Archive | May, 2015

Logical Gal – always be prepared

27 May

Be prepared  I walked into the faculty lounge, coffee cup in hand.  In between classes, I caught the tail end of a conversation between 2 of my colleagues in this secular school.  “……believes in intelligent design.”

With those words the 8th grade science teacher walked out, leaving just the two of us.  Inserting myself into the just-ended conversation, I asked the other teacher washing his coffee mug, “Who were you talking about?”

As it turns out, a prominent Christian’s great-grandson was visiting the school for the day right when the 8th grade science class was going over the theory of evolution.

My colleague dried his mug as I responded, “I believe in Intelligent Design, too!”  I continued, “All that means is that something didn’t come from nothing.”  Then I knocked on the wall.  After the 3rd tap I observed, “When you hear a knock on your front door, you tend to respond, ‘I wonder who that could be?’  No one assumes that the knock made the noise itself.  That’s what Intelligent Design means.”

Good-natured, my fellow teacher congenially acknowledged my comments and said something about evolution.  I picked up at this mention and continued with my 2-minute, on-the-spot lesson. I proceeded, “When you talk about evolution, you have to clarify what you mean and draw the distinction between macro and micro-evolution.  I bet you won’t find a single Christian who doesn’t agree with micro-evolution.”

Again, this dear man nodded in agreement, adding that most Christians he has heard haven’t made that distinction.  We then wrapped up this brief coffee pause with some shared commentary on the lack of civil discourse in America on ANY topic.  He agreed that at the ‘sound-byte’ level, it’s difficult to bring out ANY of these distinctions.

And then we parted, each back to our classrooms.  As I reflected, I evaluated what I had done well and what I could have done better. First the good points:

  • I initiated a conversation in a public place with someone who is congenial and not hostile to Christianity (even if he defines Christianity to fit his worldview)
  • I did not shy away from identifying myself as a supporter of Intelligent Design
  • I quite easily and confidently shared what I knew off the cuff

What I failed to do:

  • I did not ask HIM a single question!  It wouldn’t have taken any courage to ask him what he knows about Intelligent Design.  It wouldn’t have been painful to learn his definition of Evolution

I can’t predict whether I would have had the moxie or trusted God enough to engage in the same way with the science teacher whose class the Christian visitor had witnessed.  But I am thankful to God for having absorbed enough from podcasts and read enough books to at least give a thumbnail’s description of the issue.  And that has whetted my appetite to equip myself further and be better prepared for the next encounter.  One never knows when the opportunity will arise, so like the Boy Scouts, we must:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Pet 3:15b)

Logical Gal – when pre-suppositions lead to different conclusions

20 May

suspicion

Listening to some commentary the other day, I learned that secular scientists now have data to prove that even babies draw back with hesitation when they see the face of a person of a different color.  Their conclusion was that racial bias is hard-wired into us through the evolutionary process.  These naturalists can even point to and impute a safety, survival benefit to being suspicious of ‘other’.

It turns out, that if one subscribes to the theory of evolution as a means of explaining human development over time, then one simply accepts racial distrust as something, although regrettable, at least natural.

Here’s the rub.  If we can explain the foundation for hateful behavior as something the evolutionary process has brought about, there is little we can do to eradicate, let alone curb, ugly actions at their root!

However, Christians evaluate the world through a different lens, that of Original Sin.  According to this foundational doctrine, we are pre-disposed, from the womb, to be sinful.  And in a racial context, that sin works itself out through suspicious behavior at its mildest to mean-spirited, cruel and downright evil actions at the other end.

But……(a life-giving 3-letter-word if there ever were one!) only one world view offers hope – Christianity.

If racial prejudice is part and parcel of species survival, then there is no significant hope for eradicating it permanently.  At most, one can TRAIN humans to act not in accord with their natural instincts.

However, if sin is the root cause of racial prejudice, then Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, His righteous record applied to believers AND His power through the Word to kill sin provide mountains of hope for change!

Power of God's word

When Christians see that we are ALL ‘other’, all alienated from a Holy God, then what we have in common is far greater than physical or cultural differences.  Therefore, we can begin to apply truths from the Bible to our hearts, to convict us of the sin of NOT loving our neighbor as ourselves. And since the FACT of being greatly loved by God at the cost of His Son comes before ANY of God’s commands about love for God and love toward neighbor, we can grow in our trust of what God says about all of us.

If ‘this’ is just the way I am, then there is no obligation on me to change.  Evolutionary explanations and beliefs, it would seem, challenge NO ONE to give up comfortable habits. In fact they actually talk out of both sides of their mouth. In essence, they preach:

  • You shouldn’t act like this, so don’t!
  • Due to evolutionary survival of the fittest, the way you are is how nature saw best to continue the species!

So which is it……?

