Errors in AronRa’s “Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism”

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 21, 2009 in Bible,Creationism,Criticism of Atheists,Reviews,Video

YouTube user AronRa has made a wonderful video series called Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism. I must commend AronRa for making a well-produced series of brief videos that clearly expose the double standards, bad science, ignorance, and deceit inherent to all forms of Creationism. Great stuff.

But there are a few errors in it, and I’d like to clarify them.

The strange thing is that AronRa could fix or remove all these errors and it wouldn’t affect his argument one bit. They are totally unnecessary errors.

Anyway, here are some errors that jumped out at me.

1. Video 2, at 5:03. “Christianity began with the Gnostic faith, and then the Docetics, and Ebionites, and their completely different perspectives of Jesus were eventually combined into a kind of compromise called Orthodoxy.”

Response: No. The earliest evidence we have for Gnostic Christianity, Docetism, and the Ebionites comes from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Paul’s letters, which represent Orthodox Christianity, come from the mid-first century. And certainly, the later forms were not combined to create Orthodox Christianity. Such a combination would look nothing like Orthodox Christianity.

2. Video 2, at 5:46. “The rest of what became the New Testament was canonized in the 4th century in a series of committee decisions at a convention at Nicea.”

Response: No councils decided the canon. Their main concern was to resolve issues of Christology. The New Testament canon was formed over hundreds of years. Many leaders proposed their own lists of books. Eventually, one proposed by Athanasius became accepted, especially after Augustine endorsed it.

3. Video 2, at 6:37. “[The Christians] opted to remove more than a dozen books from the Bible even though they were still referenced by other books they chose to include.”

Response: There are at least 30 books referenced in the Bible that have since been lost. But that’s not because Christians “removed” them from the Bible. They are simply lost. Indeed, some of the lost books are Christian books. Update: I misinterpreted AronRa’s claim. Nevermind “error” #3.

4. Video 2, at 7:21. “We’re talking about people who believe snakes and donkeys can talk, who believe in incantations, blood sacrifice, ritual spells, enchanted artifacts, pyrotechnic potions, astrology, and the five elements of witchcraft.”

Response: Look up many of the verses cited by AronRa and you’ll find he’s just wrong. Numbers 5:20-26 says nothing about “pyrotechnic potions.” Genesis 1:14-15, Job 38:32, Isaiah 14:12-14, and Luke 21:25 mention seasons, stars, and planets, but they don’t endorse astrology. Matthew 12:32 and 28:20 don’t say anything related to astrology. Leviticus 14 is a strange set of rituals, but it doesn’t illustrate the 5 elements of witchcraft. Etc.

5. Video 2, at 8:10. “As a moral guide, it utterly fails, because much of the original Hebrew scriptures were written by ignorant and bigoted savages who condoned and promoted animal cruelty, incest, slavery, abuse of slaves, spousal abuse, child abuse, child molestation, abortion, pillage, murder, cannibalism, genocide, and prejudice against race, nationality, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.”

Response: Again, look up the verses. 1 Peter 3:17 doesn’t mention spousal abuse. Proverbs 13:10 doesn’t mention child abuse. Etc.

6. Video 3, at 5:43. “Throughout the Bible… Jesus always only ever described himself as separate from, and subordinate to [Yahweh].”

Jesus claims to be God in several places, mostly in the gospel of John. But even more verses testify to the idea that Jesus and God are separate and distinct persons, as AronRa points out.

And that’s about it! Otherwise, AronRa’s video series is great. Go watch it.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

AronRa April 30, 2009 at 5:23 am

I wish you hadn’t declared all these things to be errors without asking me about them first.  I do concede your 5th point, that among all the other citations I gave, there were two that were typos and lead to the wrong verses.  But that is the only concession I can make.
 
I wouldn’t argue your point #1, except to say that this how the professor presented the case in class.  He has a Ph.D. in religious studies, and has even shown my video to subsequent classes!  So the authority opinion in this case appears to be on my side. 
 
Point #2 would still be correct had I said “BY the 4th century” instead of “IN the 4th century”.  I included comments from Paul Meier, one of the foremost authorities on Biblical history, to explain in his own words how the canon was developed.  

Point # 3 isn’t an error either, because –while I know that some books have indeed been ‘lost’, I’ve also seen several Biblical scholars commenting on the ways in which various Christians opted to remove, or simply not recognize other books still in the Biblical compilation. 

