Saturday, April 23, 2011

How can AiG defend the Christian faith in today’s world?

In honor of the Easter holiday, I present you another long-awaited blog post! This is almost as exciting as the time I fought that kid for the last Ninja Turtles bar at the ice cream truck. I totally won, by the way. No one gets between me and my sugary snacks.

More relevantly to this entry, Answers in Genesis (my favorite Christian organization for many reasons) has graced my email inbox with yet another answersweekly newsletter - to which I will gracefully respond point-by-point. You're welcome to watch the video, but it is difficult to to me to do a text response to a verbal monologue, so I'll just tackle the outline. That's all that's really necessary anyway. So here it is: How to Defend the Christian Faith in Today's World.


The issue of origins is different to that of developing our technology. When we are discussing origins, we are trying to understand what happened in the past to bring the present into being. When we are developing technology, we are gaining knowledge through our five senses (based on the repeatable test).
Common creationist misconception - that evolution and things that happened throughout history do not still occur today. If creationists think that evolution was supposed to have stopped happening thousands or millions of years ago then that viewpoint might make more sense. It wouldn't mean that we couldn't learn anything about the past, but I might at least see where they're coming from. But that's not how it works. Evolution is still occurring today and we've documented it happening many times both in the lab and in nature. We don't have much reason to think that modern processes that change biological organisms worked vastly differently in the past. I'll say more about this in point 5.


Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence when it comes to the topic of origins. The battle is not the evidence as such, but how one interprets the evidence of the present in relation to the past.
It's not just a matter of interpretation. If it was, we wouldn't expect such a solid consensus on any scientific matter. I can help creationists with one piece of 'evidence' right off the bat though - religious books don't count as evidence. We don't think that man was formed from a clot of blood (says Islam) for the same reason we don't think the world is less than 10,000 years old (says the bible). Belief that a book is infallible sort of skews the 'evidence,' don't you think?


Ultimately, there are only two starting points to develop a way of thinking about the universe—God’s Word or Man’s word.


The two starting points result in two different ways of thinking and thus differing interpretations of the same evidence in relation to the past
Ultimately, there are thousands of starting points to develop a way of thinking about the universe - Mike's word, Jenny's word, the word of ignorant sheepherders from thousands of years ago, credible scientists who actually know what they're talking about, etc. Instead of relying on other people to form our opinions, why can't we start with logic and reason?


The word “science” basically means “knowledge.” We can gain knowledge by observation, which is called operational (observational) science. We can talk about knowledge concerning the past and origins, which is called historical science. Most people don’t understand the difference between historical and operational science. Secularists tend to mix the two together and call it “science,” which is why so many people are easily led astray concerning the truth about origins.
It seems that only creationists make the distinction between historical and operational science. As I've already explained, it doesn't change the way we do science or observe things happening - just the timescale involved. If creationists want to imply that something is much more questionable because  it happened a long time ago without credible eyewitness accounts, let's talk about the bible.

And, as a side note, these 'secularists' they reference consist of atheists, deists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, and all sorts of other religions. We like to just call them scientists.


Romans 1:20 is an “intelligent design” verse, but the intelligent design movement is not a Christian movement.
For reference, Romans 1:20:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Obviously, not everyone agrees that a god exists, that he is eternal, that he is divine (supremely good), or what it even means to use the term 'God.' Obviously, many people like to use the idea of a god to explain mysterious phenomena or things they just don't understand. But I can be no more responsible to believe in a supernatural being because a world exists any more than I can a leprechaun because I found a pot of gold in my backyard yesterday. (I didn't actually, though I certainly would welcome it while remaining an aleprechaunist.)

As for the claim that the ID movement isn't Christian... well, that's an outright lie. Literally all of the members of the Discovery Institute say that the nameless designer is the Christian god. Moreover, in the well-known Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial it was quite clearly ruled that
 For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child. (Source)

A significant aspect of the IDM is that despite Defendants' protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (Source)

The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (Source)
I'm not sure what kind of stunt they're trying to pull by differentiating themselves from the IDers and vice versa.


Christians have been by and large indoctrinated to believe there is a “neutral” position when arguing about origins, Christian morality, etc. Many have given up their starting point, thus allowing the starting point of Man’s word to overpower the culture.
"Christians have been by and large indoctrinated." I'll just put the period there for maximum truth-factor. The 'neutral' position when discussing origins, morality, or whatever is the position that evidence decides the correct viewpoints and that open-mindedness is a virtue - not the devil's tool.


There is no “neutral” position, and Christians need to once again stand boldly and uncompromisingly on God’s Word. Christians need to honor God’s Word—“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
I'm reminded of the parable about the man who built the foundation of his house on the sand. He was happy for a while. I'm not sure why it's so much easier to build on sand than rock, but... whatever. One day a storm came and washed the sand away and the sand man had nowhere to live. Meanwhile the dude who built his house on the rocks was living the high life and probably throwing a party when that storm blew by. At any rate, the point is that if you have a crappy foundation, you're bound to lose it at some point. And I think most rational people would agree that basing beliefs about the way our world works on the writings of ignorant religious men who lived thousands of years ago is a pretty bad place to start. I can't help but think that every time a new scientific discovery comes along and delivers yet another blow to creationism, they keep rebuilding the same house on the same pile of sand.


Christians will continue to lose ground regarding the creation vs. evolution issue in schools, Bible in schools, Christian symbols in public places, abortion issue, Gay Marriage issue, and so on—unless they stop trying to act “neutral” and begin to stand for biblical authority.
As far as I'm aware, there is no real creation vs. evolution debate in science - you're allowed to bring a bible to school, you can erect any kind of Christian symbol you like on your person or your property, and gay marriages are illegal in most parts of the US. They seem to have it mostly their way as it is. The reason they're losing ground on most of these issues is that people are starting to realize that we don't have to run this nation as though it were a theocracy. This is our country, not Answers in Genesis', and we want to live in a world where we don't have to put up with outdated religious oppression. While they're standing for biblical authority, I'll stand for secular humanism and the teaching of science over religious dogma (see 4.6).


The collapse of the Christian worldview in our Western world is related to the fact that the cultures have changed starting points—from God’s Word to Man’s word—and become more consistent in building their worldview on man’s fallible word.
...they say unironically, having the same fallible brain that believes that their particular not-special holy book is the one infallible word of a truthful god.


The Bible makes it clear that hearts and mind change cultures, but many Christians have spent millions of dollars trying to change the culture, which is not working.
And if they spent less money on their extravagant megachurches, pastors, and theme parks and more on food, education, and homes for poor and starving men, women, and children both in the US and abroad, then we'd all be better off.


Christians have by and large allowed the world to capture the hearts and minds of generations of the kids, and they need to be taken back and given the right foundation of God’s Word.
And what a great thing! I really am sick of the indoctrination that kids get both at places like Jesus Camp and generally at home and at church. The problem is that they're not taught to question the religious teachings they're brought up with. It is extremely difficult for most individuals to grow up in a church that teaches that everyone who isn't a part of their religion is a bad person and will be punished for their ways. When they're taught that extraordinary claims in their faith don't need evidence to be believed, they won't stop believing when they find evidence to the contrary. Kids need to be given the right foundation of open-minded rational thinking and if that brings them to religious faith then so be it. But let it be their choice - not their parents'.

And with that, I conclude the always-slightly-too-long AiG response with a bonus picture for those who stayed and read all the way to the end. You're the best!