August 26, 2016

Niki Made Her Choice and, Apparently, So Did We

IMG_1281FIRST: Read “Evangelicals and Science” at Tim Stafford’s blog. Niki is fictionalized, but not much. I am hoping this post will make one point: the Gospel combined with anything- a view of science, political opinions, convictions on gender, etc.- becomes a non-Gospel. Let the Gospel be what Paul describes in I Cor 15!

Her name is Niki. (Not her real name.) She’s a Japanese student who lived with an American family for a year and attended a Christian school. She took a year of Bible. She attended worship and heard lots of preaching. The Gospel was explained to her many times. She was well liked and sociable.

A very smart girl. A great student, much advanced over the average American student. She made A’s in everything, including Bible.

She left America after graduation and went back to Japan.

She came to America an atheist and she returned to Japan an atheist, and very aware that she had rejected Christianity.

Before she left, she talked with one of her teachers.

“I am an atheist because I believe in evolution. When people here explained to me what they must believe as Christians, I always ask them about evolution, and they say “You cannot be a Christian and believe in evolution.” So I cannot be a Christian, because I believe that evolution is true.”

No doubt, Niki has met many Christians who told her that she could not be a Christian and “believe” in evolution. No doubt, few, if any, of those Christians took the time to explain what they meant by evolution. Most probably meant that the Bible teaches that the earth is 10,000 years young, that no biological death of any kind happened before sin and the major Creationist ministries such as AIG have all the answers to the hard questions of physics, astronomy and science. (“Were you there?”)

No doubt, Niki was told that science is mostly an arrogant attempt to explain questions without reference to the Bible and should be approached with great caution. Christians, she was probably told, are quick to refuse to believe the phony “evidence” science is so good at making up.

No doubt, Niki was told that the same Bible that tells us Jesus is the one who saves a broken world and sinful people is also the Bible that tells us a completely scientific picture of the origin of the universe, the earth and human beings; a view that depends, ironically, on rejecting most of what science says about those origins. No doubt, Niki was told that since both these things- the Gospel and real scientific answers- are from the same Bible, we cannot reject one without rejecting the other.

So she heard it: you cannot be a Christian and “believe in” evolution.

Niki heard, as a matter of routine, that the phrase “big bang” means “there is no God and the universe is an accident. (I’ve been listening to that reaction to the term Bib Bang for almost 20 years, despite being able to recite the names of 25 evangelical Christians who accept the old universe and the Big Bang.)

Was Niki ever told about the the thousands of Christians in the sciences who believe the “Big Bang” is evidence for creation by God? No, she wasn’t. Was she told of the many conversions to Christianity among scientists who have been moved by the evidence for God as creator now available in astrophysics? No, because that would complicate the views of Creationism she was told were non-negotiable.

Was Niki ever told that the vast majority of Christians on planet earth don’t believe now and haven’t ever believed science and Christianity answer the same questions in the same way? No, she wasn’t.

Was Niki told that millions of Christians believe in some form of evolution? (For Catholics, it’s in the Catechism!) Some form of an old earth? That millions of Christians do not accept the claims of the Creationist ministries as representing the Bible accurately or correctly? No, she wasn’t.

Was Niki told that even atheists are largely agreed that evolution does not equal atheism, and atheists like Dawkins are wrong to claim that is the case?

So Niki, who heard the Gospel message of God’s love, life and forgiveness in Jesus, also heard that non-Christian science mostly can’t be believed, most scientists are atheistic conspirators in a plot to eliminate God from our culture and real Christians renounce any belief in the conclusions of secular scientists and embrace Creationism.

Niki, who heard about Jesus for weeks and weeks in her Bible class, could not bring herself to believe in creationism, so she cannot be a Christian.

Did Niki meet anyone who believes the Bible is true, but didn’t believe that science is a vast conspiracy? That the answers aren’t all to be found in the Creationist movement? That you are not forced into the “either/or” choices between Jesus and science that so many Christians insist on? No one knows, but if she did, they were few.

Did Niki receive any encouragement from someone who had managed to answer these questions and still survive as a scientist in the evangelical community? Did she meet anyone in the sciences who still believed in Jesus and the Gospel? Did she meet anyone who was a professing Christian and also a person who worked in mainstream scientific fields of research or academics?

