Correspondence between MSP and Pastor David Robertson

David RobertsonUntitled-3

http://www.stpeters-dundee.org.uk/

The following is an exchange of emails between me and author of The Dawkins Letters, Pastor David Robertson, of St Peter’s Free Church, Dundee.  This is in preparation for my debates with Robertson on Premier Christian Radio broadcast on 12 and 19 September 2009 and in conjunction with my pre-debate review of Robertson’s book and public speaking and my afterthought piece following the debates.

From: MSP
To
: Justin Brierley
CC
: Andy Bannister, Rabbi Y Y Rubinstein, David Robertson
Subject:
Jay Smith
Date
: 7 June 2009 09:58

Dear Justin

I hope this email finds you well.  The manicstreetpreacher is back with a vengeance and after hearing the show from a week last Saturday’s with Jay Smith, he links below a piece on the “scholar” from the Colonies that he has just posted on his blog:

https://edthemanicstreetpreacher.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/the-last-straw/

I shall be very grateful if you will please forward this to him (and to save you reading it in detail, no, I DON’T want to come on the show and debate him!).

The piece mentions a few old adversaries, so I thought it was only fair copy in them in as well.   All comments welcome.  Be as abusive as you like; I’ve never refused anything on my blog yet.   :o)

Andy: I’m still waiting for that lost Roman Census in Luke:

Roman censuses cared little for remote genealogies, let alone false ones: they were based on ownership of property of the living, not the dead.  As the Gospel has already stated at the time of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26), Joseph and Mary were people from Nazareth in Galilee, the home town which later rejected its prophet, Jesus.  A Roman census would not have taken Joseph to Bethlehem where he and Mary owned nothing and were therefore assumed to have needed to lodge as visitors in an inn…

The scale of the Gospel’s error is now clear.  The first census did occur under Quirinius, but it belonged in AD 6 when Herod the Great was long dead; it was a local census in Roman Judea and there was no decree for Caesar Augustus to all the world; in AD 6 Joseph of Nazareth would not have registered in Bethlehem and was exempt from Judea’s registration; his wife had no legal need to leave home.  Luke’s story is historically impossible and internally incoherent.  It clashes with his own date for the Annunciation (which he places under Herod) and with Matthew’s long story of the Nativity which also presupposes Herod the Great as king.  It is, therefore, false.

– Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in The Bible, (1991) (London: Penguin, 2006) p. 31

Rabbi Y: my piece references Genesis 22, where Abraham very nearly cooks his son, Isaac, and Numbers 31, where Moses commits genocide against the Midionites, but I’m sure they’re just yet more mistranslations on the part of those KJV hacks.  Rather like this YouTube interpretation of that Sunday school classic, Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11):

“Reverend” Robertson: I’ve now read your book and watched your YouTube videos on Dawkins.  Just hammering out the final treatment to go on my blog.  Will send you the link as soon as.  I just need to pop down to Liverpool Central Library to research what Ian Kershaw really says about Hitler’s anti-Christian remarks recorded in Table Talk.  Sorry to be so untrusting, but I’m sure you can understand after your quote-mining of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was so neatly exposed by Paula Kirby:

Robertson dwells on the subject of the sheer improbability of life having arisen in the universe — indeed, of the universe being suitable for life at all. But as with the list of religious scientists, I again got the impression that this was designed to create the impression that Dawkins had tried to dodge this issue in TGD — which, of course, he hadn’t.  This suspicion of devious behaviour on Robertson’s part is in no way reduced by his quotation from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, on the following page: “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.”

Wow.  What a compelling quote.  If even Stephen Hawking thinks the universe is evidence of a creator God, then who are we — who, even, is Richard Dawkins — to demur?  Surely this clinches the argument for anyone with any sense, or any humility, at all?  But wait.  What’s this?  Familiar as I am with the way David Robertson twists words and distorts meaning on this website, I couldn’t feel entirely confident that Hawking had been faithfully represented here so tracked down the quote in A Brief History of Time for myself.  It’s certainly there, as quoted.  However, it’s followed by a lengthy argument to the effect that the universe didn’t, in fact, begin in the “just this way” referred to in the quote, and that he believes a “no boundary” model to be more accurate — i.e. that the universe had no beginning at all.  In fact, Hawking’s whole chapter culminates in the words: “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator.  But if the universe is really completely self-contained [as he himself has just argued], having no boundary or no edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be.  What place, then, for a creator?”

Now, maybe David Robertson was a little unfortunate here.   A Brief History of Time has the dubious distinction of having been hailed as the least read bestseller of all time, so he may well have felt safe in distorting Hawking’s opinions as expressed in it.  Still, such behaviour is a bit hard to reconcile with the Ninth Commandment, is it not?

http://richarddawkins.net/article,2285,Fleabytes,Paula-Kirby

Yours as ever

manicstreetpreacher

From: David Robertson
To
: MSP, Justin Brierley
Date:
8 June 2009 10:22
Subject:
Jay Smith

Ed et al,

Fascinating….this made my day!  Thanks for providing me with yet more evidence of the irrationality of fundamentalist atheism!  I guess when you restrict your reading and research to youtube, Robin Lane Fox and atheist blogs.  My own favourite below is the comments cited from Paula Kirby – according to you I claimed that Stephen Hawking stated that God created the universe – and I did so believing that people are so ignorant that they would not be able to read Hawking for themselves.  So I committed the cardinal sin of ‘lying for Jesus’ etc.   It is an amusing scenario, only to be believed by a peculiar kind of fundamentalist atheist conspiracy theorist.

