Philip Copeman

Author and Activist

A colleague of mine, Wynand Louw wrote this on God's First Fishermen:

I have just had a look at the intro, - Interesting approach that could stir a few and upset some. I have learned through the years, that freedom of speech is one thing, taking responsibility for what you speech is something totally different. That is where the problem lies.

There is a saying: Talk is cheap but money buys the whiskey.

It seems that you give yourselves out as an atheist. That is your choice as much as it is my choice to believe what ever I want. That is what distinguishes us from animals. The WILL to make a choice.

Two things about God though:

a. God gives you the freedom of choice, freedom of will – be god yourselves if you want to, BUT take the responsibility and carry the consequences.

b. God is not understood by things, it is about things that the eye can not see, way beyond the mind, and the brain. For anyone to know God , he /she must first believe that God exists, and that God is the rewarder of those who believe.

Many people believe they have to defend God, Proof God exist, or do not exist. That is irrelevant. God is who he is, and does not need my defence, my reason, my proof.

3. Whether you believe or not is your personal choice and responsibility. You will carry the consequences of what you believe or not. Even in trying to proof God does not exist, you actually believe and have faith, that what you believe is true. God is not a rewarder of the person, but of faith principals. People made “GOD” complicated, made church a circus. Not God. People abused it for their own benefit, and they will pay the price for it and take responsibility for what they have done with the knowledge, wisdom and understanding they have been given.

4. Try and read the Bible without prejudice. Take of the glasses of hurt, disappointment, and frustration. Relax and just lend. Fall in the arms of God and you might just be surprised of what might happen.

5. I believe our paths have crossed for a reason. Whatever that might be, nothing just happens by chance. It happens with a purpose. I believe that God will align the universe to benefit his TRUE children. But first we need to believe! Not see with the natural eyes and natural mind, but spiritual.

6. Each one of us have a spiritual need, even so-called atheists. They also believe, just not exactly the same, but they do believe. They have faith just in something different. One God through His Holy Spirit can open your eyes when you get to the point where you can no longer rely on your natural ability, natural senses. When you get to the point where you can say: God in you I trust!.

Well in this fashion I will write you a book instead of giving you a short answer. God gives us the CHOICE! YOU choose today, who you want to serve! You choose what you want to believe. There is always a choice, from Genesis to Revelation.

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Here is my answer:

Wynand you will have gathered, (or will shortly) that I take theology very seriously. I am not simply a lost soul looking meaning. I number fanatical Christians amongst my closest friends. I am married to one. I have not come to Atheism lightly and I do not easily brook persons who would convert me. Thank God you stopped one step short of that.

All the niceties aside - free speech and all - we can still continue to interact, even with ideological differences. However, there remains an uncomfortable truth - namely that both of us cannot be right. So whereas free speech is an excellent doctrine. Resolution of difference by logic and discussion are just as important.

The area of respect is also a great divider. Whereas you can allow someone an opinion, it cannot be asked that I will in anyway pay respect or homage to your golden calves, real or perceived. If you do get round to reading God's First Fishermen, you will see that I do in fact have an above average knowledge of the New and Old Testament as well as the Koran. (all books given to me as gifts from close friends.) You will note though that I do not store much value in the content of ancient texts.

What distinguishes us from animals is the highly active cerebral cortex and the social constructs of reason and debate - let us use them to our advantage. First step is to acknowledge that we are not in fact different from animals but are simple a sub group of the greater evolutionary Genus. Read it in GFF - there is no vector of evolution - no direction - no creator.

God's First Fishermen has massively relevant message to South Africans, as it completely rearranges the way that we think of our race. It is an unfortunate, but necessary step to understand that it is on a direct path of conflict with Genesis. I did not write this book to stir or upset people. I wrote it to clarify truth. I do not seek to convert, merely to engage discussion an come to scientific consensus. As scientists we define belief in very different terms to theologians.

I will now deal with your points in order:

a) God does not give us anything. That is supposition. We have yet to prove her existence. It is completely presumptuous to propose her actions.

b) Not actually sure what you are saying here other than proposing a structure for fantasy.

I am not trying to prove that God does not exist. God obviously exists otherwise we would not be talking about her. If you do read GFF, you will see that my issues are with Creationism. The problems that we encounter is that the revelations of Genesis do not play out with what we are discovering on the South coast of Africa. I wish it were otherwise, but this would be like Christians wishing there was no sin. Unfortunately the evidence is seriously stacked against Creationism.

