Letter From Dan Smoot
(Editor's note: The insertions of "sic," which indicates textual errors, primarily in capitalization, are mine. Smoot apparently gleaned most of his data from pro-Bible literature of some kind, probably from a pamphlet with a title like "How To Debate With Atheists." His bent for presumption is also obvious.)
155 SW 74th, Apt. F
Oklahoma City, OK 73139
October 13, 1997
Thank you for the information on becoming an atheist. I took some time to study all the materials and Bible verse references you provided.
We've been friends for a long time. Why don't we get together? My phone is 634-3615 and pager number is 790-5382.
Chris, does your reluctance to sign your name evidence a lack of confidence in the materials you sent? Anyone can get the last word in a discussion by leaving off the return address. My return address is included, since my faith can stand on its own merits in a rational dialogue. The Christian faith is intellectually defensible, and I worship a God who knows where you live.
DNA is six billion chemical letters long. All the amino acids are left-handed (right-handed ones being poisonous). If all the DNA in the human body were linked up end-to-end, it would go to the sun and back 43 times.
A single living cell is more complex that (sic) any computer. More than two trillion chemical processes take place in the human body each second. Given the laws of probability, the random evolution of a single living cell completely by chance anywhere in the universe would take ten to the forty thousandth power years (a one followed by forty thousand zeros). All scientific estimates of the age of the universe pale before these numbers. By contrast, there are "only" ten to the eightieth power electrons in the universe. (This quantity actually approaches the number of sesame seeds sold by McDonald's).
Given a fifteen billion year old universe, there would have been ten to the seventeenth power seconds in its history. Life on earth (sic) is 300 million years old? That's only a fraction of the time needed for just the DNA to develop by chance.
The existence of life anywhere in the universe requires the perfect balance of dozens of factors from atomic to galactic levels. For example: The heating of the earth and maintenance of its chemical makeup are within the narrow ranges necessary for life.
Consider the human eye (by no means the most complex eye in nature): It has 300 million rods and cones on a curved surface receiving an inverted image from a clear lens. It is capable of self-focusing, self-changing of lens diameter, self-lubricating, and self-repairing, and is connected by one hundred fifty million nerves to the brain. It perceives color by distinguishing among electromagnetic wavelengths in the narrow frequency spectrum of visible light. Is it scientifically and intellectually honest to assume that things like the human eye are random chance or coincidence?
If evolution were true, why the sharp distinctions in species? We would expect to see today a smooth transition with little or no distinction in species. Where are all the horse-cows, the dog-cats, or the bird-lizards? Some talk of the missing link between man and ape, but we would actually need thousands of "missing links" between species, not only in the fossil record, but also with us today. Never once has such a transitional form been observed in the fossil record.
Mutations are almost always detrimental to an organism. Cross-breeding does not occur naturally, and when it does, the off-spring (sic) are usually sterile. Examples of "micro-evolution" such as the peppered moth or resistance to pesticides are simply increased emphasis on already-existing traits within a single species. Natural selection has unspeakable social implications, as demonstrated by Hitler.
Nine of the twelve popular "humanoids" are actually extinct apes or monkeys. The other three are actually modern human beings. No "humanoid" has ever been found as a transition.
The Heidelberg man was built from a jawbone conceded by many to be human. The Nebraska man was built from one tooth, later found to be that of an extinct pig. The Piltdown man was built from an ape's jawbone. All evidence has disappeared for the so-called Peking man.
Dr. A. J. E. Cave, at the 1958 International Congress on Zoology, said that the Neanderthal man found in France was an old man with arthritis. The so-called Cro-Magnon man could walk down the street in a business suit and not be noticed.
Layers of buried fossils found in rock strata are better explained by a universal cataclysmic flood than by evolution. Virtually every ancient culture had a legend of a great flood with a few surviving in a great boat. Rock strata which might appear to be "millions of years old" were laid down in a few days at Mt. St. Helens.
Biologists date fossils from the age of the strata in which they are found. Geologists date strata by the fossils found in them. How did this circular argument get started?
Carbon 14 (sic) dating makes enormous assumptions and speculations. It presupposes a closed system by assuming that the level of C14 has remained constant on the earth throughout the ages. But C14 on earth (sic) is not in a steady state; it is building up. It assumes that the sample began free of daughter atoms. That is like saying when the earth began there was no lead.
C14 dating also assumes that the decay rate never varies. But we can vary the decay rate even in a nuclear reactor, which can even go out of control in a meltdown. C14 is affected by atmospheric pollution, solar activity, cosmic radiation, and meteor showers. It also assumes there has been no intense heat, even if the sample includes volcanic ash.
