Scott Bailey in bed with creationists!

Scott Bailey when he was a professional ice hockey goaltender

Scott Bailey when he was a professional ice hockey goaltender

I was rather enjoying Scott Bailey’s series Does Higher Criticism Attempt to “Destroy the Bible”? This was teaching in simple language some important lessons about how to approach the Bible.

But when Scott came to the fifth post in his series his presuppositions started to show. Indeed this post is little more than a summary of them. But Scott’s position became really clear when I tried to engage with him in the comments on this post. I summarised his first response to me as

You clearly reject as “delusional and willfully ignorant” anyone who believes in any kind of spiritual world interacting with our world today.

He replied that he would accept this kind of interaction if I could show him

how it works, that it works, and do it under repeatable, verifiable, testable conditions.

But when I suggested that his insistence on “repeatable, verifiable, testable conditions” for any tests of spiritual activity implies that

large parts of modern science, including almost all geology, evolutionary biology and astronomy, are invalid because they are based on observation rather than repeatable experiment,

he replied

Are you really that stupid and unaware of the different scientific methods and disciplines? … it’s hard for me to fathom someone could seriously write that. Perhaps the most idiotic thing you have commented here.

Well, I’ll let my readers judge who is being “idiotic” here. Of course there are different scientific methods in different disciplines. But he is trying to argue that it is “delusional” to speak of interactions between the material and the spiritual world because they cannot be proven by the experimental methods used in one particular set of disciplines – although they can very likely be demonstrated by using observational methods which are accepted in other scientific disciplines.

Now I accept that good observational evidence needs to be found for any claims for example of healing as a result of prayer, and that it is hard to find such evidence. But to claim that it is “delusional” to believe in such healings unless they can be performed under repeatable laboratory conditions is quite unreasonable. It is also offensive to astronomers, evolutionary biologists etc whose work, if the same standards were applied to it, would also have to be written off as “delusional”.

Yes, Scott has some uncomfortable bedfellows here, creationists who argue against evolution and an ancient universe because these scientific results are based only on observation of fossils, distant galaxies etc and not on experiments done “under repeatable, verifiable, testable conditions”.

Scott, you, like “Every single person in the western world”, have been “inculcated, socialized, and deeply, deeply ingrained into Enlightenment categories of thinking” – to quote your own words. But that does not imply that those categories are objectively correct and that all others are false. The excellent scholar does not blindly accept the categories of thinking he or she has been brought up with, but questions these paradigms and is prepared to transcend them. Great scientific advances have been made by those like Einstein who were able to think in new categories. But second rate scholars like Bultmann, as I discussed recently, continue to think in the old ways long after they have been discredited. Scott, you might think it a compliment to be compared with Bultmann, but I don’t mean it as such when I suggest that you are making the same mistake as him.

28 thoughts on “Scott Bailey in bed with creationists!

  1. Interesting post, Peter. Strangely enough I wrote a similar post recently – “Skeptical of Skepticism” (I hope that links work, otherwise that’s going to look odd).

    I find it bizarre that some people seem to demand absolute evidence for things which there can be no absolute evidence for – and then refuse to believe based on that. I think such skeptics like to lend their disbelief a veneer of credibility in the name of skepticism, but really people are still just picking and choosing what they want to believe.

  2. *sigh*

    Peter, I assume with your background you and myself would agree on a great deal of issues. I\’m not sure however why you continue to misread and misrepresent my comments.

    Of course not all scientific processes are \’repeatable\’… I know this; you know this. But this does not mean that the \’theory\’ that explains the observable phenomena in a predictable manner are insufficient. Astronomy does not become insignificant because we can not repeat the Big Bang. That sort of argumentation rises no better than Ken Ham: and that definitely is not a good comparison! (I would CERTAINLY rather be compared to Bultmann than Ham!)

    To misrepresent and exegete blog comments in this manner is dishonest, and as a supposed \’Christian\’ you should really try to do better an be more charitable.

    In *every* single online interaction I have had with you it strikes me that you misread what I write and that you take up small minor points to try and win some sort of self-perceived argument. I just don\’t get why your perception is that skewed or why you world is that small.

