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What can an evaluation of Christian Reformed World Missions' 90+ years of sending missionaries to Nigeria tell us about being a missionary today, right where we are?

January 28, 2013 0 1 comments
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As we drove down a lakeshore road en route to Lichinga, Mozambique, to meet with World Renew partner staff and interact with people on the frontline in health and HIV care in remote Cobue, I found myself drifting way back in time, reflecting on my life as a young girl in rural Malawi. I have specific memories of all the mission centers I lived in with my parents and siblings. A sense of peace swept over me, “peace which passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)

January 22, 2013 0 1 comments
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World Renew (formerly CRWRC) celebrated 50 years of ministry in 2012. In 2013, Christian Reformed World Missions will celebrate 125 years of ministry. That’s a long time! How is your church emphasizing missions these days? If you are looking for some up to date inspiration, here are some ideas:

January 14, 2013 0 0 comments
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As we wrap up our efforts for 2012 and get ready to plunge into the new year of church mobilization, what is most urgent to accomplish? What can we do that will make the greatest long-term impact for global advance? Ellen Livingood shares her priority lists for churches and agency mobilizers and would love to hear what’s on yours.

January 7, 2013 0 5 comments
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10. Church as Gift for Neighborhood TransformationThis post by Jay Van Groningen, Executive Director of Communities First Association, challenges churches to think of ways they can be an asset in their communities. While the focus of the article is North American churches, It strikes me that we have much to learn in this area from our global brothers and sisters in Christ.9. Loving Ishmael

December 31, 2012 0 0 comments
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“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)  Peace. We hear the word a lot around Christmas. We talk about the Prince of Peace and we pronounce a blessing of peace on earth. But what is peacemaking? John Calvin explains that peacemakers “labor to settle differences among others, who advise all men ...

December 24, 2012 0 0 comments
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In just a few weeks I’ll be participating in an evaluation of Christian Reformed World Missions’ work in Nigeria. One of the questions we’ll be asking is, “Is there still a role for Western missionaries in Nigeria?  If so, what should that role look like?”

December 17, 2012 0 2 comments
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In Acts 17:23-24 Paul makes reference to an altar with the inscription: “To an Unknown God.” Paul then proceeds to describe who that God is, as he has revealed himself through his Son Jesus Christ. In doing this Paul uses a bridge to the Gospel from another faith (in this case Greek polytheism).

December 10, 2012 0 0 comments
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I thought Jesus was a European God, but now I see that God is also an Asian God. He is for everyone. I have been transformed through the Good News.

December 3, 2012 0 0 comments
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Winton, California is known for unemployment, drug abuse and gangs, but for a growing number of community members it is becoming a community of hope, caring and working together. Several years ago a number of community members decided to “Put Winton on the map for something good” for a change and so under Ernie Solis’s leadership (who is coached in Asset Based Community Development) more and more people are working together for the common good.

November 26, 2012 0 0 comments
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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
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 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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"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 challenge...it's a mandate."

October 8, 2012 0 0 comments
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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
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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
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“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
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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
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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

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thank you, Wendy!

At what point, I wonder, do we just acknowledge that we won't know exactly how God created the earth until we get to heaven and ask Him?

Norman, the latest reports indicate there is a five % difference.  "But using percentages hides an important fact. If 5% of the DNA is different, this amounts to 150,000,000 DNA base pairs that are different between them."(David DeWitt).  In addition, to get this 5% difference, many pieces of the DNA are not included in the calculation for various reasons.  When you include everything, you tend to get a similarity  of between  81 to 87%, according to other scientists(CMI).   This is what an evolutionary mindset does;  it assumes a great similarity and so refuses to consider obvious or potential dissimilarities.   Other reported differences:  ICR reports that chimp genome is 10% larger than human genome, the y chromosome is less than 70% similar. 

The issue in this discussion is not the size of the difference.  The issue is the evolutionary a-priori assumption of similarities even when only a small part of the genome was initially studied.  The issue is ignoring obvious dissimilarities as if they are inconsequential.  The issue is how the research is reported in terms of its bias.  How often have you heard that the difference between the chimp and human y chromosomes is as different as between human and chicken? (J.F. Hughes - Nature 463)

Eventually, truth and significance is discovered.  But it is in spite of the evolutionary paradigm, not because of it.

Of course, one would also expect genetic similarities even without evolution;  that is something not so commonly considered.  After all, why would morophological and physiological similarities not be caused by genetic similarities? 

