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Letter to a Christian Nation: Counter Point Paperback – March 15, 2007
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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About the Author
DR. R. CHRIS METCALF is a member of American Mensa, holds an M.S. in Science Education, a Doctorate in the health professions, and has partially completed a Masters Degree in Theology. Dr. Metcalf has held research positions at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. He has been a Christian for over 30 years and lives with his beloved wife and three children in Colorado.
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Metcalf made two claims that struck my interest.
He gives several archaeological discoveries. Most prove (or at least provide evidence that supports) that some places and people mentioned in the Bible exist(ed). Many are related to the Old Testament. One that is closely followed by the words "Discoveries such as these provide support for the accuracy of the biblical texts as historical narratives and also attest to the existence of Jesus....". The discovery in question is a mosaic floor with the inscription "built in honor of Jesus Christ the God" found while extending an Israeli prison in Megiddo, Northern Israel. This sounded like something that I needed to look deeper at. I did. The link provided in those many references in the back of Counter Point gave a 404 error. But I was able to look around the web site and find a listing of news items that included this find. What Metcalf doesn't mention is that the building the mosaic was found in was from the 3rd century CE (or AD if you prefer). If we go with the generally accepted date of around the year 33 CE for the time of Jesus' death, and assume the building was built as early as possible in the 3rd Century, then you are looking at more than 150 years after his death (perhaps as many as 250 years)that this mosaic was made. I don't think anyone denies that there were people living 150 years after the death of Jesus that believed he was God. There were of course temples and shrines built for Zeus and Apollo and many other Gods also. Should we take these as signs that they existed and were Gods?
The second claim Metcalf makes concerns Dr. Francis Beckwith of Baylor University. This reads like a secular attack on a poor innocent Christian. Much like the many similar cases given in the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. What Metcalf doesn't point out is that Beckwith was a member of the Discovery Institute and supported the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in public schools. Anyone that has compared ID to any VALID theory of science knows that it falls far short of being true science. What predictions are made by ID? That there will be something found in the human makeup that we can't readily explain by science? And that that is because a "designer" designed it that way? Unlike, say the theory of evolution, by which Darwin predicted that our closets evolutionary relatives would be found in Africa. Not to mention the many other valid predictions that evolution theory has given. I won't waste time on the other reasons ID is not science. Feel free to investigate that on your own. I did and the list of facts that dispute ID is a very long list indeed. I can't state for a fact that Beckwith's connection to the Discovery Institute and his support of ID being taught in schools is the only reason his tenure was threatened, and I'm not saying these alone are valid reasons to deny tenure to someone, but I do think that having someone that supports such garbage science as ID attached to a university would give me second thoughts about attending that university, or providing it any support. I think this choice being used to support Metcalf's point was a very poor choice.
I'll also mention a comment Metcalf made about contradictions in the Bible. He states that there are many websites that list presumed contradictions in the Bible "but these invariably take a single verse out of context and compare it with another single verse". To that I have two comments. BS. And in fact that is about what Christians do to find the Old Testament "Prophesies" about the Christ. Let's look at Isaiah 7:14, an example Metcalf provides. This "Prophesy" is one verse out of a subject that covers no less than two chapters- Isaiah 7 and 8 (47 verses combined), and deals with events that happened hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, and has nothing to do with his birth. When was Jesus ever called Immanuel? When did Jesus not know to refuse evil? Both are stated to be facts about the subject of the birth predicted in verse 7:14, along with a bunch of stuff about briers and thorns, and folks living in holes, and other stuff that can not in anyway be tied to the birth of Jesus. Yet that one verse is said to proclaim it. Right. I repeat - BS
I invite anyone interested to visit - [...] contradictions.html#contradictions and look at the list of contradictions. Look at the verses given and see if their meaning is not the same in or out of context. Not having examined this list closely I do not state they are all valid contradictions. I did see many that I believe are valid though. This was the top of the Google hits for Bible contradictions, and picked for that reason only.
While Mr. Metcalf claims to be a scientist, his book reads more like the ramblings of Jerry Fallwell rather than the lucid reasoning of an objective, rational intellectual that Metcalf purports himself to be. He is clearly preaching to the choir, doing his best to reassure the flock of sheep that Harris is dead wrong and that everything is OK with the Christian religion.
How does he do this? By anegdotal evidence, multiple fallacies of selective observation, special pleadings, ad hoc, etc... Finally when confronted with an insurmountable logical obstacle, he always falls back on Scripture as a safety net. When all else fails, Scripture and faith always triumph over reason and science in Metcalf's world.
One cannot call oneself a reasonable person and much less a scientist if one abandons all reason and relies on faith when faced with facts and logic that completely obliterate one's long held beliefs. R.C. Metcalf is no scientist. He is an apologetic at best. And a fundamentalist at worst.
I highly recommend reading his book though. It is a great example of the mental gymnastics a person of faith is forced to do in order to stay true to his dogma.
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