Glenn Morton: Is the Garden of Eden real?

Obviously you don’t pay any attention to what the assumptions are and what is actually stated in the Bible.

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

First, as I stated, one is in a 3-5 km rain shadow in all directions. Moist air entering the basin loses relative humidity as it flows downward. That makes cloud formation very hard. Secondly, this is right at the Horse latitudes where both wind and cloud are less and in the lee of the Himalayas and the Zagros mountains east of this location. It doesn’t take much to realize that clouds above them are going to be very hard to form.

I have never had a problem with them seeing the glory in the mists as they looked down. The surprise to them would have been to see it in the clouds for the first time. The glory

This means that — unlike a rainbow — the water droplets must be below you in order to see a glory.The Glory of a Glory: What is a Glory — and Have You Seen One? - The GateThe Gate

I have never had any objection to them seeing the glory in the mist. But the glory phenomenon is not quite the same as seeing a half up in the clouds. And Wiki says, somethingwhich you might have looked up before posting:

A circular rainbow should not be confused with the glory, which is much smaller in diameter and is created by different optical processes. In the right circumstances, a glory and a (circular) rainbow or fog bow emphasized textcan occur together. Another atmospheric phenomenon that may be mistaken for a “circular rainbow” is the 22° halo, which is caused by ice crystals rather than liquid water droplets, and is located around the sun (or moon), not opposite it. *A circular rainbow should not be confused with the glory, which is much smaller in diameter and is created by different optical processes. In the right circumstances, a glory and a (circular) rainbow or fog bow can occur together. *Rainbow - Wikipedia

"Depending on circumstances (such as the uniformity of droplet size in the clouds), one or more of the glory’s rings can be visible. The angular size of the inner and brightest ring is much smaller than that of a rainbow, about 5° to 20°, depending on the size of the droplets. In the right conditions, a glory and a rainbow can occur simultaneously." Glory (optical phenomenon) - Wikipedia

John, at the risk of making you say I am hostile again, I really find most of your arguments are like this. You haven’t taken anything I said seriously so in your haste to have a ‘killer’ argument against a stupid Christian, you forgot one little thing science should require–research.

I have a country hick accent from my days growing up in rural Oklahoma. I used that to my advantage throughout my career. People heard my accent, thought I was stupid, and I would do better in the negotiations than they did for their company. They didn’t work as hard as I did; and neither did you.

And as I said, you have to have clouds first, and this place is very unlikely to have had clouds or rain.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but but Death Valley and the Dead Sea have little rain. But they do get some, because they are geographically narrow. We are not talking something 100 miles across or so with the dried out Med basin. We are talking about a basin that 3-5 times deeper and the size of the continental US. Death valley is 5-15 miles wide and the winds will start going up another mountain chain. The dead sea is 9 miles wide and the air will go up another mountain chain. This geometry increases their chance of condensing moisture as the air goes up the other slope.

For the Med it is 500 miles from the present shore of the Levant where that air would descend to the Sicilian ridge which would cause the air to go up a bit. There is a bit of a difference in scale you have over looked.

Bye John, Jesus Loves you.

Sure. But clouds still show up, even in the Atacama. The very picture you posted shows it. And why do you assume that the water in a fog or mist must be below you? Also, don’t forget the waterfall.

I take it seriously enough to think about it, but not seriously enough to accept it uncritically. No haste is involved, and I don’t think you’re stupid. I think your notions are absurd, and you can only hold them because of your prior commitment that your personal reading of Genesis must harmonize with your personal reading of empirical evidence. But very intelligent people can have absurd ideas.

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Atacama is NOT analogous to a 3-5 km deep basin.

Well, there are many kinds of stupid and I would be lying if I didn’t occasionally think that is was stupid to live the Quixotic life I have lived.I have lived my life working on an issue no one wants a solution to. I certainly can see a certain amount of stupidity in that. That is not to say I wouldn’t do it all over again, I would have to–it is who I am. I can see a certain amount of stupidity in challenging everything all at once, but how does one present a new view to people who don’t want a new view?

