For the last few years CRWRC, continuing as World Renew, and the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action (OSJ) have teamed up to offer Advent devotions. The concept is: people who are working, hoping, and praying everyday for justice might have some inspiration for the rest of us while we all wait to celebrate the birth of our Lord.  This year, we are offering the advent series again and I would like to give all of you a behind the scenes look--a preview of what to expect.

November 19, 2012 0 0 comments

 I’m reading through the Qur'an for the second time. The first time I read through it, I was in Pasadena California at the Zwemer Institute for Muslim Studies (which has since relocated to Columbia University in South Carolina). It was a good break from a cold January in Winnipeg, Canada and while we enjoyed the warmth, I diligently read the Qur’an from beginning to end.

November 12, 2012 0 0 comments

I love reading missionary newsletters, as you can probably tell. Last week I posted about a church that was started out of a literacy class meeting underneath a tree in Uganda. This week, I’d like to share with you some words of wisdom from Gil Suh, who works with Christian Reformed World Missions in Cambodia.

November 5, 2012 0 0 comments

I love reading newsletters from overseas missionaries and staff. Sometimes, I read a story like the one shared by Edward Etanu Okiror below, and I wonder . . . could a church "spring up" like this in North America? Edward works for World Renew in Uganda.

October 29, 2012 0 1 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 10/24/2012 While going on a trip is certainly a valid method for cultivating a mission heart, every Christian student should be able to answer the question, “How are you involved in missions?” Every church should be able to answer the question, “How do you involve students in missions?”

October 24, 2012 0 0 comments

As trustworthy stewards of God’s assets [Psalm 24:1] we must conscientiously and carefully manage the time, talents, and treasures that have been entrusted to us. This requires a careful consideration of giving opportunities and the selection of those opportunities that are the most compelling. Within this set of opportunities, those that contribute to the accomplishment of the Great Commission are easily the most compelling and we should approach these endeavors generously, cheerfully, and wisely.

October 22, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

While going on a mission trip is certainly a valid method for cultivating a mission heart, there are many other ways students can be involved in missions. Jerry Meadows, Mission Program Director at Youth Unlimited will be presenting a free, one-hour webinar titled "The Coming Revolution in...

October 17, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic


I was hoping to hear some stories of how the relationship between your church and a mission organization has helped shape your church's heart for mission.

About 5 years ago I introduced our church to Providence World Ministries. As a Director of Student Ministries i was looking for...

October 16, 2012 0 0 comments

It strikes me when I read Genesis 21:8-21 that Abraham really loved his son Ishmael. We don’t put a lot of emphasis on Abraham and Ishmael’s relationship. We focus more on the child of the covenant promise, Isaac. But clearly Abraham loved Ishmael.

October 15, 2012 0 0 comments

"The original author of this challenge was Christ. He said, "Love your neighbor." Now, we can stretch that out to include a lot of people, but I don't think there's any way to shrink it...He says neighbor. So, for all of us who follow Christ this is not a's a mandate."

October 8, 2012 0 0 comments

Now that we know the theory, what does this look like in practice? How do we take action on immigration?

October 1, 2012 0 0 comments

One day during my senior year of high school, I looked up from the lunch table to see what looked like a war zone on the local news. On the screen, helicopters swirled overhead as hundreds of men in shackles were herded onto buses while uniformed federal agents with guns stood staunchly by, watching. Hysterical, weeping women and children were interviewed by reporters, pleading for their fathers and husbands. I had no idea what was going on.

September 24, 2012 0 3 comments

“I don’t go to church. I am a Muslim.” The man was appalled, responding, “Well, you have to know, Jesus Christ is Lord. He will judge you someday. You have to believe in him to be saved, or you can be sure that you are going to hell.” This incident of “drive-by evangelism” is yet another example of a completely misguided effort to share the “good news” that does more harm than good. 

September 17, 2012 0 1 comments

As many children set off for school in my neighborhood this month, I enjoy watching the anticipation on their faces as they walk by with new school bags and clothes. That same emotion runs under our work this month organizationally as CRWRC begins the official launch of our new name, World Renew.

September 13, 2012 0 0 comments

Most of the people who care most passionately about championing the needs of undocumented immigrants are the undocumented themselves, or their relatives or friends.

September 10, 2012 1 8 comments

Fall is a key time for mission emphasis events in many churches.  As you prepare for special worship services, mission-themed dinners and the like, you may find these resources to be valuable.  Most of them were sent to churches in mid-August in hard copy.  If you misplaced them

September 7, 2012 0 1 comments

Hi all! Konnichiwa! It's a breezy Thursday here in Yamamoto-cho as I (Rebecca) write this blog. It's a bit late, but here's an update on the last few days.On Sunday night, we regrouped with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) team. Monday was a day off so we had plans for a bit of touring. Cal and Edie Cummings, the two OPC missionaries, picked us up Monday morning, as Morris and Yui were still on holiday, and took us on a tour of the country side.

September 3, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I feel like this topic has been pretty well covered in denominational communications, but here is the official announcement:

As of September 1, we are announcing the official change of our name from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to World Renew.

For 50 years,...

August 27, 2012 0 0 comments

Once a month I attend a prayer meeting to pray for Muslims in my city of Hamilton, Ontario. There are about 30,000 Muslims in my city. Close to me, in Toronto and Dearborn, Michigan are many more Muslims. As we pray I am struck by the faithfulness of one woman who hosts our meeting. She is a committed prayer woman. Not only does she host this prayer meeting, but once a month she also drives around the city praying for different districts and neighborhoods.

August 27, 2012 0 0 comments

I live in the country with the highest murder rate in the world.“Where’s that?” you ask. “Iraq? Afghanistan? Mexico?”

August 20, 2012 0 2 comments

We typically think of short term missions as something that happens when people from North America cross cultures by traveling to an unfamiliar setting here or abroad.  Recently, missionaries Mike and Megan Ribbens, who normally live in Abuja, Nigeria, crossed cultures by visiting their partner churches

August 13, 2012 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Debriefing a mission trip is just as important (if not more so) than orientation. Here is a recent Banner article that suggests 10 questions.