3) What you are saying is that logic is not required - I have a hard time accepting that - as did Martin Luther when he said "Reason is the Devils concubine." In think it gets a lot easier to cross the divide when you get what it is that scientists talk about when we talk about "belief". Belief is something that we are willing to change as soon as new evidence presents itself. This different to theological belief.

Strange how Christian always blame the Church as some "third party vehicle". The Church was create by God in her own image, she runs it and it follows her doctrine. Then when we don't like the outcome, we disown it. Sorry its not that easy. It is precisely because of the underlying false doctrine that the Church misbehaves.

4) By now you will have come to know that I read a lot of the bible.

5) "Destiny" is the topic of Physics. It is huge subject. I would rather not touch on this here. Let me just get you over the first hurdles of understanding what it means to be human, African, white, Afrikaans. The explanation that you will find in GFF is very different to Genesis, but hopefully is not offensively written. Here is my answer:

Wynand you will have gathered, (or will shortly) that I take theology very seriously. I am not simply a lost soul looking meaning. I number fanatical Christians amongst my closest friends. I am married to one. I have not come to Atheism lightly and I do not easily brook persons who would convert me. Thank God you stopped one step short of that.

All the niceties aside - free speech and all - we can still continue to interact, even with ideological differences. However, there remains an uncomfortable truth - namely that both of us cannot be right. So whereas free speech is an excellent doctrine. Resolution of difference by logic and discussion should be another.

The area of respect is also a great divider. Whereas you can allow someone an opinion, it cannot be asked that I will in anyway pay respect or homage to your golden calves, real or perceived. If you do get round to reading God's First Fishermen, you will see that I do in fact have an above average knowledge of the New and Old Testament as well as the Koran. (all books given to me as gifts from close friends.) You will note though that I do not store much value in the content of ancient texts.

What distinguishes us from animals is the highly active cerebral cortex and the social constructs of reason and debate - let us use them to our advantage. First step is to acknowledge that we are not in fact different from animals but are simple a sub group of the greater evolutionary Genus. Read it in GFF - there is no vector of evolution - no direction - no creator.

God's First Fishermen has massively relevant message to South Africans, as it completely rearranges the way that we think of our race. It is an unfortunate, but necessary step to understand that it is on a direct path of conflict with Genesis. I did not write this book to stir or upset people. I wrote it to clarify truth. I do not seek to convert, merely to engage discussion an come to scientific consensus. As scientists we define belief in very different terms to theologians.

I will now deal with your points in order:

a) God does not give us anything. That is supposition. We have yet to prove her existence. It is completely presumptuous to propose her actions.

b) Not actually sure what you are saying here other than proposing a structure for fantasy.

I am not trying to prove that God does not exist. God obviously exists otherwise we would not be talking about her. If you do read GFF, you will see that my issues are with Creationism. The problems that we encounter is that the revelations of Genesis do not play out with what we are discovering on the South coast of Africa. I wish it were otherwise, but this would be like Christians wishing there was no sin. Unfortunately the evidence is seriously stacked against Creationism.

3) What you are saying is that logic is not required - I have a hard time accepting that - as did Martin Luther when he said "Reason is the Devils concubine." In think it gets a lot easier to cross the divide when you get what it is that scientists talk about when we talk about "belief". Belief is something that we are willing to change as soon as new evidence presents itself. This different to theoloigal belief.

Strange how Christians always blame the Church as some "third party vehicle". The Church was create by God in her own image, she runs it and it follows her doctrine. Then when we don't like the outcome, we disown it. Sorry its noto that easy. It is precisely because of the underlying false doctrine that the Church misbehaves.

4) By now you will have come to know that I read a lot of the bible.

5) "Destiny" is the topic of Physics. It is huge subject. I would rather not touch on this here. Let me just get you over the first hurdles of understanding what it menas to be human, African, white, Afrikaans. The explanation that you will find in GFF is very different to Genesis, but hopefully is not offensively written.

Wynand I am very pleased to have met you too. Since most of White South Africa ands effectively ALL of black South Africa is Christian, I don't l have to go far to meet the "arms of the creator", so don't read too much into it. Consider rather that it is you that has the unusual opportunity of meeting me. True Atheists are rare to find (Less than 4% of the world population.)

6. Yes we do all have spiritual needs, there is nothing wrong with that. It is the dualistic nature of man. God is nto the only answer.

Wynand before we can address these issues we need a common ground. A common ground is to agree on where we come from. GFF should give you a concise readable view on the scientific consensus as at 2009. How that fits in with your interpretation of Genesis is up to you.