Perhaps mincing a few percentage points doesn't add anything to the debate about the DNA in chimps and humans. It detracts us from the awesome fact that we are so closely related secular scientists have to rely on "junk DNA" to explain why we are different.

See   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025122615.htm 

Did Genesisweek take into account that humans have less chromosomes (23 rather than 24) than chimps?  This alone might help with the math.  

And you think Humphreys, the man who came up with the idea that earth is 6,000 years old while most of the universe is 15 billions years old, is someone who can be trusted with the facts?  Whatever, John.  It  will all help make my conclusion more obvious.

Helder uses disagreements between scientists who totally disagree with YEC as proof that YEC must be correct. “   Again, Norman, let me reiterate that she does not do this, in spite of what you say.  If you look closely at the argument, what she is doing is using a refutation of a particular evolutionary hypothesis of an evolutionist by another evolutionist, to demonstrate that the piece of evidence does not support an evolutionary explanation for the Cambrian explosion.  Did she say that this proves that YEC must be correct?  No, not as I read it.   What she said was that YEC model or theory would expect a sudden appearance of fossils rather than a gradual appearance of fossils.   The evolutionary model or theory expects a gradual appearance of fossils.  Thus in this case, the Cambrian explosion meets the general expectations of the creation model more easily than meeting the expectations of the evolutionary model.  Any explanations for the Cambrian explosion within the evolutionary paradigm, so far do not work.  It doesn’t really matter whether it is YEC scientists or evolutionary scientists who have discredited the arguments for various evolutionary explanations for the Cambrian explosion. 

You seem to worry about all the work done, the field work, the expense, the gathering of evidence, etc., that it is not getting enough credit.  But that is not the point.  Was it Edison who said about his many many efforts to develop a light bulb, that it was not a waste of time, but merely a learning about how many ways one cannot make a light bulb?   I would say this is somewhat similar.   If we knew all the results ahead of time, we would not have to do the research. 

Finally, you do ask some very good questions, such as where are the missing genera and species in the Cambrian layer –why are they not there?  And why are different types of animals in different layers sometimes – and how prevalent is this?  Why are Precambrian fossils usually single celled without bones?  However, a few questions of yours are making wrong assumptions, such as that YEC would accept 50 million years of Cambrian explosion.  On the other hand, a good question of yours is how are other apparent “explosions” of mammals and flowered plants explained?   And what is the problem with old earth creation science?   Good questions, regardless of whether answers yet exist or not. 

In your postulation (in your next installment) that YEC is bad for science and bad for faith, you will need to distinguish between attitude and process.   Yes, ocassionally some YEC seem to have a reduced respect for scientific endeavor.   But YEC science itself is in the same mode as any other type of science, in that it needs to investigate, experiment, satisfy confidence levels, and resolve incongruities.  A couple examples of how evolutionary theory has been bad for science include the assumption that Coelanth fish was extinct when it wasn’t, and that tonsils and appendixes served no purpose, but were mere evolutionary residuals, and that only 1% of the DNA was valuable while 99% was “junk DNA”.   YEC science assumptions would be that people would not expect useless stuff in the DNA, and now over 80% of the DNA has been found not to be junk DNA, and investigation is continuing.  And tonsils and appendixes have been discovered to have a purpose, in spite of, not because of, evolutionary assumptions and presuppositions. 

Is evolutionary theory good for science when it leads researchers to prematurely claim that there is 99% or 97% dna similarity between chimps and humans?   When actually there is a 12% difference in size of the genome to start with, not counting a whole bunch of other differences, and that the similarity is no where near 99%?   Is this good science?  

Looking forward to your next conclusion.

John Z 

If you have been following along, I've been critiquing Dr. Margaret Helder’s “How Christians Respond to Secular Science” (March, 2012). Last time, I pointed out how young earth creationists often misunderstand what scientific theories are. Neither UFO experts, Reiki practitioners, quantum incarnationists, white supremacists, nor present day geocentrists, for instance, have genuine scientific theories to support their claims. They do have their own models. Some of them are quite detailed and self-confessedly “scientific”.  

I pointed out that Helder, with the support of Dr. Kurt Wise, doesn’t seem to understand what makes a theory (or model) persuasive in its ability to explain reality. As it stands, Helder believes the “strength” of the young earth model is how its main idea remains intact, perhaps even stronger, despite various weak or discredited arguments based on various kinds of evidence. Yet by standards of science and logic, this is precisely what makes such a model more impotent and less persuasive.