August 9, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 08/08/2012 This webinar will briefly review the concepts from When Helping Hurts and dive right in to the 5 principles for helping without hurting, which are included in the new edition of the book.

August 8, 2012 0 0 comments

Honduras gets a LOT of short term missions (STM) teams, as the planes full of gringos wearing matching t shirts attests. It’s also the home of Kurt Ver Beek, Director of Calvin’s Honduras Program and well-known researcher of the effectiveness of STMs. I’ve read most of the literature; now, I had the opportunity to hear from the community itself how they felt about the North Americans coming to serve them.

August 6, 2012 0 8 comments

It’s easy to listen to world news and hear all about crisis situations: Churches are bombed, governments are overthrown, terrorism rises, murders and kidnappings increase. Sometimes you get an urgent prayer request from your missionary. Other times you read about political unrest in a country where your youth group will be volunteering. Did you know that CRCNA has a crisis management team that monitors and evaluates these sorts of situations to help keep missionaries and volunteers safe?

July 30, 2012 0 2 comments



I'm only doing this once. I do not want to get distracted from my intention which is to demonstrate, from a layman's point of view, how Helder is doing a disservice to the understanding of science and why many are abandoning the faith because they don't want to be associated with YEC "science" or American -styled fundamentalism (contra Zylstra who is convinced that it's evolution and folks like Dawkins who are making unbelievers of us).

Because it seems this matters a lot to you, I will clarify what I meant by writing that Helder misrepresented established science and evolutionary theory. The context of my conclusion was Helder's condemnation of the Royal Tyrrell Museum's sign, remember? The museum had the audacity to quote Job 12:8, making it appear that both the Bible and nature teach evolution. Helder had every right to say that the museum abused the Scriptures by taking one line from Job while leaving out the completing thought made in that passage. It was a clever misrepresentation and I'm glad the museum took it down.

I simply pointed out that what’s good for the goose is what’s good for the gander.  If the museum was wrong for taking a little snippet out of the Bible and making it seem to support evolutionary theory, then Helder is even more wrong – hypocritical, in fact -- to go on and summarize evolutionary theory as time and chance and “random processes”.   It’s why I hauled out the memory of Charles Darwin whose main contribution to evolutionary theory wasn’t a theory of time or a theory of randomness but his break-through idea of natural selection. That idea is alive and well-evidenced in the museum and at the heart of the scientific enterprise. By leaving this critical piece out of her initial descriptions of evolution, like the museum did of Job, she not only misrepresents evolution but proves herself hypocritical.

Hope you get it now.  Don’t fall on your sword too soon. I have more to say that might interest you in the following installments.     

Apology accepted.

Norman, I appreciate most of your comments, even when  I disagree.  But I would prefer if you didn't start to get personal about my supposed arrogance, or defensiveness or being hard of hearing.  All of those things may be true, as I am indeed an imperfect human being.  But they are quite irrelevant to the points we are discussing.  The reason I gave you a failing mark on your one statement is simply because you asserted something which was obviously not true.  This would be obvious to anyone, that you had not "shown" (demonstrated) something when you claimed you had.  This has nothing to do with your personality or mine, nor with my arrogance or lack of it.   However, I apologize for "giving you a mark" at all;  it was not something that I needed to mention. 

Another youtube which demonstrates in support of Helder's statement that evolution does not explain everything.  In this youtube it actually shows how evolutionary theory has hindered scientific pursuit by making the wrong assumptions.

Norman, this particular youtube is also very relevant to this discussion, as it shows how some "proof" for evolution is simply false, as well as relates to the reaction of christian students to the teachings of evolution.

“…she appearsto grant YEC equal legitimacy with evolution and yet a sort of immunity to criticism that no creationist would permit for evolutionary science.”  Well yes, an element of partial truth in this.  But she obviously thinks YEC more legitimate than evolution, so not equal legitimacy.  And whether she grants an immunity to criticism is somewhat irrelevant, isn’t it?  After all, it won’t stop the criticism.  Many evolutionists have also done the same, you know, in accepting evolution religiously.  That’s why rather than discarding the theory, they simply adjust and revise in order to maintain their basic principles of common ancestry, undirected change through mostly random mutations selected in adaptations by natural selection over time.  Its quite amazing that they have been able to continue to revise and adjust so successfully to retain credibility for the basic theory principles. 


Your quoting Todd Wood is interesting, but you must be aware that other creationists would disagree with some of his statements, even while understanding why he makes them.   You see, while the evolutionary theory has been motivational and contextual for many scientific experiments and conclusions, the assumption is usually that only the evolutionary theory could provide that context.  Yet, there are many scientific discoveries, including in medicine, that do not require evolutionary theory as a foundation or assumption.  Even Todd agrees that while the evolutionary theory seems to provide a rational context for many scientific conclusions, he points out that he does not necessarily agree that it provides the only context or the only framework, and thus he disagrees with a common ancestry, in spite of most evolutionists believing firmly in it. 


I think Todd Wood’s request for five low level theories within the grand theory of creation is appreciated.  I think parts of them exist, but they could be formulated and stated more clearly and precisely. 


I find your last two paragraphs to be confusing….  I don’t think Helder is dishonest at all.   She believes the evidence she has seen and heard of definitely deposes evolutionary theory, although evolution theory is constantly adjusting and revising (as many valid theories often do).   Whether she is mistaken or not, she is definitely not being dishonest.  But you can’t survive on simply attacking someone else; you must in the end have a better alternative.  Part of that is simply faith, of course, but part of it also, is substantiated by a different interpretation of the evidence; this is what she is stressing. 


Ian Juby has put together some videos called “Persuaded by the evidence”, a conversation with five different individuals of scientific credentials and background.  These individuals had formerly believed and assumed that the theory of evolution explained everything, and then come to a realization that it didn’t.  This realization came to them after an examination and consideration of various parts of the theory.  You can see these videos for free on youtube. 


