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Friday, August 31, 2012

Evolution Is Not Science

Last week, as I'm sure you've heard by now, children's TV show host Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' released the following video, entitled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children":

The news media immediately jumped on it, and that's how I heard about it. Frankly, I was shocked at what I heard, not because I believe that God created the cosmos (although I do believe that), but that Bill Nye apparently has a few of his facts confused. He also clearly thinks that anyone who doesn't believe what he believes is an idiot.

Here are a few of the facts that Mr. Nye is getting wrong:
  1. "When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in that, it holds everybody back, really." How can he say this immediately after saying "I mean, we're the world's most advanced technological [country]... generally, the United States is where most of the innovation still happens"? Does he think that Americans never believed in creation until recently? Clearly it hasn't held us back yet. It could be argued, based on those two statements alone, that belief in evolution has held everybody else back.
  2. "Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates." How is evolution fundamental to understanding biology? Is he saying that if someone chooses not to believe that one species can, over time, bring forth a different species, that that person is not able to become a biologist or a physician? He might want to discuss that with the excellent Christian doctor who has kept me healthy for many years now.
  3. "Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution." What's more simple than "I think someone made these complex living things in the world around me"? I suppose "Over the course of millions or billions of years, directed by forces which we cannot observe or repeat, counter to the observable fact that organized things in our world tend to deteriorate instead of becoming more organized, simple creatures suddenly appeared out of nowhere for no reason and then slowly became more complex creatures, guided by no intelligence at all" is much simpler.
  4. " are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent" Bill here seems to misunderstand something about believers in creation. Not every believer in creation believes in the "young Earth" hypothesis which says that although the universe seems very old, it actually is only something like 6,000 years old (or maybe some other figure, but you get the picture.) In fact, there is no reason that someone who believes that an intelligence created everything can't also believe that that intelligence created it billions of years ago. Young Earth is not the same topic as evolution, although they may often be part of the same arguments.

    This is the first time in the video, by the way, that Mr. Nye implies that people who do not believe in evolution are not very bright. More on that later.
  5. "And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems." Obviously, if you do not believe in evolution, you can not understand science, "build stuff" that requires understanding of engineering, or "solve problems." Hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, astronauts, computer programmers, and generally very intelligent people who doubt evolution would beg to disagree.
  6. "You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it." On the contrary, in recent years the evidence against evolution has been mounting... in fact, if there is anything that lacks evidence, it is the argument that simpler creatures can and have managed to change themselves into more complicated creatures. Human beings cannot even force evolution to happen, and to our knowledge, we are the more complex and intellectual creatures on Earth. The best we can do is make creatures mutate, but we can't make a Spider Man or a Wolverine... usually the mutations we create result in the death of the mutant. Mutation does not make creatures better. It usually kills them. It certainly doesn't turn one species of animal into a different species. And if even the most complex species on the planet can't make it happen, how can a one-celled microbe make it happen?
The thing I find offensive about Bill Nye's video, though, is not his inaccuracies, but his arrogance. He leaves no room between "smart like me" and "crazy people who can't understand the world around them." He implies that science and evolution are one and the same, but that's just not the case. Evolution is not science. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the Scientific method this way: "principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses." Did you notice how the scientific method involves observation and experiment? So far there has never been a bona-fide observed case of evolution. We haven't been able to turn cats into anything but cats, cows into anything but cows, daisies into anything but daisies, humans into anything but humans. Squirrels give birth to baby squirrels. Chicken eggs hatch and chickens come out. Evolution has as much scientific validity as Mary Shelley's story of Dr. Frankenstein giving life to an assembly of body parts by shooting them with lightning. Neither experiment, Frankenstein's Monster or Darwin's Evolution, has ever been repeated. Experimental results that are not independently repeatable are scientifically suspect.

And yet Bill Nye and others like him do exactly what they accuse creationists of doing: they shove their dogma down the throats of others. They pretend that something they cannot observe or make happen is a scientifically proven fact, and they call people names if they are disagreed with. I've even heard accounts of very qualified scientists suffering bullying within their professional circles for advancing ideas that exclude evolution. Some scientists who believe in creation actually remain "in the closet" because they fear that their career will suffer if they buck the party line on evolution. By using the word "crazy" to describe the views of creationists and by implying that they live in a dream world, Mr. Nye has shown that he has no respect for those who have views counter to his own. It's shocking that someone who aligns himself with the scientific establishment would show such disdain for the views of others.