If you actually applied the use of reason and a proper understanding of the English language (and also the basic principle of reading in context – and thus reading my response to Paula) you should have been able to work out the following:

1) I did not claim that Stephen Hawking was a creationist.  I claimed that Hawking stated that it would be very difficult to explain the universe without God.  Which he did.  The fact that Hawking then goes on to try and explain a universe without God is why A Brief History of Time is such a difficult book to read and ‘the most unread book in history’.

2) Therefore I did not lie.  In fact on the Dawkins website I am continually accused of lying for Jesus.  Because our fundie friends claim they they are rational empiricists who only work on evidence, I have continually asked them for evidence of this lying.  A lie written down should be easy to evidence.  I am still waiting for this evidence to be produced.  The bottom line is that fundamentalist atheism is an irrational emotive force, which like all fundamentalism, cannot look at any thing outside its own box, and just resorts to name calling and self congratulation.

3) I did make one mistake.  I assumed that people would have the intelligence to realise what I was saying about Hawking.  Obviously I was in some cases mistaken.  Apologies….

All the best

Know the Truth and the Truth will make you Free…

David

From: MSP
To:
David Robertson, Justin Brierley
Date:
8 June 2009 18:49
Subject:
Jay Smith

Dear David

Thank you so much for your reply.  I have approved your comment on my blog in all its unedited glory.  (Thank you for at least posting on the right thread, which is more than some people can manage, mentioning no names, Y Y!)

As a treat for being such a predictable boy and firing yet MORE ad homs at my reading list without actually dealing with the substance of my arguments, here is a sneaky-peaky at my review of your book, YouTube vids and Unbelievable? debates:

Robertson simply asserts that the Bible is inerrant and truth can only be found in Jesus Christ without mentioning Matthew 10:34 (“I am not come to bring peace but a sword”) or Matthew 16 (where JC promises his Second Coming within the lifetime of his listeners!).   In Letter 9 – The Myth of the Immoral Bible, he recognises that passages such as Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11) represent “problems” in the Bible, but says not a word in attempting to solve said problems (unless you include “weasel” terms such as “context” and “literally”, which frankly, I’ve had enough of hearing).

(…)

There are also tedious ad hominems against bibliography as a means of avoiding answering Dawkins’ actual arguments.  In replying to Dawkins’ objections to the reliability of the Gospels, Robertson snidely contends that using Robin Lane Fox, A N Wilson and Free Inquiry magazine for advice on biblical scholarship is “a bit like me suggesting that those who want to find out about evolution should only go to the Answers in Genesis website!”

Well, “Reverend”, if these people are such talentless hacks, you should have no problem refuting every single one of the fallacious claims they make, should you?  Again, however, Robertson stops there, so I’ll only have to guess at the water-tight historicity of the New Testament he hints at and be stuck with Dawkins’ opinion that the whole farrago is made up pile of baloney; self-contradictory and laughably unhistorical.

Continuing in this vein, Robertson cannot boast enough about his reading list enough.  In the final letter, he states that he read over a hundred books and articles in writing his book and gives several glowing recommendations.  Apparently Marilynn Robinson’s Gilead (2004) is the greatest novel of the last century and Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World is all the reassurance you need that there ever was a Failed Atheist [sic] 20th Century.

Indeed, in his one reply to my tongue-lashings on the Premier Christian web forum following his debates with Adrian Hayter, he categorically stated that he would refuse to consider any argument lifted from atheist websites.  Be that as it may, “Reverend”, but I think the very title of this next website should give you pause for thought as to whether a loving, intervening, miracle working God really does exist:

www.whywontgodhealamputees.com

I’m sorry, it has to say something.  In fact, it has to say a great deal, that children can and do pick holes in this stuff.

I have provisionally entitled my review “I have no argument with this man”, although given that it has already topped 5,000 words (including endnotes), and I have yet to check what Niall Ferguson and Ian Kershaw actually do say in their books!   Such volume would imply that I DO have an argument with you.  Either I’ll have to trim it down or come up with another title.  Any suggestions?

Thank you for your drawing to my attention your response to Paula Kirby’s article.  Can you please confirm that it is to be found at the link below?

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1079/

If there’s anything else, I shall be very grateful if you will please forward me the URL or the original text and I promise that I will consider it before publishing my review.  You mentioned that you had responded to Kirby review on RichardDawkins.net, although I’m going to have a hard time finding it, because there are about a squillion replies to her article, superb piece that it was.   Or was it thrown into the abyss when WeeFlea was barred from the web forum?

Having said that, I think perhaps you’ve incriminated yourself enough; your response re: Stephen Hawking had me in stitches!

The fact that Hawking then goes on to try and explain a universe without God is why A Brief History of Time is such a difficult book to read and ‘the most unread book in history.’

Riiiiiiight, so Stephen Hawking doesn’t actually think that the universe was created by a God after all, it’s just that his scientific explanation rather difficult to get to grips with and since he’s mentioned God, we won’t bother with the true explanation and just leave things at that.  I can’t wait to seeing your re-writing of Einstein’s theory of general relatively and quantum theory: “It’s far too complicated for a lay-person to understand, therefore let’s say that God did it and pretend that Hawking is in agreement!”

Priceless!!!!  Talk about digging yourself in deeper.  That’s DEFINITELY going in my review!

