Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans. -Spock link
I want to be clear about an issue before I begin my post. I believe in freedom of thought. I think that private institutions have the right to teach what they wish, even if I think what they teach is illogical, stupid, arrogant, etc. At the same time, I think debate is healthy. That is why this blog allows for all sorts of opinions, even opinions that some find offensive.
This post is going to be fun for me, especially that part about Ken Ham who has a knack for sounding like he is from Mars himself.
Bryan College and the evolution debacle.
The Scopes trial led to the founding of Bryan College-From Wikipedia.
The Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a famous American legal case in 1925 in which a substitute high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant.
Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,345 in 2014), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side.William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy, which set Modernists, who said evolution was not inconsistent with religion, against Fundamentalists, who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on whether modern science regarding the creation-evolution controversy should be taught in schools.
Wikipedia describes the founding of Bryan College.
Bryan College is a Christian liberal arts college in Dayton, Tennessee, United States. It was founded in the aftermath of the 1925 Scopes Trial to establish an institution of higher education that would teach from a Christian worldview.
The Bryan College website describes the history of the school.
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) came to Dayton in 1925 for the Scopes Evolution Trial when he expressed the wish that a school that would teach truth from a Biblical perspective might be established on one of Dayton's scenic hills.
The school was founded to supposedly teach a general Christian worldview. I object to any group describing themselves as teaching the Christian worldview when, in reality, it is dogmatic about a secondary biblical issue. Truth demands that we say that the school was founded to oppose evolution as described in the Scopes trial.
There has been some confusion about the current situation at Bryan College. Some groups have been reporting that this is merely a debate about the historicity of Adam and Eve. It is not. Read carefully what the debate involves.
The New York Times reviews the issue in Christian College Faces Uproar After Bolstering Its View on Evolution.
Since Bryan College’s founding in 1930, its statement of belief, which professors have to sign as part of their employment contracts, included a 41-word section summing up the institution’s conservative views on creation and evolution, including the statement: “The origin of man was by fiat of God.” But in February, college officials decided that professors had to agree to an additional clarification declaring that Adam and Eve “are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms.”
For administrators and many members of the governing board at Bryan, the new language is a buffer against what they see as a marked erosion of Christian values and beliefs across the country. But for critics, the clarification amounts to an assault on personal religious views, as well as on the college’s history and sense of community.
Note the wording about Adam and Eve.
are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms.
First of all, evolution does not preclude the belief in a literal Adam and Eve. Secondly, why couldn't Adam and Eve have been created from a preexisting life form? The Mormons make an error in believing that God is a physical being like us and they are not talking about Jesus. Physicality does not determine our unique status as immortal souls. Here is what Scripture says in Genesis 2:7 NIV (Bible Gateway)
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Note the unique act in the creation of man. God breathed the breath of life into him. Some evolutionary creationists might speculate that this "breath'" was the giving of the immortal soul to man. That soul differentiated man from beast. It was not the physical body that was the unique. Animal have that. It was the soul. One could argue that God could have breathed the breath of life, the soul, into in already evolved being. There are some that even speculate that the dust of the earth could have been DNA, the building blocks that bind all life together.
This is hardly a treatise and I have developed these thoughts elsewhere. My purpose in this short explanation is to show that the belief in evolution does not preclude the possibility of the direct intervention of God. In fact, all theistic evolutionists believe in God creating the heavens and the earth ex nihilo. The debate is merely which processes He used in this creation.
If a Bryan professor believes in evolution, he/she will now be fired.
Here is another article in the Johnson City Press, stating that the chief concern is evolution. It is such a concern that Bryan College is firing professors who have long been a part of the faculty.
The dispute at Bryan College, named for Scopes Monkey Trial prosecutor William Jennings Bryan, began in February when trustees clarified the school's statement of belief to exclude the possibility that God may have used evolution as part of creation
Some question whether the new statement is consistent with school policies outlined in a 2010 internal document for board members, which said that because Bryan is a college, not a church, it does not set itself up as a judge on ecclesiastical matters and does not attempt to prescribe what other Christians do.
According to the Tennessee Christian News Bryan College could lose up to 25% of its faculty. Until this recent "clarification" by Bryan College, faculty had more leeway in their stated beliefs. In other words, the rules of the game suddenly changed.
Bryan College could shed up to a quarter of its full-time faculty by fall if nobody blinks, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
Faculty members say that a recent clarification to the school’s statement of belief that embraced a more narrow view of human creation was the last straw in their ongoing issues with administrators. That sentiment was solidified in February, when professors approved 30-2 a vote of no confidence in President Stephen Livesay (six abstained).
