My Response to Jerry Coyne and his Readers on the Resurrection

Reply to “Why Evolution Is Not True”


Jerry Coyne, on his popular blog: “Why Evolution Is True” (WEIT) posted about Kenneth Miller’s theistic evolution position—”Catholic biologist Ken Miller talks about God and evolution.” In it, he commented:

Miller adds that he sees Jesus as divine and as “saviour of the world.” That being the case, Varg should immediately have asked him if he thought Jesus was resurrected from the dead. I don’t think Miller would have been on as firm a ground if he had said that that, too, might just have been just a story to underscore Jesus’s “teachings”. For if Miller really thought that, he would be flying in the face of very important Church dogma, and in fact could hardly call himself a Catholic. (If Jesus wasn’t crucified and resurrected, on what grounds do we consider him saviour of the world? And isn’t a denial of the Resurrection a heresy?)

In response to that quote, I sent in a comment that stated “Jesus did rise from the dead; there were over 500 witnesses.” Dr. Coyne then generated a new blog post “Jesus Delusion” featuring my comment. Later that day he posted my reply to “Jesus Delusion” in a new blog post entitled “McLeroy replies about the crucifixion.”

This blog post is my response to Dr. Coyne and the WEIT readers who made almost 400 comments to these two blog posts.

First, I would like to thank and complement the many who took the time to thoughtfully reply to my two comments on the 500 eyewitnesses. Daniel Dennett touts “Sturgeon’s Law” which says that 90% of all comments are rubbish, but here, this is clearly not the case. Most were very serious reflections and reasonable statements and questions.

Biblical scholars differ on the resurrection. I admit that I am only well-read among the conservative scholars and my familiarity with the liberal scholars is limited to the critiques of them by the conservatives. Definitely not the best policy. The only skeptical book I have read is Russell Shorto’s Gospel Truth: On the Trail of the Historical Jesus as he had interviewed me for a major essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Just as the scholars differ so do I and the readers. I accept a scholarship that dates the Gospels as written between 40 and 65 A.D. whereas most readers believe they were written 65 to 100 A.D. or later. These later dates allow for conspiracy theories and myths to be more easily developed. I don’t think any reader held the early dating gospel view.

But no matter which scholars are correct, we still have to account for the phenomenon of Christianity and its powerful influence over the last 2000 years and today. And, we have to account for the fact as to why my simple comment about “500 eyewitnesses” could stir up so much interest? Christianity seems to draw a lot more interest than it should. Of course, atheism and evolution do the same for me. I admit that I enjoy following many of Dr. Coyne’s blog posts. I like keeping up with the evolutionists and atheists; I want to understand how the atheist mind thinks and reasons. I believe that Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins are much clearer thinkers about the implications of evolution than Kenneth Miller and other theistic evolutionists.

Specific Objections


Overall, I found the objections raised to the resurrection to be focused on plain skeptical thinking about miracles in general, the accuracy and reliability of the scriptures, contradictions in the gospel story, and especially, the lack of corroborating evidence of biblical accounts concerning the resurrection—especially the dead coming out of their graves and seen walking around Jerusalem.

Specific to the resurrection, no one advocated the swoon theory, and only a few commented that they thought the disciples hallucinated. Most focused on the idea of a conspiracy of early Christians or the gradual development of Christianity as myth. Also, no one was impressed with the experts I cited—Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw, Peter Kreeft, Norman Geisler, Frank Turek, Lee Strobel, James Hannam, Moyshe Averick, Rodney Stark, Ravi Zacarias,G. K Chesterton, Paul Johnson, Abraham Kuyper, C. S. Lewis, and David Brog.

I do not know why there is no mention of the dead coming out of their graves and seen walking around Jerusalem in non-biblical accounts. But, it does seem odd though for a bunch of conspirators to add such a detail that could easily be dismissed unless it actually happened.