Point # 4 may be a matter of interpretation.  In the first case for example, Leviticus 14 details a component spell which must include an EARTHenware bowl, running WATER, a WOODen wand, LIFE/BLOOD taken from one bird and the blood carried by another bird through the AIR.  While not universally accepted, these have been described by Wiccans as the five elemental points of the neopagan pentacle.
In the next case, Numbers 5:26 does say the priest must burn the accused wife’s offering on an alter. That is pyrotechnic by definition, and the burnt offering is an ingredient of the potion. 
And in the case for Biblical astrology,  Genesis 1:14 says the stars are to be “signs”.  Job 38:32 further specifies “Mazzaroth” which directly refers to constellations which have no other significance other than zodialogical prophesy.  Luke 21:25 further clarifies this by referring to the stars providing “signs” directly relating to, or heralding the distress of nations upon the earth.  Matthew 12:32 and 28:20 are apparently mistranslated.  The word often taken as “world” seems to have originally “age”, as in the “age of Aquarius” following the “Piscean age”.  And Isaiah 14 is literally a criticism of Babylonian mythology wherein the part of Helel bin Shahar is played by the planet, Venus. 
 
And finally, you presented a link arguing a few places where a strained interpretation might be misconstrued as a subtle indication that Jesus could be hinting that he was an avatar of God and thus the same essence as YHWH manifest in the flesh.  While I admit that human authors of subsequent books certainly share your interpretation, Jesus himself neither said nor even implied that at any time anywhere.  As I said in the video, Lord Krishna did claim to be an avatar of the Hindu Trimurti, and the “supreme personality of the god-head, an incarnation of Vishnu, thus unambiguously “god-in-the-flesh”.  But I maintain that Jesus always only ever described himself as separate from, and subordinate to El/Abbah/Allah/YHWH.  So Krishna definitely did claim to “be” the human form of the the very same god who created the universe, but Jesus not only never ever said anything like that, he actively denied any such association, and even warned his followers not to confuse him with YHWH!  I won’t repeat that whole argument here as I think I had adequately presented my case in the video.  I only wish you had paid more attention to that before declaring your judgement that I am “simply wrong”.

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lukeprog May 1, 2009 at 7:37 pm

AronRa,

I appreciate your defenses. Also, please remember how great I think your videos are.

I’m sorry you wish I had contacted you first. I think of blogging itself as a conversation, so posting this WAS my way of contacting you. That’s how I feel about it, but I understand where you’re coming from.

Okay, about the points:

1. I’m not interested in arguments from authority. Show me some evidence for Gnostic Christianity that precedes evidence for Pauline Christianity and I will change my mind. But… there is none.

2. Your error was not in the timeline, but the process. The canon was not chosen by a “show of hands” at various Councils. Paul Meier says nothing about Councils deciding the Canon, or a show of hands. A simple glance at Wikipedia would fix this.

3. I think I misunderstood your claim. If you mean “failed to recognize,” then it is certainly true. Also, some early canons include books that were later rejected by the mainstream consensus. I thought you were claiming that there was a single Biblical canon around 300 C.E., from which certain books were later removed – like what would have happened had Luther succeeded in removing Hebrews and James.

4. I think your interpretations here are massive, unnecessary stretches, but we could argue about interpretation for days…

6. Again, it takes a bit of stretching to interpret “I and the Father are one” as meaning something other than a claim of divinity. For John, Jesus is divine – every scholar knows that.

AronRa, I’m not trying to pick a fight! I loved your videos and I’m surprised there weren’t more mistakes, because they’re quite dense with material.

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AronRa May 9, 2009 at 5:53 am

You’re quite right that blogging would be an adequate forum to address any errors found in my videos. I just wasn’t made aware of the blog. Neither am I upset by that. Unfortunately the tone of voice in which I write is rarely the one others read.

I also thought the Nag Hamadi library was adequate evidence that Gnostic/Docetic, and Ebionite forms Christianity preceded the Pauline version whjch seems not to have formed until several decades later. I have no desire to argue this point, nor to compare scriptural ‘interpretations’, for the same reasons you would rather not also. I will only say that while Christian doctrine may not have literally been canonized by counting the “ayes” versus the “nays”, that is the impression I got from the way Paul Meier described the actual “process”, in which the council largely followed common practice rather than the other way around. Whether it was democratic or not, the Canon still seems to have formed as an act of Congress.

However, once again, as I said in the video, there is one point where Jesus says that he and the father are “one”. But he also clarifies that he is referring only to their common mission, and that any of us could become “one” with the father just as he is. There are also many times when Jesus repeatedly warns his followers not to confuse him with the Hebrew god whom even Jesus worshipped and pleaded with in prayer. He even tells other Jews that they are gods too, and that they could do even greater miracles than he does, and that they should also do as he does and call no man father but YHWH, whom he describes as someone else, somewhere else, who knows things Jesus doesn’t know, and can do things Jesus can’t do. John and Timothy both seem to disregard what was otherwise a consistent position that Jesus himself maintained. As I said, in other earlier scriptures, Lord Krishna clearly and obviously did claim to be the supreme personality of the god-head, the source of all divinity incarnate, an avatar, and the self-same creator of the universe. But I am confident that no scholar can produce even one citation wherein Jesus says any of these same things. Further I would say that any interpretation to that effect from within the gospels would be directly contradicted by Jesus himself within a few verses both fore and aft.

