googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: May 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why even teach evolution?

I don't have anything against education. As a matter of fact, if I won the lottery and didn't have to work anymore, I'd be a professional student for the rest of my life. I love learning. Some people like to study very narrow subjects – something like Russian literature. These might not be very practical degrees to have when you look for a job but, if you like Russian literature, then go for it. Studying evolution is sort of like studying Russian literature. No, it's actually more like studying Big Foot. There's no practical use to it, really, but if you're interested in pseudo-science, then the theory of evolution is for you. I won't stop you – not that I could anyway – but I do object to the way evolution is being taught in many public schools now.

Several years ago, I wrote about a NY Times article that talked about teaching evolution in the classroom. The article cited a dilemma faced by a FL biology teacher:

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote “Evolution” in the rectangle of light on the screen.
He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact. His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m. prayer meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the school gymnasium.
If I do this wrong,” Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, “I’ll lose him.”

Never mind the Constitutional concerns for a moment, where a government employee sees it as his personal mission to rid his students of a religiously held belief, I'm more interested in this idea that learning evolution is somehow critical to kids' education. Bill Nye, my arch-nemesis (at least, my “would be” arch-nemesis,” if he knew I existed), is on record for saying the following:

[T]here are more people in the world — another billion people all trying to use the world’s resources. And the threat and consequences of climate change are more serious than ever, so we need as many people engaged in how we’re going to deal with that as possible.... My biggest concern about creationist kids is that they’re compelled to suppress their common sense, to suppress their critical thinking skills at a time in human history when we need them more than ever.... There are just things about evolution that we should all be aware of, the way we’re aware of where electricity comes from.

I'm just puzzled by this idea that a kid can't understand technology or science unless he believes in evolution. I've seen no evidence, anywhere, to support the idea that people who believe in creation suffer academically (except perhaps being discriminated against by teachers). Furthermore, I've never seen a compelling example of how a belief in evolution is critical to any other field of study.

I've linked before to an article by Dr. Jerry Bergman: a survey of college text books showed that most barely discuss evolution. The anatomy and physiology text books examined didn't mention evolution at all. Of the colleges surveyed in Ohio and Michigan, biology majors were required to only take one class in evolution. Also from the article, National Academy of Science Member and renown carbene chemist, Professor emeritus Dr. Philip Skell of Pennsylvania State University (see Lewis, 1992), did a survey of his colleagues that were “engaged in non-historical biology research, related to their ongoing research projects.” He found that the “Darwinist researchers” he interviewed, in answer to the question, “Would you have done the work any differently if you believed Darwin's theory was wrong?” that “for the large number” of persons he questioned, “differing only in the amount of hemming and hawing” was “in my work it would have made no difference.”

If colleges are supposed to be equipping scientists in their various fields of research, they must not think evolution is very important, considering it's barely mentioned. And you can see that even people who work in biology have admitted that evolution isn't really relevant to their research. Consider this too: can anyone name a single invention or technological advance in the last century that hinged upon an understanding of evolution? Maybe somebody could name one but that is dwarfed by the virtual explosion of technology we've seen in the last 100 years that didn't depend on evolution at all!

If evolution is so ancillary to science, if there is no study linking understanding evolution to improved test scores, if evolution is something that kids learn in school but never use again, then why is there this grim determination that students still must learn evolution? We're facing an education crisis where kids lack proficiency in critical skills like reading, math, and history. Why are we wasting time and resources teaching them a skill that is so useless yet still so controversial? Why force public schools into court to defend a sticker in a text book or to remove a teacher who mentions creation? Let's just stop the controversies altogether. I'm not saying, “give equal time to creation.” I'm not saying, “teach the difficulties.” I'm saying stop teaching evolution!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Heidi Baker, drunk in the Spirit?