Your work seems to be “distorted” and “misinterpreted” rather a lot.  Perhaps you ought to have had it proofed by your opponents and critics, instead of the bunch of simpering “yes” men and women you thank in the intro to your book, and then you might not be branded a liar quite so often.

In this vein, I’d recommend you watch Dawkins’ speech to the American Atheist Conference 2009 in which he exposes apologists’ tactics of quoting-mining atheist scientists:

Pay particular attention to where he says that in The Blind Watchmaker he wrote that the explosion of fossils in the Cambrian period is so amazing, “It is as though the fossils were planet there without any evolutionary history.”  However, this was a piece of rhetorical overture intended to whet the reader’s appetite for what was to follow.  Sadly, it has been mined by apologists like you, wishing to misrepresent Dawkins as doubting evolution.

Know the truth?  I don’t know it all but I know enough to know that it ain’t gonna come from you, “Reverend”, or your book or your false prophet.

Atb

manicstreetpreacher

From: David Robertson
To
: MSP, Justin Brierley
Date:
8 June 2009 21:28
Subject:
Jay Smith

Hi Ed,

Please forgive me not responding in detail….I tend to find that these discussions are a complete waste of time – mostly because my atheist accusers find it difficult to stick to one point.  I will make a couple of points and then I will sign off – as I am pretty sure it would be a waste of your time and mine.
I will add my comments in below…..in red….and wish you all the best in your search for truth….

But this is my last piece of correspondence in what will be a circular argument…

David

Dear David

Thank you so much for your reply.  I have approved your comment on my blog in all its unedited glory.  (Thank you for at least posting on the right thread, which is more than some people can manage, mentioning no names, Y Y!)

As a treat for being such a predictable boy and firing yet MORE ad homs at my reading list without actually dealing with the substance of my arguments, here is a sneaky-peaky at my review of your book, YouTube vids and Unbelievable? debates: – Yep – missed that one.  I did not see any substance and basically they were accusations not arguments.

Robertson simply asserts that the Bible is inerrant and truth can only be found in Jesus Christ without mentioning Matthew 10:34 (“I am not come to bring peace but a sword”) or Matthew 16 (where JC promises his Second Coming within the lifetime of his listeners!).   In Letter 9 – The Myth of the Immoral Bible, he recognises that passages such as Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11) represent “problems” in the Bible, but says not a word in attempting to solve said problems (unless you include “weasel” terms such as “context” and “literally”, which frankly, I’ve had enough of hearing).
(…)

There are also tedious ad hominems against bibliography as a means of avoiding answering Dawkins’ actual arguments.  Avoiding Dawkins arguments.  I have been involved in many many debates and so far I think there was one that was a draw – the rest varied from massacre to annihilation on the atheist side.  Generally because most atheist evangelists havn’t really thought about their opponents position.   Dawkins himself absolutely refuses to debate with me….I suspect for two reasons – firstly he is a snob and an elitist (why bother debating with a Scottish plebe) and secondly he cannot really debate.  His main ability is in sneering and mocking – whilst that runs well with the fans, its not good debating technique. In replying to Dawkins’ objections to the reliability of the Gospels, Robertson snidely contends that using Robin Lane Fox, A N Wilson and Free Inquiry magazine for advice on biblical scholarship is “a bit like me suggesting that those who want to find out about evolution should only go to the Answers in Genesis website!”

Well, “Reverend”, if these people are such talentless hacks, you should have no problem refuting every single one of the fallacious claims they make, should you?  Again, however, Robertson stops there, so I’ll only have to guess at the water-tight historicity of the New Testament he hints at and be stuck with Dawkins’ opinion that the whole farrago is made up pile of baloney; self-contradictory and laughably unhistorical.  Actually I could refute most – but not all of them.  But I suspect you are  not asking questions but making accusations…

Continuing in this vein, Robertson cannot boast enough about his reading list enough. I think I mention it once… In the final letter, he states that he read over a hundred books and articles in writing his book and gives several glowing recommendations.  Apparently Marilynn Robinson’s Gilead (2004) is the greatest novel of the last century and Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World is all the reassurance you need that there ever was a Failed Atheist [sic] 20th Century.  I see Robinson, the author of Gilead just won the Orange prize for fiction for ‘Home’ – now all three of her books have won major prizes.  It is my opinion that Gilead is the greatest book of the last century – and that is an opinion shared by many.  Of course it is all opinion.    Niall Ferguson’s book is one of many that could have been cited…

Indeed, in his one reply to my tongue-lashings on the Premier Christian web forum following his debates with Adrian Hayter, he categorically stated that he would refuse to consider any argument lifted from atheist websites.  Be that as it may, “Reverend”, but I think the very title of this next website should give you pause for thought as to whether a loving, intervening, miracle working God really does exist: Sorry guv…not guilty.  I have never said I would NEVER consider any argument lifted from atheist websites – given that I regularly consider the Dawkins website that would be a bit stupid.   I do however find it somewhat tiresome when I speak in numerous pubs, unis , bookstores debates and the same old arguments keep coming up from people who have read them in atheist websites – think they are brilliant – but because they never really engage with (as opposed to shout at) another point of view have not thought it through themselves.

www.whywontgodhealamputees.com

I’m sorry, it has to say something.  In fact, it has to say a great deal, that children can and do pick holes in this stuff.  Straw man….I totally agree about all the false healings etc.