The bulk of Helder’s paper is taken up with controversies concerning the Cambrian Explosion. It is very telling that despite urging creationists to concentrate on building a positive case with the data, she devotes no less than 6 pages of her paper to arguments between non-YEC scientists who are delving into Cambrian mysteries. None of them, from J. William Schopf (http://www.research.ucla.edu/chal/99/highlights/article05.htm) to S. Conway Morris (http://www.pnas.org/content/97/9/4426.full.pdf) would ever posit a world-wide flood occurring 6,000 years ago as a helpful, plausible scientific explanation for the Cambrian data.

In other words, Helder uses disagreements between scientists who totally disagree with YEC as proof that YEC must be correct. This is called parasitic science. It is not science at all. Mysteries and disagreements are what advance a scientific understanding of the world. It’s frightening to think that if YEC controlled the scientific establishment, this drive to explain the great mysteries of nature would shrink to nothing but endeavours such as naming new forms of fungi.

“And so concerning the sudden appearance of animals in Cambrian rock, we see that the expectations of the creation model are met. We also see that secular scientists have not been able to find an explanation which can accommodate these data into their evolution model. The latter model does not predict abrupt appearance. They need some kind of phenomenon to initiate such an event…. The implications of the Cambrian explosion are obvious to Christians. The sudden appearance was the result of supernatural intervention…a universal flood burying large and diverse animal communities along with human populations (emphasis mine).” P. 10

This kind of YEC dismissal of all other scientific work is what drives folks bonkers. Helder tells us YEC scientific expectations have been met:  God did it. Therefore all the field work, all the expense, all thinking and debating, all the gathering of evidence and sheer intellectual energy expended in trying to understand the Cambrian Explosion turns out to be “a sheer waste of time” (p. 6 par. 3) as Helder would put it.  It’s a fundamentalist’s form of Occam’s Razor that says, “It’s in the Bible, dumbo”. Perhaps this explains why she hasn’t bothered updating Cambrian studies beyond her 1995 citations. So much good scientific work has gone on since that time, despite YEC’s smugness.  

But even a scientifically untrained Christian can ask questions. If the Flood did it, why aren’t people, land animals, trees, boney fishes -- in fact, almost all forms of animal life as see today – missing from the entire Cambrian layer?  Another way of putting it is this:  Why, without sounding more convoluted than any secular scientist, would God send a flood that buries animals successively more and more unlike present animals in sucessively deeper and deeper layers of sentiment? Why is the fossil evidence of life before the Flood so simple and “squishy”?  Why is the dating of rocks containing the first Cambrian fossils close to 600,000,000 years old?  Why do you believe 50,000,000 years of  Cambrian Explosion can be described as “sudden” and “rapid”, when your geological explanation of life spans 6,000-10,000 years?  How do young creationists explain other “explosions” of life in the fossil record – like mammals and flower plants?.  Why isn’t an old earth creation science a much better explanation of the fossil record? 

I once believed that the meatiest part of Helder’s paper would be the hardest and lengthiest part to criticise. In fact, it was easy because the people who agree with me did all the hard work.

NEXT:  Conclusion:  Why YEC is both bad for science and bad for faith.         

"....the experiences of brilliant, science-minded Christians like Todd Wood and Glen Morton who get repeatedly slammed for being, well, good scientists...."   says Norman.   So is this true?   Are they getting slammed for being good scientists?   Really?   No.   It may be they get slammed for changing sides, or for disagreeing with various creationists, or for neglecting certain chemical or physical facts.   But not for being good scientists... this is a slur and an adhominem attack.  For example, when Morton proposed that a certain chemical (albite) could be a sink for the vast amounts of sea salt that would need to have disappeared from the ocean in order for the ocean to be more than 60 million years old (old age theory), Humphreys pointed out that there was not enough albite in the sea floor to account for the settled out sodium, since in cooler conditions it decomposed to chlorite and released the sodium back into the ocean again.  This is not a slam on Morton for being a good scientist;  it is simply a contradiction of facts and processes.  The result is that the ocean is apparently  not as salty as it should be  if it is as old as old earth evolutionists claim it is.    At the very least, a good explanation for why it is not salty enough, has not been provided.  That is just one example.       inThe re

Also in answer to Marie Vogel's question, about how this discussion relates to our faith and our relationship to God, I want to shamelessly promote Ian Juby's new "Genesis Week" youtube videos, which highlight scientific problems with the evolutionary theory, as well as putting it into context of our relationship to God.  Some quotes from Ian, "God did not say to us, let us be unreasonable together."  "God gave us a brain for a reason."   "God did not say, 'be ye transformed by the removal of your mind', but God gave you a mind for a reason."  "Error begs for tolerance, but the truth demands scrutiny." 