Anyone who has reads my blog regularly could probably guess that I'm a cessationist. While I don't agree with the continuation of charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc), neither do I usually condemn too harshly people who feel they have these gifts. I believe many people who “speak in tongues,” for example, are likely simply overwhelmed emotionally and are acting out in the same way they've seen others act. It may not be genuine but it may still be sincere. However, there are other people who, I believe, are being deceitful.

I've seen many videos like this but here is another one I've come across recently. It features Heidi Baker acting, “drunk in the Spirit.” The whole notion of acting drunk is rooted from a verse in Acts 2. At Pentecost, when the apostles were gathered together in a room, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a flame of fire and they began speaking in tongues. The apostles were all Galilean but the people gathered there, from many different nations, could understand the apostles in their native language. They were amazed and perplexed by this sign but v. 13 tells us that some mocked them saying, “They are full of sweet wine (aka, “drunk”).” Some people in the charismatic movement understand this verse to mean the apostles must have appeared to be drunk while the Holy Spirit moved them.

I couldn't find a link to the original footage; this one has been edited down to about 20 minutes. Even though it's been edited, there are long segments of uninterrupted footage that are enough to convince me the edited video is likely a fair representation of the whole. As always, I invite you to watch the video for yourself. I would hate to be accused of mischaracterizing Ms. Baker's action. As you watch it, keep an eye out for the following tell-tale signs that make me think she's pretending the whole time.

First, Ms. Baker seems to have trouble standing. Sometimes, she's kneeling with her head against the lectern. Another time, she's lying prostrate on the floor with her hands beside her. Through all of this, though, she never seems to have any trouble keeping the microphone to her mouth. Isn't that interesting? I will admit, there have been a few times in my youth when I drank too much. I remember one time in particular that I couldn't seem to hold my glass upright. It seemed that if I just stood, holding the glass without paying attention, I would let the glass tilt and spill some drink. I wasn't even “falling down” drunk like Ms. Baker seems to be. If I couldn't keep from spilling my drink, I find it incredible she constantly remembered – and was able – to keep the microphone to her mouth.

I noticed too, at the end of the video, you can see the drummer has slipped into position behind her as she starts the invitation. What am I supposed to conclude from that? Does he have the gift of knowing exactly when someone's “anointing” will end? More likely, it was nearing the allotted time Ms. Baker was given to speak and he knew she was about to start wrapping it up. That's further evidence it was an act.

From a theological perspective, there were a few other things that concerned me. Acts 2 says the apostles, were speaking of the mighty deeds of God (v. 11). Ms. Baker spent the majority of her time speaking about herself. As if her actions weren't obvious enough, she would constantly say things like (paraphrasing), Look how “toasted” I am, You must think I'm weird, Why would the church allow someone like me speak? Imagine that someone is speaking in tongues, but keeps stopping to say, “Listen, I'm speaking in tongues!” That's how I see Ms. Baker's performance.

Finally, there is the matter of the “tongues” Ms. Baker continuously spoke. At Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in tongues, everyone gathered there understood what was being said. They heard the words in their own language – even their own dialect. Some of the words Ms. Baker spoke were gibberish. I certainly didn't understand them. Her performance didn't resemble at all the scene described in the Bible.

In the 1970s, Foster Brooks played a lovable drunk. He was funny. Ms. Baker? Not so much. I've heard she has done a lot of missionary work in Mozambique. I know that she and her husband started Iris Global ministries. But do I just ignore foolish displays like this because of the good work she's done? Folks like this claim they are being moved by the Spirit but when you can see they're not, it makes their claims blasphemy. They're taking the Lord's name in vain which is no small thing. I can't just sit by, watching behavior like this, and not say something.

I'm sadden most by the people who sit in services like this and laugh along. I'm reminded of 2 Timothy 4:3, the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. These people seem less interested in learning the word of God and more interested in being entertained. Ms. Baker was eager to oblige them. I implore people to be more Berean (Acts 17:11). Study your Bibles.  We should be anxious to hear the word whenever it is preached but we need to compare what is preached to the Scriptures to see if it is true!