The sun shrinks by five feet a day. If it is fifteen billion years old, there should be no sun today. The moon moves away from the earth a fraction of an inch each year. Where was it fifteen billion years ago? Why can we still see it today?
At the Apollo moon landing in 1969, NASA scientists expected the astronauts to find fifty feet of solar and meteorite dust. The landing configuration was designed for this. But instead, they found only six thousand years of dust. Why?
I'm really thankful for the help given me with these scientific facts by my Bible teacher friend John. Two years ago he was an atheist.
If you consider yourself to be intellectually honest and academically and scientifically objective, you should consider the following propositions:
1. Either there is a God or there is not.
2. If there is a God, either He has revealed himself or He has not.
3. If there is a God and He has revealed himself, we might expect such revelation to be:
a. historically verifiable
b. intellectually defensible, and
c. experientially demonstrable.
Again, if you consider yourself intellectually objective, you should be willing to consider the following question:
WHO WAS JESUS OF NAZARETH?
The historical fact that he lived is beyond question. But was he God, a fraud, insane, or merely a great moral teacher who was misunderstood and enshrined in legend?
One of the most influential books in human history is the account of John the Apostle of the teachings, miracles, and claims of Jesus of Nazareth. It is commonly called Gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament.
The authenticity of John's Gospel is supported by a mountain of manuscript evidence, for which there is no credible challenge. Its date is well established as near the end of the First (sic) Century (sic), when there were too many eye and ear witnesses still alive for it to succeed as a fraud. No educated person can claim intellectual objectivity without reading it.
John recorded that Jesus of Nazareth made claims about himself such as the following:
1) "I am the Messiah."
2) "All who believe in me shall never thirst."
3) "I am the light of the world."
4) "I am the living bread which came down from heaven."
5) "I am the good shepherd."
6) "I am the truth."
7) "I am the way."
8) "I am the resurrection."
9) "I am the life."
10) "All who live and believe in me shall never die."
These were not just cute Sunday school verses for kids. They were Jesus' legitimate claims made to working men like rough fishermen.
Consider the following:
1) If these claims were false and he knew they were false he would be a liar.
2) If these claims were false, but he thought they were true, he would be deranged.
3) If the claims were true and he knew they were true, then he is God.
Thus it is irrational to believe that any man making such claims about himself was merely "a great moral teacher."
Jesus also claimed he would rise from the dead. Even his enemies acknowledged this, hence the Roman Custodia Guard placed at the tomb by the Roman Governor.
The Christian faith stand or falls on the single historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is one of the most established facts of history. There is more courtroom evidence that Jesus literally rose from the dead, than there is that men like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar ever even existed. Considered objectively it would convince any jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
Consider the following:
1. Jesus' death was assured by a public execution. Roman soldiers were ordered to break his legs to hasten his death. So certain were they that he was already dead, they disregarded their orders. His death was then verified by the Governor, and by two members of the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin.
2. The seal of the Roman Empire was placed on the tomb. This could have meant execution to anyone who broke it without authority.
3. The tomb was found empty despite the crack Roman Custodia Guard ordered by the Roman Governor. Normally, all of these soldiers could have been executed by fire for one man's mistake.
4. Jesus was seen alive by eyewitnesses, individually, in small groups, and once by a crowd of more than five hundred. Accounts of these sightings are not what we would expect in a hoax or mere myth or legend. Even though He had predicted His own resurrection, the disciples were not expecting it, and had difficulty believing it.
If it were merely a legend or fairy tale, we would expect to hear accounts about how He appeared to Pilate and Herod, the rulers connected with his execution. But the only two unbelievers to whom he appeared were James (His own half-brother) and Saul of Tarsus. Both were miraculously converted, and both went on to die as martyrs for one thing: an empty tomb. There is no other plausible explanation for the conversion of these two men.
5. His apostles were dramatically changed. All were discouraged after the crucifixion. Peter had denied him. It was the empty tomb that became the heart of their message.
6. The existence of the Christian Church today is evidence of the resurrection. It began specifically around the message of the empty tomb of Jesus.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BODY?
Only two groups of people had motives for stealing the body: His friends and his enemies.
What if his disciples had somehow gotten past the Roman guard, moved the two-ton boulder sealing the solid rock tomb, and had taken the body and hidden it? This theory doesn't hold water. The disciples were all unbelieving and discouraged. But later, eleven Apostles and numerous eyewitnesses died as martyrs for the empty tomb. How could all these die as martyrs for something they knew to be a lie?
But what if Jesus' enemies had taken the body? What if they put it in a safe place, so it wouldn't be stolen? Then why didn't they just produce the body?
