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Sudden Death: Famous people who died on Halloween

| 50 Comments

These people probably didn’t expect to go on this day.

Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult, Charles Taze Russell: Died October 31, 1916

Magician Harry Houdini died Oct. 31, 1926:

Actor John Houseman died on Oct. 31, 1988.

Producer and Broadway director Joseph Papp died on October 31, 1991.

Italian film director Federico Fellini died on October 31, 1993.

Actor River Phoenix died on October 31, 1993.

Are you ready? If not, click here.

50 Comments

  1. DEATH CULT. Pure and simple.

  2. Steve used “Fear of Death!”
    It isn’t very effective…

  3. Ain’t you just the cutest, ‘love thy neighbor’ follower of your Saviour there is. You make the baby Jesus cry because you won’t follow a simple divine directive.

  4. Wow, you don’t get much creepier than this.

    I didn’t realise we terrified you so much.

  5. I would say that warning folks about their eternal salvation and the very real possibility of their ending up in Hell is the highest form of love. All the “Doubting Thomas’s” in here make me laugh because in reality, we were probably just like you once. I told a gal at USC the other day who was standing there with her “Planned Parenthood” T-shirt on, stumping for her cause that in fact I was just like her once. I believed truly that it was about choice. I only found out later that it doesn’t matter what I believe, that there is still truth. The truth is that the creation implies the existence of a creator, and you are a fool if you fail to think that all the way through and come up with the answer that God is real, and your simplistic beliefs get you squat on judgement day. I am not trying to scare anybody here, I am merely pointing out the fact that everything we know, all we have points to God the Father as creator! You cannot deny that! It’s not just about complexity, think it through! Even if the universe is causal, and everything that happens causes something else to happen – then something must have existed to become the “First cause” or what early Christian proofs called the “Uncaused cause.” In other words – who turned over the first domino?

    Think it through! I plead with you, I beg you! God is patient, He is kind, He loved us so much that He gave Jesus – His one and only Son – to die for us and pay the price for our sin. I know that sounds ridiculous and trite to you who are unsaved, but you must realize that sin, what I would call rebellion against God, must be paid for by blood. There must be atonement. Jesus was that atoning sacrifice, He paid you fine, and you can go to Heaven to live with Him forever – if you trust in Him and turn from your sin.

    Steve uses the “Perfect person” test because it works, it breaks through your facade, and allows you no room for maneuver, because that is why God gave us The Law! God allowed no room for error in what He gave us – because He wants us to see and understand our need of Him! We cannot possibly be here without His having created the universe to begin with. The Bible tells us that He knew us before we were born. That’s what changed my heart on abortion. Jesus is who changed my mind about God, and the Bible, and all of that. He is real, He lives in me! He loves me and He tenderly and gently leads me each day, teaching me to be a better person.

    It’s not poop, it’s not fantasy, it’s not a “Fairy Tale,” it’s REAL! Famous people die every day, and many of them never accepted Jesus, or have failed to submit to His rule and authority, and take on the blessing of knowing Him. You must understand that we don’t do this for any selfish reasons whatsoever, nobody coerces us to speak in any way on Jesus’ behalf, or for some sort of “Religion.” We speak to try and save you is all. We care about you and want you to be with Jesus in Heaven – that is all. You can leave the pain and bondage (slavery) of your sin behind here on earth and turn to the wonderful loving Savior. The truth really does set you free from all the sin and depravity on this earth.

    God bless you sinner!

    • Hi Scott,

      Quasar already responded to a lot of your comment, so I’m only going to respond to a few points.

      In other words – who turned over the first domino?

      Why would I assume a “who”? Why not a “what”? It seems to me that you’re anthropromorphizing the issue.

      I am merely pointing out the fact that everything we know, all we have points to God the Father as creator! You cannot deny that!

      Please explain why, as I don’t see that.

      Steve uses the “Perfect person” test because it works, it breaks through your facade, and allows you no room for maneuver

      From my experience, it only works temporarily on backslidden Christians. I always ask the same question: how many people both became saved and currently attend bible-believing “True Christian” churches due to the “Good Person test”?

      It doesn’t break through my “facade”, assuming that I understand what you mean by that (although I’d appreciate a clarification/explanation), and I still have plenty of room to maneuver for the following reasons:

      1. When asked if I’ll go to either Heaven or Hell when I die, I’d answer “that’s a false dichotomy”, or “neither, as I don’t believe in them”, or “I don’t know”. But my answer would not be “Heaven” or “Hell”. So, already, right out of the gate, I’m not going along with the script, and this isn’t even me being intentionally rebellious.