Personally, I don’t think the cambrian explosion is fatal to the evolutionary theory, because in some ways the evolutionary theory is like the theory of aliens.  There will be  and probably has been some explanation provided as to why the cambrian explosion took place;  however this will probably require some kind of unusual event to have occurred.  The unusual event is necessitated by the cambrian explosion itself, and thus will be proved by the cambrian explosion.  Great huh?   But of course, this explanation will demonstrate that unusual events are common?  Or how do we know they did not happen more often? 


Nevertheless, the cambrian explosion is not predicted by the bare evolutionary theory.  It needs an adjustment in circumstance or environment to explain it;  and that adjustment seems to remain to be hypothetical and speculative, ie; a sudden increase in oxygen?, a sudden increase in radiation?, etc.   The YEC theory already has a number of “unusual” circumstances within it.  Could it fit the evidence of these fossils? 


Looking forward to your explanation of the cambrian explosion.



In an initial installment I show how Helder misrepresents established evolutionary theory ("random processes" played out over time)”,  Norman, I had to chuckle at your putting on the mantle of the language of scientific papers. But you have not shown anything about your proposition that Helder misrepresents evolutionary theory  other than simply asserted it.  If I was marking your previous post, you would fail on this account.  You have not shown how it misrepresents anything.  You merely make the conclusion.   In fact, although evolutionary theory is much more complicated than just random processes played out over time, this is still a foundational requirement for evolutionary theory.  Mutations are generally assumed to be random events, which allows natural selection to select for those with adaptive advantages.  I have not seen evolutionary theory postulate that mutations are not random events, or that they are somehow directed or controlled by unusual outside factors in general.  The theory does sometimes postulate unusual events precipitating higher rates of mutation, but it also assumes a certain randomness to these unusual outside events.  It does not assume an “outside hand”, nor an intelligent design. 


Now of course there is an apparent randomness in many things that we experience, such as the rolling of the dice, or the amount of rainfall we get in a given year, or the test scores of university students plotted on a curve.  But within all of this randomness is also a pattern, and a set of limits.  Evolutionary theory is beginning to recognize this and acknowledge this, but still relies on an inherent randomness for the basics of evolving from “goo to you” or from “mud to man”. 


It also confuses a unified model like creationism with a unified theorylike evolutionary theory. Ironically, the definition Dr. Wise uses to explain the "unifying power" of Young Earth Creation (details might be weak or changeable but the whole is persuasive) is actually the definition of  "explanatory impotence" “


 Here Norman you make a partially valid point that models are a bit different than theory and that explanatory impotence often weakens the theory,    However, this has happened often with evolutionary theory as well.  The solution for evolutionists is to adapt or change or modify the theory.  This is understandable, because otherwise the theory would fail.  (For example, evolutionary theory predicted that the ancient coelanth fish was extinct, when it isn’t extinct.)   But this should also be permissable for the YEC models or the underlying theory.  Models of all types are constantly being adjusted and revised, just as much as any theories.  Models are just the workings out and details of various theories.  For example, there are many global climate change models which have different outcomes for temperature and precipitation, even though most  are generally all based on the general theory or assumption that global climate is becoming generally warmer due to human influence.  We can debate the semantics of whether the global climate theory is based on the models, or whether the models are an outcome of the theory.  Debating this is a sidebar and a distraction to the main issue however, of whether alternate or opposing theories have validity. 


The evolutionary theory and accompanying model makes a lot of assumptions about cause and effect, and also about whether   certain events   are only and solely explainable by the evolutionary theory.  Creationists are attempting to test whether these assumptions are true, and whether there are other alternate mechanisms for causing these events and artifacts.


I would disagree however, that models are not falsifiable.   A model that inputs incorrect data usually puts out a false outcome.  A model that ignores major necessary inputs also will put out a false outcome.  Some global circulation models for example suggest that climate change will result in 40% more rainfall in Ghana in the future, while others suggest that the outcome will be 65% less rainfall in the future.  If you argue that both are correct and neither one is false, nor falsifiable, then I would disagree.  In addition, models that do not reasonably accurately “predict” past events are also falsifiable.  This means they need to be changed to be useful or true.  Thus I have shown your statement about models to be false.


A scientific theory must not necessarily be based on investigation, measurement and experimentation, for it to be presented or postulated, although usually they are.  The meaning of “theory” in a scientific context has been revised to mean something entirely different than its basic meaning.  The scientific world does not like the fact that theory can be taken to mean something that has no validity, so they have adjusted the meaning of the word.  In some ways this is understandable and okay.  But the reality is that theories are formulated before they are proven, and then tested and adjusted.  For example, original theories of geocentrism have been discarded for the theory or conclusion of heliocentrism.  Presently, scientists are reluctant to publicly postulate or describe theories that they have not tested or verified to their confidence level.  And grand theories, such as relativity, gravity, and evolution, are generally assumed to have gone beyond mere theory to a set of accepted laws. 


But, an initial theory can be based on some primary observations along with accompanying assumptions.   Measurement and experimentation then comes after the postulation of the theory, as well as revising and adjusting the theory.   A theory provides a context for a hypothesis or several hyptheses to be tested.  Sometimes it is easily verified;  other times it is difficult to test or prove, or perhaps even impossible to prove.  Testing the theory of gravity or magnetism is relatively easy to test;  testing the theory of ground cover reducing soil erosion thru the hypothesis of “If a soil is bare it should exhibit more soil loss than if it is growing a crop” is fairly easy;    testing the theory of the existence of aliens in outer space is not so easy.  But regardless, the theory generally precedes experimentation.  So I have shown this your statement also to be false.   (In spite of wikipedia…). 

In Dr. Margaret Helder's presentation, "How Christians Respond to Secular Science (March, 2012), we are given a fairly typical sample of the claims of Young Earth Creationism or YEC. I believe such representations polarize and ghettoize our faith as well as misunderstand the nature of modern science.