I have provisionally entitled my review “I have no argument with this man”, although given that it has already topped 5,000 words (including endnotes), and I have yet to check what Niall Ferguson and Ian Kershaw actually do say in their books!   Such volume would imply that I DO have an argument with you.  Either I’ll have to trim it down or come up with another title.  Any suggestions? You could save yourself time and just do what the other Dawkins fans do….its rubbish, lies, stupid etc, don’t read it, he ‘s ignorant and only trying to make money….Or you could read Paulas – all 20,000 words of it.  Shame that Paula wasn’t even prepared to defend her review either.  Of course the fact that she was commissioned to write it by Dawkins himself may have something to do with that.

Thank you for your drawing to my attention your response to Paula Kirby’s article.  Can you please confirm that it is to be found at the link below?

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1079/-Nope – it was in numerous responses on the Dawkins website.

If there’s anything else, I shall be very grateful if you will please forward me the URL or the original text and I promise that I will consider it before publishing my review.  You mentioned that you had responded to Kirby review on RichardDawkins.net, although I’m going to have a hard time finding it, because there are about a squillion replies to her article, superb piece that it was.   Or was it thrown into the abyss when WeeFlea was barred from the web forum? A lot of my posts were removed.  The delicious irony is that several of your fellow fundies then used this as proof of my ‘lying for Jesus’ – stating that because the posts cited in my book were not on the Dawkins website they did not exist.  They did not manage to work out that they had been removed.

Having said that, I think perhaps you’ve incriminated yourself enough; your response re: Stephen Hawking had me in stitches!Glad you have a sense of humour.

The fact that Hawking then goes on to try and explain a universe without God is why A Brief History of Time is such a difficult book to read and ‘the most unread book in history.’

Riiiiiiight, so Stephen Hawking doesn’t actually think that the universe was created by a God after all, it’s just that his scientific explanation rather difficult to get to grips with and since he’s mentioned God, we won’t bother with the true explanation and just leave things at that.  I can’t wait to seeing your re-writing of Einstein’s theory of general relatively and quantum theory: “It’s far too complicated for a lay-person to understand, therefore let’s say that God did it and pretend that Hawking is in agreement!”

Priceless!!!!  Talk about digging yourself in deeper.  That DEFINITELY going in my review!  More than happy for it to do so.  Most people can work out that in citing Hawkins (and please note he was not cited out of context or distorted) I was not saying that he was a creationist but rather that it is very difficult to explain the universe and humankind without the existence of God.  Which is precisely what he says…..You then manage to take this and pronounce that I was saying that Hawkins is a creationist and only hoped to get away with it because people are so dumb.  It is indeed priceless.  The fact that you believe this only exacerbates the offence….

Your work seems to be “distorted” and “misinterpreted” rather a lot.  Perhaps you ought to have had it proofed by your opponents and critics, instead of the bunch of simpering “yes” men and women you thank in the intro to your book, and then you might not be branded a liar quite so often.Perhaps Ed you can help…I am still waiting for someone to answer my challenge – provide one example of a lie I used.  Whatever happened to evidence?  If you can do that I will certainly break my silence…..

In this vein, I’d recommend you watch Dawkins’ speech to the American Atheist Conference 2009 in which he exposes apologists’ tactics of quoting-mining atheist scientists:

Pay particular attention to where he says that in The Blind Watchmaker he wrote that the explosion of fossils in the Cambrian period is so amazing, “It is as though the fossils were planet there without any evolutionary history.”  However, this was a piece of rhetorical overture intended to whet the reader’s appetite for what was to follow.  Sadly, it has been mined by apologists like you, wishing to misrepresent Dawkins as doubting evolution. I hate misquoting – and Dawkins is certainly an expert in it.  However you will need to redefine ‘quote mining’ – for most atheist fundies it is quoting anything that disagrees with you.  It is of course a tactic that you use a lot….you don’t bother reading Mein Kampf or any primary sources – you just take the wikipeida approach to knowledge, find quotes which have been cited by other people, and cite them as though you are the authority on them.  Of course some Christians can behave in this way some times as well.  I of course have not used the quote you cite above (interesting how you use an example I do not use….why not provide one I do?).  The Hawking quote is excellent.  I cited in context and most people would be able to understand what was being said.  However I do have to admit that I should not expect a post-modern fundamentalist atheist to grasp the basic concepts of logic and language….I guess it only has the meaning you want it to have.

Know the truth?  I don’t know it all but I know enough to know that it ain’t gonna come from you, “Reverend”, or your book or your false prophet. The day will tell…..

Tot Ziens…

PS.  Stop using my favourite band as your name.  The real manics are so much better….’if you tolerate this, then your children will be next….this is my truth tell me yours…”

Atb

manicstreetpreacher

From: MSP
To:
David Robertson, Justin Brierley
Date:
9 June 2009 13:56
Subject:
Jay Smith

David

Thank you for another reply.  I find it hard to remain angry with a man whose favourite band is the Manics.  Have you heard their new album, Journal For Plague Lovers, made up from Richey’s lyrics that he left behind?  It’s rather good.  I saw them play in London a few weeks ago and they were really tight playing once again as a three-piece.

Unfortunately, I am still going to continue to use their name.  It has a wonderful ring to it and after 8 albums and loads of gigs; I think I have earned the right.

On your Premier forum reply to me you said:

big hint – evidence does not mean ‘things wot I read in my atheist websites’ – but rather primary sourced material in which Christians state that they practice slavery because God orders me to.