  3. Scott, it is not minor points of yours which I disagree with. It is your entire worldview. You try to defend this with weak arguments, and I point out the weaknesses in those arguments. But perhaps I shouldn’t bother. You believe with the religious faith of a fundamentalist that all religious faith positions are wrong and “delusional”. It is clear that no arguments or evidence will shake your faith in materialism. I give up, and leave you to the hands of God.

    Just as “Astronomy does not become insignificant because we can not repeat the Big Bang”, so also Christian faith does not become insignificant because we can not repeat the Resurrection. And just as galaxy formation does not become insignificant because we cannot repeat it in the laboratory, so also Christian healing does not become insignificant for the same reason.

  4. Peter,

    Christian healing is insignificant because it doesn\’t work. It\’s very simple except for very delusional people to understand.

    You may \’believe\’ gravity does not exist, and that scientists are \’arrogant in testing its observable phenomena. To that I say, go ahead, \’believe\’ it doesn\’t exist and jump off a building.

    And when you start to get deathly sick, as we all do: are you going to pray to Dr. Jesus to \’heal\’ you? Or are you going to go to an actual medical doctor?

    If you actually \’believed\’ even half of the bull-poop that squirted from your \’brain\’ you would have no need of an real doctor. However, you will defend your metaphysical speculation (ie, I *really* believe in Harry Potter and wizards) until the real world invades and you will be rushing to someone who practices medicine based in a modern understanding of germ theory.

    Also: most wasted science education ever.

  5. Scott, prove your first sentence. If you can’t, you are the one who is being “delusional” by believing in an unprovable “metaphysical speculation”.

    If I get sick, I will go to a doctor and ask for prayer.

  6. Peter, find a person who is missing a limb. Find multiple persons who are missing limbs. Pray for them. And then pray for them some more.

    Heck, I\’ll be on the isle in the next year. We can go to hospitals and pray for 1, 100, or 1000 people without limbs and we will see \’scientifically\’ how many of those persons God grants new limbs to and \’heals\’ them.

    I would very sincerely hope that God would perform miracles and restore 1000 of those limbs, but if we do go around GB praying for such miracles, do you have a prediction of how many limbs would be re-spawned?

    I do. And it is testable. Observable. And verifiable.

  7. OK, Scott. Then let’s go around the county seeing how many galaxies we can form. I can predict the result. But what does that tell us about the galaxies which have formed?

  8. Peter, that\’s not a very good response. We both know that you and I will not create any galaxies, and if you cannot see the correlation to our prior conversation of that fact then at this juncture you are being willfully delusional regardless of any evidence. You see this will always be the biggest difference between you and me: I am open to a variety of possibilities, you are an ideologue who will cling to only one possibility in the face of any evidence.

    We can make hypotheses, collect data, do testing (if possible), and then make theories that account for the greatest data. It’s ok for us to have different hypotheses. But at the end of the day what you are demanding is that we all jump right to your theory, but with no testing and little explanatory power. No thank you.

  9. Well this all makes very adult reading!

    1. Peter. Not really sure what you’re going on about. Read this post and the other one you are having a pop at and I can’t tell whether you are for/against evolution for/against creation. The title of the post would suggest that you are not happy with Scott Bailey or Creationists. Where are you? Get sharp and let’s se the ‘wisdom’ in your blog title in action.

    2. Scott Bailey. When was a limb growing back ever healing. That would come under miracle which is a slightly different category. No amputee ever went to a hospital to be healed. Look up the definition of healing. Forget all the TV hype. I have seen enough healing in the local church to know that it happens. My sister was healed from severe epilepsy. I spent half my childhood freaked out when she had grand mall attacks. When that stops over night and the meds are removed and no attacks for over 35 years then God heals. I have also seen bunches of people prayed for and not healed.

    Now here’s the thing. I deliberately chose only one to mention, because what you’re gonna do is come back and tell me why I am delusional . . . blah blah blah. And that’s what you’ll always do – even if I waltzed in with Lazarus back from the dead, because you are not going to change your biases are you?