Wynand I am very pleased to have met you too. Since most of White South Africa ands effectively ALL of black South Africa is Christian, I don't l have to go far to meet the "arms of the creator", so don't read too much into it. Consider rather that it is you that has the unusual opportunity of meeting me. True Atheists are rare to find (Less than 4% of the world population.)

6. Yes we do all have spiritual needs, there is nothing wrong with that. It is the dualistic nature of man. God is not the only answer.

Wynand before we can address these issues we need a common ground. A common ground is agree on where we come from. GFF should give you a concise readable view on the scientific consensus as at 2009. How that fits in with your interpretation of Genesis is up to you.

Like I said earlier. There is no easy way out of it. If our opinions are different then either it si interpretation, or one of us is wrong.
Mike Jarvis wrote:
> Hi Philip,
>
> May 2010 be a year when all of us discover more truth
>
> Regarding the discussion between you and Wynand Louw, we all start out with
> baggage from the past, either good or bad baggage.
> Personally I am not sure that God rewards 'those who believe' as much as he
> rewards those who 'diligently seek for him'. Incidentally, I notice you
> refer to God as she, I wonder why. I take seeking diligently to mean with
> sincerity and perseverence.
>
> Why I believe this can lead to revelations of merit is from my own 'personal
> journey of discovery' as outlined in chapter 2.11 of my book 'God by
> Evolution' which I sent to you. You will notice that I had my own 'road to
> Damascus' supernatural experiences, starting in the war in Rhodesia and
> continuing thereafter in various forms.
>
> However, we seem to have some things in common. I am not a 'creationist' as
> commonly understood, namely someone who fights discoveries of science in a
> vain attempt to cling to a 6000 year old earth. I also accept that mankind
> were around long before the biblical date for Adam and Eve, so this includes
> some of your 'God's first fishermen'. However, as outlined in my chapter on
> 'The Garden of Eden' (3.4), I find convincing evidence for this account
> being based in real history.
>
> Unfortunately I hear that over 60% of Americans still believe in a creation
> in six earth days and in a worldwide flood. So it seems that you and I also
> have common ground here in trying to point out that this goes in the face of
> a wealth of good evidence, both from science and amazingly even from
> comparing Bible passages.
>
> For instance, I wonder how many 'creationists' have compared the Genesis
> account in chapter 1 with that in chapter2. Chapter 1 says that mankind,
> both male and female, were created in the sixth creative day. Creationists
> would say that this was one literal day of 24 hours. However, in chapter2 we
> have the description of Adam. He was apparently given instructions from God
> in agriculture, and was given a task that must have taken many earth days to
> complete - namely the naming of all the animals and birds. The Genesis
> account records that it was only after Adam had named the animals that God
> made Eve.
> In other words, the chapter 2 account says there was a prolonged period of
> time between creation of Adam and Eve, but creationists insist that both
> werte created in one earth day!
>
> Clearly, even if we leave out science, the Bible itself has examples like
> this that speak powerfully against the creationist position.
>
> Anyway, I am not really commenting too much on the discusion thus far
> between you and Wynand. If he happens to be a six day creationist I really
> urge him to visit Exclusive Books in Cavendish square and ask for my book
> 'God by Evolution' ISBN 978-0-9802770-0-5.
>
> For you Philip, I am glad to see that you are 'not trying to prove that God
> does not exist", as you put it. I suppose in a way you are playing 'Devils
> advocate' in order to stimulate a debate. That's fine by me, as long as you
> are open to responding to your own 'Damascus road' experience when it comes
> your way. That is of course much more likely to take place if you are
> prepared to 'seek for God diligently'. I suppose that would please your wife
> because you mentioned that she is a 'believer'.
>
> I find women are often believers without being able to give much in the line
> of logical reasons. However, as you no doubt have experienced, they
> sometimes come to the right conclusions just by 'feelings'. However, for us
> poor mortals who happen to be male, we love discussion and debate. God help
> us if it keeps us from discovering a 'pearl of great price'
>
> I presume you forward this to your mailing list
Mike please post to the web site - http://philipcopeman.ning.com/forum/topics/god-and-godsfirst-fishermen It makes it easier for others to pick up the thread.

Wynand - Mike's Book is an interesting cross over point. He and I stand on completely opposite sides of the debate. Whereas my interactions with average day to day Christians are cordial and polite, you will find my interactions with people like Nick and Mike ascerbic and vitrioloc. Don't take it to heart - it is a sign of respect.