For the record, I replied by saying that Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America stated in Congress on the eve of the American Civil War, recorded in his biography based on the US equivalent of Hansard, that men were expected by God to keep slaves who had mandated in Old and New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation.

I suppose all human evil can be put down to man’s heart of darkness, but no one makes political ideologies as flexible and as immune to criticism as faith based religion.  No one would say, “it’s not Nazism that is to blame for the Holocaust.  It’s just the evil that men do.”

Please then, tell me what is specious about the arguments of Robin Lane Fox and the Free Inquiry articles about how every mythical element of Christ (Virgin Birth, veneration by Kings, star in the East, miracles, 12 disciples, execution, resurrection after three days)?  I really would like to know.  That is a question, not an accusation.

I don’t see why I should defend the private decisions of Richard Dawkins, but he clearly states in TGD that the debate format is not the best way to get at the truth and he regularly refuses invitations to take part in debates.  He refuses to debate creationists because he would be giving them the oxygen of publicity in sharing a platform with a prominent scientist making it appear that there is a serious issue to debate:

http://richarddawkins.net/article,119,Why-I-Wont-Debate-Creationists,Richard-Dawkins

I wouldn’t take it too personally that Dawkins has refused to debate you.  He has actually refused to William Lane Craig.  Hitchens debated Craig a few months ago and whilst I haven’t seen the actual video yet, the word on the blogs is that Craig is such a slippery character who won’t consider anything other than his 5 arguments/ 4 facts that Hitch didn’t wipe the floor with him like he usually does with his opponents.  You and Craig are evangelists, not academics (you admit the latter at the very least in you book).  I think if Dawkins debated one of his “fleas” it would descend into a slanging match and not a debate that the crowd would actually enjoy.

I have decided to abstain from debating certain apologists, because their tactics are aimed wholly at scoring points as opposed to an honest enquiry into the truth.

If Paula Kirby was commissioned to write her article (what is the source of this information?) then it was worth every penny.  I’ve also read Cornwell and McGrath’s books and I agree with everything she wrote.  But I would be very interested in seeing your full replies to her piece if you still have them.  Please?

We’ll have to agree to differ on the Hawking quote.  I read it as a rhetorical introduction ready for the properly explanation as per Dawkins’ quote on the Cambrian explosion.  I nailed Peter S. Williams in my review of his book I Wish I Could Believe In Meaning for engaging in the same tactics

https://edthemanicstreetpreacher.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/peter-s-williams-up-close-%e2%80%93-part-i/

although he denies it with similarly vague and unconvincing responses:

http://idpluspeterswilliams.blogspot.com/2009/03/response-to-edward-turners-review-of-i.html

But if you want evidence of lies, please see below another extract of my draft review, addressing you arguments on Unbelievable that Darwin believed in “favoured races” and eugenics:

On the second Unbelievable? debate against Adrian Hayter, Robertson made much of the full title to the first edition of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin’s was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.  “Darwin clearly believed in favoured races,” Robertson opined.

Well no, “Reverend”, I’m afraid that’s what the hard scientific fact of evolution is whether you like it or not.  Species will replicate their genes by producing more offspring if their biological traits are more favourable to their physical surroundings…   Oh, forget it; go to an evolution website that will answer your queries.

The view that Darwin advocated eugenics is a complete lie.  Darwin deplored eugenics and stated that such a programme would only ever have a contingent effect on the appearance of the human race.  This is the passage often quoted by creationists from The Descent of Man (1871):

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated.  We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination.  We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick, thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind.  No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.  Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

However, the very next passage shows that Darwin was deeply compassionate to the handicapped and was not in favour of any euthanasia programme:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused.  Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. (Emphasis added)

In 2008, the American TV presenter and charisma vacuum, Ben Stein, headed up the documentary-film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  The film was an effort to promote “Intelligent Design” (ID), the theory that life on Earth is too complex to be explained by evolution alone and in need of an external “designer” to assist the process.

Among its many crimes against intellectual honesty, the film attempted to portray Hitler’s eugenics programme and the Holocaust as having been directly inspired by Darwinian evolution.

The Anti-Defamation League, an American pressure group concerned with the protection of Jewish people and fighting anti-Semitism, issued the following statement regarding Expelled which is the first and last word against anyone claiming that Darwinian natural selection is in any way a direct link to eugenics or Social Darwinism:

The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness.

Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

Now please kindly exonerate yourself by providing hard evidence that Darwin was indeed a eugenicist.  It’s a pretty serious charge to lay against a man’s memory and making such a defamatory an accusation on the basis if insufficient evidence is lying in my book.

Also, please quote the passage from Hitler’s Mein Kampf were his praises Darwin and says that Nietzsche’s nihilism is his utopian goal?  According to Ian Kershaw (I’ve read the condensed version of his two-part Hubris/Nemesis biogs – I need to check his thoughts on Table Talk which are in full version) Hitler did read Nietzsche after his time in Vienna and before the failed putsch but by then he was reading material that confirmed his already-established prejudices and he never quoted him.  He did however mention God and Jesus rather a lot:

From a speech in 1922:

My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter.  It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by only a few followers, recognised these Jews for what they are and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.  In boundless love, as a Christian and as a man, I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord rose at last in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders.  How terrific was the fight for the world against the Jewish poison.