Even if I believed in evolution, that's not the kind of attitude I want to teach to my children. Hopefully, the children of tomorrow will respect others' viewpoints, even if they disagree with them. Evolution or not, intellectual arrogance is definitely not appropriate for children.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bible Translations Comparison Chart

A company I discovered a while back called Rose Publishing creates tons of "e-charts" on Bible-related topics. Occasionally they make samples available for free download (so far I've amassed a collection of 24 of the free charts), and today they released one that I thought might be of interest to my readers: the "FREE 'Bible Translations Comparison' eChart." The free version of the chart compares some characteristics of four Bible translations: the KJV, NIV (2011 edition), NASB, and NLT. Here's the link to the free download:

The full version compares twenty translations, and is available for $3.99 to download (they also have pretty cool-looking wall-chart editions in the $10-15 range), so if you like the free version you can download from the link above, you might want to spring for the 20-translation edition. Here's a list of the translations in the full (paid) versions:
  • American Standard Version
  • Amplified Bible
  • New American Standard Bible
  • Revised Standard Version
  • New Revised Standard Version
  • English Standard Version
  • King James Version
  • New King James Version
  • New Jerusalem Bible
  • New American Bible
  • New International Version 2011 (NIV)
  • Common English Bible (CEB)
  • Today's New International Version
  • God's Word
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (Holman Bible)
  • New Century Version
  • New Living Translation
  • New International Readers Version
  • Good News Translation
  • Contemporary English Version
  • The Message
By the way, the free download is only guaranteed to be available until Tuesday, September 4, 2012, so jump on this one pretty quick!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

War with the World, Part 2

In my previous post I outlined some thoughts related to the recent Chick-fil-A hoopla, and the response of the Christian community. This morning a detail fell into place for me in a way that put two and two together to make something that was more like "four" than anything I've heard yet. Maybe I'm turning into a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, but hear me out and maybe you'll at least see where I'm coming from.

Let's review the basic events that occurred that led to the controversy. On July 2, some comments that Dan Cathy made about traditional marriage were published in a Baptist newsmagazine. On June 16, he appeared on a radio show I've never heard of before and made similar remarks (source: via Wikipedia). Such a controversy erupted over these remarks that by July 22, the former governor of Arkansas had called for a special day for Chick-fil-A supporters to go eat there to show support for the chain (source: On August 1, supporters did as Mr. Huckabee had recommended, and even though Chick-fil-A did not officially ask for it or plan an event, they had a "record-setting" sales day (source: The LGBT community planned a counter-demonstration "kiss-in" for the following Friday (see: I doubt it cost Chick-fil-A much in sales, but Chick-fil-A does not publicly report sales numbers so nobody but their hairdresser knows for sure what happened for them financially on Wednesday or on Friday.

Since this thing started to percolate up into the brouhaha it eventually became, I've been puzzled over how a few comments in such obscure venues became such a big deal. I mean, who is this Ken Coleman with the radio show? I've never heard of him before now, and I'd guess I've at least heard the names of most nationally-known Christian leaders. (Actually, I'm assuming he is a religious speaker of some kind, although I don't immediately find anything specifically addressing that on Best I can tell from his Web site is that he has a local show on a radio station in Georgia. And tell me: how many gay rights activists really read the Baptist Press? If I were gay and wanted to be part of a Christian church, I would most certainly NOT choose the very conservative Baptist denomination, and I would not read Baptist publications.

So here's the question to ask yourself. How did the LGBT community even know about these things Dan Cathy was saying? Are you telling me that gay people are spending their time reading Baptist publications and listening to Christian talk radio? Now, I did just do some quick research, and Wikipedia does report that Atlanta has a large gay population (source: so it's possible that homosexual activists in that area might have stumbled across Coleman's radio show. But I've got to wonder whether that's really what happened, and here's why.

It appears that Chick-fil-A has actually been controversial within the LGBT community for at least a year and a half. Wikipedia reports that there was a flap over a marriage conference in January of 2011 (source: and if you check the references in that Wikipedia article, you'll find several other instances of LGBT activists becoming upset over something Chick-fil-A did. So essentially, Chick-fil-A seems to have been in their crosshairs for some time. What occurred to me this morning was that it is very likely that they were actually looking for the right time to attack Chick-fil-A in the national arena. This public denouncement of Chick-fil-A wasn't really in response only to those two interviews.

Now, here's where Christians either won the day, or got pie on our faces, and I'm going with option #2. Sure, CFA had a great sales day, and my guess is that they are continuing to have great sales days - the Saturday after the big chicken-athon I was at a mall with a CFA in it and the line was still longer at that restaurant than anywhere else in the food court. But really, did the chain really need saving? It's not like CFA is an ailing fast food chain that needs our support to keep it from going under. We gave them our money, but all that meant was that we had some tasty chicken.