While we do not know their names or have the testimonies of the 500 in question, we do for Paul and James and Peter and John and Mark and Matthew. I am not too bothered about the actual number of eyewitnesses. As noted in my comment to McLeroy replies about the crucifixion the testimony of just two eyewitnesses is very powerful. Even so, if Jesus did actually rise from the dead and spent around a month among the people, it seems logical the claim of the 500 witnesses could have happened. And, Paul is issuing a challenge to those skeptics reading his words to go and ask these folks—many who are still alive. This is not something you would do if making up a myth or a conspiracy.

Another good point the readers made are why some disciples did not recognize Jesus immediately. I don’t know. Again, it does seem odd though for a bunch of conspirators to add such a detail that could easily be dismissed unless it actually happened. I can only speculate as to why he was not recognized; my speculations are not very important.

I am not in a position to debate the strength and weaknesses of Bart Ehrman’s scholarship. As noted in my first reply in Jesus Delusion I have my own set of experts I trust. I will let them have that debate.

As for Paul’s claims he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, it certainly was more than a vision. There was light and all present heard Jesus speaking.

One reader stated that Christianity “attained its current heights due to” purely naturalistic causes. I hold the view that Christianity reached its lofty status because it is based on truth—truth about the nature of God, the nature of man and the nature of the world.

One reader asked if I would still believe if there were no eyewitnesses. A good question. I can only speculate because the account says they were eyewitnesses. With no witnesses, the biblical accounts would have been totally different and history would have been completely different. I don’t know what I would believe today if that were the case.

Biblical Trustworthiness in General


It seems to me that the starting point for many of the readers in rejecting the resurrection are an anti-supernatural bias and assumption that the Bible is not reliable or authoritative. I believe the supernatural exists and miracles happen. Miracles can happen; the greatest miracle was the creation of the world. For me, I have found the Bible to be extremely reliable; this is not the case for many of the readers; I see no way of resolving these differences here.

Other Questions


A very good question raised by Dr. Coyne and others is why I believe I am right when I have not studied other religions for 29 years. Could I be wrong? Yes, I could be wrong. I try to understand what others believe or don’t believe. This is one reason I listen to the podcast “Point of Inquiry.” They have fascinating discussions about issues such as these. Again, my testimony of “How I became a Christian” can be found on my website.

The timing of events during the “Passion Week” is difficult. I do not know for sure. A lot had to happen if the “Last Supper” was Thursday night and the crucifixion was Friday. For me, this is not insurmountable.

One reader asked “What would it take to change my mind?” This is a good question. Since my whole life is wrapped up in my faith—my friends, my church, my sense of who I am, it would be very difficult to give it all up. I believe I am honest enough to do so if I was presented evidence of a viable alternative.

This works both ways. For those of you who are atheists, how can you hold to something with so little evidence? You have to have something from “Nothing.” If “Nothing” is defined as “what a sleeping rock dreams of;” I would think you have a serious problem.

For those of you who are evolutionists, how can you hold to something with so little evidence? To explain all the diversity of life on this planet by unguided natural processes requires a titanic amount of evidence. I think the best evidence you have is the fossil record. You say the present is the key to the past. Yet, present animal life consists of life so discontinuous that it is unimaginable how the gaps could have been bridged , and the fossil record shows the same gaps—with some transitional fossils. This is not enough! There should be “zillions” of them. And, when it comes to explaining the evolution of  biochemical processes in the cell, you have nothing.

Therefore, I find my biblical beliefs to be much more reasonable. For any other alternative, the evidence doesn’t support it.

In conclusion, all of us reasoning creatures hold some irrational beliefs. I find mine to be less of a problem than the way I understand yours; this is why I read your blogs—to better understand your beliefs. However, I must admit that after reading your responses to these two WEIT blog posts by Dr. Coyne, I find your reasoning much more coherent and evidence based.

Thank you.

Don McLeroy

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Why Evolution is Probably False (revised)

Miller and Levine’s Biology (2014) Clearly Demonstrates Why Evolution is Probably False

Texas’ high school biology textbooks—written to standards adopted in 2009—have finally been completed. Back then, Science reported “New science standards in Texas strike a major blow to the teaching of evolution.” (3 April 2009)Two months later, Science—quoting noted evolutionist and textbook author Kenneth Miller—reported:

Miller’s answer [to the standards]… is not to get too excited. The new Texas standards leave plenty of room for authors to explain the robustness of evolutionary theory, he says, and that’s precisely what he and his publisher, Prentice Hall, plan to do. “The advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for,” Miller says. “The new wording is an opportunity to make biology texts even stronger.