I know it would have been easier if I had just gone along to get along. But I couldn’t do that. It would turning my head to some really bad work and saying that it was correct, when it isn’t correct. I think of the idea that Adam was born 200 kyr ago as an example. That is entirely based on the age of the oldest mtDNA and while everyone loves the concept, humans are NOT a walking talking mtDNA. Putting the flood in Mesopotamia would have been popular, but I would never get the question out of my head, how did that ark end up back in Turkey? Was it flown by a 747? lol

In my search for oil I learned that thoroughness of geologic research is necessary to reduce the risk of a dry hole (spending $300 million or more and getting nothing back in return). Most geologists don’t look at the details that I looked at. I would see questions others didn’t. I applied these work skills to my view of the flood.

John, I hold you no ill will. I just think if one is going to attack someone, they should close every escape option off before beginning the attack. I remember some guys tried to sell me and my geologist partner on having the company buy into their prospect. We looked at their data and didn’t like the prospect. Well, they didn’t take no for an answer. They went to our Vice President who told us to take another look at the prospect. I spent two days doing research on their area, the wells, the sedimentation, the basin modeling, the trap, etc. I still didn’t like the prospect and when they came in to make their show to us, I turned em every way but loose. They had a bad prospect and were trying to force us politically to take it. That must have been the most miserable hour and half those guys ever spent trying to sell their prospect. I made them pay for going to our VP. You might think this unkind. My obligation was to my employer. It was to keep them out of dry holes and get us into good prospect. With Christianity, my obligation as I see it is to built God’s reputation–that means, doing the detailed work and checking every point off.

But we christians do something else, and I probably have been a bit stupid thinking a few would change their minds about how to view Genesis. I think I was largely wrong. Hiding from intellectual problems is something I think Christians have done too much of over the past 200 years since evolution came on the scene. YECs invented a science that doesn’t exist based upon fudged data. The liberals just gave up any pretence that there was factual reality to these stories and became closet materialists; closet atheists where in their view, God does nothing in this world, creating in my opinion a useless, clueless God.

Too many think if we just solve the Adam and Eve problem we will be OK, but no, there is a whole panoply of issues in Genesis 4-9 that are equally perplexing. The flood story chief among them.

9 posts were split to a new topic: Side Comments on Glenn Morton

I want to show the vast difference in scale between the desciccated Mediterranean and the ‘closest’ analogues we have on earth today. Below is a map of the US with the Mediterranean overlain upon it.

It is 2300 miles from coast to coast and the 9 mile wide Dead Sea and the 15 mile wide Death Valley would hardly show up on this scale.

Depth wise, both the Dead Sea and Death Valley are shallow pikers compared to the depth of the dry Mediterranean. Below is a chart showing the comparison. The scale is in meters. One can understand why the ‘analogue’ deep basins today are not a good comparison with that basin.

The world has never seen anything like the deep desciccated Mediterranean before or since.

The views I have presented are quite new to theology, but the data I use is standard geology–something no theologian seems to care about when they theorize about the flood, which is a geological event. They place the flood in Mesopotamia, which flows south and pushes the ark south into the Indian Ocean, yet somehow the ark is said to have landed UPHILL in Turkey. Yes, water flows uphill ever day carrying the ark to Turkey as far as the Theologians are concerned.

It is not just theologians who ignore geology. Geologists do too. Carol HIll in 2006 published, and article in 2006 in which a stalled anti-cyclone pushed the ark from sea level to 1640 m to land near Cizre.

"A possible route that the ark may have followed along its journey from south to north was from southern Mesopotamia (Shuruppak) along the inundated flood plain between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers up to the area of present-day Baghdad (112 ft elevation). Then it could have followed the very flat, flooded Tigris River Valley up to the area of Mosul (730 ft elevation), where the Tigris is still a wide stately river.69 Northward from Mosul, the terrain becomes more hilly, but there is still a wide valley up to Cizre (~1640 ft elevation). Carol HIll, Qualitative Hydrology of Noah’s Flood, PSCF 2006, p. 120-129, p. 127

Now, she does claim it was a miracle. I can’t object to God doing miracles, but If it is a miracle, why spend all the time discussing all these naturalistic events she does in the article. If it is a miracle, God didn’t need an anti-cyclone at all.