Logical Gal – different ways to understand the Bible

13 May

Different churches may claim to be ‘Bible-based’, but what do they actually mean?  As an evangelical Christian, I have probably assumed ‘Bible-based’ to indicate explicitly that a church orients all its beliefs and practices to what is written in the Bible.

Bible

That’s a dangerous assumption! Imprecise, vague terms often allow misconceptions and illusions to grow.  I was helped the other day listening to a well-spoken scholar consider the Supreme Court’s April 2015 oral arguments in the case for same-sex marriage. He pointed out the peril of assuming that a term means the same to the other person as it does to you.  The prompt for Al Mohler was a New York Times editorial written by a Yale Law School professor. Transcript of discussion

The professor asserted and partially argued that America has already shifted her beliefs toward supporting same-sex marriage. He rested his case in part on the nature of the ‘amicus briefs’ submitted by major players in America, to include prominent Jewish and Christian denominations.

Mohler quoted from the law professor’s piece in the NY Times where he claimed that even major ‘Bible-based’ denominations support the federal legalization of same-sex marriage.  At this point, Mohler took the time to look at the phrase ‘Bible-based’.  He modeled what all thinking and reasoning people SHOULD do.  And that is to ask the simple but crucial clarifying question, “What do you mean by ‘Bible-based’?

Here is where I was helped.  Mohler pointed out that there are several ways of being ‘Bible-based’.  He explained that liberal Christians can still claim to base their churches on the Bible because they mean:

  • the Bible to be a useful and interesting collection of stories, myths, fables, explanations
  • the Bible to be a repository of traditions

Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, believe:

  • the Bible to be the true and intentional Word of God.  And as such we, His people, do not have the option of discounting God’s Word or explaining it away. Yes, the Bible contains stories and explanations and describes traditions.  But the stories are what CS Lewis calls ‘true myths’.  They are myths because they contain powerful symbols, but they are also true.  For a short explanation, click here

What’s the bottom line regarding this distinction?

One – we must always be alert to ask questions when we listen to someone (stopping to interact with the person talking to us, or pausing to consider ourselves – ‘what might he mean by XYZ?  What are the possibilities?’)

Two – Christians who believe the Bible to be the very words, beliefs, views, counsel of God MUST use what God says as our measure of everything else.  If God defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman, then it is so.  He IS the author of the Book, hence His authority trumps ours.

Logical Gal muses about naturalism and homosexuality

6 May

When was the last time you walked a premise or position as far as you can, applying with consistency all aspects of the ‘stand’?

I’ve been thinking about naturalism, that way of describing our universe as a closed system. Built into this worldview is the fundamental belief that nothing exists beyond the natural or physical. I’ve also considered the theory of evolution.

I’m not a scientist, but what I understand about evolution is that organisms reproduce but sometimes with random mutations – a descent with modification.  If the change promotes self-continuation, also called being ‘good’ for the species, then the change continues.  If the change weakens the species in some way, systems that promote ‘survival of the fittest’ kick in. This built in self-regulatory guidance is a way to explain how nature will take care of ‘mistakes’.  And these ‘mistakes’ are just the changes that turn out to be not ‘good’ for the species.

Evolution thoughts

As you might attest yourself, claiming that something is ‘good’ all depends on what you mean by the concept of ‘good’.

It USED to be that most folks could say without pause that ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fell into the arena of ethics and philosophy. Aristotle wrestled with what constitutes our highest good and how that plays into virtue, especially excellence. And Judaism and Christianity have long defined ‘good’ as aligning with God’s character.  Our Creator is good and He created us in His image to BE good as well.

But according to atheist Sam Harris, the concept of ‘good’ is more akin to an effective chess move, a change that will win the game.  So in baseball, to say that a batter is ‘good’ would be a way of describing his ability to hit the ball so as to bring in the most runs.

This idea of what I’m calling ‘natural goodness’ (as opposed to ‘ethical goodness’) has some interesting ramifications for the theory of evolution and the phenomenon of homosexuality.

I want simply to raise a few questions.  Addressing them will take more time.

  • If the process of evolution envisions species self-optimizing, then how can homosexuality be good for the species?
  • Isn’t reproduction the goal of a species?
  • And if species survival IS critical, then why are certain 21st century societies willingly bringing on ‘PAN-upheavals’, that downplay the propagation and nurturing of the next generation?
  • How many Americans are actually gay?

Just a quick on-line search produced reports that document a lower-than-thought percentage. Studies show that in fact only 2 % of the US population self-identifies as gay, although some have dabbled in same-sex attraction. Link to Atlantic Monthly article

Final question:

  • How can naturalists and those who support the theory of evolution maintain that promoting homosexuality via mandated government policy is GOOD for a society, since it doesn’t encourage the continuation of our species?

Just thinking…..

Supreme Court