Here's how we failed: the LGBT community was trying to cause a division between themselves and Christians. Can't you see that that was the idea all along? They sought to show that Christians are mistreating gays, to consolidate gays against Christian organizations, to make sure that homosexuals would not seek to leave the lifestyle but would become more afraid and suspicious of organizations that would reach out to them.

I think we walked right into their trap.

I don't think that the LGBT activist community got things exactly like they wanted, because I think they really wanted to demonize and damage the chain and that just wasn't going to happen. But I do think that they've set Americans at each other's throats, and specifically I think they've set homosexuals against Christians. They've polarized people, shoring up their own power. Christians saved a fast-food restaurant that didn't really need saving, and hardline gay-rights activists built a stronger sense of "us-versus-them" community on both the gay side and the "religious right" side.

It's another row or two of bricks in the already towering wall between the Christians and the people that Jesus wants us to reach out to in love. And we laid the bricks ourselves.

Friday, August 3, 2012

War with the World

No time for being lazy
No sleeping until noon
The world is cruh-cruh-crazy
Don't you get the news?
Get up, put on your armor
Yeah, we're at war with the world
- from "War With The World" by DeGarmo & Key (listen: Spotify -
Years ago there was a great deal of controversy over what was known in Christian circles as the "spiritual warfare movement." Christian rock bands with lyrics like this one (a different band called Petra even released an entire album called This Means War!) raised eyebrows with their use of combative language. War is a violent thing... should Christians be talking as though we are in some kind of battle? Isn't that what happened in the Crusades? Isn't that what we object to in radical Islam even today?

In the past couple of weeks, angry Christians have eaten thousands of chicken sandwiches in protest of people who protest at the Chick-fil-A founder's statements about marriage. Some say the controversy is about free speech (even though nobody restricted Dan Cathy's speech). Others say the controversy is about gay marriage rights (even though Dan Cathy denied nobody's rights to get married) or gay rights in general (although I have yet to hear any good solid evidence that Chick-fil-A has discriminated against anyone because of their sexual orientation). Others see the statements as a symptom of a corporate policy with which they disagree (the company has made charitable donations to religious organizations which seek to help homosexuals leave that lifestyle if they so choose, and the methods of some of these organizations have been questioned). In the Christian circles I frequent, I have seen a lot of defiance, some of it bordering on anger. Christians are frustrated, because they feel that homosexuals are trying to legalize something which they believe threatens their religious beliefs. Apparently, if homosexuals are allowed to call themselves "married" under the civil laws of the United States, it will be the first step in the crumbling of Christianity to dust.

But wait... is the Church really that fragile? Is Christ really not able to preserve his people if homosexuals quit eating at a fast food chicken place? Even if that place doesn't open on Sunday because of the owners' religious convictions? And, more importantly, are political ideas, even ones that are very important to us in America such as the right to freedom of speech, really a part of Christianity?

Are we at "war with the world?"

I think we've gotten our idea of what "the world" that we should be "at war with" mixed up. The second part of the song I quoted above is a little more specific:
The enemy's a liar
He wants to take your heart
The lure is the desire
That tears the heart apart
So don't go for the glitter
Yeah, we're at war with the world
- from "War With The World" by DeGarmo & Key
"The enemy" that the song talks about is personified under the name Satan, but really "the world" that we are to oppose is the sinfulness that surrounds us, not everybody in the whole world who is not a Christian. In fact, in the Gospels Jesus never attacked the people around him who were considered "unclean" and "sinners" (in first-century Jewish thought, homosexuals would surely fall into this category, if any of them happened to show up). The people that Jesus most vehemently attacked were the self-righteous religious people who thought they knew all the rules and wanted to force everyone else to follow them.

Sound familiar?

The problem with this whole Chick-fil-A thing... in fact, with the whole "gay rights" thing and the response of Christians to it... is that it serves to create a division between Christians and the very people we should be seeking to reach with the message of Jesus' love. When you post that pro-Chick-fil-A image on your Facebook profile, think about this: is your lunch really worth the soul of a gay person who might see your profile and become hardened against the message of the Gospel because of it? What about your right to free speech? Is that worth the price of a human soul? What if a gay person wants to become "married" in the eyes of the State, but does not want to try to force a church to call them married as well. Is your opposition to that person's actions worth alienating someone from Jesus?

I'm not saying we should "wink at sin" and say that it's OK. Homosexuality is not OK. Neither are any of the other sins that most of us commit every day. If you break one part of the law, one rule, one sin - you've sinned just as thoroughly as the homosexual. There are no sins worse than others: every sin is a capitol offense without Jesus. But what I am saying is that we should pick our battles wisely. Even Chick-fil-A immediately tried to separate themselves from the controversy over gay marriage; maybe Christians en masse ought to take a cue from that and do the same. Free speech and chicken sandwiches are not worth anyone going to Hell over.