12/28/2001: Some other critiques of Missler on the web:
Department of Philosophy
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
June 8, 1993
c/o Koinonia House
P.O. Box D
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83816-0347
Dear Mr. Missler:
There are two kinds of people responsible for falsehoods widely believed by Christians--people who are sources of error, either because of deceit or incompetence, and people who are propagators of error. Sources of recent falsehoods include Mike Warnke's and "Lauren Stratford"'s lies about their involvement with Satanism and Barry Setterfield's bogus speed-of-light decay theory. Propagators include Harvest House books, Lambert Dolphin, and yourself. Those who have corrected these errors include Cornerstone magazine, Christianity Today (to a more limited extent), the Creation Research Society Quarterly, the Institute for Creation Research's Impact, the Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, and the Creation/Evolution journal.
I assume from your continued promotion of Barry Setterfield that you are simply unaware of the devastating and unanswered critiques of his work. I have enclosed a copy of a recent publication (by a Christian creationist, Eugene Chaffin) which shows that the speed of light has not changed by more than 0.4% in the last three centuries. I also direct your attention to P. Sisterna and H. Vucetich, "Time variation of fundamental constants: Bounds from geophysical and astronomical data," Physical Review D: Particles and Fields vol. 41, no. 4, 15 February 1990, pp. 1034-1046. This paper, like Chaffin's, completely rules out the possibility of Setterfield's theory being correct.
Setterfield's work has not only been debunked, it has been shown to be incompetent and dishonest. Setterfield has on at least two occasions published alleged favorable quotations and presented them as approving of his theory when the supposed authors of those quotations either completely disclaim them or were not speaking about what Setterfield implies. (The two people I know of who have been misquoted are: (1) D. Russell Humphreys, who complained about it in his "Has the Speed of Light Decayed Recently?", Creation Research Society Quarterly vol. 25, June 1988, pp. 40-45 (quote discussed on the first page). Setterfield's reply does not address the quotation issue. (2) Walter Brown, who denied the quote in his "Brown Responds to Lippard," Creation/Evolution issue 25, Fall 1989, pp. 35-48 (quote discussed on p. 39) and in his "A Second Response to Jim Lippard," Creation/Evolution issue 26, Winter 1989-90, pp. 34-54 (quote discussed on p. 39). Brown went so far as to accuse me of possessing a "doctored" version of Setterfield's monograph which used the quote, but he was in error, as the Creation Science Foundation of Australia and other possessors of the second edition of Setterfield's monograph can verify.)
For debunking of Setterfield, I recommend, in addition to the above, Gerald E. Aardsma, "Has the Speed of Light Decayed Recently?", CRSQ vol. 25, June 1988, pp. 36-40; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Response to Setterfield," CRSQ vol. 26, June 1989, p. 30; D. Russell Humphreys, "Inadequate Defense of c-Decay Hypothesis," CRSQ vol. 26, June 1989, pp. 30-32; R.H. Brown, "Rejoinder to Setterfield," CRSQ vol. 26, June 1989, p. 32; Roy D. Holt, "The Norman-Setterfield Model: An Inaccurate Description of Reality," CRSQ vol. 26, September 1989, p. 68; M.G. Evered, "Is There Really Evidence of a Recent Decrease in c?" Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, 1991, pp. 99-104; and my own articles in Creation/Evolution issues 25, 26, and 27. Setterfield himself stopped responding to criticism after his exceedingly lame "The Atomic Constants in Light of Criticism," CRSQ vol. 25, March 1989, pp. 190-197.
By the way, Setterfield is not a physicist--he has no advanced degrees in that field (or didn't as of 1989) and no academic appointment. Also by the way, your reference to V.S. Troitskii's work is misleading. If you read Troitskii's paper, you will find that, while he does give a model in which the speed of light is changing (though one which has, I believe, been empirically falsified), his model is completely incompatible with Setterfield's theory for reasons given in William Jefferys' letter to Creation/Evolution, issue 27, Winter 1989- 90, pp. 55-56. (Troitskii's theory implies a very old (billions of years) universe.)