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lukeprog May 9, 2009 at 6:10 am

Your comparison between Jesus and Krishna re: claims of divinity is interesting. Sounds like a great idea for a post, if I have time to do the relevant research!

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Yos November 20, 2009 at 9:58 am

I agree. Have you thought about having a discussion with somebody like J.P. Holding(@ Tekton Apologetics) over that? It may be worthwhile.

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lukeprog November 20, 2009 at 10:42 am

Hmmm… I dunno…

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atreestump February 11, 2010 at 8:41 pm

The five elemental points in pagan rituals is air earth spirit water and fire.. The verse Aron Ra is referring to does not include Fire. Never-the-less it does talk about burnt sacrifices many many many times in the bible.

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Rand April 30, 2010 at 6:38 am

That was the most enlightened disagreement i have seen in quite some time. Polite, productive and a joy to follow. I can’t help wondering why those who claim to represent a moral high ground (many Christians) seem unable to represent their positions with such clarity and decorum.

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Rosita August 6, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Thanks Luke. Thanks Aaron. A great conversation. Very interesting points: discussed, disputed and partially resolved with the appropriate amount of respect for each others, as well as zeal for getting to the truth of the matters.

I have only one comment: for you Luke. There are times when “argument by authority” is legitimate. However, I also understood you to be asking for the details of how that authority came to the conclusion. That is reasonable – except in those instances where the authority has knowledge that the reader/listener cannot comprehend. For example, without a background in physics I will concede that Stephen Hawking knows more about how the universe began that I do, and I will also note that other authorities have differing opinions.

I am not saying that you, Luke, do not have the background to understand professors of biblical studies, and in this particular case you quite possibly do. I am just sounding a general warning about dismissing an “argument from authority” in all cases. Is the authority is sufficiently authoratative in the particular matter under discussion then it may be quite legitimate to accept that person’s say so. Of course, if you are a legtimate authority in the same area then there is no reason to bow to your colleague’s expert opinion whatsoever. Then you judge things entirely on the basis of the evidence _ _ _ because you can understand this evidence equally well_ _ _

That said, I have the utmost respect for both of you guys. Keep it up!

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İslami Paylaşım Platformu August 20, 2010 at 8:34 am

thank you very nice topic. i’m muslim :)

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blah August 20, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Can I get a crocoduck please?

and on a more serious not the taxonomic software you use in some of the vids

what is that

(and I don’t mean how the @#$#@$ )

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Rachel August 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I am a Christian. I guess just saying that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe there is only one true God? Commenting on the aobe statement. “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen Roberts

Go ahead and dismiss Him, but he did come and die for you..probably for the same hateful ugly attitude you and all your God hating chums have developed over the years. He saw the bitterness and distain inside. Only dying on the cross could save us from our selves.

God Lover

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Rosita August 22, 2010 at 11:17 pm

@Rachel

I am an ex-Christian. I guess just saying that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe that people like me simply found themselves unable to continue believing in the existence of the Christian god? Go ahead and dismiss the notion that we can simply find no more reason to believe that there is a god who sacrificed himself for a few days in order to avoid punishing the flawed people that he created. Go ahead and spew your hateful ugly attitude on web sites like this. If we did not know better, because we have already been there, we would think that your bitterness and distian was representative of the hateful attitudes towards atheists projected by every continuing Christian. Thankfully, they are only representative of those who do not know any better.

Remember that the Christian Bible states that the Lord thy God demands that you hate all other gods and religions. To see how despicable you sound, try a few more substitutions.
- – -
I am a Catholic. I guess just saying that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe that we have the one true concept of God?
- – -
I am a Mormon. I guess just sayng that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe that Joseph Smith was given the true picture of God?

I am a Muslim. I guess just saying that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe that Allah is the one true God? …….

I am a Hindu. I guess just saying that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe that there are many gods and that yours is but one among them?

And so on ……

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Louis VonKronberg September 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Despite whatever Mr. Aron Ra may have said. Most of his claims can be researched and found correct. As far as Bible versus go, misquoting Bible verses is about the easiest thing to correct…although it still doesn’t seperate that most of the Bible is filled with glarring errors (ehem contradictions). Even if his videos put the wrong verses in. I can tell you’re a Christian. You used the back handed kindness of “I appreciate and like your videos” when your kind demenor seems rather reserved and squirmy. (Although that’s just an observation of the way you type I could be 100% wrong and hope I am.)