In an initial installment I show how Helder misrepresents established evolutionary theory ("random processes" played out over time), exaggerates claims for the impact YEC has had on present scientific consensus, and demonstrates her paramount concern for a creationist publishing industry. I conclude these are evidence that she is part of a propagandist rather than scientific enterprise. I stand by these initial conclusions because I believe they survive mere denials (contra Zylstra).  

In this installment, I would like to take issue with Helder's rather unscientific view of scientific theory and consensus. In the next installment, I hope to offer a layman's critique of Helder's view that the Cambrian Explosion is fatal to evolutionary theory.

"Like a nuclear reaction that achieves critical mass, creationists over the internet are encouraging each other. Sometimes people who support a literal understanding of Scripture, are nevertheless nervous about creationist interpretations of nature. Such people fear that if/when a single creationist argument is found not to be supported by data, then the whole position may be discredited. Some people might indeed abandon their literal interpretation of Genesis on such a pretext. But this response, declares Kurt Wise, is not reasonable. The creationist position is a unified model. It stands whatever individual components may be lost. As Dr. Wise remarked: “We all MUST realize that the strength of the young-age creation model is not in any given argument, but rather inthe explanatory power of the model AS A WHOLE (p. 3; emphasis hers).

Helder is here accurately describing how Young Earth Creationists form their version of scientific consensus. It appears to be quite populist and uncritical of its own weaknesses. It also confuses a unified model like creationism with a unified theory like evolutionary theory. Ironically, the definition Dr. Wise uses to explain the "unifying power" of Young Earth Creation (details might be weak/lost/changeable but the whole is persuasive) is actually the definition of  "explanatory impotence" (cf.

Scientifically speaking, models are not theories. Models can be as small as a simple computer simulation or as great as a philosophical world view. Unlike a scientific theory, models can even be used to replace direct measurement and experimentation. They exist in scientific circles mostly to illustrate, visualize, simulate, encourage investigation in some aspect of empirical reality. By their very nature, models generally are not falsifiable. They are simply better or worse (helpful or unhelpful) representations of reality. A genuine scientific theory, on the other hand, MUST be based on direct measurement, investigation and experimentation.  

By suggesting that neo-darwinian evolution is merely one model of interpreting reality, Helder (via Dr. Kurt Wise), has minimized the enormous difference between creation science and evolutionary science. In one fell stroke, she appears to grant YEC equal legitimacy with evolution and a sort of immunity to criticism that no creationist would permit for evolutionary science. Yet we must remember that Dr. Wise has gone on record saying that no amount evidence could ever persuade him to change his creationist view point ( That is the one advantage a model has over a well-established scientific theory. A model can survive any and all demands for evidence so long as people prefer it for whatever reason.  

Let me quote Todd Wood, the Young Earth Creationist and DNA researcher whom Helder has quoted approvingly in her paper:

"Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well."      


Dr. Todd Wood gets the difference between scientific theory and modelling and he has the decency to say evolutionary theory qualifies as true science even if he disagrees with it in places.  He certainly admits in many of his blogs that despite his excellent training and specialized knowledge, creation science has a long way to go before it can depose evolutionary theory as one that has the best correspondence with all the known data. His honesty reveals itself again in the following statements:

"I hope you can see better now how I think about creation. I accept the basic creationist dogma for reasons of faith (which will be discussed in a future post) and a some empirical observations. What is largely lacking from creationist biology are the low level theories that connect the model of creation to the empirical data... As I see it, we need five low level theories in creationist biology: design, imperfection, speciation, systematics, and biogeography."           (

What is dishonest in Helder's paper is an impression that all the "hard science" necessary to depose evolutionary theory as a valid scientific theory has already been done.  How can this be reconciled with statements such the following admission?  "Rather than trying to disprove evolution theory, with its constantly changing scenarios, creationists instead should concentrate on the positive details of their own model."  (p.3, par. 3)

Ignoring this advice and armed with a very slanted view of what constitutes a good theory, Helder launches into the mysteries of the Cambrian explosion and the defeat of secular science.  

Next -- the value of mystery and careful investigation.

Norm, I don’t think Magaret misrepresented anything about evolution.  She has impaled herself on nothing.   You seem to join with a common claim that evolution is misrepresented as if to say, “you don’t really understand it”, particularly when an anti-evolutionist makes a strong position.   The fact is that for the present theory of evolution, random processes are foundational, along with natural selection and adaptations.  It is by calculating apparently random processes that probabilities are derived and probable ages are attributed to various processes and to various turning points in the process.    Furthermore, the idea of virtually unlimited time for these random processes to occur is also a foundational requirement for evolutionary theory to work.  This is no misrepresentation at all.   Whether Darwin was personally a nihilist or not is irrelevant to this.   I note you did not state what in particular was misleading about it, nor did you summarize a contrary position.  

If you think she is inaccurate, then do you think the processes are not random;  that they are directed, and therefore the use of random probabilities are not appropriate?   Do you think then that time is not an agent of creation, or a necessary requirement?   Do you think nature does not point to random processes?   And do you think that mainstream evolutionists would agree with you?   

  You make a comment about her bravado;  I say she is entitled to her perspective, and it is really irrelevant to the validity of the theory.   However, in what I have seen, it appears to be true that creationists often make undeniable and incontrovertible points and arguments about the science involved in “proving” or supporting this theory.   Yes, often creationists do "win" the debates. 

Todd Wood did not say that evidence for evolutionary theory have outstripped accumulations for creation science.  What he said was that he felt there was a certain amount of evidence for evolutionary types of things happening, such as allele frequency changes, evidence of speciation, and universal common ancestry.   But he felt there was another explanation for the evidence of common ancestry.   So, evidence is just evidence.   What is in dispute is what the evidence tells us, and how we understand the evidence.    And Todd does not accept a universal common genetic ancestry. 

Norman, Margaret is completely right that if all material is presented with only one particular view, then children will be influenced by it.  Therefore her comment is completely valid that laymen and children need answers, and need them explained and described in such a way that they can counter the prevailing undesireable way.   I don’t think evolutionists go out of their way to hide their publications, or to advocate that no one buy them, or publish them in shoddy inferior ways.   There is no reason why creationist scientists need to apologize for promotion of their materials either.   