For example, Miller intends to “introduce more material on the evolution of organelles” within the cell to show that the cell’s complexity is in fact explained by evolution. (12 June 2009) Emphasis added

 One of the supposedly “major blow” standards—Biology 7G—simply requires the students to “analyze and evaluate scientific [evolutionary] explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.” To fulfill this new requirement, Miller followed through on his plan to “introduce more material on the evolution of organelles“—specifically the ribosome.

 Miller and  Levine and the Ribosome

The Assignment

Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine, in their new textbook, Biology (2014), at the end of  Chapter 19 “The History of Life,” have an assignment for the students to “Think Critically and Evaluate” the evolutionary origin of ribosomes.

16. Evaluate Evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell. Ribosomes, which are composed of RNA (rRNA) and proteins, are part of the complex structure of cells. One hypothesis proposes that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone, and that ribosomal proteins were added gradually. Evaluate the proposed explanation of the evolution of ribosomes based on evidence that has been presented to support it. Emphasis added (Page 565)

Miller and Levine’s Evidence for the Evolution of the Ribosome

Here is the text of the “evidence that has been presented.”

Ribosomes are complex organelles used by all living cells to translate the coded instructions of RNA molecules into the sequences of amino acids that make up proteins. Ribosomes in eukaryotic cells consist of four ribosomal RNA molecules and more than 80 different proteins. The origin of this complex structure has long been a mystery. New research, however, has led to some surprising findings. One of these is that the part of the ribosome where chemical bonds are formed between amino acids completely lacks proteins. This is true of other key places in the ribosome as well, so it is now clear that ribosomal RNA itself carries out the most important tasks in protein synthesis. How should we understand and evaluate this surprising fact? One interpretation supported by the evidence is that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone. Over time proteins were added to the RNA in ways that improved the efficiency of the process, leading to today’s more complex ribosomes. Emphasis added (Page 557)

Figure 19-18 A prokaryotic ribosome Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of the large subunit is shown in gray while rRNA of the small subunit is blue. RNA makes up the interior of the ribosome, where protein synthesis takes place. Ribosomal proteins (shown in lavender on the large subunit and purple on the small subunit) and largely confined to the surface of the ribosome. This revealing image was produced in the laboratory of Dr. Harry Noller, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Some Questions for Students

If you are a student, let us tackle this assignment presented by Miller and Levine; let us now “Evaluate the proposed explanation of the evolution of ribosomes based on evidence that has been presented to support it.” We need only ask some questions. You can then decide for yourself how compelling their evidence is for explaining the evolutionary origin of a functioning ribosome? You decide if the authors have demonstrated “the robustness of evolutionary theory?”

Here are a few of the questions that could be asked:

Life without ribosomes?

  1. Are there any cells anywhere that do not have proteins? NO
  2. Can you have life as we know it without proteins? NO
  3. Are there any proteins anywhere in a living cell today that was not made by a ribosome? NO
  4. Therefore, can you have life today as we know it without ribosomes? NO

RNA-only ribosomes?

  1. Is there a “pure RNA-only molecular machine” that makes proteins today? NO
  2. Do they have evidence it ever existed? NO
  3. Wouldn’t actual evidence of RNA-only ribosomes be better than speculating “that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone?” YES
  4. Therefore, is their entire argument based only on speculation? YES

How robust is the single “surprising fact” they do provide?