So Niki has gone back to Japan as an atheist. The seeds were sown and perhaps they will take root and bear fruit. Perhaps one day Niki will write and say that she has placed her faith in Jesus and has abandoned her confidence in the usual scientific models of the origin of the earth and human beings. Perhaps Niki will tell us she found a church and has given up her beliefs in science so she could embrace believing in Jesus.

If Niki goes to MIT, or works for NASA or cures cancer or AIDS, will she remember her journey among evangelical Christians as an encouragement to be a great scientist?

Or perhaps Niki will go on being an atheist.

For many Christians, that will continue to be an acceptable outcome.

Comments

  1. Ok I just have to interject here … most atheists are atheists because of their experience with Christianity. Not because the Gospel is unbelievable. That is a common thread with almost every professing atheist that I have ever met and talked to(granted there are exceptions). Also most of the Atheists I have known have extremely high moral character, and by almost all standards their lives reflect the principals of Christ more than most self proclaiming christians.(again exceptions granted) How can you convince someone to completely change their intellectual beliefs, if you do not first give them a reason to believe that God exists through displaying his grace and love towards them. Changing that one fundamental belief is key to changing an individual’s world view.

    • Intellectual beliefs? I think we need to establish what is meant by the word ‘belief.’

      “I believe I left my keys on the table.
      “I believe that roses are prettier than daffodils.”
      “I believe the Steelers will win the Superbowl.”
      “I believe God created man in his own image and Jesus was His son.”

      Intellectual beliefs about knowledge are of the propositional kind, namely, a proposition that is held to be probably true based on the veracity of the reasons that allow for an informed conclusion. If the reasons are subjective, then the belief is personal. If the reasons are objective, then the belief is a truth claim and can be tested as such.

      Changing one’s fundamental ‘intellectual’ belief in this sense means providing better reasons for the veracity of the truth claims – such as God exists and the one true path to knowing about Her is through these theocratic doors rather than those.

      Don’t forget; there are lots of competing truth claims about different deities; the point I’m making here is how can we determine which one/s are probably more accurate than another? Is self-certainty good enough?

      • I fail to see your point here, are you arguing my semantics? or are you disagreeing with my comment? My point was simply that it is impossible to even begin dialogue with an atheist if you preemptively attack them. As followers of Jesus it is important to realize that truth can be questioned and will still remain truth. Once we are comfortable with that idea we can resist the intense desire to be right or even have all the answers. I have found in my experience that good science continues to confirm the existence of GOD. It is true that the very fact that I believe in God colors my perspective of science. However even the most objective scientist is only working from the subjective scope that everything he currently knows has simply not been dis-proven; that does not make any of it absolute truth but it also does not make any of it false either.

        I cannot speak for self-certainty, I am absolutely not certain of myself on anything, But of one thing I am certain, I have witnessed unquestionable divine intervention in my life time and time again. I absolutely trust my creator to do what is best for me because in so many instances I have seen his hand do the impossible. What I see when I look at science is the discovery of his thoughtfulness, his attention to detail, and a timeless love for his entire creation. I also see a history of others that have witnessed these same experiences and have found a peace that passes understanding in their lives. Ultimately I see that through all of history kingdoms have risen and fallen and the most consistent thread has been that amidst the chaos there have always been humble servants, men and women of GOD that have remained true to the story that GOD’s Love is the ultimate truth… and no one has dis-proven that yet.

        So when I attempt to discern truth… I start by looking at my Creator to understand his love… then I seek the truth.

        • Sorry for not being clear, Jason, and the length of this response, but there is some ground to cover; I am bringing into question your notion of changing someone’s core “intellectual” belief. This point – all belief is ‘intellectual’ in that its formation occurs in the brain, but I don’t think you mean it that way – is often a major misunderstanding between those who speak of belief one way while another understands the term to mean something else.

          To me, an ‘intellectual’ vs a ‘religious’ belief means a propositional position (or working hypothesis, if you will) versus a starting assumption (a conclusion, if you will). An ‘intellectual’ belief in this light requires reasons that rank higher in probability of being true, accurate, and correct than another or competing proposition backed by reasons lower in probability of being true, accurate, and correct. That’s why I wrote that altering someone’s core ‘intellectual’ belief requires nothing more than better reasons.

          Please note: I continue to use the word ‘probable’. I do that because we have to function in the real world and we tend to trust certain explanations about phenomena more than others even if we can never be certain that our explanations about the phenomena is absolutely true, completely accurate, indubitably correct.