His wonderful videos as well as this blog have prompted me to do my OWN research. And come to my OWN conclusion based on facts sustansiated by science and observation. Which is all I believe his videos were intended to do. Stir up the skeptic in all of us to dig deeper at our beliefs and question them. And that’s a good thing indeed. Regardless if you do believe in the God of the Holy Bible (Or the one edited by King James.) You still believe in dogma. And I propose you this riddle, and of course their are more I can think up.

If God so loved the world, and we are all his children…why is their a hell we should even fear, and why would stepping out of his favor lend us to be tortured to death for doing so (If the Bible indeed wasn’t a book created by man in order to endoctrinate a group of people into a way of thinking in order to be controled as a group.) If he loves us…why torture for all eternity. I mean if he’s our FATHER, can you imagine your own flesh and blood father having the patience for that kind of cruelty. If god created all people why is he setting apart a select few to worship him? Torture for all eternity if you I dunno are gay (Not harming another person just gay) seems rather bigoted and harsh. I can think of serial killers with more mercy. If the “Most Evil” scale is correct the loving God of the Holy Bible is at the very top of the list. (And if he exists)

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Andrew December 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

…(some) Christians will go to any length to defend their faith! (take the Phelps Family of Topeka Kansas for ex).. It all seems silly (pathetic) to me… I gave Christianity a shot, an earnest one at that, but realize there are way too many deep and wide holes that have no logical conclusions…. I could (and will if asked) go on and on…

Just thanking the blogger and Aron for having a calm academic discussion!

-Andrew in Portland, Maine

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Curt January 15, 2011 at 8:51 am

I find this most enlightening and it has also proven to me that something can be debated on line with dignity and respect to the other person’s point of view. I also enjoy the series very much.

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der Brat March 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

I am amazed by 2 things from the exchanges. 1. The patience it must take to sort through bible history; to me who did what and when to create a thoroughly flawed description of how the world works would be excruciatingly tedious with little benefit. Believers are impervious to facts about biblical history and inaccuracies. 2. What it means for Jesus to die for us. It is positively mind-boggling to make any connection between someone’s death – god or otherwise – to people a couple of thousand years later.

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Mark Pover July 8, 2011 at 7:25 am

“I am a Christian. I guess just saying that invokes hate from you. It’s sad. Is it so hard to believe there is only one true God?”
1)You invoke no hate from me whatsoever.
2)Yes it is hard to believe that there is anything remotely resembling a god,because there is’nt a jot of evidence pointing to it’s existence.

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realist July 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Rachel-
Your response reveals that either you did not watch the documentary or you failed to comprehend the underlying point. Disproving creationism doesn’t have anything to do with discrediting yours or anyone’s religious belief. AronRa clearly portrays how is possible to believe in the existence of god(s) while accepting evolution as the FACT that IT IS; in fact, many of my christian friends are prime examples of this balance in belief and , therefore, it can be done. Educate yourself!

I do not hate christians, I hate the ignorance that religion often entails, which consequently affects us all as a societal species. Your lack of depth in the analysis of the topic at hand (by missing the point completely- similar the religious leaders in the film) is a clear example of the ignorance I speak of… and unfortunately your closed-minded, lack of analytical understanding has to affect all of us and inhibit the progression of science and understanding of our world. I agree, sometimes this gives me a “hateful ugly attitude” because the world would be a better place if you took some chemistry, physics, biology, and etc… and finally realized that scientific theories are not opinion-based and actually help people.

Jesus may have died with the betterment of society in mind, however Socrates and numerous others also died for what they believed in. Pick a card. You choose your god,
I choose to keep an open mind; as a result, I am agnostic by definition because as a scientist, I cannot disregard the minute statistic that there may be a god… AND getting back to the point, if god created statistics, he caused them to support evolution a whole lot more than his/her/its own existence.
-Logic Lover

AronRa-
from a fellow scientist, thanks for explaining the science of evolution in such an educated manner. I was pleasantly surprised that you also use the phospholipid bi-layer as a prime example of how order occurs naturally due to chemical make-up. A work of genius, thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed your highly informative work.

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Christa September 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I’m inclined to agree with most of what you have said here, and in your videos, though, I’m confused about something.
“While not universally accepted, these have been described by Wiccans as the five elemental points of the neopagan pentacle.”

What does Neopaganism have to do with old testament rituals? Wicca was created in the 1950′s. Why would a modern religion, or religions if you will, that were an amalgamation of many different cultural and tribal beliefs, prove “witchcraft?”

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