From Mein Kampf (written c. 1925) and repeated in a speech to the Reichstag in 1938:

By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

There are also serious misgivings about the reliability of Table Talk.  This is the one source where Hitler expressed anti-Christian (not necessarily atheistic remarks) and they were not directly audio-taped, but taken down by stenographers in his bunker, when his health was rapidly deteriorating.

However, that’s beside the point.  The only English translation of Table Talk, edited by High Trevor-Roper, is actually based on the French translation by a notorious fraudster and Nazi-sympathiser, François Genoud, who has tried to passed off a forgery on David Irving called, “Hitler’s Last Testament.”

Below is a piece by “Internet Infidel” Richard Carrier, published in German Law Review journal and Free Thought Today magazine, which I’ve come across which shows that Hitler’s comments about “never coming to terms with the Christian lie” and “Christianity is the illegitimate child of Bolshevism” etc. are utter fabrications by Genoud:

http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/2002/nov02/carrier.php

I need to find a few more like that, hence why I want to see what Kershaw has to say about the Table Talk conversations.  Will forward you my paper on Hitler and religion when it’s done.

Nevertheless, even if Hitler was an atheist it was entirely incidental to his acts.  It would be like me tarring Christianity with the brush of cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer because he happened to be a devote Christian (which he was).  Dahmer was a mind-torch whack-job who would have killed regardless of whether he was a snake-handling congregationalist or a godless Marxist.

The greatest crimes of the twentieth century argument does not depend on men’s simple disbelief in a supernatural creator or opposition to organised religion; it was due to other extreme dogmas such as nationalism, communism and racial superiority thrown together in a potent cocktail that exploded thanks to modern technology.

I honestly don’t understand your reasoning here at all.  You don’t say why Hitler and Stalin’s atheism was influential in their brutality.  You say in your book and YouTube vids that simply because a person does not belief in God does not make them less moral any more than it makes them less attractive.  Yet you then try to pin crimes against humanity on atheists precisely because they were atheists????

Atb

manic

From: David Robertson
To:
MSP, Justin Brierley
Date:
9 June 2009 17:54
Subject
: Jay Smith

Ed,

That was such a nice letter I feel compelled to reply – despite my vow of silence…

Just a few points…

  1. I am a Manic Street Preacher….you just claim the name!  I would love to see them live….Just bought Journal for Plague Lovers (also Paolo Nuitinis latest – an absolute gem!).
  2. A little help for you – the theologican R L Dabney made a strong defence of slavery from a biblical perspective –his view was followed by most Southern landowners who were mainly episcopalian.  I just think he was wrong.
  3. I agree that religion can cause a great deal of harm and exacerbate human evil.
  4. As for Robin Lane Fox…his view that the Gospels just reflect similar middle eastern/Greek myths (a view welcomed and cited as fact by most Wikipedia atheists) just does not bear historical scrutiny.  For example the view that people were more likely to believe in resurrections in 1st century Greece than today – just does not have any historical evidence.   It is the kind of Zeitgeist view of history – which at first (to those who do not know the primary sources) sounds authoritative, but once you begin to investigate it you find that it is mostly smoke and mirrors.
  5. Re Dawkins – interesting that just as you posted I found that my posts were being banned again….thats atheist tolerance for you….
  6. Paula was commissioned (she admitted so) – I don’t think she was paid though.   Her reward was that she got to chair Dawkins meeting in Inverness.   Glad that you agree with her view that my book is the best of the anti-Dawkins books!
  7. Re the Kirby thread – I’m afraid when I changed my computer I did not bother to keep a lot of stuff – including them.  Some of them are still there…it is a full refutation….until I got banned (again!)
  8. Still waiting for the lie.  I did not say that Darwin supported Eugenics.  I did say that Darwinism as espoused by some of his later followers did.   And I gave examples from Dawkins own mentor – Bill Hamilton who amongst other things argued that in order to preserve the race upper class women should be encouraged to breed…

Just out of interest have you read Mein Kampf? I have.   I notice that all atheist bloggers use the same two quotes – do you have an atheist book of quotes to use?  I have read most of Hitler’s works in English, studied Weimar Germany and the rise of Hitler for my University degree and know that there is not a serious historian of the period who thinks that Hitler was a practicing Christian, or that he had anything other than contempt for the church.  His use of the words ‘Lord’ or his perversion of the Scriptures was only done to appeal to a population who largely still considered themselves to be Christian and were educated in State Christian schools.   The irony is that the forces of ‘rational liberalism’ had so undermined the Bible that when the tide of Nazism came, the churches largely caved in.  It was mainly the scientists and intellectuals who supported Hitler.   In terms of his views I give a quote in my own book which sums up his position well –

“Sometimes we also had interesting discussions about the church and the development of the human race. Perhaps it’s going too far to call them discussions, because he would begin explaining his ideas when some question or remark from one of us had set them off, and we just listened. He was not a member of any church, and thought the Christian religions were outdated, hypocritical institutions that lured people into them. The laws of nature were his religion. He could reconcile his dogma of violence better with nature than with the Christian doctrine of loving your neighbour and your enemy. ‘Science isn’t yet clear about the origins of humanity,’ he once said. ‘We are probably the highest stage of development of some mammal which developed from reptiles and moved on to human beings, perhaps by way of the apes.  We are a part of creation and children of nature, and the same laws apply to us as to all living creatures. And in nature the law of the struggle for survival has reigned from the first.  Everything incapable of life, everything weak is eliminated.  Only mankind and above all the church have made it their aim to keep alive the weak, those unfit to live, and people of an inferior kind.’”