          For example, we prove to ourselves that our explanation about gravity works very well. We even take our explanation that describes the phenomena as fact and reasonably expect others to do the same because we have no evidence against it, and we do so because the probability of the phenomena remaining consistent between two objects with mass is very high. We use all kinds of technology that is completely dependent on this consistency and we then trust this understanding with our lives and the lives of those we love. Without such trust, for example, we could not even board a plane. So we do trust, even if we are something less than certain, not because we have to or are ordered to or fear some punishment or abandonment if we don’t but because there are very good reasons, solid evidence backed by a high probability of consistent results, to empower our trust. We know, for example, that air travel is extraordinarily safe compared to all other methods (except pipelines). We don’t need certainty to make informed choices about the safety of air travel but we do need something more than a starting position of belief that because someone says a thing can fly safely doesn’t make it so. Evidence is rarely a poor substitute for belief.

          No honest scientist will ever suggest that he or she is ‘certain’ in the truth of any explanation. In scientific terms, there is no room for certainty because it shuts down any further inquiry and removes any need for even the possibility of change. There must be room for doubt. And that is a central feature of honest inquiry. Those who present scientific inquiry and the conclusions reached under its guidance as similar to religious belief are grossly mistaken; those who present the probability of what’s true, accurate, and correct as the same ‘certainty’ shared by religious belief are doing the same. It’s a gross misrepresentation at best.

          Hence, we can understand Richard Dawkins saying that on a scale from one to seven, one being certainly true God is the creator and seven being certainly false that God is not the creator, he places his own belief in the matter at about a six. Yet he is known as a ‘fundamentalist’ atheist, fundamentalist in the sense that he is certain that there is no creator God. We recognize this, of course, as an example of a false representation. Honest inquiry and honest conclusions must leave room by means of doubt – meaning a probability of something less than 1, less than certain – for the inclusion of discoveries that may provide us with new information, better reasons, a higher degree of accuracy.

          You reveal your own understandable confusion in this matter when you write that you are not certain of anything. That’s honest. But then you write that you are certain of divine intervention. That’s dishonest. Not intentionally, I am sure, but because from where I am sitting, I can immediately understand that your ‘certainty’ is based on you attributing whatever examples you care to offer as acceptable proof for your beliefs. But where’s the doubt? What if your attributions are wrong? They may be correct. But where’s the room in your current state of certainty if there are better reasons to explain each cause of what you now attribute to divine intervention? Is there room in your self-proclaimed certainty to allow an honest review? That’s a really important question, not to disprove anything you have suggested through your faith, but to make your inquiry an honest one that I and any other atheist will respect even if we disagree with your conclusions. Returning the favour seems to be a very difficult task for the religious: to respect those who inquire honestly rather than piously.

          Finally, we really have to put to bed any notion that science or any other method of inquiry can disprove anything. You cannot even disprove that there is an invisible elephant living in your bathtub. How could you possibly do that?

          What we can do is collect enough evidence to support the notion if indeed there IS an invisible elephant living in your tub. If we provide evidence of large wet circular footprints, recordings of elephant sounds emanating from the room, trap the aroma of the creature and compare it to other elephant smells, and explain its invisible droppings by eliminating other causes of a plugged drain, and so on, we are empowering the explanation for the existence of that invisible elephant with more than self-declared belief. Without such evidence, there may be better reasons for understanding why someone might believe in the presence of the invisible elephant if we find out that that person has been raiding the medicine cabinet! Stating that the love someone may have for the elephant or that the elephant has for someone offers nothing to the inquiry in any meaningful way, and it seems to me to be a bit ridiculous to go from this position to then suggest that it falls on other people to disprove the invisible elephant living in your bathtub rather than the other way around. I suspect that the task of discovering what’s true, accurate, and correct within our physical universe is probably better served by inquiry than belief.

    • Donalbain says:

      And your evidence for that is….?

      MY experience of my fellow atheists is that most of the ones I have met are atheists because we have not seen sufficient evidence for the existence of a deity or deities.

      Showing love towards someone is not evidence for the correctness of your theological beliefs. I have been shown loive by Hindus, Christians, atheists, Jews and Muslims.

  2. This post makes me very sad. Reading the comments even sadder. Why must we be so contentious? /begin sarcasm/ What a lovely picture we paint of the Faith. /end sarcasm/

    That aside, something that struck me as I read about Niki, is — and I’m having trouble finding the right words — why was she in a Christian school?