      2. When asked what I call someone who has told at least one lie in their life, my answer would certainly not be “a liar”, as that makes the definition of “liar” to be useless. We use the word “liar” to distinguish a particular person, at least for a moment, to be different than the average person. Since every person would answer “yes” to the “have you ever told a lie”, using that as a definition of “liar” makes it equivalent to the word “human”. This is not how I use the word “liar” in normal conversation, and I doubt that you use it that way either.

      3. The same goes for “have you ever stolen anything” and the word “thief”. Again, we have a specific definition for the word “thief”, and having that word apply to everyone makes the word useless. Again, it’s not how I use the word “thief” in normal conversation, and I doubt that you use it that way either.

      4. Regarding blasphemy, I don’t currently believe in any gods, so I don’t see that as a crime against anyone.

      5. Regarding lust being the same as adultery, I (a) don’t accept fallacious arguments from authority and (b) don’t see Jesus as an authority. Therefore, it doesn’t matter to me what Jesus said about lust, as it doesn’t matter to you what Allah or Krishna or Buddha said about lust. I don’t use the word “adultery” to mean “lust”, as that makes the word “lust” redundant and I don’t think you use it that way, in normal conversation, either.

      6. Same as #5 with the “hate equals murder” thing. We have the words “hate” and “murder” to mean two different things for a reason. We don’t call people with hate in their hearts as murderers, and we certainly don’t put them through our justice system in the same way, unless you know something I don’t.

      7. Finishing it off with the “if you were judged by God’s commandments, now where do you think you’ll go?”, I haven’t changed my point of view, because the “test” hasn’t given me any reason to do so; it’s only tried to play a guilt trip on me, but it’s only an effective guilt trip if I agree with your hidden premises.

      But I don’t. I’m not a Christian who has missed the past few Sundays at church.

      Scott, if I asked you, “If you were judged by Allah’s five pillars of Islam, where do you think you’ll go?”, I have a hard time believing you’d take the question seriously, because it has hidden premisies (such as, “Allah exists as described in the Qur’an”).

      I hope I responded well.

    • Scott.. Couldn’t have said it better!! Belief in God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit is something one must experience themselves. You will never truly understand or know what we who believe are talking about until you give God a chance. Experience the Lord by trying his ways, seeking his face. Until one does that I cannot take their opinion into consideration because they have no understanding, or any personal experience of their own. If all you know is this world and the pain, injustices, wars etc. Then I do understand why its especially hard for you to believe.. But the only other option is to stay miserable, frustrated, angry & depressed because no matter how hard you try to fix the world or people you cannot! We can’t even fix ourselves (some put on a brave face and it may seem like they fixed themselves, or the fix was only temporary) you need God, we need God, period. I would just encourage everyone to talk to God ask him to reveal the truth to you and he will.. Get into that Bible too, ask for understanding if you have trouble understanding, and he will give it.. Once you have the truth then you can make a conscious decision whether to believe or not… You must have all the info, when we get sick and we seek out the best doctors, do some research on it, ask others about their experience with it etc. This is no different, this is Life & Death. Take it seriously please because once its over.. Its over beloved.. Everyday we wake up is a chance to turn to God, every heart beat a gift, every breath a blessing and not to be taken for granted.. God owes us nothing, but yet gives us everything!! I hope that many will “taste and see that the Lord is good” give it a try, be genuine and honest (you can’t hide anything from the Lord & you should never try) we have all fallen short I’m no better than you and vice versa.. He died for all, even the people who killed him mocked and beat him.. Forgive them for they know not what they do. But I encourage you to be aware of what you do because you will meet this Lord one day and you will know that it was true his existence, power, sacrifice, love etc. And your gonna wish you had known better to do it.

  6. That picture would have been funnier if you photoshopped in Righteous Richard dressed as a grave digger and you dressed as the Grim Reaper.

  7. I have no problems with the statement “Creation implies a creator”. Logically, it is valid. However, I have a problem with the assumption that the statement lies on – “This world is a creation”. This has not been demonstrated (and, scientifically, cannot be demonstrated).

    Additionally, complexity is in no way proof of anything, as complexity is purely subjective. What you find as complex, I would probably not find as complex.

    The perfect person test fails in its contrapositive “Have you ever done a good thing?” If we are to assume that doing one act makes someone that someone possess the specific ideology it derives itself from, then answering “yes” automatically makes them a good person. According to your precious Bible, this would make us all God. Considering that the same book holds that there is only one God, this is either a flawed argument and/or the book is false.

    Spoiler alert: Both the argument and the Bible are false.

    • Real spoiler alert: Despite impeccable illogic, theBlackSwan needs to repent of a multitude of sins and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

      • Can you tell me, specifically, what was illogical and why it was illogical? Simply asserting something does not make it correct.

        Until then, my point stands.

      • Let me simply say that the contrapositive of “a implies b” is “not(b) implies not(a)”. Notice that an implication still exists in each.