John z

Dr. Margaret J. Helder's paper entitled "How Christians Respond to Secular Science" (March, 2012; is a good example of how not to respond to secular science. She is a fellow Canadian, a botanist, vice-president of the Creation Science Association of Alberta, associate editor of science and technology for Reformed Perspective, a writer, and a mother of six. She has expertise in areas I admire and I have no reason to doubt she is a woman of faith in Jesus Christ. She is also a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) with whom I respectfully disagree. 

Dr. Helder begins her paper with a section entitled "Setting the Stage."  She tells us about the irony of a sign featuring the words of Job 12:8 which at one time adorned the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. Helder correctly points out that the verse "Speak to the earth, and let it teach you" is directly followed in the Bible by "who knows not in all these that the hand of the Lord has wrought this?" 

 "The message of Scripture is unequivocal, that God is the creator of all things. Scripture does not sanction the idea of time and chance as agents of creation as the sign in the museum implied. Neither however does nature point to random processes as the creative agent. The sign in the Royal Tyrrell Museum therefore was wrong on two counts...Once Christians recognize that secular accounts of origins are contrary to Scripture, then they must devise strategies to deal with, and respond to the popular interpretations."    (p.1, paragraph 2-3)

I appreciate Helder's concern for accuracy and making sure things are not taken out of context, at least when it comes to quoting the Bible. Yet in her very first two paragraphs Dr. Helder has already misrepresented the position of evolution (presumably, the museum's perspective) no less than three times -- "the idea that random processes...brought about all things"..."the idea of time and chance as agents of creation"..."nature point(s) to random processes".

Every secular scientist would immediately recognize her initial descriptions of evolutionary theory are inaccurate, misleading, and in many ways the opposite of what evolutionary theory explains. Charles Darwin was not a nihilist. If Helder wants to reprimand the Royal Tyrrell for quote-mining and misrepresenting the Bible, she might also want to show good faith by accurately defining evolution theory from the start. At least in taking down the sign the museum avoided the additional charge of hypocrisy. Unfortunately Dr. Helder impales herself on it.

What follows these two paragraphs is a "Gish Gallop" avalanche of references -- creationist book titles, names of prominent YEC scientists and debaters, and a smattering of journal articles -- all apparently showing that creation science, especially in the last 30 years, has shaken the present scientific establishment to its core.

Her bravado is unbridled:  Creationists "generally win such debates". People are getting saved. Scientists are changing their minds. Most importantly, "children in the classroom and at home, were provided with quality creationist resources" and "for brief periods, the message of evolution was muted." According to Helder, creationism has put evolution "on the defensive." The pressure it brought to bear on the scientific establishment "may even have been a factor contributing to certain recent revisions in evolution theory. (p. 2, par.1, emphasis is mine -- citing a good example would have been nice).

Yet even after one day of researching these references, it is obvious that Helder's bravado is groundless. In fact, in the last thirty years, evidence for evolutionary theory has (by several orders of magnitude) far outstripped any positive accumulations put forward by creation science. A few YECs are humble enough to admit this (like Todd Wood, the DNA researcher whom Helder quotes in this paper-- cf. Most will not. In either case it makes little difference because as creationist Kurt Wise admitted, all the evidence in the universe cannot possibly persuade a YEC he or she might be wrong.

I will get to some of Helder's scientific claims in the next two installments.  For the moment, please note (p.2, par.1) that "well-illustrated", "quality", "appealing" publications are her main concern. "Faced with a continuous barrage of evolutionist propaganda and interpretations, many Christian laymen need answers. This is especially so for those people with children who are confronted by such material in the classroom."  Helder is a writer, after all, and every writer needs a market. In fact, one could describe the whole YEC/ID enterprise as an attempt to find a popular market despite scientific consensus.

She goes on to list the wonderful new assets that YEC has recently acquired to meet the challenge and bring "a positive Christian interpretation of nature closer to realization". The Institute for Creation Research now has an electron microscope and a spectrometer to measure low-level radiation in coal, for instance (I'm guessing this will help them chip away at the accuracy of radiometric dating, a field which has not been particularly helpful to creation science). The Van Andel Research Center in Arizona is a new base for creationists wishing to conduct studies in and around the Grand Canyon. She tells us rather cryptically that a new and important dinosaur bed in Wyoming has "recently come under Creationist control." 

I can't access the article about this particular dinosaur bed but, wow, that last quote sounds like a war dispatch, doesn't it?  Certainly a propaganda war.

NEXT -- Helder, Wood, and the nature of scientific theories

"...Scott and Branch say about Safarti's MO -- he agrees with the arguments of two evolutionists disagreeing with each other and uses this as evidence that evolution is wrong. If it's true, it's "parasitic science" indeed." 

I have not seen this so far in his book.  I have not seen that he uses the mere fact that evolutionists disagree with each other as evidence that evolution is wrong.  His sense of logic is too strong for that.   I don't know where you get "parasitic science" as a concept in this instance.  Scientific conclusions almost always rely on other work, and Safarti gives credit, and even agrees with many experimental evidence and initial conclusions of evolutionary scientists.  He agrees that there is natural selection within populations, for example, but does not agree that it is proof of evolution.  I don't know if scott and branch are merely displaying their bias, but based on your comments alone, I would say that they are.

Hope you enjoy your fishing.

John ... If you would like some balance to your reading, or you would like a good example of the "damage" I see to our faith community BECAUSE of fundamentalist attacks on science, see 

nuff said for now.  tight lines.

My first installment of critiquing Helder's will be ready by the weekend. Monday at the latest.So far it's been a helpful exercise and a great way to get into the nuts and bolts of the controversy. But today I'm going fishing. Like almost every other day. As for Safarti...

Not sure if I want to read the same sorts of thing over and over again. See if you can catch what Scott and Branch say about Safarti's MO -- he agrees with the arguments of two evolutionists disagreeing with each other and uses this as evidence that evolution is wrong. If it's true, it's "parasitic science" indeed.