Mesopotamia is such a bad place for the flood–ark goes the wrong direction or one must explain how water flows uphill towards Turkey. There are no high mountains covered by this flood and covering a 40ft Tell (as has been suggested to me) doesn’t count. Why? It would be silly for the writer to think a 40 ft Tell was a high mountain when just east of the rivers and within sight are 11,000-14,000 ft peaks of the Zagros Mtns. No Local flood Mesopotamian advocate claims that those high mountains were covered. Again, theologians ignore the geography of the land they claim Noah’s flood happened in. Mesopotamia is a horrible place to put Noah’s flood–nothing matches and one must violate the laws of physics.

How does the Mediterranean flood end up putting the ark on top of a mountain in Turkey? After all, it only floods up to sea level. Shouldn’t the ark ground on a beach?

John, you have gone OUT OF YOUR WAY to avoid even trying to understand what I am saying. The ark started out in the Eastern Mediterranean when it was dry. Water filled that million sq km bathtub lifting the ark up with the waters. As the waters rose higher, the ark, floating on the surface of the waters rose as well. Since the water was pouring in from the west, floating objects would be pushed east, and Guess what is east? Turkey. Yes, it landed on a present day beach in Turkey, but when the ark started its journey that ‘beach’ didn’t exist. It was about 10,000 feet higher than the ark. I don’t buy that it had to land on Mt Ararat, just on the mountain chain.

This question actually disappoints me in you. Even my four year old grandson understands that as the bathtub fills, his rubber ducky rises with the water. sheesh. I thought you were a bit more informed, but like with your rainbow comments, this shows you don’t really think about what is set before you. God Bless you John, I think you need it.

This is to the Christians here—assuming there are any others than the four I have seen here. I don’t care about what the atheists think about this. Clearly John can’t connect the dots or simply doesn’t read anything.

What I want to talk about concerns why historicity in Scripture is important. Unlike almost any other religion, Christianity is a historically based religion. It’s fundamental tenet is that Jesus rose from the grave. If that didn’t happen, then Christianity is utterly false. But that was a historical event, and unfortunately, too many theologians and Christians have yielded to science, everything that is real and historical and reserved to ourselves only things that can’t be proven–values. It is best expressed by Stephen Jay Gould’s famous nonoverlapping magisteria.

“The text of Humani Generis focuses on the magisterium (or teaching authority) of the Church—a word derived not from any concept of majesty or awe but from the different notion of teaching, for magister is Latin for “teacher.” We may, I think, adopt this word and concept to express the central point of this essay and the principled resolution of supposed “conflict” or “warfare” between science and religion. No such conflict should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority—and these magisteria do not overlap (the principle that I would like to designate as NOMA, or “nonoverlapping magisteria”).”

“The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.” Gould, S. J. (1997). “Nonoverlapping Magisteria.” Natural History 106 (March): 16–22 and 60-62.

The resurrection of Jesus is not a ‘value’ issue. It is a question of historical fact or myth. Science would deny the resurrection as impossible, so going along with the Pope and Gould, relegating to science judgments of historical fact, means Christianity’s most fundamental tenet is deemed false. Once we are in that position, nothing else in the Bible matters.

If Christians believe that the bodily resurrection of Jesus actually happened, then we have to look the reason Jesus’ resurrection was necessary. It was because of sin. But sin is explained in the Bible in a story deemed false by many Christians. Logically, H. G. Wells explains what happens to Christianity if the story is false. Wells says.

“If all the animals and man have been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there would have been no first parents, no Eden, and no Fall. And if there had been no Fall, the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which current teaching bases Christian emotion and morality, collapses like a house of cards.” H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1961), p. 776-777

For him the issue was evolution. I have offered a way for God to control evolution, so to me, the issue is, "Did we have a primal pair’. Again a historical question, not a value question, and again Christians are ceding to others the ultimate judgment about the truth or falsity of our religion. Science judges that we have had no primal pair back to 200,000 years ago. And unfortunately, Christians don’t want to push Adam back in time to a time we could have had a primal pair. Christians have grown comfortable with a religion lacking reality.

Furthermore, by succumbing to this idea of non-overlapping magisteria, we make Christian values equivalent to the values of every other religion in the world. I always wonder why one should believe in a religion that we believe starts with falsehoods. If an adherent to a religion doesn’t believe it’s tenets, why should anyone else?

A few years ago, my church asked a rabbi in to explain Judaism to us. I attended and I asked the rabbi, “What was the biggest reason to be a Jew?” I was thinking I would get an answer like, “Because I believe it is metaphysically true!” I would have respected that answer. If she believes her religion, she should believe she is right and I am wrong. But what she answered was that the biggest reason to be a Jew was because her parents were Jewish. I thought that was an insufficient reason to be in any religion. I then asked if all we have in religion is Saturday or Sunday fellowship clubs? The answer was basically we do. It is community that matters.

From my perspective, what matters is if the religion is true or not. If Buddhism is actually true, then my behavior needs to reflect that belief and Christian. The Dhammapada says:

" 411 Him I call indeed a Brahmana who has no interests , and when he has understood (the truth), does not say How , how? and who has reached the depth of the Immortal.

412 Him I call indeed a Brahmana who in this world has risen above both ties, good and evil, who is free from grief, from sin, and from impurity.

413 Him I call indeed a Brahmana who is bright like the moon, pure, serene, undisturbed, and in whom all gaiety is extinct.

414 Him I call indeed a Brahmana who has traversed this miry road, the impassable world, difficult to pass, and its vanity, who has gone through, and reached the other shore, is thoughtful, steadfast, free from doubts, free from attachment, and content.

415 Him I call indeed a Brahmana who in this world, having abandoned all desires, travels about without a home, and in whom all concupiscence is extinct. " The Dhammapada: The Essential Teachings of the Buddha, Transl by Dr. Friedrich Max Muller, (London: Watkins Publishing, 2006), p. 93

So, if they are correct, I am not to have any interests, . not ask ‘how’, i.e. for deeper understanding, free from grief , sin and imputity, have no gaiety , abandoned all desires, having no home and no desire for riches.

While there is some overlap with Christian values, the differences are interesting. I am not to have fun, desires interests or curiosity in Buddhism. One or the other or both of these religions are untrue. Sayiing that ‘values’ belongs to religion leaves us with a great uncertainty of which values? Whose values? If these values are different but all equally valid, they are also all equally false.

Christianity must reclaim its stake in history or universalism, which leads to silly consequences and moral equivalency will be the future, all morals are equal and equally worthless. I fear it is already too late. In some sense, the world is already in the great falling away.

Many Christians don’t believe anything in early Genesis is true, but they believe we are still to believe the ‘spiritual lessons’ in it, they should consider this. We don’t talk like this about any other area of knowledge. We don’t wax eloquent about the deep life meaning in the Ptolemaic theory. Nor do we proclaim that phlogiston is deeply meaningful and instructive of how we should live our lives. We proclaim those theories false and worth forgetting. If the early part of Genesis is false, why not just proclaim it as such and then forget the religion?

When interpreting Scripture, we have several steps.

1.the Hebrew word

2.the list of possible english equivalents for that Hebrew word.

3.the choice, from that list, once made, should make sense, and not lead to obvious falsehood. If there is no way to avoid obvious falsehood from the list of possible translational choices, then we should conclude the Bible is false, not conclude that it is true(poetry excepted–to head off the usual and boring ‘trees clap their hands’ question rote critics throw at me).

4.The interpretation of the final English version of the passage.

I don’t think it is good policy for a Christian to read a passage and not try to rework the possible translations list, to see if the passage could say something that made more sense–i.e. Tubalcain and his ‘metal work’. Unfortunately though this is the approach taken by too many Christians. If they can’t find a solution in 30 min, they give up, proclaim the passage false and move on. I find little difference between this and what Xi Ji Ping is wanting to do. He too is picking and choosing what passages of the Bible we should believe.

Beijing no longer wants simply to repress religion but to transform it. I Lian, a. professor at Duke University Divinity School, tells me that the Communist Party wants to ‘create a new version of Christianity shorn of its transcendent visions and values.’

“The centerpiece of this campaign is a major new undertaking to rewrite holy scripture. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said late last year that Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Yang had presided over a meeting of so-called scholars and ‘religious people from grassroots level’ to discuss ‘ making accurate and authoritative interpretations of classical doctrines to keep pace with the times.’

“It would take years to create official state translations of the Bible, Quran and other religious texts. Purging passages deemed incompatible with the ‘core socialist values’ while retaining a measure of the original poetry—this would require literary achievement and deep religious knowledge, both of which are lacking in the party’s hand-picked experts. Even entertaining such an idea reveals Beijing’s staggering ‘arrogance of power,’ Mr Lian says, noting that Chinese emperors never attempted such a feat…

“Why does Beijing seek, as Mr. Lian puts it, ‘to drain Christianity of its spirit’? One explanation is generalized hostility to religion.” Matthew Taylor King, “The Gospel According To Xi” The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2020, p. A15

Isn’t deciding what passages are ‘deemed incompatible’ with modern science the same as what Xi is doing, at least in style. This has bothered me for a long time about the more liberal branches of Christianity, where instead of putting the Bible at risk of being declared wrong, they drain the power from it by declaring that God didn’t do any of those silly things like, have a garden of Eden, a talking snake, a flood, etc. They say, without evidence, that none of that was meant to be true! Yet, we are still told to believe that God raised 2 men from the dead in the first century, Lazarus after 4 days and Jesus after 3. If God could do that, why on earth do we choose to disbelieve he could do all the other miracles? We chose that by ‘purging’ passages we deem incompatible with modern times. That is always the claim isn’t it–that we must make God more modern. I think it would be more honest to simply say God is not there and forget the religion than to modify it so much that it no longer has any spirit in it.

I am going to take a break, relax and watch the world go by. Only some big ‘discovery’ would bring me back. I am tired, and even with oxygen, I am very weak. But I might last 3-4 months like this or go soon. God knows. God bless you all, even John.

But that doesn’t fit the description in Genesis. The ark grounds in the mountains, not on a beach. At first, everything around the ark is submerged, but as the waters recede, the land is exposed. Early on, the birds Noah releases find no dry land and return. The last bird returns from some distant place with a live olive branch. That isn’t a description of the filling of the Mediterranean; at the very least, those waters don’t recede; and note that when the ark strikes bottom it’s in the midst of the waters, not on a new Mediterranean beach. Your condescension and suspicion are not useful here.

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I’m not defending all the details of Glenn’s argument here, but isn’t it possible that the rising waters of the Mediterranean eventually overspilled onto the coastal lands, and slowly rose up many meters, eventually climbing up the sides of Turkish (Syrian, Greek, North African, etc.) mountains? I don’t think it’s necessary to argue that Mt. Ararat itself was covered – the text speaks only of a mountain range, and the identification with our modern Mt. Ararat is unlikely. But couldn’t the waters have climbed high enough for the ark, when the waters had receded, to be deposited on the lower slopes of a mountain range? Obviously to answer this we would need a close study of the actual elevations in the Mediterranean area, and we would need an estimate of how much water was flowing in from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, but isn’t it possible in principle?

No, it is not.

No. The Mediterranean would fill up only enough to equalize its level with the global sea level. That’s the only reason water flowed in. I have no idea what mechanism you could be imagining here.

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I get it. You’re right. But supposing, for the sake of argument, that after the Mediterranean filled, some geological event temporarily sealed off the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, and it kept on raining (remember, the Flood account includes ongoing rain), would not the sealed Mediterranean eventually overflow its borders? So couldn’t Glenn’s hypothesis be sustained if the Flood was caused initially by a geological disruption, and later sustained by massive rain? Admittedly, forty days and forty nights wouldn’t be enough, but I’m not trying for mechanical literalism here, just exploring to see if something like Glenn’s account would work.

Rain. See above.

Nothing of that sort ever happened, and in fact the Mediterranean would (and at times has) dry up if it were sealed up, rather than filling even more. Nor could it ever fill up higher than whatever barrier closed it off. There is no amount of rain that would be both physically possible and sufficient to do anything like you want here.

Sure. The answer is that it wouldn’t. There is no way to make it work.

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It’s not a question of what I want; I don’t even agree with Glenn’s scenario. I was just trying to give him a hearing.

Well, if it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t. This is always the problem with concordist solutions of any kind. They always founder on some point of detail in the Biblical text that, despite all ingenuity, can’t be made to fit the scientific scenarios they present. In this case, it’s getting that Ark way inland into Turkey. The irony here is that Glenn can see that some other concordist solutions don’t work, because they founder on the Biblical detail (in the “local Mesopotamian flood” scenario, the Ark would be in the Indian Ocean rather than Turkey), but can’t see similar flaws in his own alternative.

All that said, I hope Glenn is still with us, as his health was very bad last time we heard from him. I wish him nothing but good things.

My own approach is not concordist; I don’t see any point in trying to build up correspondences between the Bible and modern science. Dick Fischer of the ASA (a group of Christian scientists of non-YEC leanings) used to offer the same sort of stuff, and it was resoundingly rejected (or perhaps more accurately, resoundingly ignored) by most of his ASA colleagues, and by most Biblical scholars as well. So he had to run around the country renting church halls etc. and trying to convince little old ladies of his grand synthesis of a literal historical Genesis and the results of ancient archaeology and anthropology.

Glenn is trying to offer his own version of the same approach. I don’t think it can work. From my point of view, it misconceives the nature of the Biblical text – the kind of literature that the Biblical text actually is. It’s not to be read as a sort of fragmentary or shorthand history which we should try to piece together with the help of modern archaeology, geology, anthropology, etc. It’s a more or less coherent literary whole (at least, Genesis is), and literary methods rather than the methods of other sciences are more appropriate for understanding it. I grant that there might be some faint historical (in some cases prehistorical) basis for some of the things discussed in Genesis 1-11, but the original historical basis is so obscured by centuries of oral memory and centuries of editorial activity of the Bible redactors, that it is not easy to determine it with any exactness. Nonetheless, I understand Glenn’s concern: he fears that stripping Christianity of all historical reference leads inevitably to modern liberalism. I sympathize. But it doesn’t follow that all parts of the Bible are meant to be “history” as a modern person would understand the term. The ancient mind thought differently about the past than the modern mind does, and ancient literature has to be read with that in mind.

No, it doesn’t have to be Turkey. It just has to be on top of a mountain, somewhere in the Middle East. Mt. Ararat was named long after the story was written down.

Agreed.

Not agreed.

Glenn mentioned Turkey. I stuck with his words. But there are mountainous parts of Armenia and mountainous parts of Syria, either of which the narrator of Genesis may have had in mind – if he had in mind any known mountain range at all, which is not certain. In any case, your argument rejects any known mountain range, so it’s pedantry to argue about which mountains the Ark couldn’t possibly have landed in.

I’m aware of that.

There are plenty of literary studies on Genesis that have been done. Both books and articles. There are multiple recurring literary motifs that link the 50 chapters together. The linkages aren’t perfect, which is why I said “more or less”, but they are there. They appear upon close study, even in English translation. At the very least one can say that whatever source documents there might have been, the editorial tradition has done a lot of work to make them cohere.

Hi all,

I’m Dan Morton, Glenn Morton’s son (oldest of his three!). Due to his health situation, which some of you may know about, he’s unable to respond or post now. We’re continuing to pray for his comfort.

I’m posting because he did finish the book and we helped him get it onto Kindle yesterday!

Finishing this book was hugely important to him, and we’re grateful it’s complete! I know he feels exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to have written it, as he does for the chance to engage with this community.

If you are interested in reading it, here’s the link:
Eden Was Here: New Evidence for the Historicity of Genesis – Glenn Morton

While he may not be able to post, I’m certain he’d be honored to have you all consider his viewpoint and the evidence he presents.

Thank you and Best,
Dan.

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In honor of the late @grmorton 's work, I thought I would collect some of his most interesting graphics:

This particular thread is full of his observations.

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The YouTube link in the image (from a PBS film) isn’t clickable … but I have typed it as live text below:

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De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

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