    Sadly, this is the last place I would put a person I want to evangelize! In my experience Christian schools are created to “answer” the secularity (is that a word?) of the Public Schools, and are for believers to send their believing children. They are not set up to handle the hard questions! I imagine there are teachers (maybe even schools) out there, like imonk, who can and do, but they are in the minority in my experience.

    We sent our kids to a local Christian school for a few years, but when my “overly” curious children began to question the curricula (Why shouldn’t I read this book? How do we know God is? etc) the teachers had the neither the time nor the depth to handle the questions, let alone explain why the limits were set and encourage the questions while offering a spiritually mature safety net. My children were looked upon as having “rebellious spirits” and needing discipline.

    We realized, in order to encourage them to stretch intellectually in a spiritually “safe” environment we’d have to bring them home to school.

    How much more ostracized would a child/teen feel who didn’t come from a Christian home? My goodness this whole idea baffles me.

    I’m sorry I haven’t expressed myself well, because I can’t really seem to find the words… Why don’t we think God is big enough to handle our questions? Why couldn’t someone tell Niki that “Jesus is big enough to handle your questions about evolution, even if I’m not”?

    • I’m pretty sure almost all our foreign exchange students who ever came to my Christian school were not from Christian backgrounds… I’m not exactly sure why they would choose a Christian school… I mean we certainly had our share of unbelievers and rebellious kids – after all the parents are the ones who choose to send their kids there (and it was the “cheaper” option compared with the secular private school in town) – but in the case of the foreign students with absolutely no Christian background, I’m not sure why they would either…

      I was happy with my school at the time – because I was quite the little legalist at the time (well and because this was before I found out they had lied to us about Ken Ham’s qualifications – we were always led to believe it was a real doctorate in science! I’m still pretty ticked off about that – believe the literalist YEC if you want, but at least be truthful about whether people have real doctorates or not!) – but now… when I have kids I intend on homeschooling them. Not for that particular of religious reasons (We’ll probably be trying to find more secular homeschooling groups) but because I truthfully don’t believe that either public or private schools (in most cases) are succeeding in the kind of academic atmosphere I would want for my kids – like you said – they need to address these issues while in a safe environment…

      oh and I really like your comment about Jesus is big enough – thats really the problem with all of fundamentalism and most of evangelicalism… for all their claim that they’re more true to the Bible or that they’re more Jesus focused … they’ve got such a narrow box they’ve put Jesus in…

  3. Does anyone understand that the problem is that evolution defies “made each to their own kind”?

    Intelligent design does NOT say that adaption within a species is unobservable. It says that Darwin’s Origin of the Species is wrong. I don’t give a hoot how old the creation is. . .but the point is God created all things, not random harmonic convergences.

    Where are all these Young Earthers condemning others anyway? Where are y’all hangin’ out? college campuses. I’m glad I’m not there anymore. My hat’s off to anyone who does college and young adult ministry in this age of skepticism.

    Here we have what us Lutherans call a Two Kingdoms conundrum.

    Niki qualifies as a bruised reed.

    • joel hunter says:

      Thank you, martha. You said, “Does anyone understand that the problem is that evolution defies ‘made each to their own kind’?” Yes, I do. I also understand that Copernicanism defies the following clear biblical teaching:

      “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7).
      “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same” (Psalm 113:3).
      “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:4-7).
      “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). [What good is a moving, rotating footstool?]
      “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof…” (Job 38:4-6).
      “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands” (Psalm 102:25).

      Martha, you ask, “Where are all these Young Earthers condemning others anyway?” No one receives greater scorn from most YECers than us anti-Copernicans. Check out all the prominent YEC web sites and see what they have to say about their geocentric/geostatic fellow believers.

      You also ask, “Where are y’all hangin’ out? college campuses. I’m glad I’m not there anymore.” Indeed. If you think it’s bad in the departments of biology, anthropology, geology, paleontology, physics, chemistry, geography, and so on, you should see what it’s like in astronomy. The Copernican view has absolutely eradicated alternative views from serious consideration. The intellectual climate in astronomy departments is ideologically committed to heliocentrism and dissenting voices are silenced or shouted down. No one is willing to teach the strengths and weakness of the theory. No one is willing to admit the significant gaps in the evidence. Competent scientists who can advocate the alternative biblical model aren’t allowed into the “priesthood” of academia, and so can’t get their research published in peer reviewed journals. There is no academic freedom on this issue. NASA refuses to use the Hubble Telescope to verify the existence of the firmament which separates the waters in our terrestrial realm from the waters above the firmament.