Bryan College played the "submit to god™ clause.
This gets Dee really miffed off. An organization suddenly decides that a secondary issue is now a god™, gospel™, biblical™, etc. mandate. What that does is elevate the discussion to "We submit to the Lord and you do not, you bad Christian." This is dirty pool and dishonoring to professors who have well served the school, the students, and the faith. That faith is not determined by a sudden switch in a secondary issue.
“Academic freedom is not sacrosanct,” Kevin L. Clauson, a professor of politics and justice, wrote in a letter to the editor of The Bryan Triangle, a campus publication. “It too must submit to God in a Christian college.”
The Times Free Press analyzes the movement within Christendom to accept more nuanced views on this matter.
And the biblical literalists, the stalwarts, the six-day creationists flocked here even when society began tipping toward a more scientific understanding of human origins, when Darwin, not Genesis, became the more convincing explanation for many.
But over the years, more diverse views on Genesis 1 and 2 crept in. Some professors, staff and students didn’t just identify as young-Earth creationists. Their views became more nuanced. They called themselves progressive evolutionists and theistic evolutionists and old-Earth creationists; they found ways to reconcile faith and science.
… The board of trustees is requiring professors and staff to sign a statement saying that they believe Adam and Eve were created in an instant by God and that humans shared no ancestry with other life forms. If they don’t sign, they fear that jobs could be on the line.
Josh Rosenau, in the same article, discusses the value of open inquiry and debate on this matter.
…“The position they’re staking out with this new statement is not shared among all evangelicals, all Christians,” said Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, which advocates teaching of evolution and climate science. “The evangelical position doesn’t have to be an outright rejection of human evolution. There are ways to be a Bible-believing literalist without being at odds with science.”
Rosenau said evangelicals are increasingly grappling with issues like evolution, and he said schools like Bryan should be host to debate and inquiry.
“They can try to expand that conversation and see where it goes without leaving that deep commitment to evangelical Christianity,” he said. “I think it would be a really helpful conversation to have and it would be a shame if policies like this cut it off.”
I still remember talking with an ardent Young Earther. He carried a briefcase full of information about YEC wherever he went, ready to bombard, at a moment's notice, any unfortunate individual with "proof" on the young age of the earth. How much like this next person who has done more than most, in my opinion, to bring strife to the Christian community
Ken Ham Says Aliens Are Going to Hell
I love Twitter. I get more breaking news on that website than I do perusing many of the religious news sites. So, this morning I burst out laughing when I saw this tweet from the American Scientific Affiliation, a group of Christian scientists.
I thought it was a joke. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this was true. Ken Ham, high school biology teacher (no doctorate, etc.) is truly going off the deep end. He has condemned Spock to hell and thems fighting words for this Trekkie.
The Raw Story posted Creationist Ken Ham Calls to End Space program because Aliens Are Going to Hell Anyway If anyone had any doubts as to Ham's poor Biblical application prior to this new post at AIG, this should clear up the matter for them.
Creationist Ken Ham has said that the U.S.. space program is a waste of money because any alien life that scientists found would be damned to hell.
“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote in a Sunday column on his Answers in Genesis website.
Ham argued that “secularists are desperate to find life in outer space” as a part of their “rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution.”
“Life did not evolve but was specially created by God, as Genesis clearly teaches. Christians certainly shouldn’t expect alien life to be cropping up across the universe,” he continued. “Now the Bible doesn’t say whether there is or is not animal or plant life in outer space. I certainly suspect not.”
But regardless of whether there was life in outer space, Ham asserted that it could not be truly “intelligent.”
“You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation,” he explained. “Jesus did not become the ‘GodKlingon’ or the ‘GodMartian’! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the ‘Godman’ as our Savior.”
Let's list his suppositions:
- We are rebelling against God by trying to find life in the universe.
- Oh yeah, the "we" are secularists (no real Christians are interested in this subject I guess)
- If life was found (he certainly" suspects there is none because he is the expert), the life could not be intelligent.
- Aliens could not be saved because only Adam's descendants can be saved.
Here is a statement in his article at Answers in Genesis. It leaves no room for any disagreement because, well,…he knows it to be true!!