Traudall Junge – from Until the Final Hour – Arcade Publishing – 2004 – p108.

9.  You are right about Dahmer.  Would that Dawkins followed your example – why else does he cite the odious Fred Phelps as an example of Christianity?  Hitler being an atheist (which by the way is doubtful) or Stalin or Mao (which is not) does not of course mean that all atheists are Nazis.  Correct.
10.  You want me to state why Hitlers and Stalins atheism was influential in their brutality.   Ok.  If you believe that there is an Almighty God who has an absolute moral standard by which one day you will be judged – this does tend to moderate your behaviour.  If like Stalin you believe that there is no God to answer to, and no absolute moral law (a view which Stalin came to after reading Origin of the Species) then you have no fear of what may happen.  All that you fear is around you, and the loss of your own power – so you can kill and destroy as you wish.  Hitler believed that history would judge him (not God) – Stalin believed that no one could judge him.  If you believe in relative morality then logically you have no real basis for judging them.  And as Dawkins admits it is virtually impossible to believe in an absolute morality without God.

Must go……this time I will try to leave it….

I have a debate in London to prepare and a whole lot more going on so may I just wish you all the best…

Keep looking for the Truth….

David

From: Justin Brierley
T
o: David Robertson, MSP
Date:
10 June 2009 08:33
Subject
: Jay Smith

Sounds like you guys should come on my show to talk about this!

FYI David link to show with Peter Cave is here:

http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid={83522139-8E9C-4069-919B-4BF46B8C0650}

Or in t e archive its the show of 19 Apr 2008

Thanks

Justin

From: MSP
To
: Justin Brierley, David Robertson
Date:
11 June 2009 08:50
Subject
: Jay Smith

Justin – Thanks for the invite.  I’m sure we’ll both take it under advisement.  Did you forward my piece to Mr Smith?

David – further points:

I think a lot of your arguments centre on bibliography and qualifications, which P Z Myers has termed the Courtier’s Reply, which is as relevant as it is witty:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/the_courtiers_reply.php

I admit that, yes, there a few very useful Internet articles with Hitler’s quotes for cutting and pasting in discussions like this.  Copying straight from a book is rather laborious (that quote from Robin Lane Fox took me ages!  I’ve now bought a book stand so I can type with both hands!).  This article by Richard E Smith

http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/1997/march97/holocaust.html

is very handy and does reference other published works, particularly Alan Bullock’s Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1958).  I have read Bullock’s Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (1991) myself which is good.

However, just because quotes are from the Internet, doesn’t render them false for that reason.  OK, using Wikipedia as a primary source exactly doesn’t look good, but that website does have a wealth of links to other material for further investigation.  I am getting tired of apologists attacking my bibliography, since such comments about qualification and source material ought to be reserved for the last paragraph of a negative review rather than being the be all and end all.  I could say exactly the same about your quotes from Table Talk.

I agree that Hitler wasn’t exactly a church-going Christian whilst in power, but he did have a Catholic upbringing, never formally renounced his membership of the Church and had a hankering for “Providence”, particularly after the assassination attempts.  His religious views were certainly odd, but then what exactly is normal in this regard?

I have read Mein Kampf which you can buy from Amazon, along with that other classic of racial hatred, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.  It’s pretty unreadable, particularly as you know what it has inspired.  Rather like the Koran.  I’m glad I can speed read.  However, you didn’t respond to my point that Mein Kampf doesn’t reference Darwin or Nietzsche at all, but God and Christ a lot.

However, it’s too easy blaming atrocities on one figurehead.  There are potential Hitlers, Stalins and bin Ladens on every street corner.  What about the people who put Hitler in power and carried out his wishes?  Many of them certainly were Christians.   One of your fellow “fleas”, John Cornwell, wrote a damning biography of Pius XII, Hitler’s Pope (1999), which I discuss in my draft paper on Hitler and religion.  Cornwell claims to be a devote Catholic and Paul Johnson, another practicing Catholic, isn’t exactly complimentary about Eugenio Pacelli either in A History of Christianity (1976).  Johnson also mentions that 25% of the SS were practising Catholics, although none of them were excommunicated for crimes against humanity.

I largely agree with your comments on Stalin: he wanted to be accountable to no one else and thus declare himself as God.  However, I still don’t think your arguments over the rejection of a personal creator and the threat of hell or at least no place in heaven and the propensity to violence are properly made out.  Personally, since reading Dawkins and coming off the fence of agnosticism, I have appreciated the value of human life even more, because I know that our time on Earth is the one life we DO have.

I do agree with Kirby that your book was the best of the Dawkins replies I’ve read because it does put up the best fight and at least gives a clear indication of what you believe and I state as much in my review.

Enjoy your debate in London.  I’m not going to wish you luck, because I don’t want you win.  However, this exchange has been positive and I might just tone down some of the more vitriolic elements of review of The Dawkins Letters before it is posted.  Perhaps the comments about Scotland’s answer to Jerry Falwell can come out…

MSP

From: David Robertson
To
: MSP
Date:
22 June 2009 09:27
Subject
: My piece on William Lane Craig

Hi Ed,

Haven’t heard this debate so can’t comment – but your article does read a wee bit like desperation!   Hitchens does not always massacre his opponent – in fact against Lennox in the Usher hall Edinburgh he clearly lost.  Before the debate a vote was taken – which was around 40% Lennox, 35% Hitchens and 25% don’t knows.  After the debate the same vote was taken – 50% Lennox, 35% Hitchens and 15% don’t knows. It is the first time I have seen a significant swing within a debate.   From your somewhat desperate reaction and the other things I have read about the William Lane Craig/Hitchens debate it sounds to me as though your boy got hammered.