It's available in several different ways, including being broadcast on the Miracle Channel, I think.  Also, Wazooloo.com, or GenesisWeek.com.   As well as being scientifically knowledgeable and astute, he admits to errors when they occur, and is also entertaining and energetic.   He helped to design and build the creation science museum in Big Valley, Alberta, as well as building a travelling creation science museum.  He has travelled throughout north america looking at various geological formations and fossils.   He is by training a robotics engineer, and is a member of Mensa.  And fun to listen to. 

Marie, thanks for your comment.   You can see that there is a divergence of opinion on whether acceptance of evolution leads to a decline in faith or not, especially among the average person on the street.  That was my main reason for starting this blog in the first place.  You see, if evolution seems to make Genesis One, or Genesis 1-11 a mere myth, then much of the foundations of our faith, such as one man bringing sin into the world (requiring Christ to redeem us), become very questionable.   It makes the early prophecies of a redeemer very questionable.   This is why people like Dawkins are not ambivalent about christianity, but actually hate it and love to denigrate and despise it by pointing out how evolution contradicts it.   They rejoice in the fact that evolution is an indicator for them that scripture is merely a man-made imperfect invention, instead of being the inspired word of God.  This context is what underlies the discussion of the details;  how does evolution jive with scripture;  how can we reconcile the two?  

Norman claims that some of young earth science actually adversely affects the faith of some christians due to unseemly tactics etc.   And I agree that sometimes this happens.   Sometimes our methods and our personal credibility hurt our positions.   We need to remember this, and stress honesty, integrity, and detail.   But it is a bit disingenuous to imply that evolutionists do not also often use unseemly tactics.   In my experience, vitriol and personal attacks are much more common by evolutionists, including by people like Dawkins.   

But, somehow, the discussion still needs to occur.   We need to trust that the truth will come out.   In some way, this will and does already affect our faith, and the faith perspective of many people.   When people use the phrase, "survival of the fittest" in reference to some stupid action by a drunk driver or the business practices of a ruthless businessman, they are using that phrase in the context of a value system that is supported by the evolutionary theory which supposedly brought about the existence of the human race.   Evolution is never merely a scientific theory, no matter how much people may want to insist it is.   It is also a world and life view, coloring our actions and our perspective.   And it is a considerably different world view than the one that scripture gives us. 

So, do YEC cause christians to leave the faith?   Or does acceptance of evolution theory remove the foundation of our faith?  Which is it?  or which is more likely more often?  

If we refined evolution to be evolution within certain "kinds", and if we acknowdged, as Todd Wood does that evolution did not create human beings, then perhaps there is a tenuous co-existence.   But, we must be aware that the general scientific community, including Dawkins and his kind, are not at all satisfied with such a co-existence.  They will not only disagree;  they will say it is unscientific to postulate such a compromise co-existence.   It is not creationists who are against science, but it is the rabid evolutionists who claim that YEC are not interested in science.   The fact is that YEC also find science very fascinating, because it is part of God's created world.  But they do not feel the need to adopt the entirety of the rabid evolutionist definition of science to include the necessity for "mud to man" evolution. 

When YEC make the detailed arguments, such as about the Coelanth fish, or about various fossil footprints, or about the way layers of sediment can form, or about polystrate fossils, or about missing layers of "time", or about clear unconformities, or lack of natural erosion in deep rock layers, or about genetic probabilities and disimilarities, YEC are indicating that they are very interested in science, and that they are objectively pointing out problems with evolutionists interpretation of the evidence.   Norman's "young man" says that Christianity does not allow for science, but obviously that is not true.  There are many Christian scientists.   So why does he say it?  Is it because he doesn't like the struggle or the way evidence is interpreted differently, or the way previously accepted conclusions are challenged?   So often people claim that christianity does not like science, merely because it challenges evolution.  To me this is a clear indication of antithesis.   It is also a clear indication of how evolutionists do not really enjoy the theory being foundationally challenged, and so they switch the terms "evolution" and "science"  as if they were synonyms, which they are not.  So if some people are turned off by the YEC examination of the evidence and the way they argue against the evolutionist position, then perhaps it is because their minds are already turned off to alternate explanations, or perhaps the whole discussion is simply too difficult to comprehend and understand.  

But, you must know, that this evolutionary perspective has greatly influenced human behaviour in the past, both for the assumed superiority of some races, as well as the assumed superiority of intellect and physique of some groups of people.   If humans are merely animals, as the theory suggests, then it has a huge impact on our value system.  As christians and scientists we cannot pretend that this is not an issue.  And if we ignore this issue, then we are failing to be witnesses in this world of how God relates to us, and how we relate to God. 