I hope that you will examine some of this evidence and inform your readers of it rather than continuing to propagate error in the name of Christianity.
I would also like to comment on your June article on prophecy fulfillment, which contains a bogus probability analysis. For instance, you estimate the probability of a Messiah claimant entering Jerusalem on a donkey based on how many candidate Messiahs have done this, assuming (without evidence) that it is less than one in a hundred. Not only is this probably wrong, the correct question to ask is: How many prospective Messiahs, knowing of the existence of this prophecy, would bother taking the trouble to fulfill it? It's not as though entering Jerusalem on a donkey is beyond the capacity of a human being to intentionally fulfill. I'd assess the probability as on the order of one in one.
Your commentary on the alleged betrayal prophecy in Zechariah has both misinterpreted the verse and taken it out of context. First, you've quoted an erroneous translation of Zechariah 11:12, which does not say the coins were cast "to the potter," but rather "into the treasury." (It is correctly translated in the Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Versions.) Second, Zechariah is describing his own wages--there is no mention at all of a betrayal. Finally, your footnote about Jeremiah is assuming a lot--there is no evidence that Jeremiah said any such thing (though Gleason Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties struggles mightily to put the appropriate words into the text of Jeremiah).
I have enclosed for you a copy of my Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah which criticizes most of the alleged prophecies you discuss and a number of others, and specifically discusses Peter Stoner's probability calculations.
By the way, your statement that "In the mathematical domain of probabilities, nothing is considered absolutely certain ... and nothing is considered impossible" is simply false. 0 and 1 are perfectly good probabilities. All contradictions have probability 0, all tautologies have probability 1, and the sum of the probabilities of statements which jointly describe all possibilities is 1. Your statement that "To be practical, scientists regard anything with a probability of less than 10-50 as so unlikely as to be regarded as absurd" is also erroneous. It is trivial to generate as many events with that probability (or lower) as you like with a random number generator.
I note in your newsletter that you proudly advertise your involvement with the Ancient Secrets of the Bible television programs. I hope you are aware of the dishonesty behind these productions. Members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (P.O. Box 750, Madison, WI 53701) were offered a chance to be in the most recent program as skeptics--but were offered prewritten bogus scripts to read from. When they protested, producer David Balsiger replied that "We don't try to provide balance. We have been contracted by CBS to produce an entertainment show, so the purpose is not to provide balance but entertainment. ... you have to understand that the average TV viewer in America is not that intelligent, so what they want is entertainment and not intellectual debate. Shows then have to be brought down on a level that will appeal to the broadest audience." (Quotations and account from Tom Malone, "What Price Fame?", Freethought Today, April 1993, pp. 4-5.) Bible skeptic and former Church of Christ minister Farrell Till was also offered an opportunity to be on the program, which he accepted on the condition he be allowed to write his own script. This condition was granted, but of the three interviews which were taped, one was cut completely and a second was edited beyond recognition. Someone else (obviously with someone with little integrity) read the pre-written script which Till was originally offered. In short, the program is a sham. You should be thoroughly embarrassed to be involved with such a dishonest enterprise.
As you have probably gathered by now, I am not a Christian. I am, however, concerned with honesty and accuracy on all sides of every issue. This is why I wrote an article criticizing some of my fellow opponents of creationism titled "How Not to Argue with Creationists," which appeared in Creation/Evolution issue 29, Winter 1991-1992, pp. 9- 21, and why I am on good terms with a number of creationists (such as those involved with the Australian Creation Science Foundation). I would hope that you likewise have respect for the truth and are willing to share it with your readers.
Doctoral candidate in philosophy
cc: Farrell Till, P.O. Box 617, Canton, IL 61520-0617
Enclosed: Eugene Chaffin article from CRSQ
The Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah