Monday, October 27, 2008

I Don't Wanna Rock!

There is a robust industry of potato farming where I live. This Fall, I participated in the potato harvest by working for a short time on, appropriately enough, a potato harvester or combine. One of the things we had to do was pick rocks out of the conveyor belt. Sometimes large. Sometimes small. Always painful on the fingers. By the end of harvest season one may be tempted to say they never want to see another potato again. But not me. I personally have no problem whatever with potatoes. It is the rocks I don't like!

May I say, I had a lot of fun most of the time. On the other hand, one of the unpleasant aspects of the job-besides sore fingers, of course-was working with certain people who seemed to have an extreme grudge on their shoulder against me. Paul tells us that we are to get along with others as best as we can. If they absolutely refuse to get along with us, what do we do?

Enduring such tribulation, I began to reflect on the seeming fact, that no matter where one works and no matter what one does, there is always someone who just arbitrarily decides that they are going to hate one's guts.

I am sure that the Christ-like thing to do in such situations is to approach the other person to talk over the problem. Of course, if the other person is not willing to talk things over with you, then there is really nothing you can do besides pray for them and try to ignore their shenanigans as best you can.

But surely this state of affairs is frustrating. I like to get along with everybody. Of course, as an apologist, I am constantly telling people, "no, you are wrong," and that could get very annoying for those I am in dialogue with, I would venture to guess. But I hope nobody gets the wrong idea. Disagreeing is part of the package that comes with being an apologist for the Christian faith. I by no means derive my jollies from being contentious or argumentative. Again, it is my desire to get along well with all.

So I find myself frustrated when others apparently dislike me. It was particularly hard to swallow when the offending party was a minister, in a Christian environment. This person made many claims to me which I could not help but realise, as time passed, were not true. When they said, "I've been honest with you from the beginning," that was, I think, especially painful. I expect that sort of behavior from jobs in the world, but not at jobs run by Christian institutions.

But there was really nothing I could do. Just pray for the other person. We are instructed by Christ Himself to pray for our enemies-though I hate to use the e-word. And of course, it being easier to see the mote than the beam, it never hurts to pray for ourselves as well. Perhaps we are at least partially at fault in such circumstances as on-the-job conflict at times.

In any case, these tribulations are relatively minor. I never got fired and life does go on. Such affairs build character in us too. Still, all this goes to show that even if we are not formally in full-time ministry as, say, pastor of a church, we still have Christ with us at work and need to follow Him there just as much as on Sunday mornings. I hope I am a faithful follower at all times. I leave you with a question. Though now it is a cliche it still behooves us to ask it of ourselves at all times and in all situations. What would Jesus do?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Moist Your Mind... With Intelligence

I finally saw the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" today.

The vast majority of the documentary film was spent restating more or less standard creationist (i.e. non-atheistic-micro, but possibly not macro, evolutionary) concerns. And there is certainly nothing at all wrong with this as the film was aimed at a general audience, I presume, and general audiences are not necessarily familiar with such material.

There are two points, with respect to the film, that I would like to note here.

First, there have, it is claimed in the movie (and I have no reason to doubt this claim) been several persons who have lost their jobs because of their perceived affiliation with some strand or other of the creationist movement. The people in question are primarily professors but there was at least one journalist mentioned. In the course of the movie these people are named, as well as the organisations they previously worked for, and were given an oppurtunity to appear on film. The alleged offending party at their organisation-say a university campus-were also given the chance to present their side of the story.

If these allegations are true, and they almost certainly are, then I can sum up my feelings towards the situation with a single word. Appalling.

Before the host Ben Stein went straight to the horses mouth, he swung by Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. The man in charge of that publication said that there has been no such discrimination so far as he knew. Of course, his magazine and staff had nothing to do with the purported discrimination itself. And I am not sure we should expect him (his name escapes me at the moment) to know about such clandestine matters as campus faculty politics. Still, this move by Ben, or whomever, was amusing because the rest of the film was tracking down the various offended and, to a lesser sucessful extent, offending, parties. I say this is amusing because Christians are all to used to hearing skeptics make great claims that turn out to have no basis in reality.

At any rate, as the movie progressed Mr. Stein asks what he can do to help keep academic freedom alive and well at university campuses. In a special feature on the dvd, he announces that there is a petition circulating around for just this very purpose. For more information about the petition go to

The main focus of the documentary, besides exposing a kind of religious persecution, was the intelligent design movement (or ID). It has been interesting for me to watch the reaction of mainstream evolutionists to the ID. And this brings up the second point I wished to make with respect to "Expelled". It is now my thesis that the hard-core young Earth creationists really did have a point all along.

But let me back up a bit. As I explained in a previous post, I have come to believe in an old Earth. With smart people like Alister McGrath and John Polkinghorne being full-blown theistic evolutionists, why, I was on the verge of becoming one myself. After all, the Bible explicitly says animals were made from the dust of the earth which is essentially the same idea that as that of chemical evolution out of "a warm little pool," it seems to me. I even went on wikipedia and saw that the general descent of life matches more or less the Genesis account (i.e. the order of the animals is the same in both "accounts" it would seem). And since all truth is God's truth, nature cannot contradict Scripture. As a Christian I care a great deal about truth so I want to take scientific truth very seriously.

But, there is a catch. Sometime ago I was watching a clip of Dr. Francis Collins. He is either a theistic evolutionist, or, at the very least, an advocate for the compatibility of Christianity and neo-darwinism. He is a biologist and wrote "Searching for Darwin's God". In this clip he was addressing a room of his colleagues about a recent high profil ID trial which he had apparently just testified at. The whole room was laughing (at his instigation?) about how silly the ID movement is. But what he said about the ID movement was-more precisely, his description of irreducible complexity-was nothing like I remembered it. I checked it out and found that he had grossly misrepresented it.

But badly misrepresenting a scientific view, especially when its proponents have been careful, and infinitely patient, to clarify the misunderstanding, and laughing at it is precisely what evolutionists have always accused the hard-core creationists of doing. Similar argumentum ad pot-calling-kettle-black was no doubt also found in the movie "Expelled" by biologists speaking out against ID.

It is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that mainstream biology is willfully ignorant not only of the hard-core creationism in vogue in the past, but also of the currently more respectable ID points of view. In other words, it appears that non-religious scientists are really not the rational, reasonable, unbiased people they want us religious people to believe.

So it appears that macro-evolution with atheistic connotations is the only game in town for biologists that are not religious as Bill Craig would say. And furthermore that they will not even consider an alternative viewpoint. I want to be crystal clear on this point. I am not claiming that macro-evolution from a single common ancester never occured or that there is no scientific data pointing in that direction. That may (or may not) be the case. All I am saying here is that creationists of all stripes (including theistic evolutionists) are not getting a fare shake and that we do have a legitimate point to make. I would think, what is good for the creationist goose, is good for the non-religious evolutionary gander.