        If you’re going to invoke logic, you should at least use it correctly.

      • The problem isn’t with implying anything, sweetheart. It’s saying that if lies make you a liar, then it’s contrapositive is that you are a good person when you don’t tell lies. The Bible says that there are no good people, rendering either the statement false or the Bible false. Your pick.

  8. Funny you should liken us to Thomas, Steve. Do you remember Jesus’ reaction to Thomas doubts? Did he tell him “you already have all the evidence you need in creation”? Did he threaten him with hell if he wouldn’t follow? Did he use the tragedies of others to instill fear in him?

    John 20:27-29

    27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

    28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    No. Jesus offered Thomas evidence, and Thomas believed.

    Skeptics like us are not ‘blessed’ with the ability to believe without evidence, but show us evidence and we will, like Thomas, come around. But you have consistantly failed to give us evidence, Steve. Instead you threaten and cajole, you play word games and pretend that a natural world is somehow proof of the supernatural.

    Thomas was never portrayed as a villian, Steve. He was an honest skeptic, with honest doubts, and it was Jesus forthright honesty and openness that convinced him in the story above.

    I’ve yet to see any of that from Living Waters.

  9. Sorry, it was Scott who likened us to Thomas, not Steve. My apologies.

  10. Scott wrote:
    … and your simplistic beliefs get you squat on judgement day.

    Simplistic beliefs? You clearly have not delved into the specifics of natural history. If there is one thing it is not, it’s simplistic.

    Scott wrote:
    I am not trying to scare anybody here, I am merely pointing out the fact that everything we know, all we have points to God the Father as creator! You cannot deny that!

    Yes I can. And here’s why:

    This world shows no signs of supernatural involvement. None. Lightning is caused by electrons. Life is caused by bio-chemestry. Sunlight by fusion. So far, every time we’ve looked, we’ve found a natural cause for a natural effect, and the more we look the more we find.

    Why should the initial cause of the big bang be any different?

    But it goes further than that: not only have we found no evidence for the supernatural, we’ve also found evidence against specific incarnations of it. Contrary to the living waters interpretation of Genesis*, the world is far older than humanity. Prayer has no more effect than an equivelant placebo. Humans are descended from apes. etc.

    These are facts: observations of reality. They will not change, not for Steve, not for Steve’s deity. The christian God may exist, but Steves particular interventionist version of God does not.

    *footnote: interestingly, Genesis bears more than a few formatting similarities with an ancient hebrew Aesop. It’s less a ‘fairy tale’ and more a ‘parable’. Something to think about there…

    • Quasar,

      Do you then have a testable theory for abiogenesis? If so, tell me, what came first, RNA, DNA, proteins, enzymes, viruses? Then further still, if you have can purport a theory or testable known theory of abiogenesis, how then does one account for the ADDITION of DNA forming a genome to such existing life forms through this process of abiogenesis, and tell me, what is the probability of this occuring, and does the current estimate of life on Earth at 4.5 billion years ago agree?

      I look forward to your answers, but know that we choose God, not merely in the absence of a scientific answer, but due to an ontological state of being, that is, reason (rational), emotion, personality, and volition, all four at the same time unique to humans, how can matter arrange itself to create an ontological creature such as humans? From this worldview, we then logically choose the God of the Bible, and know that the Bible is poetic, metaphorical, prophetic, fantastical, and literal at generally different times. Only through prayer and meditation on the Word and its history do we know the difference.

      God bless, grace to you in Christ Jesus,
      Nick

      • Hi Nick,

        I assume Quasar will give his answers, but here are mine:

        Do you then have a testable theory for abiogenesis?

        Since neither Quasar nor myself are in that area of science, the answer will be “no”.

        There is not a current testable theory for abiogenesis, as far as I know. Having said that, supernatural explanations have never, in all of history, been correct.

        what is the probability of this occuring,

        It’s impossible for any of us (including you) to calculate, since the number of variables is enormous.

        and does the current estimate of life on Earth at 4.5 billion years ago agree?

        They will have to agree, or we have to throw one or the other out.

        Still, jumping to a supernatural explanation has never solved anything.

        but due to an ontological state of being, that is, reason (rational), emotion, personality, and volition, all four at the same time unique to humans,

        Whoa whoa whoa… are you telling me that animals, such as dogs and cats, much less the various types of apes, don’t have emotions and personality? I can’t buy that.

        how can matter arrange itself to create an ontological creature such as humans?

        Please research emergence.

        From this worldview, we then logically choose the God of the Bible, and know that the Bible is poetic, metaphorical, prophetic, fantastical, and literal at generally different times.

