Is evolution headed for extinction?

Several years ago the Ohio State School Board voted eleven to four to remove language in the state’s science standards that encourages students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolution theory.”  Then school board member Martha Wise said her reason for voting to delete the language was because, “It is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science.”  That statement revealed Ms. Wise is poorly named.

The heart and soul of science is to investigate and critically analyze everything in the physical realm, including evolution.  I cannot fathom how it is misleading to teach children to do this very thing.  Anything less is not science; it is shamanism.  If evolution is more fact than theory, if it is so unquestionably true, if its underlying premises are so faultless, why do evolutionists fear its examination?  If all roads of life’s origin and continued existence lead to evolution, why are evolutionists saying don’t read the map?

Not long ago the Tennessee legislature voted to allow their children to take a closer look at the theory of evolution and to question its scientific basis.  The Tennessee legislature may be trying to reverse the impact of the Thomas Scopes’ “Monkey Trial” back in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.  The transcript of Clarence Darrow’s cross-examination of William Jennings Bryant makes for some insightful reading.  Then it generated a lot of heat, but not much light.

This kind of recent legislative action even has “Bill Nye The Science Guy” concerned.  According to one article Bill is concerned by “efforts by some Christian groups to cast doubts on evolution and lawmakers who want to bring the Bible into science classrooms.”  In a video he made Bill passionately pleads for parents not to instill their beliefs in their children, “Because we need them.”

Well Bill, you and those like you have been slowly but increasingly teaching our children they are nothing more than the highest evolved animal on the planet since 1925.  The big difference I see between then and now is our public schools are patrolled by uniformed law enforcement officers after manning the metal detector wearing bullet-proof vests in case there is a fifth-grader with an Uzi in his book bag gunning for a teacher, maybe a science teacher.

I do not reject the Theory of Evolution because it supposedly contradicts the Bible.  There are those who embrace Theistic Evolution which is an attempt to syncretize the Theory of Evolution with the biblical account of Creation.  The guys over at BioLogos would agree, although they employ different terminology.  Instead of Theistic Evolution they prefer the term Evolutionary Creation.  It’s the same idea clothed in different semantics.

The reason I reject Theistic Evolution or Evolutionary Creation is because it is predicated on poor science and even poorer theology.

As I have said before, science consists of gathering data through observation of natural phenomena or observation and recording results of experimentation in a controlled environment such as a laboratory.  At its essence, science is observation.  Observation reveals facts and scientists speculate on what the facts mean and this gives rise to theories.  There is a huge gap between what science observes and what science speculates.

When it comes to the origin of life, that gap is about 3.5 billion years.  Scientists theorize life began 3.5 billion years ago and they have formulated several theories about the origin of life, but the whole scientific community is not in possession of a single observed fact about how life began.  They can only guess how life began because they did not observe how life began.  If you think that last sentence is an exaggeration, read on.

In a publication entitled Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999), page 7, we read, “Of course, even if a living cell was to be made in the laboratory, it would not prove nature followed the same pathway billions of years ago.”  This is a stunningly honest admission by a body of highly respected scientists.  Since the origin of life is an unobserved event shrouded in antiquity, they must admit they do not know what happened.

This is why I say Theistic Evolution is poor science, because they do not know with any certitude how life began.  And this is why it is even poorer theology, because it is a theology accommodating an unproven theory.

Even though Bill says the scriptural record of Creation will eventually become obsolete, unless they come up with some hard cold facts, I think there is a better chance Evolution will become extinct.

Will God some day rule out the possibility of science?

Anthropologists tell us that religion evolved among humans as a means of explaining those things they observed of natural phenomena they did not understand.  I am not saying that statement is true; it is merely a humanist explanation for the observed existence of religion.  As the advent of scientific investigation began to debunk some superstitions the scientific community has become increasingly, well, cocky.  They must think because they have figured a few things out, they’ll be able to figure everything out.

This past week in a Yahoo news article entitled Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God? Natalie Wolchover posited “Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God.”  Of course Natalie is referring to the humanist concept of religion and God.  Natalie continues “Much of what once seemed mysterious…can now be explained by…science.”