Anyway thinking of you as I listen to Journal for Plague Lovers – brilliant!

I also agree that Hitchens is by far the best of the atheist debaters (not that he has much competition!).  I like him a lot and one of my small ambitions would be to debate him one day.

Hope you are well,

David

From: MSP
To
: David Robertson
Date:
22 June 2009 19:47
Subject:
My piece on William Lane Craig

Hi David

Thanks for taking the time to read the piece.  I hope it was the “revised” version!  The first edition was published in anger too soon after I saw the debate and was littered with ad homs of the kind I berate apologists for and contained some really inappropriate remarks about Craig’s bony hands!

Have you noticed how he often hold his hands like claws?  Apparently it’s a neuromuscular disorder, but at first I said that rigour mortis was setting in and he’s desperate for a spot on a white cloud playing a harp!  Whoops!  Fortunately another blogger put me right and I took out that comment, along with a lot of other stuff and generally toned it down so I’m attacking his arguments and debating tactics as opposed to his character.

Here is the link to the torrents file, if you don’t mind breaking at least one of the commandments:

[LINKS EXCLUDED BECAUSE I’M NOT RUNNING THE RISK OF BIOLA SUING ME FOR BREACH OF COPYRIGHT!]

I felt like I had to stick up for Hitchens after the pasting he received on the blogs.  I haven’t seen his Edinburgh Festival debate with John Lennox, but I came across a subsequent debate between the two of them held in Birmingham, Alabama in March this year and he was superb.  However, no vote was taken.  He actually lost the audience vote on his Freedom Fest 2008 debate against Dinesh D Souza, but I don’t care; he wiped the floor with D Souza!

I’m doing a similar editing job on my review of The Dawkins Letters.  Alas, it still will be negative, but I’ve excised a lot of the vitriol along with a few of Miss Kirby’s damning remarks!  I heard your last debate on Premier on the moral argument for God as saw your debate at Edinburgh Uni against Alistair from the NSS and you don’t make my blood boil any more.

Just reading Niall Ferguson’s book to see whether we have the same perspective.  About 150 pages in and I haven’t come across a direct indictment of atheism (save a quote from Paul Johnson about the abandoning of Judeo-Christian values), but we haven’t reached the really nasty atheists like Stalin and Pol Pot yet.

I love “revisionist” history.  You should watch Hitchens’ debate with A C Grayling on the morality of aerial bombing of civilians.  Grayling had just published Among The Dead Cities on the subject (which I have bought, but not read yet) and the talk was really illuminating.  Apparently those Bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to impress Joseph Stalin…

Oh Mummy, what’s a Sex Pistol?
Oh Mummy, what’s a Sex Pistol?
Oh Mummy, etc. etc.

Atb

MSP

From: Justin Brierley
To:
MSP
Date:
26 June 2009 17:03
Subject:
Mr Manic – its Justin

Hi Ed

hope you are well, its been good to read your to and fro with David Robertson.

I have him coming down on Mon 20th July in the morning, and wondered if we could get a debate going between the two of you.  Your correspondences covered many areas.  But I wondered about possibly doing “Would Europe be better off as an atheistic or Christian Society.

This is of course dependent on your being available on that Monday.  Let me know!

(I’ve been told that David has had too easy a run on my prog with “layman” atheists, so I think a pairing with you would counter that imbalance!)

Justin

From: MSP
To :
Justin Brierley
Date:
27 June 2009 15:10
Subject:
Mr Manic – its Justin

Hello Justin

You’re quite right; it’s about time Pastor Robertson met his match in the flesh!

Things are quite hectic at the moment as I’m trying to secure employment before September when I qualify as a solicitor and it’s not the easiest of financial climates to do it.  However I can’t let an opportunity like this pass me by, so I’ll book the time off first thing Monday, purchase my train ticket now and finish my review of The Dawkins Letters.

Thanks to our correspondence following my piece on Professor Smith my review is looking A LOT less vitriolic.  David’s not bad, just misunderstood by atheist bloggers, but I think he could elaborate in his writings so people don’t think he’s trying to hold out Stephen Hawking as a creationist…

Hope you’re well.  See on the 20th at 22 Chapter Street.  What time??

Ed

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3 Responses to “Correspondence between MSP and Pastor David Robertson”

  1. So Far: David Robertson « manicstreetpreacher's blog Says:

    […] blog …religion, politics, philosophy, history, debate… « Correspondence between MSP and Pastor David Robertson Hitchens on Free Speech […]

  2. Debates with David Robertson and Richard Morgan on Unbelievable? « manicstreetpreacher's blog Says:

    […] The correspondence between me and David Robertson is on my blog here. […]

  3. Afterthoughts: David Robertson « manicstreetpreacher's blog Says:

    […] On 20 July 2009 I recorded two debates with Scottish Presbyterian minister and author of The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths, David Robertson and former-atheist-blogger-now-converted, Richard Morgan, on Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? This should be read in conjunction with my earlier pre-debate piece on Robertson’s book and public speaking, along with our pre-debate correspondence. […]

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