      I do not find it surprising that people who have rejected the clear antithesis between evolution and “made each to their own kind” have long ago rejected the clear antithesis between heliocentrism and the many biblical passages which clearly teach that the Earth is the fixed, unmoving center of the universe.

      • “The intellectual climate in astronomy departments is ideologically committed to heliocentrism and dissenting voices are silenced or shouted down. No one is willing to teach the strengths and weakness of the theory. No one is willing to admit the significant gaps in the evidence. Competent scientists who can advocate the alternative biblical model aren’t allowed into the “priesthood” of academia, and so can’t get their research published in peer reviewed journals.”

        OK, not trying to win you over but where exactly are these alternative models and theories that even come close to working. Current astronomy and cosmology has a lot of cracks (to borrow a term from another commenter) but these cracks are tiny compared to any other theories or the state of knowledge 100 years ago. And the cracks are admitted and being worked on, just just papered over as though they don’t exist.

        • worked on, NOT just papered over

          Sorry.

        • Ross…Joel has GOT to be kidding, but I think he is taking his kidding so seriously that he doesn’t include the winking face, smiley face, “just kidding” notation or anything like that. That’s my take on it anyway. He is the same person who wrote on here yesterday, “The exegetical case for a fixed Earth is even stronger than that for a young Earth. There are 67 passages in the Bible that clearly describe the Earth as fixed or motionless and the entire heavens as revolving around the earth.” I thought he was was just pointing out that some people believe this, not himself, but he didn’t respond to my question about this. Oh well.

      • Joel, we all know the REAL reason that they refuse to point the Hubble telescope at the firmament is that this would give irrefutable proof of the truth of Scripture. I hadn’t realised quite how bad the heliocentrist stranglehold on academia had become. I was wondering why I hadn’t seen any recent research on the firmament.

    • I see we have two Marthas commenting here. One of you may want to include a last name initial. I know which is the Irish Martha due to the little photo of her church that she includes with her posts. Plus, I know the “spirit” of the posts and knew this Martha was not the other Martha from what she said!

      • I think one of us is capital M “Martha” and the other of us is small m “martha”, but if there’s any confusion, I’m perfectly happy to be known as Fenian Papist (some of the comments – tongue-in-cheek or not – on here make me feel like I’m being preached at by the Wee Frees up North) 😉

    • Donalbain says:

      Well, it would do if ANY creationist, EVER came up with a definition for a “kind”.

      Remember, that according to evolutionary biology a cat’s offspring will be EXTREMELY similar to the parent cat. No more difference than there is between you and your parents. So, even then, each cat IS reproducing after its own kind. It is only when you see the result of thousands/millions of these reproductions that you see a new kind of animal.

      Just like a photocopier will reproduce the same kind of image, that after a few hundred copies of copies of copies of copies, you end up with a different kind of image.

  4. that s/b each to “ITS” own kind. bad grammar.

  5. textjunkie says:

    This has been exercising my mind since the gangsta roundup on it a few weeks ago. I’ve got about four pages written now of arguments, working through the various attempts to figure out what the options are for a Christian who believes that evolution is a reasonable explanation of how it’s all come about and wants to be logical about their faith. As several people have pointed out, it’s a very Western logico-deductive approach, but that’s where I am with it. The answer? None yet, though I have hopes that the reminder that God works in infinity while we live in time, and the metaphors in Genesis are dealing with that intersection, holds some possibilities. 🙂

    But I wish I could have talked to Niki. I certainly had similar and very interesting conversations with my 5th grade Sunday School class when they were old enough to ask about Genesis and science, knowing I was an honest to God professional scientist. (It’s not so interesting taking on a fundamentalist atheist or YEC, I must admit.) These days no one asks me questions like that, because discussing religion or politics is impolite.

  6. I just woke up an hour ago, but it looks like the beginning of a Dark Night for me. Thanks go to Joel Hunter’s rational farce:

    67 times!

    tildeb’s excellent discernment of the question:

    In the face of what’s probably true, what’s probably accurate, what’s probably correct, Christianity – and any belief system that cannot fully endorse and absorb evolution into its basic tenets – is doomed with its tenacious hold on maintaining some belief in the necessity for creationism.

    and Jasonbaldguy’s test:

    “I cannot speak for self-certainty, I am absolutely not certain of myself on anything, But of one thing I am certain, I have witnessed unquestionable divine intervention in my life time and time again. I absolutely trust my creator to do what is best for me because in so many instances I have seen his hand do the impossible.”

