Monday, May 5, 2008

Humans Vocal Cords

“Vocal cords only can be found in humans. Animals do not have it. Vocal cords are given by God so that humans can communicate God’s ‘logos’ (truth).”
(“Wen Ti Jie Ta” CD -14 Aug 2005, translator: Yang Tuck Meng, track 11)

Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong is wrong about vocal cords. Almost all animals have vocal cords. They are just different in the position, size, and hence functions. There are animals that have the same vocal cords as humans. In fact, human infants share the same vocal cords with apes. See this article from McGill University's website.

W. Tecumseh Fitch, Lecturer in Psychology at University of St. Andrews, whose major research is on evolution and neural basis of cognition and communication, has pointed out that vocal cords that are similar with humans’ are found in animal like the red deer (Cervus elaphus).

David Reby, Lecturer in Psychology at University of Sussex, on the red deer's vocal cords discovery:

Darwin-Wallace Co-authored Work

"Wallace, an Englishman, published a book that had the concept of evolution which inspired Charles Darwin. He wrote about the idea of natural selection and the survival of the fittest. Later on both Wallace and Darwin wrote on the theory of evolution in the book, “The Principle of Biology”."
(Creation vs Evolution - Part 1, 2 July 2006. The sermon note available here)

There is no such publication. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace co-authored only one article together in 1858 titled "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection" which was published in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. Zoology 3: 46-50.

The mentioned of Charles Darwin and Alfred R. Wallace co-authored article:

The article can be read at Darwin-Online website

Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong needs to get his information right and stop tampering with facts. From an article, he bloated it into a 'book'; from a technical title, he changed it to a generic caption.

Besides, not sure whether did Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong meant that it was Alfred R. Wallace who coined the term "survival of the fittest" or the idea behind it. If it is the former, he is wrong. The term was coined by Herbert Spencer in his book 'The Principles of Biology' published 1864. If it is the latter, he was giving a ambiguous abstraction that does not really convey anything much about what Wallace was really writing about.

Perhaps, Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong is confused between the work of Herbert Spencer with those of Charles Darwin and Alfred R. Wallace. If that is the case, it is time for him to preach-teach with notes at hand so that he would stop giving out false information, or just stop talking about subjects that he is confused until he got his facts right.

Thomas H. Huxley Is Not An 'Adamic Monogenist'

"Without Spencer and Huxley, Darwin's theory of evolution would not have become so widespread. Yet these two men believed that people of all races must come from a single couple (the same parents)."
(Creation vs Evolution - Part 4, 23 July 2006. The sermon note available here)

"Both Spencer and Huxley acknowledge humankind from all races come from a pair of husband and wife."
(“Chrsitianity and World Religions and Cultures” CD -17 till 20 Aug 2007, translator: Yang Tuck Meng, track 5)

There is no documentation that Thomas Henry Huxley (picture above) think that the world-wide distributed people come from a "single couple" (the same parents). Huxley himself wrote in 'Critiques and Addresses' that the issue on the origin of human races is an "open question". He does not identify himself as either as an 'Adamic monogenist' that believes that all races come from a "single couple"( the same parents). In his own words,

"Five-sixths of the public are taught this Adamitic Monogenism, as if it were an established truth, and believe it. I do not; and I am not acquainted with any man of science, or duly instructed person, who does."
(Critiques and Addresses; Emphasis added. The online book available here and here)

Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong is wrong here. Huxley does not think that humans come from a single couple. Between the Adamic monogenism and many forms of polygenism , he sees himself more incline to the idea that our current diverse humans distribution around the world comes from a single species through evolution, not same parents.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ancient Civilization Disproves Evolution?

“If you believe in the theory of evolution, why did civilization appeared so late and when it first appeared immediately appeared as highly supreme civilization?…[for eg in the ancient architecture accomplishment] the building of the great pyramid… no current Singapore’s engineers qualify to build the great pyramid if they were there back then… And the ancient builders had accomplished these great work thousands of years ago.
The only reason that civilization occurred out of the sudden after thousands years of evolution is because God created man in his own image (This sentence is ambiguous. It suggests that Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong thinks that evolution occurred but that will contradict his later conclusion that evolution is not plausible. Thus, most probably Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong meant it as how his translator forcefully phrased it, “How is it possible that civilization suddenly occurred? The only reason is that God has made us in his image”.)

The fact that the ancients are so intelligent compared to present foolish humans shows that the theory of evolution is not reliable. If not humans would not have been in our current stage.”
(“Wen Ti Jie Ta” CD -14 Aug 2005, translator: Yang Tuck Meng, track 11)

1) Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong’s definition of the ‘supremacy’ of civilization.

First he defines the ‘supremacy’ of a civilization based on their architectural accomplishments. Following that, Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong ridicules present humans as foolish and have lower intelligence as compared to the ancients simply because (he alleges that) we cannot and do not build pyramids now. That alone betrays his narrowness and romantic-idealistic thoughts.