        1. Muslims say the same about the Qur’an, yet I doubt you agree with them.

        2. Your opinion on the Bible is definitely different than mine. To whit, studying the Bible played a major role in my loss of faith.

        Only through prayer and meditation on the Word and its history do we know the difference.

        Your experiences appear to be different from mine. Doing that, I came up with the answer of “this is mythology”. Same with the Qur’an.

      • Given that there is no Theory of Abiogenesis, what is your point?

      • Hi Bathtub,

        To put it as simply as I know how, the atheist generally speaking may agree with the philosophical statement, “I think, therefore I am.”

        Conversely, the theist would qualify this notion with, “I think, therefore Creator God exists.”

        This follows from the idea that although evolution, descent with modification, is a logical and valid theory for the origin of the species, although as a rational thinker I am skeptical of the power of natural selection and environmental pressures to evolve all life as we know it today. Regardless, if there is no explanation for how life started in the first place, for how the addition of genetic material to this original self-replicating organism or set of molecules results in the emergence of complex living organisms that may then undergo evolution to the life we know today, then it is illogical to say that it was not created by a power outside of “nature” as we know it and define it. Hope this helps you understand where I am coming from, and my point, however flawed it may be.

        God bless, grace to you in Christ Jesus,
        Nick

      • So pretty much the standard nonsensical Atheism = Evilution argument we get from all the fundies here then.

      • Hi Bathtub,

        Did you actually mean to write evilution or evolution? Just curious so that I can understand better what you mean… the former has some interesting connotations…
        And if you will, please explain how it is nonsensical…

        Thanks, God bless, grace to you in Jesus the Christ,
        Nick

      • Evilution is a running fundy gag. I was referring to your “Atheism = Current Scientific Thoughts on a particular Subject” line of argumentation.

      • Hi Bathtub,

        Thank you for the clarification. An interesting running gag you have going there =) In regards to your synopsis of the argumentation used, my question is, if Atheism is defined as not accepting the claim that a God or gods exist, and then as Nohm has purported that no “supernatural” explanation has ever been correct, then what other form of argument would an Atheist accept other than science, philosophy, or logic? I would invite you to weigh in on Vin and my current discussion.

        Thanks, God bless, and grace to you in Jesus the Christ,
        Nick

      • It’s not my gag, it’s a fundy gag.

  11. Correction: 3.5 billion years ago… not 4.5…

  12. 4.5 being the beginning of Earth itself they say, so this gives abiogenesis 1 billion years or less…

  13. Hi Nohm,

    Thank you for your reply, I will look into emergence in more detail, yet from the wiki you gave as reference, I tend to agree more with the idea proposed under Strong and Weak emergence (although I see that these are only two views on it, and there are many other schools of thought on it), that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, although examples exist, not on the scale to produce an ontological state of being, that is, again, rationale, volition, personality, and emotion, from inorganic material or even still organic constructs or a simple self-replicating organism. This seem too far-fetched to me, too improbable.

    Therefore, the assumption (evolutionary theory, radiometric dating, and much of science itself relies on assumptions) is that there is a God, and then logically the God of the Bible, Judeo-Christian God, is the most logical. Of course I am biased, yet if one considers the tenets of the Judeo-Christian God and theology of Christianity, it is far more logical than any other religion. One question to help illustrate this point is:

    How can mankind commune with an almighty, omniscient, just, perfect God that is love, not by our definition but His? The tenets of Christianity deal directly with this, no other religion does satisfactorily, they require too much work on our part.

    Lastly, I did not purport that animals do not have emotions and personality, of course they do, what I said was that humans are unique in that they have all four of God’s fundamental characteristics (“made in the image of God”):

    1) Volitional (can make choices understanding the consequences of each choice)

    2) Emotional

    3) Personal

    4) Rational

    A gorilla or an chimpanzee may have emotion, display personal behavior, and volition to a degree, yet they do not understand all the consequences of a choice, nor the rationale to justify one choice over another. Humans can and do (generally speaking), many times unfortunately to our detriment or at least imperfectly, as many have pointed out on this blog before.

    Thanks Nohm, always a pleasure.

    God bless, grace to you in Christ Jesus,
    NIck

    P.S. I will try to find a “supernatural” explanation from history that is correct according to your scientific standards or at least to historical and archaeological standards, but it may take some time to pose adequately, you may find it at some random post in the future, God willing.

    • How can mankind commune with an almighty, omniscient, just, perfect God that is love, not by our definition but His? The tenets of Christianity deal directly with this, no other religion does satisfactorily, they require too much work on our part.

      You are begging the question by assuming several things:

      A) That there is just one god
      B) That this god is almighty, omniscient, just, and perfect
      C) That this god is love
      D) That this god has defined anything

      Yeah, of course the Bible makes perfect logical sense when it answers the question it itself asks. But what if the actual is a actually several gods with a large variety of personality traits and standards? Suddenly the Bible no longer has a logical explanation!

