Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stand Against the Wind

The 1960 film "Inherit the Wind," depicts the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which John T. Scopes (who is called Drummond in the movie) "inherited the wind" (i.e. was convicted; read Proverbs 11:29, KJV) for teaching evolution in a high school classroom in Tennessee, where only creationism was permitted. Today, Christians must stand against the wind in order to defend their rights to believe in intelligent design from not just an emotional/spiritual perspective, but a scientific one as well.

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:

"At times, some students may insist that certain conclusions of science cannot be true because of certain religious or philosophical beliefs that they hold...It is appropriate for the teacher to express in this regard, 'I understand that you may have personal reservations about accepting this scientific evidence, but it is scientific knowledge about which there is no reasonable doubt among scientists in thier field, and it is my responsibility to teach it.'"

This dogma is outrageous, but very true to my high school--and college--experience. With untrue and unfounded statements like these flying in public school environments, obviously Christians must stand strong in order to expose the fallacy of the evolution-as-fact fraud. Moreland agrees, but he is critical of the Christian climate of our time for allowing science to exclude religious thought as it has in our country:

"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.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:15-16

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Food For the Hungry in Rwanda

Sponsoring a child through Compassion International while I was in college was an incredible experience. I loved corresponding with Carmela, a little girl in the Philippines, and knowing that my small monthly gift was providing her family with a better life.

When I studied abroad in Italy, I was no longer able to support Carmela...but Compassion International was able to find her a new sponsor quickly. After a hiatus from child sponsorship that lasted much too long, I decided to sponsor a child through Food for the Hungry this year. I learned of FH at the Art* Music* Justice tour's stop in Franklin this fall, and I have loved learning more about the organization's efforts not just to care for children, but to revolutionize entire communities.

My sponsored child, a nine-year-old girl named Nishimwe, lives in Gisanga, Rwanda, a community highly affected by AIDS. Nishimwe spends several hours each day carrying large jugs of water from a shallow well. Many people in her village suffer from worms, malaria, and malnutrition. But thanks to FH she has an opportunity to attend school and will receive adequate food and health care, and her community will see first-hand the love of Christ.

Sara Groves and her family have partnered with FH in hopes of finding a sponsor for every child living in Nishimwe's community. Sarah and her husband have been in Gisanga this month, and she will be writing about their time there on her blog.

If you're interested in partnering with the Groves in Gisanga, or in sponsoring a child with Food for the Hungry in another part of the world, you can learn more here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sandwich Days

As I sit here munching on lunch, I've just been informed that my most recent article--about sandwiches!--for the March issue of has launched. You can read it here, and make sure to browse the website's content while you're at it.

There you go. A shameless lunchtime plug :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Encouragement from Rainer Maria Rilke

I first stumbled across a beautiful quote by Rainer Maria Rilke in the insert of my favorite Nichole Nordeman album, "Woven and Spun." (It's a GREAT album full of lovely, worshipful lyrics that really spoke to me during a pivotal time in my walk with the Lord.) I have always loved the quote:

She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life and weaves them gratefully into a single cloth, it is she who drives the loudmouths from the hall and clears it for a different celebration where the one guest is You.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

What a beautiful reminder! Sometimes life can seem so disjointed--as my life feels most of the time right now!--and yet as we use each little blessing God has given us, and as He providentially weaves everything together, life becomes a glorious celebration where there is but one Guest of honor. I so want God to be praised in my life like that!

I don't know that this was the meaning Rilke (a man, despite the feminine middle name) had in mind when he wrote the prose. In many ways, the 20th century German poet led a very troubled life (according to wikipedia). Nevertheless, it's one of my all-time favorite quotes, and a wise thought to hang on to when life feels like a bunch of ill-matched threads.