Mike - I have read “Evolution by God “ and I trust that you have by now made your way through “God's First Fishermen”. The two approaches almost define the opposite sides of the debate. I want first to dispense with the idea that I may be ready for some kind if conversion process. It would be polite not to bring it up again. It is as insulting to an atheist to suggest that they should believe in these dairy tales as it is to insist that a Muslim is lacking the Trinity in his understanding of God.

Calling God “she” is simply my dig – I have this whole religion based around the “Blue Fairy” which I pull out when my Muslim friends ask me to do things like not fart in an easterly direction or keep a copy of the Koran on top of all other books. It is just an analogy to show how trying to deify your personal religious concepts or according objective value to statements from the Bible, have no value in debate based in reason. Asking an atheist to have respect for fair tales is insulting to us. I am quite happy to refer to him as the Old Man and leave the "her" out of it.

Respecting other peoples views when they are clearly wrong, my be polite and easy to get by on socially, but it serves not great purpose in advancing our view of the world.

You can convert the entire Scientific community, if you simply present a logical case. As a Scientist I am always ready for conversion, but the road to any conversion process for me would have to lie through reason and logic, and herein lies the conundrum so aptly described by Martin Luther when he said “Reason is the Devils Concubine”. If you hold out any hope that I would give up my relationship with reason and the devil you are sure to be greatly dissappointed. Here too is why I find fundamentalists are much simpler to deal with – they don't pretend that there is any logic to their position. Similarly, we are able from a stand point of reason, simply to condemn them as infidels.
Mike Jarvis, you my friend are a much more insidious beast. I may not know all it takes to be a Christian, but I can say with great certainly Mike Jarvis - you are not a Scientist! The beginning point for any Scientist must be that you are always willing to reconsider all evidence and completely change the hypothesis on which it is based. I do not believe that you are willing to do this. Are you willing to reject God, the Trinity and all that surrounds it if you are given sufficient evidence? I don't think so. For if you are not – then you are not a Scientist. Without this system of believe and revision, no scientific progress can be made. The very nature of Faith is put there by church fathers as a protection, a means to defend the indefensible.

To the outside observer you have the outwards appearance of a Scientist who then using scientific methods to comes to a completely different conclusion than the scientific consensus. The Creationists are filled with these sharmen – some with Nobel Prizes to back them. This is where the “Carbon dating has been proved to be wrong” crazies come from. However as a Christian, suckling on faith, I would be very wary of Evolution, for once on this slippery path, the whole pack of cards is likely to collapse. However that is no my problem, or should be the porblem of this Forum. What concerns us here is the scientific debate or human origins and the logical extensions of those conclusions. There are some serious conflicts that will cause problems for Scientists and Christians. It is not possible for the conclusions of “God's First Fishermen” and “God by Evoluition” to both be correct – one of us has to be wrong.

A Scientist must be able to take Genesis and not apologize for it, but outrightly reject it as not misinterpreted by abjectly -WRONG. In the same sense that Aristotle was wrong or Newton was wrong or Einstein was Wrong about the cosmological constant. Can you say that Genesis was Wrong or that Jesus was Wrong? I use the word “Wrong” – not “misinterpreted”, and the ramifications are enormous. If the they were Wrong – then the Bible is Wrong and the world of God is Wrong. Can you consider this hypothesis? If you can take this route then you are able to make the first step towards being a Scientist. Welcome to the devils parlor. Sit down and make yourself comfortable.

Now to the debate. The debate about whether the Current scientific consensus is compatible with God or not is massive. I am not as brave or cavalier as you to just bat it off on so many different fronts. I would like to stick with a narrow section – that of Human Origins, The Garden of Eden and how this fits into our interpretation of who we are as South Africans.

I will put it to you that on this front Genesis is completely incorrect. The ramifications to Christians belief is immense, but that is not my problem or my intended area of debate. However we cannot allow the narrow confines of Christian belief to prevent us getting to the truth. What interests me and visitors to this site and should interest you, is that if we do all indeed descend from a very recent small group of humans that began in the Southern Cape around 200 000 years ago, we have to completely reinterpret who we are as a Race.

Holding onto Genesis because it is the cornerstone of some Creed outworn is like the Catholic Church holding onto an Earth centric universe in the face of Gallileo's evidence. It is likely to lead to a great deal of embarrassment. I am happy to discuss with you the hypothesis – Out of Africa carpensis, but I must warn you that the consequences for Genesis are disastrous. But this is pointless unless you have read God's First Fishermen. I am afraid that you lack some of the most fundamental insights of paleoanthropology. A clear understanding of these concepts is going to make you want to rewrite large portions of “God by Evolution”.

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