I would be quick to agree that the scope of scientific discoveries is mind-boggling, and mankind’s advancements in technology seem to happen at breath-taking speeds, but I am not ready to dismiss my faith in God because of a few human accomplishments.  After all, it was God who told Daniel that in the last days “knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4).”

Natalie’s conclusions are drawn in part from the views of a theoretical cosmologist with the California Institute of Technology, Sean Carroll.  Sean believes “science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.”  It seems Natalie and Sean are on the same page as Sean says, “As we learn more about the universe, there’s less and less need to look outside it for help.”

Natalie and Sean seem to have everything figured out until we get to the subtitle “Beginning of time” when they concede that while the Big Bang theory is a good explanation of how the universe began what happened before the beginning is “murky.”  That’s an understatement.  What theoretical physicists and cosmologists know about the split second before the Bid Bang is not murky; it is blank, nada, nothing.  It gets murkier.

The theory that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago is predicated upon the assumption that everything in the universe is moving away from the blast, and as would be expected based on the laws of physics, slowing down.  Since we are able to calculate the speed of things in the universe, it is merely a matter of extrapolating back to the beginning of time assuming the slowing of the universe has remained constant.  It gets more murky.

Recent calculations indicate the universe is speeding up not slowing down.  This implies that the speed at which galaxies and planetary systems are moving in relation to each other has not remained constant.  Since current theories about when the universe began were predicated on what scientists imagined to be true and not what they observed (nobody has been around for the last 13.7 billion years to observe and record the speed of things in the universe), scientists’ theory regarding the beginning of time is probably off…by a few billion years…give or take.

It seems that when scientists attempt to shine the light of enlightenment on the distant past things do not get brighter; they get murkier.  This is because from a purely scientific perspective the distant past is unobservable.  The same is true about the future; it is wholly beyond the scope of scientific inquiry because it is unobservable.

This is why when Natalie and Sean and others like them predict science will rule out the need for God, I realize this is not something they have observed about the future.  It is merely their theory about the future probably predicated on their faith in science and lack of faith in God.

In 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen Paul makes a statement in verse twelve, “…now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”  Paul says now we have a partial knowledge, but we will eventually dwell in the presence of the omniscient God and our knowledge will be full.  If I understand Paul correctly the believer’s eternal access to the all-knowing God will afford him a knowledge that Einstein would envy.

If religion is the invention of man to explain what is observed, then theories are the invention of science to explain what it has not observed.  Some say science will eventually rule out the possibility of God, but the Bible says God will eventually rule out the need for science.  Given the Scriptures’ track record on predictions, I’ll go with God on this one.

Those Who Kill

The facts are still being investigated, but some are beginning to emerge.  It would seem based on unfolding news accounts that an ex-convict, an insurance salesman, and a supposed Christian charity were involved in making the movie Innocence of Muslims.  The film purportedly portrays Muhammad as “a fraud, a womanizer, and a child molester.”  Evidently the movie was circulated on YouTube and its disparaging of Islam has sparked violent protests by Muslims in the mid-east and around the world at American embassies.

We now know the violent protests at the United States Embassy in Libya turned deadly.  The United States Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans died during the riot.  These protests are not isolated to the mid-east.  In Sydney, Australia, protestors at the American Embassy gathered chanting “behead all those who insult the Prophet [Muhammad].”  One is left wondering what Islamic extremists hope to gain from this kind of lethal retaliation and these deadly threats.

This movie that incited such widespread violence and deadly response appears to have been made by some anti-Islamic extremists acting on their own.  There is not one shred of evidence the American government sponsored or endorsed the making of this film.  On the contrary, our government has denounced the film and its message as being “inflammable and despicable.”  In a nation that embraces and practices freedom of speech it is hard to understand killing another for an insult, but it is sheer madness to kill anyone who may have had no knowledge of or been responsible for the insult.  That seems to be what happened in Libya.

History is replete with the failed attempts to spread religious beliefs by force or threat of arms.  It just does not work.  Nor does it engender peaceful relations.  Our government conducted a ten year manhunt for Osama bin Laden to bring him to justice.  We did not hunt him down for what he believed; we hunted him down for what he did.  If Islamic extremists think the rest of the world will tolerate this sort of irresponsible retaliation and indiscriminate killing they are blind fools.

