Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 7

What about evolution? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Well we all knew this was coming. Evolution has to show up. There are Christians and atheists both who think it’s either evolution or Christianity. If you prove one, you disprove the other. Both of them see this then as an essential battle.

I disagree with both of them. I don’t have a problem with evolution, but I also don’t argue for it either. I definitely still have some questions, but they’re not hills I’m willing to die on. Yet somehow, I’m sure I’d still be considered a creationist by Mills.

Anyway, after a long description of evolution in history, he does start talking about these people he calls creationists who he has never really defined.

Creationism’s most sacred doctrine is that God created all lifeforms, including man, during a single, brief period known as “Creation Week.” Dinosaurs and human beings walked the earth simultaneously, as did gorillas and trilobites. All animal “kinds” are the same age, give or take a few days.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 118). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Well, considering that for most of Christian history we had no idea dinosaurs even existed, much like everyone else, it’s hard to see how this is a most sacred doctrine. Also, there’s no interaction with any Christian history to see how it has been interpreted. Granted, a work like Kyle Greenwood’s Since The Beginning was not out yet, but the data was still there had Mills bothered to look for it. Had he done such, he would have found a multitude of ways to interpret the creation account including length. Augustine in his work on a Literal Interpretation of Genesis even said everything was done instantaneously such that the whole week took place in one moment.

When talking about the Cambrian explosion, he tells us it took place 570 million years ago instead of 6,000 like creationism demands. This again is the problem. There are all different kinds of creationists. Some would say the Earth is 6,000 years old. Some might say 10,000. Others would go with the majority scientific opinion and say 4.5 billion years ago. Mills makes no differentiation.

Later, he says:

Creationists, however, view scientific debate and disagreement as signs of weakness. Creationism therefore ridicules open-mindedness and scoffs at the free exchange of ideas so essential to a democratic society and to the scientific method itself. To question one’s own opinion is sinful for the creationist, who is not permitted the luxury of healthy skepticism. All contrary opinion is instantly dismissed as foolishness, because the Lord Thy God has spoken.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 122). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

What’s so amusing to me about this is this is what I find internet atheists doing. I have offered numerous atheists a link to Andrew Loke’s book on the resurrection of Jesus. This book is certainly an excellent scholarly look at the resurrection, but there’s one great reason I offer it. On Kindle, it’s free. 100%. If you have one, you can get it right now. If you want to read Kindle on your computer, you can do that for free as well. Thus, I am essentially saying “Here’s a free book on the topic you can read and discuss.”

How many atheists have taken me up on this offer to date? Zero. If I present any book, it usually just gets pushed aside and ignored. Meanwhile, if someone tells me about such a book, I will usually see if I can get it for cheap on Kindle and barring that, I will go to the library and order it if possible.

I have no problem with healthy skepticism. It’s the atheists I meet who do.

Hundreds of books have detailed at length the now-legendary Miller-Urey experiment performed at the University of Chicago in 1953. As a brief summary: Stanley Miller and Harold Urey found that amino acids—the building blocks of cell proteins—form readily from a mixture of ammonia, methane, water and hydrogen gas, all of which were present in abundance on the primordial Earth. In other words, Miller and Urey discovered that the molecules of life naturally assemble themselves from a few basic, easily available ingredients. The origin of life required only organic molecules, water and, most importantly, millions of years to develop. Moreover, in the late 1990s, scientists discovered that life can occur and thrive in conditions previously thought to be completely inhospitable to biological systems—such as in near-boiling hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, or in poison methane ice.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 123-124). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

It’s my understanding that nowadays, people really question if Miller and Urey had their science right as to if this was what the early Earth was like. Now keep in mind, I am not saying this is a defeater for evolution. It’s just my asking if Mills is really presenting the data accurately?

On a separate branch of the evolutionary tree, Archaeopteryx, part reptile and part bird, is the perfect example of macro-evolution in action. Archaeopteryx was first unearthed in Bavaria in 1860. When paleontologists later realized what they had discovered, creationists became so distraught that they accused the paleontologists of gluing bird feathers on a reptile fossil. After several additional fossils of Archaeopteryx were recovered, creationists refrained from embarrassing themselves again.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 126). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

No cases are cited, but even so, if this was what really happened, can anyone blame skepticism, something Mills just championed? After all, there have been hoaxes done in the world of fossils. Not only that, but Mills ignores that the noted creationist Fred Hoyle was also skeptical of Archaeopteryx and….wait….Fred Hoyle wasn’t a creationist? He was an atheist?


Well, he’s not a creationist so he gets a free pass.

Keep in mind, I don’t read in this area so this came up with just a brief web search. Did Mills even bother to do something like that to see if anyone else was skeptical of the find? Apparently not.

Odd after he was just telling us of the virtues of healthy skepticism and all that. I guess that only goes one way. I have a saying for atheists like Mills. They honor reason with their lips, but their heads are far from it.

When we get to what he says about the flood story:

The story of Noah’s Ark was adapted by the Hebrews from an earlier Babylonian myth called the Epic of Gilgamesh . In many respects, the Babylonian flood story—which is older than the biblical tale—is virtually identical to the biblical clone, but describes different gods and ark-building characters.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 132). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Sure. They’re the same. Just minor differences like one is polytheistic and one is monotheistic. One has a vessel that could survive a flood and one doesn’t. One has the water flooding the Earth in 6 days and receding in one while the other has 40 days and nights and a much more reasonable time for the waters to recede. One has the hero getting immortality at the end and the other has the hero getting drunk and shamed. One has the gods swarming around a sacrifice for food and the other has the one God making a covenant.

But other than that, they’re totally the same! I mean, they both have a flood! It reminds me of how G.K. Chesterton said you might as well think it’s the same story as the baptism of Jesus by John since both of them involve people going underwater.

But hey, at least Mills has an astute scholarly source for the idea that Christianity borrowed from everyone:

As Robert Ingersoll has noted, “There is nothing new or original in Christianity. Its maxims, miracles and mistakes, its doctrines, sacraments and ceremonies, were all borrowed.”

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 133). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

We are talking top-notch scholarship here, folks.

I realize that, to some, my position may appear extremist. Some readers may think that I’m just as rigid and literal-minded as the creationists—though on the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum. Nonetheless I believe that clarity should be the highest goal of science writing.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 134). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Well, yes. He is. If Mills believed in clarity, perhaps he should have defined his terms. The irony is thick with this one.

Next time, we’ll see what he has to say about Genesis.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)