The disciples were proclaiming Jesus' literal, bodily resurrection only a short walk away from the empty tomb. If the (sic) his enemies had it, or the Roman Custodia Guard could have located it, all they had to do was bring it out onto the streets in Jerusalem, and it would have wiped out Christianity on the spot. Instead, when Peter first proclaimed the resurrection in Jerusalem, there were three thousand converts, largely from among people that were personally familiar with all these circumstances.
There have been many skeptics such as Civil War general Lew Wallace. He set out to disprove the resurrection. Instead, he came to faith in Christ, and later wrote the book Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ.
It was fascinating how, apparently without realizing it, the guy who wrote those materials actually shifted gears to use Scripture references to support his criticism of some greedy, hypocritical clergy. Of course criticism of greedy and hypocritical clergy is valid since the Bible itself frequently makes the same criticism. But certainly many clergy are honest, selfless, and dedicated.
Abuses in history:
Christianity has been blamed for many abuses, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Dark Ages, Witch Trials (sic), and greedy, hypocritical, and abusive clergy. But no one in their right mind believes these abuses are the result of adherence to Scripture and Jesus' actual teachings.
To the contrary, wherever the Bible has gone, it has been followed by charities, hospitals, orphanages, schools, labor unions, child labor laws, a rise in the status of women, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and it has paved the way for political liberties. Go into Latin America and see who is defending the rights of the Indian, giving them alphabets, and teaching them to read. It's the missionaries and the Wycliffe Bible translators (named for John Wycliffe, the "Morning Star of the Reformation"). It was the printing, translation, and proclamation of the Bible which sparked the Reformation and brought the world out of the Dark Ages.
Your freedom to criticize Christianity:
Try going to countries like Saudi Arabia and speaking out on atheism or agnosticism and see how long you last. The very liberty you have in this country to worship or not to, is due to the influence of our country's Christian heritage.
The first time in the history of the world that religious freedom was made the law of the land was in Colonial (sic) New England and due to the influence of Christian leaders.
That guy in Moscow, Idaho, could use a calculator. At an average of twenty-five years to a generation, two thousand years is 80 generations, not 8,000!
The Bible taught that the earth was round long before Columbus! Isaiah speaks of the "great circle of the earth." Jesus said that at the moment he returned, some would be sleeping while others working the fields or mills.
Any skeptic that says the account of Jesus' temptation teaches a flat earth needs to do his geography homework. When Satan took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain, they started from near the lowest spot on earth (sic), the Dead Sea. But it was "in a moment of time" that he was shown all the kingdoms of the earth from a high mountain. Clearly this describes a vision, not an actual view. There are no "exceedingly" high mountains in the area.
The highest mountain in Israel, Mt. Hermon, is over a hundred miles north. Given a flat earth, it would still be nowhere near high enough to see over the Iranian Plateau, the Himalayas, the Caucasus Mountains, or mountains such as Mt. Ararat on the Turkish-Armenian border, location of remains of the (sic) Noah's Ark.
Book debunking resurrection?
It would be interesting to read that book claiming to debunk the resurrection. But at $20.00? Apparently TV preachers aren't the only greedy con artists!
Real History in the Bible:
Those who complain of all the "debauchery" in the Bible, would complain even louder if the Bible whitewashed the truth about its people and lacked real historical accounts. The great people in the Bible, including the early leaders of the Church, are reported along with their faults. The Bible gives accurate history and verifies the depravity of humanity turning its back on God.
Paul's letter to the Romans makes the case for Christianity. Chapter one describes the depravity of humanity turning away from the Creator. Instead of worshiping and being thankful to their creator, mankind degenerates into idolatry, homosexuality, and other perversions such as in Sodom and Gomorrah (sic).
Because of sin, man's mind has become completely incapable of rational judgment concerning spiritual things. Because of man's sinful condition, he is not capable of changing his own attitude toward God or of even taking seriously the fact that He needs to. Faith in Christ is the only remedy.
Chris, one fact is indisputable: SOME DAY YOU WILL DIE.
Jesus taught: "...the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall some (sic) forth: they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; they that have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5)."
Fear of death doesn't result from an intellectual problem, but a moral problem. What are you going to say when you stand before the Great White Throne of God?
If there is not a God, then all of my wishful thinking will not change it. If, on the other hand, there is a God and a Judgment Day, then all of your skepticism will not change it. Truth is truth. We cannot choose what we want it to be. To do so is to lose touch with reality. Either there really is or is not a Lake of Fire. It is not up to us simply to choose what truth is. But unless God intervenes to give you faith in Jesus Christ, you will live out your life with a scornful attitude.
Chris, I want to invite you - even challenge you - to go to church with me. It is my hope and prayer that you will live out the meaning of your name "Christ-Bearer." One hundred years from today, we will both know what the truth is. Where will you be then?
A geek for Christ,