When I was in eighth grade, my Grandpa Russell (my mom's dad) gave me a book called Defeating Darwinism by Philip Johnson. The following year while taking honors freshman biology, I devoured the book, desperate to defend my faith in a Creator God to a hostile public school teacher. I didn't know it then, but Johnson is recognized by the Christian academic community as a pioneer in the scientific argument for creationism. A lover of both science and apologetics, he has paved the way for much of the Darwinian evolution vs. intelligent design debate (what little debate is allowed, that is).
His book helped me articulate my position (why I believed in micro-evolution, or gradual evolution within a species, but NOT macro-evolution, i.e. Darwin's theory, for instance) before my teacher and my classmates. It helped me to ask the questions that my teacher couldn't answer adequately because there currently isn't a satisfying answer (for example, how precisely did life start from nothing? or where exactly is the fossil evidence that proves macro-evolution?) While I certainly wasn't going to win any arguments with this teacher who pretty much berated me--a fifteen-year-old--for my lack of faith in Darwin's theory (which even then was taught as fact), I think I did, at the very least, raise a dialogue that would have otherwise not been possible. The experience was formative.
Years later, the situation has intensified. Darwinian evolution is being taught--to an even greater extent than during my high school years--as factual, and at the exclusion of other theories. The secular climate of the times is pervasive. Friends here in Nashville, the Christian hub, were shocked when their second grader came home from school talking about the Big Bang as though it was proven scientific data. Her father sat with her and went over the biblical account of creation at length, instructing her impressionable mind in apologetics, which she'll need in her public school career, even here in the Bible Belt.
The next night, I returned to my (very drawn-out) reading of J.P. Moreland's Love Your God with All Your Mind, and was disturbed to read the following excerpt from an official document instructing California teachers in how to handle a student's objections to the Darwinian theory:
"Note carefully that the California board of education regards religious, that is Christian, beliefs as personal, private, subjective opinions to be contrasted with the true, public, objectively rational affirmations made by scientists. Where do secular people get this image of Christian doctrine? May I suggest that they get it from watching the Christians they meet, and more specifically, from watching the role that reason and truth play in the evangelical community....If unbelievers do not see a vibrant intellectual life when they observe Christians at work, or engaged in fellowship and worship, are they to be blamed if they conclude that truth and rationality do not matter much to us?"
Last week some friends had suggested watching Ben Stein's documentary, Expelled. Our viewing couldn't have been better timed, as we've been talking about creation in my systematic theology II class this semester and it has come up again and again in my personal reading/experience as well. So on Friday night, we settled in for homemade pizza and a movie I would commend to anyone wanting to know more about science and science education in the 21st century. Watch the movie trailer here.
The best part of the movie (and I wish I could find a clip of this...but you'll have to check out the film for yourself!) is Stein's interview with Michael Ruse, a prominent defender of Darwinism at Florida State. When Stein asks him how life started on earth, Ruse explains that it may have begun "on the backs of crystals." Stein asks, "yes but how did life start?" And Ruse, in a hilariously high-pitched voice of exasperation, says "well I've just told you...on the backs of crystals!" Stein asks a third time, "but how did life start?" And Ruse answers similarly. The discourse highlights the fact that there is still no answer to the question of "how?" in Darwinian thought. Atheist and Darwinian leader Charles Dawkins expresses similar exasperation in an interview with Stein, even to the point of claiming that while the idea of God is implausible, it is quite likely that aliens are responsible for intelligent design.
Stein also interviews a host of professors and writers who have been excommunicated from academia because they simply mention intelligent design in the classroom or in private research. The overall point of the film seems to be that there is a lack of freedom of thought in academia and the scientific field at large on this issue. In a country that claims to value freedom of thought, there is an alarming lack of freedom and an equally alarming religious dogmatism in the science classroom and lab. It has often been said that Darwinian evolution requires more faith than the intelligent design theory, and Expelled seems to prove that point--Darwinists have created a religion that excludes all other thought.
1 Peter 3:15-16