    Well, I have not, and most people for most of history have not. Up until this point, I’ve believed because Lucy told me, and she’s more trustworthy than Edmund. Now I am beginning to suspect that was really foolish because Lucy has grown into a woman; saying “Narnia was just poetry to explain Revelation. The truth is that I was in the back of a closet…but it’s a much larger closet than Edmund said, I swear! I’m sure it was big enough for a lion.”

    I’ve avoided this “cultural battle” until now because I don’t like the choices. Now I see that it must be reconciled. Ironically, the hypothetical was proposed (I think) to spur a more inclusive view, but I’ve always known that it comes down to this: Either you’re a Young Earther, an empirical atheist, or (most common now) a “Big Closeter”. The last seems the most disingenuous to me.

    If you need me, I’ll be with Niki.

    • No, when Lucy grew up she found that, just as Narnia was so much bigger and so much more than the wardrobe, the stable held something so much more and so much bigger still. That’s what made Narnia seem like a fable- it turned out to be such a pale reflection of the Real Thing.

      If you had God in too small a box, don’t mourn the fact that box has been burst asunder. The real God is so much more and so much bigger still.

      • The church used to say that Jesus is who He says He is because he did this, said this, didn’t say this other, and meets these prophetic signs. Now it says, well, okay, maybe Adam was born of a pre-human (I’m not a scientist, you know what I mean), and since we can feel sure about that it seems silly to hang on to this idea of Eve from Adam’s rib. Honestly, in all likelihood Adam isn’t even one man; he’s a metaphor. Of course, serpents are an ancient literary device that is found all across the world and is poetry… Ultimately, you end up with a Jesus that is so big that it’s not actually necessary that the Word became flesh, died for my sins, and rose of His own power on the third day. Turns out He’s big enough to have become a pantheist Himself.

        At some point, some Scientific Christian will say, “No, no, no, you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Just because this one point….”

        AM I???

        Jenny, you’re taking my use of Narnia both too far into the time-line of the story, and not far enough into the analogy of the real world. I’m not saying what Lucy does in the future of the books, I’m using Lucy in place of the church, or people on the church. Lucy actually experiences Narnia in the books. I’m saying that, in real life, the church asks us all to be like Lucy, telling the other children about Narnia…with this one little difference: We’re not Lucy. I went into the wardrobe and I didn’t meet a faun, or see a lamppost. I haven’t even felt a chill. Jasonbaldguy obviously is a real Lucy. He says: “I don’t know much, but I know I’ve seen and felt God, and that’s why I believe.” And I’m telling you that for most of my days, I’ve believed that there is a God, but that my sin keeps me from experiencing Him, and except very brief special instances God is removed from us all…yet we are to follow Him…through the Lucies…who may or may not have personally seen Narnia.

        That leaves me with the idea of Calvin’s Elected–which I reject straight out. Even if it were true, then I should live as if there were no God. If this logic is successful, then you can mark this station as where I get off this train and hitch a ride with Nietzsche.

        YECians say: “I have the answers…you just wait and see.” Empirical Scientists say: “I don’t have the answers, but I can give you the tools to look for them. Given enough time, we’ll have enough answers for everyone.” Scientific Christians say: “I really like what this Book says, but whatever truth is revealed by science is actually how Big God is…bigger even!” You’ve introduced science as an authority to be appealed to. God didn’t “blow my box up”. You did.

    • “Ironically, the hypothetical was proposed (I think) to spur a more inclusive view, but I’ve always known that it comes down to this: Either you’re a Young Earther, an empirical atheist, or (most common now) a “Big Closeter”. The last seems the most disingenuous to me.”

      Humble, missionary Christianity, buried alive in scholasticism.

  7. Craig Higgins says:

    This is a terrible tragedy, repeated over and over again. Thanks so much for posting it. Lord, have mercy on your church.

  8. Joel Hunter has p0wned this comment thread. You rock, Joel.

    • joel hunter says:

      *bows*

      But I’d have to disagree RonH. I was hoping that those in this thread who in one form or another expressed suspicion or skepticism about the findings of mainstream “science” would rally to my arguments. Then together we’d refute iMonk’s pernicious point of view that we should somehow feel bad about Niki’s choice. I suppose I could conclude that “silence gives assent,” but alas, silent support of my arguments won’t help push back the lies and darkness of nonbiblical “science.”