In the wake of these events U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered what has been term “a powerful and personal speech about religion.”  Her remarks were given at an Eid ul-Fitr reception that marks the end of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday.  Secretary Clinton made sense when she said, “When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence.  When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence.  The same goes for all faiths, including Islam.”

The power of her message does not lie in its eloquence or oratory; it lies in the sheer common sense it applies to the current state of affairs regarding world religions.  That same common sense is found in the Scriptures.

In the sixth chapter of Judges starting in verse twenty-eight part of the biblical account of Gideon is recorded.  Gideon destroys the altar of Baal.  When it becomes known Baal’s followers go to Joash, Gideon’s father, and demand “bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal (v. 30).”  Joash reasons with the Baal extremists, “will you contend for Baal…if he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar (v. 31).”  His point is clear; any true god should be able to defend himself and his reputation.  The defense of any real deity is not dependent on the actions of his followers.

Christianity is not without its accusers, and there appear to be no shortage of those who blaspheme the beliefs I and others like me hold dear.  I pray for them that their eyes might be opened and they would come to see their folly and turn from their wickedness before it is too late.  But I do not hate them nor wish their demise.  The Day of Judgment will come soon enough and I trust God to right all wrongs.  He does not need my counsel in His deliberations or my help in carrying out His decisions.  I trust He is able and will do what is right by every single person who has ever lived.

The words of Christ are appropriate at this time.  “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 12: 28).”

Should spanking be outlawed?

Earlier this year, in February, I wrote about an article I came across entitled Spanking kids can cause long-term harm; Canada study.  In it Joan Durant, a professor at the University of Manitoba, and co-author Ron Ensom, with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario at Ottawa, wrote that “spanking children can cause long-term developmental damage and may even lower a child’s IQ.”  Their words did not go unnoticed.

In an editorial dated September 4, 2012, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal the editor-in-chief John Fletcher agreed with Durant and Ensom.  Fletcher opined, “Parents need to be re-educated as to how they discipline their children.”  But Fletcher takes the matter to another level when he says, “It’s not just parents that need to change, though.  The law needs to be changed too.”  He calls for the abolishment of section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada that permits parents to spank.  The following is almost a verbatim reprint from my February article.

On Christmas Day 1957, I was five.  We were celebrating the holiday with family at my grandfather’s farmhouse.  For some unknown reason I threw my cousin Anne’s much coveted Christmas gift, a baby doll, into the living room fireplace.  As it burst into flames; she burst into tears.  Before I could bask in its glow my father turned my world upside down, literally.  This was my first spanking (a wholly inadequate term) I can remember.  I was left with two impressions.  The one on my posterior healed.  The one on my psyche remains; respect what belongs to someone else.

The last time I remember my father disciplining me, I was fourteen.  The corporeal punishments I received during the interim of these two events were not many, but they were memorable.  I cannot recall a single time that my father punished me that I did not deserve it.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”  My father understood the principle that the foolishness of disrespect, selfishness and rebellion of authority can be driven out of a child’s heart by physical punishment.  Many parents today don’t embrace this truth, because they do not understand what my father and Solomon did understand.  They think physical punishment is hateful.  But the Bible says the opposite is true in Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

Every time I witness a parent trying to negotiate terms of obedience with a three-year-old tyrant throwing a tantrum, or trying to bribe a child to be good, I am reminded of Proverbs 29:15.  “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”  Parents are supposed to love their children, not worship or adore them.  It is shameful to do otherwise.

I do not believe that spanking is the sole means of disciplining a child nor, depending upon the circumstances, the most preferable, but there are times in child rearing when it is indispensable.  For instance, it is appropriate when a child rebels against parental authority.  If a child never learns to respect the authority of parents he can see, he will not learn to respect the authority of the Father he cannot see.

I understand the concerns.  There need to be laws to address child abuse.  For legislators it is a balancing act between what legitimate discipline is and what constitutes child abuse.  But I hope they do not allow Durant and Ensom’s twenty years of research to supplant 2,500 years of biblical wisdom.