IF INTELLIGENT BEINGS LIVED ON OTHER PLANETS, THEY WOULD SUFFER BECAUSE OF ADAM’S SIN BUT HAVE NO OPPORTUNITY TO BE SAVED THROUGH CHRIST’S SACRIFICE
More intelligent Christian than Ham believed in life on other planets. CS Lewis speculated on the possibility that we were the only planet that fell away from God. He wrote a space trilogy based on this possibility called Out of the Silent Planet which I highly recommend. (Quick fact-Did you know that the chief character in the stories, Ransom, was based on his friend, JRR Tolkien?)
Wirt: Do you think there will be widespread travel in space?
Lewis: “I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t bear to think of it. But if we on earth were to get right with God, of course, all would be changed. Once we find ourselves spiritually awakened, we can go to outer space and take the good things with us. That is quite a different matter.”
Guillermo Gonzalez, Ph.D., is an associate professor of astronomy and physics at Grove City College (Warren Throckmorton also is a professor there). He is author of nearly eighty scientific papers and co-author with Jay W. Richards of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery(Regnery, 2004) link wrote Would Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life Spell Doom for Christianity?
He quotes CS Lewis on this topic.
We know that God has visited and redeemed His people, and that tells us just as much about the general character of the creation as a dose given to one sick hen on a big farm tells us about the general character of farming in England.…It is, of course, the essence of Christianity that God loves man and for his sake became man and died. But that does not prove that man is the sole end of nature. In the parable, it was one lost sheep that the shepherd went in search of: it was not the only sheep in the flock, and we are not told that it was the most valuable—save insofar as the most desperately in need has, while the need lasts, a peculiar value in the eyes of Love. The doctrine of the Incarnation would conflict with what we know of this vast universe only if we knew also there were other rational species in it who had, like us, fallen, and who needed redemption in the same mode, and they had not been vouchsafed it. But we know of none of these things.
He discusses the topic in depth. Here is one example.
What if Martian bacteria are found, instead, to have had an independent origin on Mars? First, this would not mean, as many believe, that life is easy to get started by natural means. An intelligent designer would still be the best explanation for the origin of life on Mars, as it is for life on Earth. The same goes for life discovered on a distant exoplanet.
On the other hand, what if, after continued searching, we find no evidence for life on Mars? Mars is the most Earth-like planet we know of, and it’s nearby, sharing the same sun and planetary neighbors. If Earth failed to infect Mars, then we can only conclude that Mars is not sufficiently Earthlike to host even “simple” life. How much less likely, then, are exoplanets to host life?
He ends his post on another fascinating note.
What’s more, the doctrine of the Incarnation has always meant that God became incarnate to reconcile all of creation to Himself. It doesn’t say God became man to the exclusion of everything else. Both Catholics and Protestants have offered serious theological analyses of ETI.
Two examples are Christianity and Extraterrestrials? A Catholic Perspective by Thomist Marie I. George and The Logic of God Incarnate by Thomas Morris. It appears that Christians have enough theological resources to account for the existence of ETI. When all is said, we have to remember that these are hypothetical questions, there is no evidence for ETI, and our answers are necessarily speculative. Lewis dryly commented on atheists’ attempts to use both sides of the ETI debate as a weapon against Christianity: (The following underlined area is quoting Lewis)
If we discover other bodies, they must be habitable or uninhabitable: and the odd thing is that both these hypotheses are used as grounds for rejecting Christianity. If the universe is teeming with life, this, we are told, reduces to absurdity the Christian claim—or what is thought to be the Christian claim—that man is unique, and the Christian doctrine that to this one planet God came down and was incarnate for us men and our salvation. If, on the other hand, the earth is really unique, then that proves that life is only an accidental byproduct in the universe, and so again disproves our religion. Really, we are hard to please.
Certainly, God is free to create a universe in which life is rare or common or even unique. For the ETI optimist, the better choice is theism or ID. This is perhaps the central irony. The naturalist’s explanatory toolkit is too limited to explain ETI, let alone us.
Tim Fall also wrote a good article about this called Answering Ken Ham – When a Creationist Misunderstands Creation Doctrine.
The following video shows how people use their faith to justify any old theory that floats their boat. In this video, a man approaches Buzz Aldrin with a Bible, telling his to repent for saying he landed on the moon. Aldrin has long suffered the "moon truthers" who believe that the moon landing was made up by NASA. Aldrin, who is a Christian, by the way, just couldn't take it anymore. I sympathize.
Lydia's Corner: Amos 7:1-9:15 Revelation 3:7-22 Psalm 131:1-3 Proverbs 29:23