  10. Artimus,

    Thank you for your, uh, ‘clarification’ on terminologies. The sort of evidence you are offering is anecdotal. What I’m suggesting is scientific study of the efficacy of prayer (which has been done http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12082681/ns/health-heart_health/t/power-prayer-flunks-unusual-test/).

    I too am intimately familiar with epilepsy (which 50 to 60 percent of children who are diagnosed do grow out of. Not all of these are ‘healings’.) Sometimes epilepsy naturally goes away so it is hardly proof. However, my twin sister is an epileptic and her seizure activity is so problematic that they had to separate the hemispheres of her brain last summer.

    My sister was prayed for many, many times. She used to hang out in prayer rooms here in Canada and received almost constant prayer. Thousands of people probably prayed for my sister, she even got caught up in the whole Lakeland/Bentley phenomena and went off her meds a ‘step of faith’. She ended up in the hospital for four months as a result of that poor decision.

    Funny thing is that doctors operating under their arrogant categories rooted in reality actually improved the day-to-day condition of her life by cracking her skull open and cutting her brain in half. They made her life better! Now that’s a miracle.

  11. Well I read the ‘especially this one’ and skimmed the other. For someone who claims to have as many translation accolades etc., you have a real low view of Scripture. Is there anything you don’t question in the Bible?

    The reason the UK church is off down the pan is due to that messed up thinking. You need to get back to reading your Bible and ask yourself the question ‘Do I believe God or not?’

    All those posts you point me to scream out ‘Did God really say . . . ?’

  12. There you Anon! Proved my point. Just happend to spontaneously remiss on the day we prayed for it . . . is that in Goole too?

  13. Artimus,

    How many other times had she been prayed for? Why that prayer and not another? Was she seizing that day? Is it possible that she had already gone into remission and you only remember the last time she was prayed for as the one that worked because she had no other episodes after that?

    That is the problem with many reported healings. They occur in diseases that are know to have good possibilities of spontaneous remission.

  14. Peter,
    It’s obvious that you disagree with any worldview that disturbs your convenient worldview and that isn’t going to change. It is frustrating to me that you seem incapable of wrapping your mind around a pretty straightforward argument (or is it willful ignorance?). But beyond that your rebuttals throughout these discussions consistently entail using snippets of what is said to build up some straw man to beat down. It’s ridiculous and reeks of desperation. I don’t get it, is this some essential piece to your house of cards?

    Artimus, are you suggesting we stop approaching the bible with critical thinking because the reasonable (and quite frankly, glaringly obvious) questions and criticisms that arise aren’t what you want? Don’t be a child.

  15. Dave, I don’t get your objection. I understand Scott’s argument very well. He has a very different worldview from mine, a purely materialistic one with no room for spiritual beings, including God, doing anything in the world today. If he is not an atheist he is a deist. I understand that his position is very rational, not at all “delusional”. But I do think he needs to give more attention to the evidence which contradicts that worldview.

    However, instead of doing the rational thing which is to agree to look carefully at that evidence, he repeatedly responds with ad hominem comments about me being “delusional” and similar.

    Then he brings in straw man arguments such as challenging me to cause limbs to grow back when that is not at all the kind of spiritual activity I had in mind. Yes, forming galaxies in the laboratory was another straw man argument but I put that forward to show how ridiculous Scott’s own straw man argument was.

    But perhaps Scott and I should just agree to differ.

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  17. Anon. In answer to you question, she was prayed for once. My parents spent many years praying to God for a liberty to pray for the healing. When God granted it, the elders of the church came to our home, annointed her with oil and prayed for healing in accordance with the passage in James.

  18. Scott, Thanks for sharing what happened to your sister. Even though you shared it anecdotally, I believe you.

    I have to say that I have a huge problem with TV healings, platform healings and I certainley had huge problems with what I saw of Todd Bentley.

    It’s difficult to know how to respond. I have prayed for people to be healed and I have seen them healed. I have prayed for people to be healed and they have not been healed.

    But healing is not the only thing I pray for. I have prayed for people to find employment, find ways out of financial difficulty, to be reconciled in relationships, to be helped out of addictive life-styles.