Have a Great day, John. 

Norman, I have now read the paper by Margaret Helder, so await your analysis.  I am also reading an interesting book right now, by Jonathan Sarfati.  It is called "The Greatest Hoax on Earth?"  a refutation of Dawkin's "The Greatest Show on Earth".   I'm about one quarter way through, and it's impressive.  Between its detail in analyzing the faulty evolutionary arguments, including an analysis of various experiments such as the peacock's tail, and the spotted guppies, it shows the faulty logic employed to "prove" evolution.  You might find it interesting. 

Looking for the first installment in this series?

Read it here: Why does the CRC encourage congregations to speak up on behalf of undocumented immigrants?

google search the title --- How Christians Respond to Secular Science

by Dr. Margaret Helder

to read the paper for yourself.

I see you removed your comment.  Thank you.

Dear John... couldn't wait, huh?  :)

I am responding because you invited me to. You posed the question. I am trying to answer it. I don't waste time responding to all objections.  I just concentrate on ones pretending to be completely scientific and rational as well as claiming to be faithful to the Bible. I find many of these voices repeatedly bear false witness, encourage division in the Christian community, and seem to misunderstand the nature of science.  (Incidently, I also invest time and energy in refutions of claims like those of Dawkins. However it's American fundamentalism that's making this more difficult, not the other way around)

Allow me, then, to use Helder as an example of how NOT to respond to "secular science".  The first brief installment is just about ready.  Then you can have at 'er.

Norm, hope you enjoy her paper. 

There's plenty of pride and egotism to go around, John. That's for sure.

My take on it is based on shared experiences of young people with a natural tendency to skepticism and curiosity.  This is about a preacher telling them that if you shoot a skunk in the woods and let it rot for a couple of weeks, the bones are just as worthy as being called a "fossil" as any other. This is science teachers shutting down thoughtful student objections in the classrooms of our Christian Schools. This is indeed about demonizing fellow Christians because they are not YECs.   

Tell you what.  I have randomly selected a paper written by a present day YEC by the name of Helder --  "How to Respond to Secular Science". She is better trained in the sciences than I am.  But I want to show you how her approach is not at all interested in "winning the battle" against skeptics of any stripe. It's about triumphalism, propaganda, arrogance and ghetto science.

Give me a couple of weeks to give her paper a more careful read and go through it point by point. 


Norman, I don't think it is about demonizing "any sort of science".  It's about drawing attention to the consequences of various approaches to science, as well as recognizing the impact that these approaches have had on people like Dawkins, Darwin, Templeton, etc.  Evolution as a theory can no more drive people away from faith than a wooden image of a sungod.  But our acceptance of it, especially in its totality, can definately encourage people to remove themselves from God.   Those endeavors that present information which shows the difficulties with the evolutionary theory, are attempting to encourage people not to reject the bible the way that Templeton or Dawkins have done. 

Can skeptics be convinced?  Not easily, but possibly.  It is difficult to change paradigms which have now existed for nigh on 100 years or more.  So they won't change quickly.  But that is no reason to give up, and it is no reason to ignore the difficulties with the evolutionary theory.  It is no reason to stop investigating alternative explanations of various phenomena.  It is no reason either to ignore God's preemptive powers, and our finite understanding and ability to see.  The very light that God created, limits our ability to see the present completely, since we are limited in our perception by the speed of light.   But our pride and human ego seems to ignore that fact, and resorts to our supposed superiority over God's power and word. 

This is a battle that is worth fighting.  Meanwhile, we also realize that God will sort it out for us in the end. 

Thanks for trying, John.

As for our first mission field, it seems to me that a strategy of demonizing any sort of science that isn't "young earth" or which refuses to abide the historical, logical and theological sense of Scripture (i.e. modern fundamentalism) will inevitably make a ghetto of Christian faith and "science".  In other words, it's not evolution that's driving thinking people away from faith. It's much of the church's public reaction to it.  

I believe that the above mentioned endeavor is mostly about preaching to itchy ears and is not at all interested in convicting skeptics, Christian or not.

In addition to the resources from World Missions above you can also find Reformation Sunday bulletin covers from Home Missions here.  And Back to God Ministries International has videos here.  Steve 

   And if we asked a U.S. IRS agent what the toughest part of his or her job was, it would be, Americans lying to my face every hour about their taxes. Some of these immigrants I'm sure are indeed lying about their status. And why is that? Are they trying to earn enough money to send home so their children don't starve to death? Is it because of the rampant drug related violence threatening their very lives? And us Americans lying on our tax returns? It's so we can clear an extra grand or two and pad our income while denying our government what we lawfully owe. These men & women file into my church every Sunday & saddle up next to me for service. And we are to consider denying the immigrant the same priviledge? I'd rather get out of God's way & let Him do the judging & welcome ALL sinners.

Norman, I started to read the talk origins link, but it had so little science in it, I couldn't finish reading it.  I want to clarify that mine is not a lament.   My point is one of shifting direction, and realizing that there are implications of faith in the approach to the interpretation of Genesis 1, and that it is worthwhile to examine alternatives to evolutionary theory.  It is important to realize that the issue is not settled, and that various scientists including PhDs are discovering major problems with evolutionary theory, and are proposing alternatives.  Walt Brown is one example, and Creation Ministries International is another example.   I suspect neither one is 100% correct, but both are worth considering, and refinements are possible that make the alternatives more viable.  I have just  begun to have a look at, and I appreciate their approach as well. 

This issue is partly about protecting the flock;  if you have difficulty being a witness to your children because of this issue, as many people do, then many children (or first mission field) are leaving the church because of it.  But it is also about our mission in the world to others for exactly the same reason.   If God is irrelevant (as evolution proposes), or if God created evil and death not as result of sin but as normal and "good", then our message of salvation rings hollow.   God reveals himself in the physical world, but usually we cannot understand this revelation without the context of scripture. 