From modern architecture point of view, the building of a similar structure such as the ancient great pyramid is just a waste of resources and space. And pyramids are simply not viable for modern living. The pyramids belong to a different world to serve different purposes which our modern living does not share. Would Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong build a Pantheon? Of course not! He builds churches rather than a Pantheon not because he is foolish or has lower intelligence than the ancient Greeks, but because he does not sympathize with the world of the ancient Greeks, and hence does not anticipates to build such monument.

To ridicule modern architectural practices simply because we do not build pyramids as the ancients did is an absurd mismatch. It is as if he is mocking an East Asia terrace house as compared to the igloo of the Eskimos. Would he says that the East Asians have lower intelligence compared to the Eskimos? To follow his logic, it’s a ridiculous ‘yes’.

And besides, he is wrong that modern people are not able to build pyramids. Modern architects not only able to build pyramids but to build them with more sophistication. Think Louvre Musuem in Paris (picture below). In fact many modern architectures are more complicated and sophisticated than the great pyramid. See Discovery Channel’s Extreme Engineering for great architectural and engineering establishments by modern people. Compare these structures with the great pyramid, then you tell me how justifiable is Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong in comparing the ancients and the moderns.

2) Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong’s perception of the relation between civilization and the theory of evolution.

As described above, Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong’s understanding of the ‘supremacy’ of the ancients is their architecture achievement. Besides, his argument that the ancients are more intelligent because they are able to build pyramids which modern people cannot and do not build has been shown ridiculous and uninformed. Hence his overall argument that the high intelligence of the ancients, as epitomized in their architectures, repudiates the theory of evolution is not tenable.

First, the ancients might be intelligent but not higher than modern people. They are just different sets of social programs which are being run at different era of the human history. The ancients have their pyramids and great walls; the moderns have skyscrapers and “Blue Gene”.

Second, besides architecture, in terms of innovative utilization of natural resources, the moderns supersede the ancients by thousands of years. Think ‘energy generators’. In terms of social responsibility, the moderns advanced beyond the ancients. For eg. when tsunami devastated the southern world, aids from around the world arrive to ease the crisis. This is not being known in the ancient worlds which were ruled by tyrants.

It seems that humans have gone up and down in our history. There are times when we enjoyed honour and glory, and times when we are despicable and wretched. But such complex phenomena relate more to the nature of human beings as limited, aspiring, intelligent, sinful, and redeemed beings. This cannot be entirely explained by theory of evolution.

However, the theory of evolution does contribute to our understanding of human history for eg. our human adaptive behaviour. Hence neither can we say that human history rejects evolution. Saying this is mere absurdity.

At the end of the session, Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong concludes that we are God’s creation and hence there were highly intelligent ancient civilizations. And such observation is the best available reason to reject the theory of evolution.

I think to reject the theory of evolution simply because the ancients are intelligent enough to build pyramids and great walls is rather extremely odd.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Charismatic Exegetical and Theological Contributions to Christian Faith

“The Charismatic movement today fails to produce any worthwhile exegetical works on the Bible. The Charismatic movement today fails to produce a comprehensive systematic theology of our faith.”
(“Wen Ti Jie Ta” CD -14 Aug 2005, translator: Yang Tuck Meng, track 4)

Has Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong not come across the works of Gordon Fee? If not, he should.

Gordon Fee

Gordon Fee is a New Testament scholar who, after teaching briefly at Wheaton College in Illinois, taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts until 1986. He then moved to Regent College in Vancouver, Canada where he is now Professor Emeritus. He also serves on the advisory board of the International Institute for Christian Studies. Fee received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Seattle Pacific University and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

Fee is one of the foremost experts in pneumatology and also the textual criticism of the New Testament of the Bible. He is also the author of books on Biblical exegesis, including the popular introductory work How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (co-authored with Douglas Stuart), the "sequel," How to Read the Bible, Book by Book, How to Choose a Translation for all its Worth (co-authored with Mark Strauss) and a major commentary on 1 Corinthians as well as numerous other commentaries on various books in the New Testament. In the 1990s he succeeded F.F. Bruce to become the editor of the notable evangelical commentary series, the New International Commentary of the New Testament.

Fee is a member of the CBT (Committee on Bible Translation) that translated the New International Version (NIV) and its revision, the Today's New International Version (TNIV). He is also a member of the "board of reference" for "Christians for Biblical Equality," a group of Evangelical Christians that believes that the Bible advocates complete equality between men and women in both home and ministry. He was a contributing editor to the key Christian egalitarian book Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without hierarchy (2004).

Fee is an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God (AG) and unabashedly identifies himself as Pentecostal, even though he has written articles disagreeing with a few of the AG's fundamental Pentecostalism-specific doctrines.

There are other theologians with academic postgraduate degrees (contra Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong's honorary degrees) who identify themselves with the Charismatic movement, such as Stanley M. Horton, Wayne Grudem, J. Rodman Williams, Charles H. Kraft, Jackie David Johns, Steven Jack Land, John Christopher Thomas, Rickie D. Moore and H. Vinson Synan, have contributed to the Christian faith. It is obvious that Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong's sweeping and uninformed remark concerning the Charismatic movement is invalid.