      First, there’s Benji Ramsaur. He did warn us that he might not be able to rejoin the discussion, but I thought my affirmation might be returned in kind. Nevertheless, if Mr. Ramsaur represents the views of presuppositionalism, then I am confident that presuppositionalists will side with me. If we are going to see the world “through God’s revelation,” if we are going to always wear “God’s glasses,” then “scientific” consensus will mean nothing to us. If Copernicanism has been around for 4 days, it’s still as wrong 400 years later. We know that because God’s revelation trumps our sense experience and reason. A consistent presuppositionalist is also a geocentrist/geostatist.

      Second, there’s martha (of the lower case) and J. Rollen. Both expressed suspicion of science. J. Rollen relativizes scientific explanations by rightly noting their mutability and their basis in the contingencies of history. It is wrong to “bow to science” because scientific theories are capricious gods. Moreover, he rejects the chronological snobbery inherent in scientific theories. Just because a view is antiquated seems to be enough to reject it. But he rightly points out that if the antiquity of biblical cosmology and biology is bad, then it is also bad for “science,” which is always discarding antiquated scientific theories. Since theories are always getting overturned, today’s “scientific truth” is tomorrow’s false theory destined for the dustbin. This is such a healthy suspicion and relativism toward “science” that I had hoped it would be obvious that his argument is one of the strongest for my position on biblical cosmology. Alas, he departed from the conversation, expressing his personal incredulity about my position. But the fixity and position of the Earth is clearly taught by the Bible. If the Bible is God’s unchanging Word and absolutely true, why would we reject biblical cosmology in favor of “scientific” cosmology. After all, we reject “scientific” biology in favor of biblical biology. What principle do martha and J. Rollen apply that allows them do that? If I knew, it sure would make my job easier!

      Finally, there was Joe Blackmon. Perhaps more than any other contributor to this thread, I thought I had a certain ally in Mr. Blackmon. Alas, I may never know. He was clearest of all in rejecting iMonk’s insinuation that evangelicals have made a bad choice on the issue of science and evolution. With refreshing honesty, Mr. Blackmon makes the point that belief in the “scientific” consensus view of evolution (the mechanism of natural selection is responsible for speciation, and the pathway of common descent for all living things) morally obligates one to affirm atheism, and by extension reject Christianity. On this mutual exclusivity, he and many atheistic evolutionists like Dawkins are in agreement. But evolution is only a recent form of atheistic science. Before Darwin, there was Copernicus and Galileo. Since Mr. Blackmon rejects evolution on biblical grounds, it follows that he should reject heliocentrism and a moving Earth on biblical grounds, too. Belief in the “scientific” consensus of Copernicanism morally obligates one to affirm atheism, since one is rejecting the absolute truth of the Word of God. I do not know if he disagrees with me about that, but I can see no rational justification for doing so given the principles he set forth in his comments.

      • Hmm. I see your point. It is a bit odd that these folks, who obviously recognize the supremacy of the clear teaching of Scripture over mere human reason, don’t see the precarious nature of their own position. You have the text on your side… To reject it is to start down a very slippery slope. If “dome” doesn’t really mean “dome”, then how do we know that “cross” really means “cross”? If the sun didn’t really “stand still in the sky”, then how do we know that the Son “rose from the grave”?

        The more I think about what you’re saying, the more I feel compelled to believe it. I confess to having been raised a heliocentrist, but I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the exegetical gymnastics necessary to maintain my view. Everyone’s got a different explanation for what your 67 passages mean: “That’s poetry”, “God’s just speaking to us in terms we can understand”, “It’s a figure of speech”, etc. Simply taking the passages at face value is so much easier. And I’ve heard about the so-called “scientific” evidence for heliocentrism, but to be honest I’ve never really understood it. I mean, calculus and orbital mechanics and astronomy and relativity… Yeah, academics say these are all evidences for heliocentrism, but I can’t really assess that evidence for myself, can I? And why should I trust them over Almighty God?

        Besides, what a relief it would be to be able to agree with great Christians of the past like Calvin and Luther! I’ve learned so much from them that I’ve been ashamed of my disdain for their cosmological views. Embracing geocentrism sure does put me in a greater “cloud of witnesses” than the more “modern” perspective.