      So where did you get the idea that we have just one god with all these traits? Or that there are any gods at all? If it’s the Bible, then why put your trust in its claim over another holy book?

      • Oh, I butchered a line there.

        “But what if the actual is a actually several gods with a large variety of personality traits and standards?” should read “But what if the actual god is actually several gods with a large variety of personality traits and standards?”

        Apologies.

      • Hi Garrett,

        Well said, yet you missed my point, the question referenced in your reply starts from an assumption that God does exist. That is a Creator God, and then the questions of why did He create and so forth follow, and yes there are many gods, yet one Creator God, an assumption based on an ontological principle as noted in my previous comments. Then from this assumption, asking all the questions you posit and many more, posed not just by the Bible, but by all mankind at some point in their life; it is the Judeo-Christian, and for argument’s sake Islam’s Creator God that is most logical, yet Christianity and the Bible answers your questions and describes the character of mankind and God much more satisfactorily to a skeptical mind and rational thinker such as myself, than any other religious teaching. Yes, pun intended.

        I guess, to make this question more palatable to you, it can just as easily have read: How can mankind hope to communicate with and know a Creator God?

        One could argue, who cares? Even if a Creator God exists, why would He care to communicate with us and for us to know Him. Then Christianity offers an answer, He made us in His image, He is a personal God, and He desires to have a relationship with us, its crazy love really… and an absurd idea I know, but to the Christian, that does not make it any less true, that He loved us first, that He became a man and suffered with us, for us, and even by us, so that He could perfect us, and we need only believe in His name… awesome, call it a fairy tale if you must, but again, I choose this fairy tale over your reality without Jesus as my Lord and Savior… for we choose the folly of the cross and the gospel of Jesus Christ over the wisdom of the world…

        God bless, and grace to you in Jesus Christ,
        Nick

    • Eh Nick, humans have more cognitive aptitude than our chimpanzee cousins but there have been cases of them demonstrating all the criteria you put forth, the only difference is that they may not grasp the full ramifications of their actions as you state, but human beings struggle with that shortcoming all the time. If you’re interested in apes, try looking up Lucy or Kanzi, Radio lab did an interesting show on them, and they talked with the people who worked with those apes, taught them language, carried on back and forth conversations with them, and developed mutual emotional ties with them. To say those traits are unique to humans is wrong, especially in this day and age when we can sequence your DNA and that of a chimp’s and find out just how far removed you are from one another… or when your great ape ancestor and her sister separated and started families apart from one another.

      • Hi Vin,

        Great to hear from you. I have been reading up on lucy and kanzi and about great apes and language, very interesting stuff, and I have studied such phenomenon, albeit limited, in past courses in psychology. However, perhaps I was not clear in the reasoning applied, as your comments seem to have missed the point. I will try to clarify as follows.

        You wrote:
        “humans have more cognitive aptitude than our chimpanzee cousins but there have been cases of them demonstrating all the criteria you put forth, the only difference is that they may not grasp the full ramifications of their actions as you state, but human beings struggle with that shortcoming all the time”

        Great apes do posses emotion, are personal, and volitional to a degree, but they do not have the ability to rationalize their actions, either right or wrong. They may even understand basic concepts of right or wrong, especially within their own culture (yes, I believe apes have a culture, as do many animals), yet they do not posses the ability to profoundly explain why they made a choice over another, and definitely not to argue whether it was right or wrong. This is a uniquely human characteristic. Yes, humans struggle with this too, but they posses the ability, and if honest with themselves and not functionally or mentally impaired, to either rationalize their actions, or to, “repent,” so to speak. This is not a matter of intellect and not a matter of making the right or wrong choice, but a matter of process. It is a matter of being emotional, volitional, personal, and rationalizing oneself in a community dynamically, ALL at the SAME TIME, and not acting within an artificial construct. No other species on Earth displays this. Why? or better yet, Why not?

        you wrote:
        “they talked with the people who worked with those apes, taught them language, carried on back and forth conversations with them, and developed mutual emotional ties with them. To say those traits are unique to humans is wrong…”

        Teaching them, “language,” is arguable, yet for argument’s sake I would agree that they did and can learn basic language principles and understanding of words and concepts. However, this is not too far removed from animal training and yet very far removed from rational thought that produces innovation, new ideas, and paradigm shifts within a culture. Also, this is artificial, since humans are teaching them, so then, who, “taught,” us. Can you see how this is not a fair comparison? Besides, many animals have a “language” of their own that we do not speak, and this is self-evident in their own cultures, and can be verbal or audible, yet generally non-verbal. Language does not equal rationalization. Language is a matter of intellect alone, and apes have been shown to approximate human children in their level of intellect, if not surpass it in some respects. These are different arguments, do you agree?

        you wrote:
        “To say those traits are unique to humans is wrong, especially in this day and age when we can sequence your DNA and that of a chimp’s and find out just how far removed you are from one another… or when your great ape ancestor and her sister separated and started families apart from one another”

        I did not say that language, emotional relationships, and “conversations” as you put it are unique to humans, but that emotion, being personal, volitional and rationalizing one’s self and actions are, all together and at the same time, unique to humans. Animals can and do display a number of these at any one given time, but not all four, and especially not rationalizing behavior, attitudes, and thoughts.