Durant and Ensom claim physical punishment predicts “aggressive and antisocial” behavior.  I have never been arrested.  They assert children who have been physically punished are prone to “depression and substance abuse.”  I am not an alcoholic or drug addict.  Their studies “suggest it [corporeal punishment] may reduce the brain’s grey matter in areas relevant to intelligence testing.”  If my father spanking me reduced my brain’s grey matter mass, it must have merely condensed it.  I went back to college at the age of forty-two while working fulltime and carrying a full course load.  I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree while maintaining a 3.79 GPA.

I am left wondering if Durant and Ensom had children.  They said, “There are no studies that show any long term positive outcomes from physical punishment.”  I am sixty years old.  Since that Christmas Day in 1957, I have not thrown someone else’s baby doll in the fireplace.  That was more than fifty-five years ago.  Study that.

The Bad News

They go by different labels, atheists, humanists or agnostics.  Whatever title they use, they share a common disbelief; there is no God.  Moving out of the shadows of anonymity and into the light of the public arena, they advertise on billboards, hold rallies, are becoming more organized, and even do outreach.  Once content to let others believe whatever, they have become more outspoken, emboldened to share and spread their disbelief.  They seem ironically possessed by an evangelistic zeal to proclaim the nonexistent and make converts.

Dan Nerren was once a Southern Baptist, but not anymore.  He is one of the founders of the Humanist Association of Tulsa in Oklahoma.  The Humanist Association of Tulsa has been in a protracted battle “for years” with the Tulsa City Council in an effort to prevent “sectarian prayers” before council meetings.  Recently, the Tulsa City Council placated Nerren by allowing him to give the invocation at one of their meetings.

There are two things about this concession that are blatantly absurd.  First, Nerren delivered what surely was a very sectarian prayer because he believes there should be no sectarian prayers.  How ridiculous is that for a group that supposedly esteems reason above faith?  Second, the Humanist Association of Tulsa also avows “We deplore efforts to…look outside of nature for salvation.”  Since the word prayer means to supplicate or request divine assistance, who did Nerren pray to?

Nerren was supported by Bill Dusenberry who represented the Northeast Oklahoma chapter of that bastion of reason, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Dusenberry said he appreciated the Tulsa City Council’s “willingness to accommodate diversity.”  But I am always leery of any organization whose title contains an oxymoron like “United for Separation.”

Back in July an atheist in Pennsylvania, John Wolff, filed a complaint against the Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen of Columbia restaurant with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.  The restaurant was offering a ten percent discount to those patrons on Sundays who had a church bulletin.  Wolff considered that discriminatory because he does not attend church.  I wonder how many will file a complaint because they go to a church that does not have bulletins, or runs out of them?

Anyway, it seems as silly as a vegetarian filing a complaint against a grocery store because it is offering a discount on hamburger meat (I hope I didn’t give any vegetarians any ideas).  Any atheist who would like to stop by church after services on Sunday, I’ll give a bulletin, and anyone who will attend worship services with me I’ll buy your lunch.  That’s a 100% discount.  Hopefully none of my fellow believers will file a complaint against me for discriminating against them.

Then there is the Clergy Project promoted by atheist Richard Dawkins.  According to him the Clergy Project “exists to provide a safe haven, a forum where clergy who have lost their faith can meet each other, exchange views, swap problems, counsel each other.”  The project likes to showcase people like Teresa MacBain.

While serving a Methodist church MacBain claimed in a magazine article “I am currently an active pastor and I’m also an atheist.  I live a double life.”  Though she eventually resigned her pastorate, she admittedly continued for some time to draw her salary while lying to her church in her sermons about beliefs she did not embrace.  Evidently MacBain lost much more than her faith, if she ever had any.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News.  The Scriptures offer us comfort and guidance for the present, and hope for the future.  Every believer is like the excellent wife described in Proverbs 31:10-31.  Because of our faith we can “smile at the future (v.25).”

As I have already showed unbelievers are no more rational, wise, or moral in what they say and do than anyone else.  They wholly reject the idea of divine intervention and say we must rely completely on each other to solve our problems.  Read any newspaper on any given day and you will see that mankind is not doing a very good job of saving itself.  Any way you look at it, that’s bad news.