    Things I do before I pray:
    1. Talk to the person, see where they are personally, see if practical solutions are appropriate, see if people really want what they are asking you to pray for – some people are actually happy in their addictions, illnesses and lifestyles.
    2. I talk through what practical steps they can do to help themselves. I’m not going to pray for a person to overcome finacial difficulty if they’re not going to shred the credit cards.
    3. I try and discern if there is a deeper underlying issue than the one that they are presenting. Quite often there is more below the surface.

    What I don’t do:
    1. Pray for anyone just because they asked me to.
    2. Pray for what they want, especially with healing. Unless I get a real confirmation that God is going to heal them. I would pray for God’s will to be done.
    3. I don’t call up the local university to come and take measurements, readings and monitor the progress of the prayer.
    4. I don’t tell them that ‘they will be healed’ and if they don’t get healed ‘they don’t have enough faith’

    Now you don’t believe in prayer. Therfore you have to find other explanations for it. All the things that I stated I prayed for above have seen progress or improvement in the lives of people by other means. I don’t argue with that one little bit. But I have witnessed these things happen as a result of prayer.

    For you, your sister’s operation was a miracle – and I am genuinely pleased that it was a success. Her quality of life must be so much better now, not to mention that of the rest of the family.

    I do know where that same operation has been a nightmare for others either not improving the situation or even making it worse.

    You tone seems to imply that I have written off medical science or abandoned scientific thinking. (Apologies if that is not the case.) This is not the case. I studied in the scientific disciplines and spent much of my working life implementing scientific princlples on a daily basis.

    Not everything can be explained by science. It can tell me how I fall in love, but it can’t tell me why.

    My sisters story is anecdotal. I can’t get away from that fact. Kids grow out of epilepsy. Well about a third grow out of it in adulthood, I can’t argue with that.

    At the end of the day, I’m just a guy with a story and my story is this: My sister had severe epilepsy. The drugs didn’t work – they ruined her quality of life and put her back at school. After years of too-ing and fro-ing to the consultants, changing medication and seeing no improvement, my parents felt the time had come to pray to God for healing. An elder and a deacon from the church prayed with my dad (who was the pastor) for healing and anointed my 10 year old sister with oil. My mum and others prayed in another room. From that day to this, she hasn’t had an epileptic fit. She had reviews for the following few years and was only discharged some years later by a Muslim consultant who accepted my mum’s explanation that God had healed through prayer.

  19. David H
    Am I suggesting that? Where?

    I am contending that if you are a Christian as Peter is, then you should hold a high view of Scripture.

    As to criticisms and questions, I do welcome them. I am a firm believer that Christians should be ready, willing and able to give reasons for why they believe what they believe and I spent more time doing that than I can count. Criticisms and questions do not bother me one iota. I could probably even write them for you I’ve heard them that many times.

    I also firmly believe that no world view is above critical thinking – not even yours and although you present yourself in a self-assured, ‘shout-louder’, cat-calling school of reasoning it’s usually a offence-mechanism designed to hide a weak or arrogant position.

  20. Peter, All you have not said anything in that post other than the Bible can’t be trusted. I am confused in this blog, because you seem to be defending something that you doubt.

    At what point did exegesis start pointing to Genesis 1 – 8 being hyperbolic? It coincides quite nicely with when popular world views started disagreeing with it.

    As soon as you read statements like ‘They were not writing scientific papers but stories.’ or as Mark Driscoll puts it in his book ‘Genesis was not written as a scientific text-book’ It’s clear that you have already conceded something.

    You reduced the Scriptures down to ‘current scientific thinking’ which will change again in about 10 years.

    If the flood account is hyperbole, why such a specific geneology form Adam to Noah? One of God’s red-herrings perhaps.

    Then, if there are exagerations in the story there, why not the in the rest of the Bible?

    Also, is the Ark not a type of Christ and the Salvation of God for the world? If the flood was only local, is redemption therefore only local?

    Matthew 24, Jesus says that his coming will be like the flood . . . is he thinking local or global?

    In 2 Peter 2 & 3, is Peter thinking global or local destruction.

    What you have done Peter is elivated a world view above the world of God and tried to somehow splice it in by trying to change the meaning of (and as some working with WBT you should recognise this) a clear and unambiguoas passage of scripture.