        Thanks Vin, I hope this helps clear up the point, and didn’t just muddy the water…

        God bless, grace to you in Jesus Christ,
        Nick

        P.S. the <1% difference in human and chimpanzee DNA, has recently been downgraded to approximately 4%, and this is something on the order of 40 million differences… pretty far removed… albeit closer than any other, still pretty far removed… also, an interesting comparison: the rice genome compared to the human genome for protein coding genes, which is has the greater number?

      • If you’ve heard about Kanzi, then you may be familiar with an incident he had with one of the caretakers of the preserve. The incident in question involved an argument between a male and female working at the center, the male was rude, loud and belligerent to a female caretaker and this was observed by Kanzi. Kanzi signed to another male caretaker that he needed to punish the other male for being confrontational to the woman working there. Kanzi told the man to hit the other man. The male caretaker signed back to him that he could not, (as the argument didn’t warrant the use of physical violence), but Kanzi repeated the order to the man, and then warned the man that if he didn’t hit him he’d bite him. The male caretaker again refused and that seemed to be the end of it. Kanzi later escaped from his cage, found the man who refused the request and bit him. The male caretaker had to go to the hospital, and didn’t return to the preserve for about a month. During that time, Kanzi, who had considered the man he bit a friend, kept asking for him, wanting to see him, the other caretakers told him repeatedly that he didn’t want to see him because he had bitten him, and that he needed to apologize. Kanzi refused. He refused for some time, but eventually the proud chimp did relent and asked to see the male caretaker. When the man entered, Kanzi threw himself against the wall and wailed, showing a submissive posturing, in an effort to demonstrate to the man that he was sorry for what he did. If an ape were incapable of considering rational thought or their own actions, why would Kanzi apologize for something the ape had originally thought he was correct about?

        As far as teaching them language, so what? The handlers of Lucy and Kanzi did teach them human language and remarkably, they managed to connect words together to express original concepts, like ‘smelly mud water’. I don’t see how you can call this artificial since you were taught a language just like EVERYONE else on this planet at a young age. Because we lack the vocal capacity of a Bonobo we it would be difficult to communicate verbally, though in the case of Kanzi, he has spoke words to represent some of the words he’s learned by sign, which would indicate he’s come up with a language to emulate human speech of his own volition, much like a human artist might emulate a painting style he admires.

        You ask the question why not? I would answer, its how we evolved, and its really the best answer that can be given as we don’t have a complete painting of the evolution of life on this planet for the past several million years. The blue whale is the largest mammal on the planet, why are there no others just like it? Often times the competition for resources in certain environments sees the rise of a dominant form of life. There used to be neanderthals on this planet too, now there are none, though some people alive today do possess the DNA within, they went extinct, which means they were out done by homo sapiens (outbred, outfought, or assimilated).

        To answer your PS, the rice does, and further more, you’re still related to a chimp. Just like we’re related, we had a common ancestor at some far back point in time. The same science that accurately establishes paternity, can be used to trace back the point of diversity between my family and yours… and everyone else’s on the planet. Its allowed us to trace the path of human ethnicity as they migrated out of Africa. Going even further back, it allows us to see how we diversified from the chimp… and then how we, chimps, and bonobos diversified from gorillas, and then how we diversified from orangatauns… and so on… and so on… all the way back to… rice. (Which the common ancestor would be in the very distant past and I don’t think paleontologists have found it at this time.)

      • Hi Vin,

        Thank you for the swift reply, much appreciated, it is good to hear from you. Yes, I am familiar with the story, yet the way you tell it gives far too much credit to Kanzi’s “rationality.” You describe a scenario that great apes are very familiar with, and something that already exists in their culture (think disputes among apes within a pride). The interaction between Kanzi and the caretaker is very much understood within the context of known great ape culture for as long as we have studied them, think alpha male (caretaker) and member of the pride, Kanzi. Of course, having being brought up in captivity (but still with other apes), the lines are blurred, but this behavior is perfectly understood within the context of their existing culture even in the wild. The only difference it shows is that they are capable of seeing humans as actors within that culture and learning to communicate it with us… it in no way shows true rationalization of choices and actions, and in no way shows the ability to formulate arguments either way, for right or wrong; Kanzi was acting within his cultural norm….