  1. Even granting that “Ribosomal RNA carries out the most important task in protein synthesis,” what does this “surprising fact”  demonstrate?
    1. Does it explain the origin of the ribosome? NO
    2. Does it explain how the ribosome incorporated the “more than 80 different proteins?” NO
    3. Does it explain the origin of the original four RNAs? NO
      1. Does it explain how they were formed? NO
      2. Does it explain how they joined together? NO
      3. Does it explain how the messenger RNA (mRNA) with the coded instructions found them once they joined together? NO
      4. Does it explain how they were able to reproduce themselves? NO
    4. Since the evolutionary preservation of the initial rRNA-only ribosome is dependent on its operating on a coded mRNA string, does it explain the origin of the coded instructions for the first protein to be coded in the mRNA? NO
      1. Do they have an idea where the coded information came from? NO
      2. Do they know how the mRNA with coded information reproduces itself so it can make a more proteins? NO
  2. Were all the 80 proteins in the ribosome made by a ribosome? YES
    1. Do they know which of the 80 ribosomal proteins was added first? second? third? and so on? NO
    2. Can they add an extra protein today to “improve the efficiency of the process?NO
    3. Do they know the function of the ribosomal proteins? a frame?  a support structure? a chassis? THEY DON’T KNOW.
    4. Can you make a support structure out of pure RNA? THEY DON’T KNOW.
    5. Can RNA without proteins support itself and also make a protein? THEY DON’T KNOW.
    6. If not, how can you have a ribosome without a protein and how can you have a protein without a ribosome? THEY DON’T KNOW.

An Analogy

Consider an automobile. Couldn’t we say that its engine carries out the most important tasks?” How plausible is it then to conclude that the “engine” gradually added a chassis “that improved the efficiency of the process, leading to today’s more complex” automobiles? NOT PLAUSIBLE AT ALL.



Remember, if there are no ribosomes there are no proteins; if there are no proteins, there is no life as we know it. But there is life, there are proteins, and there are ribosomes. Science tests ideas by experiment and observation; Miller and Levine have produced neither; they have only provided a just-so story “the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone.” Given this evaluation “based on the evidence” available today, are ribosomes the result of evolutionary processes? YOU DECIDE.

A closing argument:

  1. All life—every single living cell—requires ribosomes
  2. If  you decide that as of today, evolutionary explanations “have not accounted for the origin of the ribosome and have failed the test of science,
  3. Then, the simple conclusion is that evolution itself “cannot account for” life and has failed the test of science.

One final question

According to Kenneth Miller, do “the advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for?” 

Or, do the advocates of evolution overestimate the strength of the evidence?


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Hobby Lobby decision does not coerce anyone in any way


Bryan-College Station Eagle


Letters for July 3


Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 12:00 am



Our country is deeply divided on moral issues, especially abortion. Resolving the issues without coercion of one side is difficult but that is exactly what the Supreme Court did in the “Hobby Lobby” case.

Had the abortion/contraception mandate by President Barack Obama’s unelected Health and Human Services regulators been upheld, state coercion of some people’s freedom to act on their religious convictions would have been sustained and religious freedom would have been lost.


The resulting decision of the court, however, ended up coercing no one. It did deny some people what they wished, but it does not force them to act against any deeply held belief.


Thank you, Supreme Court, for keeping our religious freedoms for at least another day.



College Station

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Ken Miller and Joe Levine’s Scientific Honesty?

Miller & Levine’s Scientific Honesty?

When it comes to explaining how science works, Ken Miller and Joe Levine are the Jekyll and Hyde of biology textbook authors. In their 2011 on-line textbook for Texas school children, they masterfully explain scientific methodology and then just two years later they deliberately weakened their explanations.

In 2011, they clearly explain how science tests hypotheses by what they call “Experimentation” or “Observational Studies.” They describe “Experimentation” as when “the experimenter caries out a controlled experiment in which just one variable is changed to test its effect on the results.”

“Observational Studies” are explained as testing when “controlled experiments are simply not possible. For example, it would be impossible to perform a controlled experiment to test a hypothesis regarding the origin of the universe.” They go on to state “When experiments are not possible, scientists may gather data by making observations that might tend to support or reject the hypothesis.”

They then explain “Data in the form of both results and observations serves as evidence for scientists to use to test their predictions.” They conclude their discussion of what science is by stating “Only questions that can be tested against collected data and evidence can be analyzed by science.”

A better discussion about how science works and the key role of testing would be hard to find. Congratulations Dr. Miller and Dr. Levine!