        Now, I realize that being a geocentrist won’t be easy in today’s world. It’s definitely a minority position… But then again, Scripture says we all must suffer persecution! I’ll get an extra crown for that, won’t I? Still, I’m already running across geocentrist communities on the internet who seem supportive and will no doubt take me in and make me feel like I belong.

        Thanks, Joel! For a while there I was starting to feel like atheism was my only alternative, but you’ve given me new hope. You are truly an instrument of God.

  9. This is interesting. Nikki is from a 3,000 year old non-christian culture with completely different cultural roots from evangelical christians.
    I lived in Japan and have been married to a Japanese woman for 25 years. In the larger scope of things the influence of all of western christianity in Japan is very small and tends to be personal and private. Christians in total are maybe 3% of the total population and that includes the full spectrum of
    denominations.
    The Christian concept of creationism is not well known by the general public in Japan . To the girl in question – the christain creation myth was an interesting story – and not much more. The key difference is that the creation stories are ALL myths to the Japanese and not considered to be anymore than that. Nobody takes the Japanese creation myth seroiusly. There is no creationist movement in Japan fighting the teaching of the scientific theory of evolution. To my wife the idea that there is a seroius creationist movement here is just one of many oddities of the US she has observed in 25 years.
    In Japan science is science – no conflict – the definition of physics roughly come out like “reality science.”

    My wife spent a year at a US Baptist college – enjoyed the whole experience but did not do anything more with the Baptists after that. It was a cultural experience – she went along with flow, went to chapel and took bible class – then returned home and never did anything else.

  10. This couldn’t have been more timely for me! I was recently having a conversation with one of the exchange students from China, it was on their National Day and so we were in the library watching the parade and just talking about random things, which kept going back to many cultural differences and such. We got onto the subject of religion and how it affects their beliefs and actions. This kid wears a red string bracelet on his right arm (for Buddhism. left arm is Kabbalah) and I asked him about it and he simply told me that his mother is Buddhist and gave it to him to wear, but that he “believes in science”.

    I mentioned that I didn’t think science and Buddhism were incompatable, but something else came up in the parade and we changed the subject (and then got into a conversation about how the only things that American students learn about China are bad… hahaha) But later that week we all met at a church for their traditional culture night (for international students and their host parents, my roomate’s host parents couldn’t make it so I went with her instead) which was a great time until we were leaving and we happened to walk past this fairly large anti-evolution poster board. And thinking about it more as I drove home I got rather angry, because it was quite possible that this brand of anti-scientific Christianity is all that many of these students have heard.

    I have a neighbor who is a hard-core Young Earth Creationist (I’m pretty sure she has purchased their entire gift-shop worth of books and movies from the Creation Museum) and in the past I’ve simply tried to overlook her insistance in YEC, especially when she berated me when I was still on the fence between YEC and “the evil other of evolution” (I have since moved towards that “evil other”… not quite 100% accepting, but I do outright reject YEC) (and then proceeded to have a series of questions/answers with her daughter to “show” me what the “right” answers look like). But more and more recently I’ve been thinking about what effect this sort of behavior can have on people outside of the Church. If we can’t even give them a place to ask questions, let alone to not agree with a scientific reading of Genesis, why does anyone think they would come flocking to us? I realize that many Christians are comforted by the thought that the Bible really does have “all the answers”… but I think that is just not true at all! It has some answers, yes. And important answers to important questions, but it does not have all the answers and I think some people really need to just get used to it. :/

    • …until we were leaving and we happened to walk past this fairly large anti-evolution poster board. And thinking about it more as I drove home I got rather angry, because it was quite possible that this brand of anti-scientific Christianity is all that many of these students have heard.

      To be fair, and speaking as a more conservative member of the clergy in a mainline/oldline tradition, I can say that this is as much a function of the failure of the old mainline as anything else. I’m convinced that a faithful mainline tradition is the natural home of many now-secular americans, and that it would balance against some of the elements exemplified in this post. Unfortunately, faithfulness is sometimes very hard to find.

    • Emily,
      You story leaves me feeling sad and frustrated. I would say the first thing to question is any church that discourages questioning. Prayerful questioning about anything may very well lead to strengthened faith.

  11. Gene Feagan says:

    Please see The GENESIS FLOOD. This book began my understanding of alternate ideas to evolution.