith.

    I think it is bad logic to conclude that because Mormon claims are mostly false, therefore, the same must be with Christianity. There’s simply no comparison between the two.

  24. Dave November 11, 2018 at 4:38 am - Reply

    I think Mike Licona is misinformed.
    The Mormon Church today, would not say we need the Book of Mormon because the Bible is inaccurate and so we need the Book of Mormon to fill the gaps.
    The Mormon Church (or whatever the correct name is), would say that the Book of Mormon isAnother Testament of Jesus Christ, which compliments the Bible.
    In fact, whenever the church lists it’s Standard Works, The Holy Bible always comes first.
    Also, in the early days of the church, theBook of Mormon was used and quoted from rarely. Church leaders including Joseph Smith relied on evidence from the Bible more than the Book of Mormon.

    • Bill McClymonds November 11, 2018 at 6:52 pm - Reply


      I would like to be sure I understand your comments correctly. Please clarify for me if you agree with the Bible on the following verses? You said it was not inaccurate so these verses should then be true and take precedent over any other LDS teaching if the Bible comes first … if I am understanding your comment correctly.

      If anyone has told you the verses about no other God were written about idols, try inserting the word idol for God. In that case the last verse of Isaiah 44:7 would read in the following manner. Is there an idol beside me? yea, there is no idol; I know not any. Obviously that could not be correct since God knew of many idols.

      John 4:24 King James Version (KJV)
      God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

      Isaiah 43:10 King James Version (KJV)
      Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

      Isaiah 44:6&7 King James Version (KJV)
      6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
      7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

  25. Dave November 12, 2018 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the information about the history of the Bible, when it was written etc. You make a good case there was a someone (Jesus) who had a lot of followers and started a religion, but to me none of this information in any way validates the idea of a resurrection or the idea Jesus was God. The after the fact writings and no copies of any original writings also seems to suggest someone may have made up or embellished a lot of the information (the ideas of virgin birth, resurrection etc., were around a long time before Jesus). Joseph Smith and Co. basically did the same thing by taking writings from other people and manufacturing a religion.

    There is absolutely no evidence of God except as a creation of man to help man soothe the mental and physical anguish of life and the human condition (way or there so many bad people when it is obvious people should be good to one another). If there is a God, he is a complete deadbeat and owes all his children a big explanation as to why he abandoned us. Also, in my view, anyone who does not accept evolution is either uneducated or in denial. The facts are overwhelming. The entire science community supports it and to suggest otherwise is disengenuous.

    • Bill McClymonds November 13, 2018 at 5:04 pm - Reply


      The other items in your comment of November 12 seem to be addressed to others so I will let them comment on those. I would like to address your comment on evolution. Please read my prior comments in this discussion to get an understanding of my position on evolution. I would like to add an additional comment that I think you may find helpful in understanding the difficulties for some naturalistic form of molecules to man evolution to develop from initial conditions of absolutely no intelligence (rocks and chemicals on the early Earth).

      You stated the following. ” Also, in my view, anyone who does not accept evolution is either uneducated or in denial. The facts are overwhelming. The entire science community supports it and to suggest otherwise is disengenuous.)” My assumption is that you are referring to molecules to man evolution. That is what the rest of this comment will address.

      I previously quoted James Tour who is a PhD synthetic organic chemist. If you watch the introduction to the video that I linked in my October 31 reply to Rex you will understand that Dr. Tour is both a scientist and a very well educated man with many patents and awards. He has taken issue with what his colleagues have written or spoken about abiogenesis (life from non life). He has also questioned macro evolution from a chemical perspective. In addition he has an open challenge to his colleagues to explain macro evolution to him from a chemical perspective. That challenge has been posted on line for about 10 years. Unless someone has explained it to him recently, his challenge remains unanswered.

      My main point in this comment is an article Dr. Tour referenced. The article is about the interactome (the whole set of molecular interactions in a particular cell) of a yeast cell. ” If one merely considers all the protein-protein interactome combinations in just a single yeast cell, the result is an estimated 10^79,000,000,000 combinations.” That is the number researchers came up with in the article I will link below.

      The number 10 to the 79 billionth power is an impossibly large number for our human brain to grasp. Remember, the estimation for the total number of particles in the universe is 10 to the power of 90 or less. The number 10^79,000,000,000 represents all the potential or possible ways that the proteins in a yeast cell could interact with one another. Suggesting that a process with no intelligence and no goal in mind could wade through all those combinatorial possibilities and construct a functional yeast cell stretches the bounds of credibility even for the scientists who wrote the article. They wrote the following. “the numbers preclude formation of a functional interactome by trial and error complex formation within any meaningful span of time.” The quote means it is unreasonable to assume the self assembly of even a very basic organism like a yeast cell by means of an unguided process.

      Of course the scientists won’t concede that life is impossible through an unguided process so they suggest that a yeast cell must have been built up through the assembly of smaller component parts. In my opinion, that is still a difficult position because you eventually have to deal with the 10^79 billion protein-protein interactions when you build and assemble a yeast cell of the size they were investigating. In addition, you have to deal with the interactions of those proteins with all the other components of the cell as well as all the interactions of all the other cellular components among themselves. In my opinion, it is totally illogical to expect a yeast cell to form in any unguided manner based on what these scientists have written.

      I think the numbers from these researchers and the information from Dr. Tour that I have previously linked mean that it is reasonable to question molecules to man evolution. If you disagree, Dr. Tour still has an open challenge. You are welcome to send him any scientist in the world who can explain molecules to man evolution to him from a chemical perspective. Be aware, however, that in his own words Dr. Tour carries a “howitzer in his back pocket”. The person you send will have to be well prepared to answer his challenge.

    • Rico November 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm - Reply


      Is anyone who rejects evolution necessarily uneducated or in denial?

      Self-proclaimed atheist Dr. Thomas Nagel published a book called “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.” For his educational credentials, he did his post-graduate studies as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oxford. He received his PhD from Harvard University. Then he taught at UC-Berkeley and Princeton universities. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He also holds fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Not exactly an uneducated fellow, yet his book demolishes the pretentions of Darwinian evolution as a science.

      Many committed atheists, like Jerry Coyne, have not read his book, but that did not stop them from criticizing their fellow Dr, Nagel. This is why when atheists say there is “absolutely no evidence for X” where is X is any subject under the sun, I can’t help but wonder: what exactly do they mean by the word “evidence”?

      For example, if you say that only the uneducated rejects evolution, and I show a book by a university professor with excellent educational credentials that rejects that theory, is this not evidence that something is false with what you are saying? Surprisingly, for many atheists, that is not evidence.

      Then there’s Dr. Anthony Flew, who was atheist since age 15, but later changed his views and thought that “Aristotelian deism” is a more rational position to hold. He was a John Locke scholar at Oxford University where he also received his masters degree in philosophy under the famous English linguist philosopher Gilbert Ryle. He also taught at Oxford, then at the University of Aberdeen, Keele University, and the University of Reading where he retired. Flew is famous for demonstrating the “No True Scotsman” fallacy in philosophy. But he was more notable for defending atheism until he changed his mind in 2004.

      So when you say there is no evidence for God, then how do you account for the likes of Dr. Flew who isn’t uneducated, who has avidly defended atheism for most of his academic and professional life, yet somehow changed his mind? Do people like this change their minds without evidence?

      Or is there evidence, but atheists just refuse to look at them? I’ll let Dr. Flew describe the aftermath of his conversion:

      “I have been denounced by my fellow unbelievers for stupidity, betrayal, senility and everything you can think of and none of them have read a word that I have ever written.”

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