However, just two years later, in 2013, Miller and Levine seem to forget about how science tests scientific hypotheses with “Observational Studies.” Their latest textbook explanation of how science works is silent about testing with “Observational Studies”; they only present Texas school children with what they now label as “Designing Controlled Experiments.” There is no mention of the impossibility of testing for the origin of the universe with a “controlled experiment.” While they do mention that sometimes experiments are impossible, they only state it is because it might be impractical or unethical; they do not even state that it may be because a “controlled experiment” actually is impossible!

Why this intentional backwards leap from 2011 to 2013 in explaining scientific methodology? Why deny Texas school children the better more complete explanation from 2011? I do not know their motivation but I do recognize the impact of this dishonest presentation of scientific methodology. It denies Texas school children the very scientific methodological tool they need to analyze and evaluate evolution. Evolution, like the origin of the universe, is tested by “observational studies.” Scientists examine the fossil record and cellular complexity for historic clues or “data” to test the hypothesis that all life is descended from a common ancestor. Personally, given what evolution must explain, I find the evolutionist’s “collected data” simply insufficient. For example, in Miller and Levine’s text, they present NO data to support evolutionary explanations for the complexity of the cell—none! All they present is “just-so” stories and—I presume—hope that the students do not realize that evolution has not been scientifically tested by any evidence.

Miller and Levine recently claimed they were “committed to scientific accuracy and integrity.” What do you think?

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The Limits of Naturalistic Processes

Evolution and the limits of naturalistic processes


Evolution’s great claim is that all life is the result of unguided natural processes. But, purely naturalistic processes have difficulty explaining what we see in the world around us. For instance, it is undeniable, except to a few, that something cannot come from nothing (where nothing is defined as what a sleeping rock dreams of), that life cannot come from non-life, and that we, ourselves, have a special immaterial consciousness. This is largely because—as of today—science has completely failed to provide any reasonable naturalistic explanation for the origin of the cosmos, the origin of life or the origin of consciousness. This is not due to lack of effort; science has struggled in vain for reasonable explanations. In fact, the more that is discovered about the cosmos, life and consciousness, the more difficult it is to find a plausible non-supernatural explanation. If the cosmos, life and consciousness actually did arise from strictly naturalistic processes, why are we completely clueless as to how it happened?

And, if purely naturalistic processes have so much difficulty in explaining such simple basic phenomenon, should we not question purely naturalistic explanations for the evolutionary development of life also? Why not? When we are presented with supposedly overwhelming evidence for evolution, let us take a step back and carefully evaluate what we are being told. Given the poor track record of naturalistic processes, we owe it to ourselves to carefully analyze and evaluate the evidence for evolution’s extraordinary claims. I believe that when you do you will find naturalistic explanations for the evolutionary development of life also incredibly weak.

The Bible’s great claim is that all life is the result of God’s creative work. In its opening pages, the Hebrew text clearly states that God “created” the cosmos, life and human consciousness—all out of nothing. The first three uses of the Hebrew word “bara”—translated “created” in the English and usually meaning to create out of nothing—appears in the Bible’s first verse to proclaim the creation of the cosmos; then again in verse 21 to proclaim the creation of “living creatures” and then again in verse 27 to proclaim man as created in “the image of God.” Amazingly, the very first chapter of the Bible presents a reasonable answer to what we see in the world around us –to the three great mysteries of the origin of the cosmos, of life and of human consciousness.

Thus, when the Bible goes on to describe that all life was initially created “after its kind”, why not also evaluate how the evidence supports creationist claims? I believe that when you do, you will find the evidence fits the super-naturalistic claims much better than the purely naturalistic.

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Thoughts on a Young Earth

My Thoughts on a Young Earth


If we believe the Bible’s greatest claim—the Incarnation, why be shy about believing in a literal Genesis? During an in-depth study of science and the Bible in 2005-2006 I decided that, if asked, I would publicly state my religious convictions that I was a creationist—even a young earth creationist (YEC). Three years later that opportunity came when a New York Times reporter asked both questions. I told her I knew my answer to the age question was an incredible claim for most people, but that I believed a lot of incredible things: “The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.” I asked her to put it in the story and she did. That exact quote is still circulating around the internet—over 7000 hits on atheist websites! Not a bad message for their readers.