I'm interested in learning what the term undocumented immigrant means. Is it that they entered legally but their papers lapsed because they didn't know what they were supposed to do? Entered illegally? Attending Calvin as a Canadian spouse and not supposed to be in the US on a particular visa? In the process of getting a green card but it's not all the way through the system yet? I suppose it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things because if they are in your church or community you need to show love to them, but there are a lot of scenarios I can think of where someone would find themselves undocumented without knowingly breaking any laws.

While I agree with most of what you say in this fine article, I still choke a bit on the phrase "undocumented immigrant".  A quick check found an interesting passage in Exodus12:43-50.  Especially v. 48 make clear all must obey regulations and 49 directly concludes, "The same law applies to the native-born abnd to the alien living among you."  Romans 13: 1-7 is very clear believers are to obey the government and the government under God's authority has the power of punishing wrongdoers.  I'm all for welcoming everyone into our congregations, but what about obedience to God's authority.  I will gladly forgive any and all who are sorry and want to change, but does that take away accountability to obey God and obey the law?  To become 'documented'?  I hope we can lovingly sort out this 'clash' Scott H. refers to and truly live out the gospel of Christ.  We're trying to improve attitudes and reach out in the love of God, but it isn't easy.

   I am fairly new to the CRC, but SO appreciate the effort being made by the church to reconcile these types of issues with the bible. 



Interesting debate. And very telling.  It seems that a hypothesis related to "global witness" is easily dissolved into worries about protecting the "flock", seperating out wolves in sheeps clothing, and mincing words about very obvious points of fact, such as the geological column.  I don't think these are helpful ways of turning the tide that John Zylstra is lamenting.

I enjoyed Jeff's reminder that the two books of revelation both reveal God and not just any old (sorry) fact. This is something that every Christian scientist/apologist/philosoper would need to keep in mind. It might help us find a productive way out of the Bible/science debate without us reeking of paranoia and grasping at straws. 

Here is an example of why we are losing the "war":

Thanks, Kris, for making this important perspective piece available.  And my your California trainings be blessed as well as the W. Michigan ones next week

As the person who authored the Biblical & Theological part of the 2010 Study Committee Report on this issue (, I appreciate this post.   It's exceedingly easy to find biblical data on treating strangers with kindness.  But it often clashes with those who also point out that we are to obey the governing authorities and thus--unlike in ancient Israel where foreigners were not breaking laws to be among the Israelites--how do we negotiate our commitment to divine-like hospitality with our relationship to the state?   Tough questions but our default setting should be to find ways to live out the gospel to its fullest extent and let that desire frame our larger discussions.

Not sure what other people are thinking, especially in light the of the political tension here in the USA, but I thought this was a sound biblical perspective on the issue.  We are Christians first, the constitution and gov't law comes second.  I also love the defining of true biblical hospitality.  That's been hard to get across to my congregation even though they see us take in strangers and sometimes foreigners on a frequent basis.

Thanks, Abe. This matches so well with my own experience in Honduras and gives voice to the frustrations that I felt but couldn't articulate. I am continually impressed by and grateful for the work that ASJ does. Praying for your continued protection and guidance.

Thanks for sharing this Abe, and thank you for the work that you and your colleagues continue to do to transform Honduran society.  May God bless, protect and strengthen all of you.

Thanks Steve! Great article.

Another recent Banner article that people might enjoy is 10 Questions for Debriefing After a Missions Trip

Thanks for sharing that, Ken. Arturo will be in my prayers. And, look for a guest post in a couple of weeks from ASJ/AJS about what it's like to do ministry in Honduras, the country with the highest murder rate in the world.

My sense is the vast majority if not all of the N.A. teams serving in Honduras are aware of the situation faced by ASJ/AJS, and are aware that Dionisio's killers have been released even though they were each sentenced to 20 years.  We definitely need to keep these matters in our constant prayers.

But it is not just human rights/justice advocates who face daily dangers in Honduras.....the message below arrived a few hours ago, and knowing that many who read this will know Arturo Colindres, please keep him and other DN workers in your prayers.

Arturo called this morning asking for you to excuse him because he won't be able to send a picture of all the coffee farmers; it seems like violence is also reaching El Carrizal, a  few months ago the former mayor of Santa Maria del Real (he is originally from El Carrizal) was murder, this has bring a family and now a community feud between del Real and Carrizal because a relative of the victim returned from the US looking for vengeance and establish himself in Carrizal.  Claudio and others recommended Arturo not to come because he is danger just by living in Santa Maria, they warned him they could take him as a spy.  One of the (coffee) producer Glenda Mejia is the sister of the victim; so Arturo is trying for all of them to meet him in Guacoca but is not sure when it will be.
we need to pray for our friends in El Carrizal so that none of them become victims.

When the piece on Honduras started off with what to me were figures on religion that were so far off and out of date, I wondered what else of facts and perceptions might be skewed as well.  But then, I'm an inveterate doubter about the "effectiveness" of STMs. On balance, it sounds to me as though Honduras - at least as relates to CRC folk - is well above average on that score.  And I don't doubt that Kurt and company have a lot to do with that, with awareness raising on both ends of the exchange.  Lets keep the dialogue going, and the debriefings Stateside for many months afterward.                       PS I'm wondering how many of the participants to Honduras of the last several years are aware of the serious situation presented to the leaders and staff of the Association for a More Just Society .... look them up.

The facts depends on who reports them, and some of them are out of date.  The Rom Cath church reports what they have on membership rolls.  But according to Wikipedia, a self-identified affiliation reported in 2007 that 47% are rom Cath, 38% are evangelical protestant, and 14% are other. 

I wonder how the Factbook arrives at its data vs Operation World? I just double checked the sites and you are right, they provide different statistics.

Thanks Wendy for a great article.  It suggests that, if done right, STM can be a real blessing on both sides of the divide.  Regarding the stats on Christianity in Honduras, Operation World has quite a different picture from the World Factbook.  It shows 97% Christians: 80% Roman Catholic and 19% Protestant including some doubly affiliated. 