        Furthermore, I did agree that they can learn language as a function of intellect, not rationality as described previously.

        Lastly, to say something is “like” something else is not the same as to say that it possesses all the same characteristics. How does DNA fingerprinting show ancestry from “proto-primate,” if you will, to human? Because our genomes are similar in many respects? Don’t forget we share a lot of the same form and function so why wouldn’t we? Form and function, such as the blue whale example, is not the same thing as ontological awareness, different arguments my friend. It is an assumption that humans and great apes share a common ancestor. A logical assumption perhaps given the confines of testable hypotheses, and based on the “best” current scientific evidence accepted by the majority, yet it ignores basic philosophical principles of being, that is, the ontological principles aforementioned and is at best circular reasoning. There are also scientific arguments against evolution as you purport, yet easily dismissed because much like the theory of evolution as you purport, it can never be proven, only inferred and assumptions made and tested. Otherwise, what does it matter to have Faith? You were created my friend, in God’s image, He knew you before you were born. I pray you will continue to seek Him my friend, and that I may one day call you brother.

        God bless, grace to you in Jesus the Christ,
        Nick

      • In regards to Kanzi, there was no indication that the caretaker was the alpha, Kanzi is in fact the alpha male of the bonobo community, to the point that he ordered the man to do something. The fact that the alpha than showed contrition for harming someone he perceived to be a subordinate when he realized that he had injured him in such a manner does so reasoning, not to mention rationality in that because the ape wanted to have a renewed relationship with the male caretaker he knew he had to show signs of contrition. There’s no fundamental difference between his behavior and human behavior, the only differences are cultural,linguistic, and cognitive aptitude.

        In regards to DNA and ancestry, its not that we simply ‘look’ similar DNA wise, its that we possess markers in our DNA (ERVs, LINES, or SINES take your pick) that act as a history book so to speak, of how you and how I got to the current form we’re in. A lot of it is junk from viruses that afflicted our common ancestor but it does do something wonderful, it allows us to see just how far removed we are from one another. Just like we can assess paternity, we can analyze these differences (and we know how these differences occur and have observed them) and find out where we are in relation to not only ourselves, but to our animal cousins… who also share those unique ERVs as a result of viral contamination… because we had a common ancestor =)

        Or maybe God decided to put those ERVs in there just to mess with us, who knows?

        Could you please list the scientific arguments against evolution? Where are they published and what experimentation has been done?

        In regards to the philosophical principles of being… what in the world does philosophy have to do with science? I’ve talked with philosophers before, and while they do have some profound insights into how humans should behave within a moral frame work, that has nothing to do with understanding how reality works on a physical level. We can use philosophy to better ourselves as a social species but its science that’s helping us understand how our brains work, what makes a social animal moral, and how it is that we arrived where we are in the first place.

        In regards to faith, in its broadest term, it is impossible for anyone on the planet to live without some form of faith, I do agree, so there’s nothing wrong with it. Its choosing unsupported beliefs when there are vetted alternatives that are shown to be more correct that I have a problem with. As far as the God created thing I have to give a resounding…. maybe?

      • Hi Vin,

        Well said in regards to Kanzi, I agree, it does show a remarkable ability to reason of the great apes. But is this the same as rationalization? By rationalization I mean the ability to explain ones line of reasoning, explaining it over another line of reasoning, and not only explaining actions or behaviors, but also beliefs. Humans have this ability, do you think Kanzi or the great apes have this ability of rationalization as so defined?

        In regards to the DNA evidence of the theory of evolution as you purport, are there alternative hypotheses that explain the patterns we find across differing species? Why not entertain those? I will waylay the temptation to address all of this now, so that I may better purport particular evidences, hypotheses, and studies and/or experiments in an organized fashion at a later time, please give me a month or so and know that I am not side-stepping, just want to be thorough. I will comment on a related thread of yours at that time, so don’t worry about checking this one a month from now. Yet I will leave you with this thought at least on ERVs.

        please see the following link for a good layman overview of ERV:
        http://vwxynot.blogspot.com/2007/06/endogenous-retroviruses-and-evidence.html

        Now, what the currently accepted hypothesis for ERVs being evidence of the theory of evolution, that purports all mammals came from a single, “proto-mammal,” if you will, is that there are alternative hypotheses for their existence and patterns.