There is also the possibility of an OEC position (old earth creationist), which accepts an older age but without macro-evolution (mud to man).   But this position seems to be considered less often. 

I hope that clarifies a bit what this is all about. 

Marie!  Thanks for your interest. I've been trying to demonstrate from a layman's point of view that much of young earth "science" is actually destroying the faith of bright, curious minds who are extremely disappointed with YEC tactics and explanations.  I've been trying to do this not by attacking John and his positions personally, though I know he is a YEC, but by using Helder's paper "How Christians Respond to Secular Science" as an example of what is not helpful. 

Two days ago, after I invited a bright young man to read this discussion, he emailed me: "I read as much as I could before losing interest. How can he throw so much science out the window? .... I've lost the passion for debate on this subject. I feel at ease with my paradigm. I feel it makes sense. I can't say that I felt that way with a Christian paradigm...Science could allow for a god, but Christianity doesn't allow for science. End of story in my opinion." 

This is what I am afraid of.

I would also point to the experiences of brilliant, science-minded Christians like Todd Wood and Glen Morton who get repeatedly slammed for being, well, good scientists. (i.e.  http://www.icr.org/article/3132/ ).  John began this thread by saying that it's Dawkins and evolution who are destroying faith.  I disagree. Christians have had to deal with Bible-defying scientific claims and eloquent atheism for a many centuries. It's American fundamentalism, with its false scientific shibboleths, that is driving many people away from the camp of faith in Christ. 

I have two installments left in my critique of Helder's paper. The last will include some "so what" conclusions.

 "
 

Norman and John,

I'm impressed that you've continued the conversation this long and a little less impressed with the way you've been speaking to each other. You've gotten very good at debating the details, but I'm wondering what these details mean for the big picture. How do these theories impact the way we relate to God and to each other?

Friend Norman, I appreciate your elucidation of your perception of Helder's misrepresentation,  in other words highlighting that she did not mention natural selection when yes it is an essential part of the evolutionary theory.  However, I hope you are not suggesting that she was not aware of this component of the theory.  I believe that while it is a part of the theory, so is genetics itself, and so are basic principles of biology(mating or cell division) and physics and chemistry.  Yet Helder did not mention these either.  The reason I believe is because natural selection is too often overplayed as being evolution, while it is not.  

 Evolutionary ideas were not new at the time of Darwin or Wallace. Anaximander  of Miletus  (c.610–546 BC)  proposed that animals of different species derived from other species.  Lamark proposed transmutation of species well before Darwin did.  James Hutton, Charles Wells, and Patrick Matthew have mentioned natural selection, or at least described it, well before Darwin did.   Selection itself was practiced by people for many centuries in terms of breeding dogs, poultry, horses, bovines, and it is unreasonable to assume that people were unaware of selection also within the natural environment.    It is a common concept also accepted by creationists.  However, creationists limit natural selection to operating within the existing variability within a species or kind, and in fact even evolutionists must limit the ability of natural selection to act only on existing genomic information.   Natural selection by itself cannot create new genes, nor create mutations, nor create new morphologies.   It is not natural selection by itself that causes evolution;  rather it is the random mutations working over long periods of time that allows natural selection to work to create new species (by evolutionary theory).  Thus while natural selection is necessary for evolutionary theory, it is not as essentially separate from non-evolutionary theory compared to the need for random mutations and long periods of time, which evolutionary theory requires in contrast to other theories. 

In creationist paradigm, natural selection works to keep "kinds" or species reproducing after their own kind.  In the creationist paradigm, natural selection is recognized to generally work against the random mutations,  and does not promote them.  Natural selection  tends to reduce diversity and variability instead of increasing it, and thus does not favor evolution of species more than stability of species.   

John

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. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUlLp0xmsZ0&feature=relmfu

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. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4wJsD6ETks

“…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.

 

John  

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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explanatory_power).

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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Wise). 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."      

                                                                   (toddcwood.blogspot.ca/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html)

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."           (toddcwood.blogspot.ca/2009/10/nature-of-explanation.html)

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; www.frcna.org) 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. toddcwood.blogspot.ca/2010/07/nature-of-evolution.html). 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  http://home.entouch.net/dmd/gstory.htm 

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...http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1641/0006-3568%282003%29053%5B0282%3AACAC%5D2.0.CO%3B2

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 Creation.com, 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":    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/cuozzo_cg.html

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 (http://www.crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/resources/synodical/Migration.pdf), 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.

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