Wow. What a wonderful boost for short-term missions. We also appreciate the kind words--and we do know the group that went swimming! And we know we have much to learn about how best to work alongside "our" community in Honduras. God is good and we will continue to ask him to be in charge of this relationship and the development plan of the community. He works before we come and after we leave; we are delighted that he also chooses to work through us and in us while we are there!

Our thanks also go out to Ana and Dilia and Arturo for their hard work and encouragement; they have been a great blessing to us. May God's will be done in His kingdom in Honduras!

Thanks for the encouraging words, Wendy. The Carpenteros have been blessed to labour alongside Honduran brothers and sisters for the past 10 years, and the friendships we have established are truly gifts from God. We can't lay claim to the swimming in the river incident, and I am best not to mention the two team members who were washing up at the 'pila in the field' -- but we interrupted by the cows who came to drink ;-)  And, in a shameless plug for our Honduran friends in rural Olancho, individuals and churches interested in high quality, Direct Trade coffee grown by farmers - many of whom are members of the Honduran CRC - please email and we'll pass along the details.

Finally, excellent staff like Irene, Ana and their team at CRWRC-Honduras deserve credit also for the tireless work they put in to prepare teams, communities, and look beyond the trip for ways that North Americans and Hondurans can build relationships that go much deeper than the short time that a team is in the community.

God is doing amazing things in Honduras.  His Spirit is transforming communities.  Christ's love is evident in so many ways.  He doesn't need us to accomplish what He is doing there, but He blesses us by allowing us to catch glimpses of His love in action.

This is a really informative interview.

Egypt is a powder keg ready to explode and the Christian community there stands to lose the most when it happens. The economy is run by the military. Expecting the military to give up control either economically or politically is not likely to happen anytime soon or in a peaceable way. Why should it? They have control of all the levers that run everything in this society. The recent dissolution of the democratically elected parliament, by a supposed judicial decision, shows how empty and powerless the new President and his government really is and how all powerful the military is. This is where our prayers should be, like Syria, things can go very wrong, very fast when the Egyptian people realize how their being played by the military. They are figuring it out. Our prayers need to be for the Christians in this society that they don’t end up on the wrong side of events when everything hits the fan. This will take a miracle. The Christian community in Iraq was virtually destroyed by the war there. The Christian community in Syria is, for the most part, in support of the Alawite Syrians who have ruled the country for the past forty some years. If the Syrian rebels take control, the Syrian Christians there stand to lose big. Pray that divine wisdom will be given to the Christians of Egypt so they can successfully walk the very dangerous political tight rope they have found themselves on.

This is a very encouraging article for me and my wife Germaine. June 2013 I am planning a trip to Kampala to meet with ministers I have been doing online consulting for poultry farmers for the first time. Yes, online I was able to advise small poultry farmers about good practice in hatching, raising and keeping birds healthy.

Thanks for posting this very needed and valuable information. God Bless our Missionaries always.

BAck again...thanks Wendy.  I'd used the word "disjunction" twice in my comment.  Partly I got thrown off when a second paragraph started:  "Another way CRWRC works....."  It didn't like those employees with the churches.  

And when we get into the question of disjunction in terms of policy, I don't know whether I should bring up here the difference in CRWRC and CRWM policy.  We (of the latter) had neither funds for deaconal needs, nor permission to hire nationals.  So we were on a different footing with our own relief/development agency.   I'm wondering if that will ever get straightened out.

Thanks for the lead to the other post, which is exactly the kind of thing we need to be focusing on, and what I hope that interns like Anneke get exposed to and underscored in their experiences.  

No comment at the moment then on changes that may or may not take place in World Renew.  Time will tell.

Good to see this community development and church growth coming together... praise God.

Hi Lou,

I think the same principles of good community development apply to good missions principles . . . our role as North Americans is to serve and support the indigenous local churches. They know their culture and context better than we do.

Church based development was referring to the churches in Uganda. Anneke mentions Joseph and Edward. They provide technical support and encouragement to the diaconal ministries of the Church of Uganda and the Pentecostal Assemblies of God. The COU and PAG also receive some grant funding from CRWRC to carry out the plans that Joseph and Edward help them develop. Joseph and Edward are Christians, and it is known that they work for CRWRC-Uganda.

Anneke's trip was specifically for a community development class, so it doesn't mention the church growth that results from this work. You can find an example of that in this post.

Finally, CRWRC has no plans to change from its emphasis on church-based community development (by that I mean community development carried out through indigenous churches).  The name change will also not change the relationship with the CRCNA. It will be a bit more inclusive, though, of those RCA churches that work with us in the U.S., and the PAG and COU churches in Uganda, for example!

Thanks for submitting this, Anneke, via Wendy's post.  As someone deeply interested in and committed to holistic Christian witness, I read this type of post with keen interest.

I sensed, Wendy, something of an "apples and oranges" disjunction in that the title led me think we were going to get something on short term MISSIONS projects.  But the "paper" is about community development; our old bug-a-boo about our terminology... is development "missions."  Of course it is, or should be.  Allow me a couple of comments/questions.

I also sensed something of a disjunction between what sounded like CRWRC's direct work through local/national "staff" as contrasted with the next paragraph, working with local churches. Are those national workers identified as  staff of an international development organization? Are they on loan to other NGOs?  And, are they Christians?  How do they work? Does CRWRC pay church-related staff to carry out the projects?

Back to the question of STMs.  Anneke is correct in her skepticism about much of what is tried.  A story I know about is of a California church that spent $83,000 on a ten-day trip to Uganda to "form a library, build a wall, and start a new church." Yeah, all in ten days!   My concern is to see "church growth" and "community development" so integrated that it becomes an almost seamless witness to a full-orbed Gospel witness.

What I didn't read in the paper is what if anything these good community development models are doing for the increase in the number and depth of the local churches, of whatever denomination.  Lets keep conversing.......

(Disclaimer/clarification: when in the last paragraph "church based development work is twice mentioned, I construe that as CRWRC's N. American church based structure.  And as discussed elsewhere, I hope that is not eroded significantly with the changes that took place over the summer with Synod's approval of a name change... and whatever else may be coming down the pike along with that)