Also, teachers of a local Chinese church maintained that once the Chinese students trusted in Jesus and accepted his Incarnation that these bright students never balked at a literal Genesis account. For them it was completely coherent with the other amazing claims of Christianity. They maintained that to waffle on Genesis would have undermined those students’ new faith.

Therefore, why is it so hard for intelligent, educated American Christians to accept YEC? Why not simply accept the testimony of someone who was there instead of accommodating the “experts” who were not there and hail from one of the most pagan, irreligious institutions in our society—the University?


An old earth view (OEC) raises serious theological problems. For God to allow eons of suffering and death to prepare the world for humans impugns his character, and then for God to call it “very good” impugns his veracity. The theological arguments that place death before Adam’s sin are incredibly weak. The denial of the judgment of all men in a global flood undermines the doctrine of a future Great White Throne Judgment of all unbelievers.

A YEC view is clearly the most coherent. The three “bara”s (translated as “created”—out of nothing—in the English versions of Genesis 1:1, 1:21, and 1:27) favor YEC. God creates out of nothing the “Cosmos” on Day 1, creates out of nothing the “breath of life” on Day 5 and creates out of nothing the “Image of God” on Day 6. You cannot have any creature life till Day 5 (fish and birds). Try fitting that into most OEC views. YEC also makes a clear distinction between us and all the other creatures; OEC views are fuzzy on this distinction. And, most progressive creation views have God waving a “magic wand” over billions of years—creating one species after another and then letting them die out—this is not very compelling picture of a wise God.

From my study of OEC views, I am convinced that the foundation for OEC’s beliefs is science and not the Bible—even though the track record of science pales when compared to the scriptures. Are we to trust in our own understanding or God’s plain testimony in the scripture? God seems to go out of his way to avoid confusion by defining and repeating that a day consists of an “evening and morning.”


Sound doctrine should bear good fruit. The greatest fruit of YEC is modern science itself. God’s philosophers of the Middle Ages made the crucial distinctions about God and secondary causes to affect his will, which encouraged the study of nature. Without such distinctions, theology becomes fatalistic and no science ensues. These men were YEC’s. Had they been OEC’s, would their more worldly accommodating and materialistic convictions have led to modern science? I think not. Again, YEC is more than scientific; it gave birth to science.

Since the world and the liberal church already mock and ridicule fundamentalist Christians,–whether we are YEC or OEC—we gain nothing by trying to please them. We do, however, gain everything by taking a stand on the plain reading of God’s Word. It was six YEC’s on the State Board of Education that led the efforts that, according to AAAS’ Science magazine, “struck a major blow to the teaching of evolution.”

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Prepared Testimony for the Texas State Board of Education—November 20, 2013

Stand Up for Science; Adopt These Books!

In September, I urged you to adopt these books because their adoption will strike a major blow to the teaching of evolution; I am here to repeat that plea. Even though these books are full of unsubstantiated dogma proclaiming evolution, the evidence they present clearly demonstrates evolution’s inability to explain the development of life from a common ancestor. This is the great claim of evolution—that all life has descended from a common ancestor due to unguided natural processes—without God. In contrast, I believe the Bible—that all life was created by God.

Let me illustrate: The first picture, of a Detroit dilapidated house, demonstrates what evolution—unguided natural processes—can actually do for what was at one time a pretty nice house. The other picture, of a cute little baby panda bear, demonstrates something entirely different; it shows what a creator—an intelligent designer—can do. Our children know the difference! You know the difference!

In my heart, I believe the evolutionists also know the difference. But, they have been so blinded by ideology and swept away by group-think that they have lost the ability to see what is staring them right in the face. Despite all the gloating and celebrating of the evolutionists here today, they do not seem to realize that there is NO evidence for evolution in these books; there is only dogma.

Therefore, I urge you to adopt these books. Not to please the evolutionists, but because when our students read these books, they will clearly see, like the little boy in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, that evolution has no clothes.

Thank you.

Don McLeroy

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