    I would hold with Greg Haslem with this who went on TV and stated clearly ‘The science is wrong.’

  21. Artimus, thank you for your helpful responses to Scott and Dave.

    But do you actually reject the statements ‘They were not writing scientific papers but stories’ and ‘Genesis was not written as a scientific text-book’? Do you actually think that Genesis was written as a scientific paper or textbook? If not, don’t criticise Driscoll and myself for saying it wasn’t.

    Please don’t bring Wycliffe Bible Translators into this. I no longer work for them. But that is not because of any disagreements about matters like this. One thing I did learn as a member, and before, is that Genesis is very far from being “a clear and unambiguous passage of scripture”. One can fully understand any Bible passage only by first understanding the purpose for which it was written.

  22. Peter,
    Thank you for your response.

    Three points.

    1. I didn’t bring WBT into this, you did as you have included it on your bio page. I suggest if you feel that strongly about the reference, then perhaps remove it from your profile. You can’t have it both ways.

    2. You haven’t actually addressed any of the points I raised. Please feel free to do so.

    3. My criticism of both you and Driscoll is fair in so much as I said that by making such statements is an indication that something has been conceded already.

    The statement you make in and of itself is as meaningless as saying that ‘Genesis wasn’t written as a cookbook, a gardening book or a boat building manual’

    What is evident from your posts and Driscoll’s book is that by making such statements you are saying ‘The science is found elsewhere’ or ‘we can’t rely on the accuracy of this account in terms of dates, data or timeframes.’ That’s what I got when I read the posts that you pointed me to.

    Now I have a deep appreciation of Mark Driscoll and I have many of his books, mp3’s and follow his blogs. That doesn’t mean that I would not critisise where he has it wrong. The same woulkd go for Tim Keller, Lee Strobel and Wayne Grudem, all men I appreciate, but would openly disagree with on this topic and I have had opportunity to do so – with Grudem at least.

    On your last point, I would completely reject the Genesis is ‘far from being clear and unambiguous’. As you demonstrated in your ‘Noah’s Ark’ post, Genesis says the waters covered the highest mountains – you admitted that was the clear and unambiguous meaning of the written words. But then you refused to believe that is was true. Was that because of the text? No! It was due to the fact that some current extra-biblical data points to something different.

    I think we all know that is the book of beginnings and origins. Not only that, it is the cornerstone for the rest of Scripture. Without chapters 1 – 11 at least, the rest of the Bible is fairly much meaningless.

    The Hebrew in Genesis is quite straight forward. It appears that it only becomes ambiguous when it has to be reconciled to external data which is what you appear to be doing – eisegesis!

  23. Hi all,

    Artimus asked, “At what point did exegesis start pointing to Genesis 1 – 8 being hyperbolic?” I don’t know, possibly Cain’s complaint to God in Gen 4:14 that whoever finds him will kill him. Who will find him? Adam? Eve? Or is he predicting that Adam and Eve will have future offspring who will then hunt him down? I suppose that’s possible, but it seems a bit implausible to me. Or perhaps the author is signalling to the reader that maybe not everything he’s writing in the immediate context is to be taken at face value. I don’t know, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

  24. Artimus, on my About page I wrote that “In 2002 I left WBT”. But you implied that I still work with them.

    I concede nothing that is true. I have never deliberately claimed anything beyond the truth, and if I have unknowingly done so I am quick to concede it. I have NEVER claimed that Genesis was a scientific paper so concede nothing by denying it. But there are those who effectively make this claim in that they use Genesis as the basis of so-called “creation science”.

    For knowledge about the physical world which God has created I look at that world, as the psalmist and the apostle recommended (Psalm 8:3, Romans 1:20). If the unambiguous data found there contradicts an uncertain human interpretation of a Bible passage, what gives?

    I understand the Old Testament on the basis of its own teaching and do not allow its meaning to be controlled by debatable interpretations of obscure New Testament passages.

    Rog, thank you. There is also Cain’s wife of course. But even before that, how do you have day and night before the sun was created? Then there are two stories of the creation of animals and humanity, 1:24-27 and 2:7,19-22, which contradict one another in some of the details. Genesis doesn’t make sense if taken hyper-literally.

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