        Alternative hypothesis reasoning: Given what we know about retroviruses and their mutative potential, it is no wonder that many may become extinct quite rapidly (no virus has ever mutated into something other than a virus mind you). Retroviruses are highly specific for their hosts, yet can mutate to infect other hosts of different species; example: SIV does not infect humans, but does infect other primates, and some species of monkeys are thought to be relatively recently infectable. Futhermore, a particular species can have DNA polymorphisms within that species that render them non-infectable, so to speak, not necessarily, “immune,” in the sense that they mount an immune response, they just can’t become infected or do so at much slower rates and/or lower probabilities, example:

        Actual hypothesis:
        Therefore, with these known scientific facts, is it possible that ERVs are found in their known patterns because they represent extinct viral species that only had the ability to infect specific species’ at any one given time. That is, the ERV all mammals share and no other Cass of taxonomic differentiation could infect only and yet all mammals because they share a particular conserved DNA sequence, call this ERV1. Then ERV2 infects only members of the Order rodentia, since they all share a conserved DNA sequence not common in other orders. Then ERV3 infects humans and all other primates, since they have a conserved DNA sequence in common. Then ERV4 infects only humans because it can only infect humans, due to a varied DNA sequence not shared with any other Genus. Yet ERV4 is now extinct. This is similar to what we see with SIV, then mutating, arguably to HIV in humans. The same pattern would be seen if this were the case, and not a “common ancestor” for all mammals, yet I am not sure how one can test between the two hypotheses. Any ideas? It does not matter which ERV existed when in time, only that it is capable of only infecting specific species, genus, order, or class. And I can’t think of a way to test a remnant of an extinct virus, but I will spend some time over the next month looking at the literature. I hope this is not too confusing, and I will formulate this argument in greater detail and with more clarity for you in a month or so, maybe even create a blog you may reference for this argument and the other I will give in a month… but that may have to wait until April 2012…

        You wrote:
        “In regards to the philosophical principles of being… what in the world does philosophy have to do with science?”

        Does ethics have anything to do with science, and is ethics not a branch of philosophy? Philosophy has everything to do with science… its what drives us to ask particular questions in specified ways that can then lead to questions that can be tested by the scientific method. In my biochemistry training, we often spoke of how philosophy shapes science and in great detail about ethics in science, especially in honors classes, not that I deserved to be in them, it was only by the grace of God…

        God bless, grace to you in Jesus the Christ,
        Nick

      • Oops, forgot to list published examples of effects of allelic variation on retroviral infection and immunity, here they are:

        Curr HIV Res. 2003 Apr;1(2):185-203.
        The impact of human allelic variation on HIV-1 disease.
        Anastassopoulou CG, Kostrikis LG.

        An example of single nucleotide polymorphisms and HIV infection ability:
        CCR5 and HIV infection. [Review] [232 refs]
        Blanpain C. Libert F. Vassart G. Parmentier M.
        Receptors & Channels. 8(1):19-31, 2002.

        Enjoy!

      • In regards to Kanzi and rationalizing his actions, I do agree it would be difficult to ascertain whether or not he questions his actions, but its evident that he does at least think and consider them. I would argue that many people don’t take the time to full rationalize and think about our actions, hence why you can ask people ethical questions or pose moral dilemmas and watch them squirm, falter, or become horribly inarticulate. Many people simply answer, that’s just the way God did it, as a simple explanation =), I would propose that similar questions would vex an ape if posed to them.

        I’d look into LINES and SINES in relation to mitochondrial DNA and not just ERVs, in order to get a better understanding of how genetics proves common ancestry. I’d also look into how we assess paternity and DNA in the case of forensics, science that has proven its worth that can also be applied to phylogenetics. Those are interesting alternative hypothesize, and I’ll have to read into them more.

        I do believe in ethics in the application of science, ie. how we should use gene therapy to help people suffering from terminal cancers because its the right thing to do, or don’t experiment on humans if it jeopardizes their lives. But as far as discovering the facts and assessing the evidence, they should be devoid of opinion or emotion in order to better discover the truth and eliminate preconceptions. When it comes to philosophy, a lot of times there’s preconception and bias based on anecdotal observation which can muddy the waters, so to speak, when mixed with science. Take Steve’s sermon on Laminin he did awhile back, for example. Steve is not a scientist he’s a pastor, but I’d group him in with the philosopher crowd because he’s spreading a philosophical message. He has a preconceived bias, he has a conclusion he wants to reach that supports his philosophies, and he cherry picked whatever he could find about laminin in order try and prove his point to himself and his congregation. Now if you had started off talking about ethics in science I would agree with you.

  14. Romans 1:22
    Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools

  15. Steve, on a blog where you minister to & teach evangelicals (and probably atheists too), you made fun of our humble forum. Why?

    If I were an egotist, I’d say it was because you felt we’re a threat in some small way. No matter what you’ll claim the real reason was – it’s significant that you immortalized us rather than any of the hundreds of other skeptical groups.

    Really though, it was just a joke…

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