Teaching them evolution won't work - they just give you an angry look. Moving the discussion over to the religion vs. atheism playing field is counterproductive to say the least.
That is why others, including liberal theists we disagree with on religion, need to do that kind of persuasion. They speak their language. They have their trust. They can produce results fast.
In the meantime, we'll try to work on their kids so in 20 years this entire discussion becomes unnecessary. (emphasis by Joy)
Joy rightly states,
What DOES concern me is the bolded statement Coturnix finished his post with. It speaks to something that's been ongoing for at least 40 years already (since it's been that long since I took the evolutionary portion of biology in high school), and the American public still isn't buying Neodarwinist pablum as any kind of sufficient explanation for who and what we are, where we came from.
These people seem completely ignorant of why individuals might choose to believe something other than "science = atheism" in spite of their exclusive access to other people's children for the exercise in indoctrination in public schools. We have PZ and gang insisting that Ph.D. candidates, medical students, etc. be denied degrees if they don't swear eternal faith in atheism, and that candidates for tenure be denied on the same basis.
There are, I think, two main points to consider here. One, Joy is correct in stating that, despite 40 years of evolution being taught in U.S. schools, the public still does not buy the notion of nature is all there is. Two, despite such a state of affairs, the worldview of our children is, nevertheless, still under attack.
What people such as Coturnix don't seem to understand, though, is that we, as parents, aren't simply handing over our children to whatever the hallowed halls of education have to offer. Many parents, homeschooling parents in particular, are deeply interested and involved in their children's understanding of all aspects of our world. The realms of science, religion, philosophy, and culture are realms that our children, as adults, will face the rest of their lives. Our children will learn not only the Christian worldview, but the competing worldviews and why the competing worldviews fail to satisfactorily explain the world. It is, indeed, ironically funny that censored books such as Of Pandas and People will be read by our children (along with works such as The Origin of Species), before the learned professors of higher education get a chance to work on them.
And it's not just parents that are involved in this process of educating our youth before they enter the university. Programs such as Torrey Academy, Wheatsone Academy, the Truth Project, Ambassador Basic Curriculum, and the Reasons Institute abound.
Bonus sidenote: How Theistic Evolutionists are - shudder! - creationists!
From Rod Dreher:
I had a late lunch today at a small restaurant in Dallas. The manager of the restaurant, a non-Latino immigrant, came over to the table to say hello. I don't know the man well, but he's always friendly, and because I came in so late, he had a chance to come by to chat. After we made small talk, I told him we on the editorial board struggle over the immigration question a lot, and we hear that many business owners wouldn't be able to operate without a substantial Latino immigrant workforce. I asked him if that was true.
"Absolutely, without a doubt," he said. "There's no way I could run this restaurant without Hispanic immigrants. We check their papers, and they're all legal, so it's not about hiring illegals. But we have to hire Hispanic immigrants. I'm white, but I've got to be honest with you, you can't get white or black employees who have the same work ethic as the Mexicans. It's like another planet." (emphasis added)
While I am adamantly opposed to the notion of allowing illegal aliens free reign within our borders, I think it also needs to be doubly reiterated that many of the people who come into this country to work, albeit illegally, come into this country... to work.
And a man's gonna do what he has to do
When he's got a hungry mouth to feed
- Union Sundown, Bob Dylan
Take a look at these two characters and tell me, which one is the human?
Well, the answer depends on how you define "human". While most of us would, I presume, pick Paul McCartney as the human, some scientists just might also include the idealized Homo erectus rendering as indicative of humanity.
So when you hear someone mentioning humans existing from 100,000 to 700,000 years ago, they're not referring to the likelihood of some prehistoric McCartney singing "Can't Buy Me Love".
The advent of humanity is a quirky thing, indeed. Some scientists and educators would have you believe that the natural process evolutionary scenario is all but chiseled in stone. Yet that is not the case. In reading Who Was Adam?, by Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross (of Reasons to Believe - RTB), we find that there are several evolutionary scenarios for humanity's advent and that once accepted evolutionary ancestors have been replaced by newer finds. From the book,
...Instead of hominids emerging from a single species and diversifying in treelike fashion, an explosive diversity of hominids occurred at the time of their first appearance in the fossil record. This explosion of coexisting species persists throughout their history.
At one time Australopithecine was considered one of the earliest human ancestors. Now, it appears that the discovery of Kenyanthropus fossils has unseated the once revered Australopithecine (thereby relegating it to an evolutionary dead-end boobie prize). Regarding Neanderthals and Homo erectus, we read,
Paleontologists now have definitive evidence that Homo erectus and Neanderthals, long regarded as central figures in the human origin sequence, were evolutionary side branches and dead ends.
Cro-Magnon man is touted as an evolutionary ancestor of modern humans, however their similarity with modern humans is so great that they are now considered to be nothing more than modern humans.
Despite the confusion with regards to the genesis of these early primates, they were, nevertheless, interesting creatures. Much can be learned about the uniqueness of humans (i.e., real humans) by studying the traits of the early bi-pedal primates.
From Who Was Adam?,
The RTB model regards humans as qualitatively different from animals, including the great apes and hominids. This distinction does not primarily refer to physical differences. Although such differences exist, the RTB model maintains that humans and all other animals (including hominids and the great apes) share at least some biochemical, genetic, physiological, and anatomical similarities. One main distinctive, however, separates human beings from the animals: Only people bear the image of God. People use their minds to reason and contemplate the future. People create, imitating their Creator. People, male and female, worship the Creator as God.
Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross have provided an excellent resource for the Christian home educator, laying the groundwork for critical thinking and interpretive analysis, as future scientific discoveries declare the complexity and wonder of God's creation.
What are worship services for? Are they merely an illegitimate child version of the latest get-rich-quick scheme or positive-mental-attitude-self-improvement-so-you-can-reach-your-true-potential seminar? Or, maybe, are they for... worship?
Do we tailor our services, and church organization, to meet the desires of Generation n? Consider John Piper's comments when comparing prosperity gospel to the real Gospel:
I'll tell you what makes Jesus look beautiful. It's when you smash your car and your little girl goes flying through the windshield and lands - like I was with a little girl, on 11th Avenue, two weeks ago - dead on the street, for three hours before the police would let her go. And you say, through the deepest possible pain:
"God is enough. He is good; He will take care of us; He will satisfy us; He will get us through this; He is our treasure. Whom have I in heaven but you? And on earth there is nothing that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart and my little girl may fail but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Church, the worship of God, is all in all.
In Kansas, next year, Christians will gather in front of a foundation for a huge throne... and simply worship. No worship teams, no Contemporary Christian Music groups, no preachers... just worship before an icon of the throne of God.
Understanding what the New Testament means by growth, and how that growth happens, sets us free. It liberates us from anxiety and self-doubt, and from the slavery of chasing the latest program.
One of Michael Crichton's arguments against governmental mandates in the fight against global warming (of the doomsday variety) is that such mandates circumvent the free enterprise process. As an example of the law of unintended consequences (a corollary of integrated complexity theory), we see that the government's ethanol mandate has caused corn prices to rise. Besides upping the cost of eating out on Taco Tuesday, it has also caused the price of beef to rise, since corn is a primary feed for cattle. So much for my Double-Double.
A California Golden Poppy not yet quite at full bloom, on a late April day, at Montana de Oro State Beach, near Morro Bay, California.
These flowers will close up at night or when the sky is overcast and the temperature cool. They are, to be sure, fair-weather friends. Typically, the best shows of blooms tends to occur after an ample and steady rainy season. However, they are a drought-tolerant species which means that even in the midst of a drought, such as we find ourselves in this year, there will still be blooms to see.
Perhaps their drought-tolerant hardiness betrays their fair-weather attitude towards displaying their beauty?
Worried about what your dog will get to do for summer vacation? Well, for $49.95 you can send him on a bona fide 4 hour adventure tour, where he
...will get to socialize and play with other four-legged friends in a natural, safe environment
ripping up mountains, splashing in water, and roaring through forests all on our action-packed fun-filled adventures.
John Kerry thinks that Iraq is worse than Vietnam because it was a "war of choice"?
Yeah, like we had a choice whether or not to fight Islamic terrorists.
One of only 14 rare rhinos has died.
Northern white rhinos are considered critically endangered. Along with the two remaining at the Wild Animal Park, there are six at a zoo in the Czech Republic and as few as five believed to be roaming in the African wild, the zoo said.
Extinction happens, and it's been happening long before humans entered the scene. Yet, one of the unfortunate aspects of humanity's sin is the increased rate of species extinction.
A question: If nature is all there is, and humanity is simply another species within the natural order, how is it that we consider it morally wrong to influence the extinction of other species?
The words from the Iranian man were concise, determined, and clear: "I fear no man."
Human arrogance? Hardly.
Are we doing anything dangerous enough for the Spirit to show up?... Are we simply maintaining our tradition?
He then relates his experience meeting an Iranian Christian.
...I had [the] opportunity to meet with some folks who... live where it is not safe to be Christian. ...And I had lunch one day with a brother who leads cell churches in Iran. He was so happy to be at this meeting we were at. He said he had just gotten out of jail. ...He had been tortured with electrodes all over his body and he said, "Until several days ago I couldn't even walk, but I'm so grateful to Jesus that I can be here today." About that time I'm feeling about this big - I have no right to even be talking to this man.
...So we asked him, you know, obviously the police know who you are, they know you're not in Iran right now and when you return they'll probably come after you. And he said, "It could be." But then he said something to me I will never forget. He looked me in the eye and he said,
"I fear no man."
...he had met Jesus Christ, in an encounter that had so changed him, that they could kill him - and he certainly wasn't excited about that - but he knew that eternity hung in the balance. And he knew that the challenges that he faced required an empowerment that had nothing to do with physical strength to handle torture - nothing to do with the fact that his church was underground - nothing to do with the fact that everyplace he went he had to be cautious...
Persecution. Real persecution. Is that what it will take for Christianity to flourish in America? From The Change of Seasons,
Sixty three years after D-Day the ghostly 8th Airforce bomber fields are silent, unvisited by men now too old to make the pilgrimage. Across the green counties, "Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found."
Are we at a crossroads, of sorts? Will our self-obsessed, narcissistic culture engulf Western Christianity as we continue to long for churches where pastors provide short messages (relevant to our needs) preceded by encouraging and uplifting music (designed to enhance our personal relationship with Jesus)? While we, here in the United States, raise our voices against the effects of our post-Christian era, we would do well to be cognizant of the fact that, as Klaus puts it, "Christianity, today, is growing not in safe places, but in places where following Jesus could mean your life."
The means for real growth.
Also ref: To be an American Christian - by Rod Dreher
I've never liked those roller-shoes that kids sport nowadays.
It has nothing to do with the fact that, in addition to being butt-ugly, they make a kid's foot look bloated and gargantuan. No, what really irks me about them is the inherent danger they pose.
Consider that stores such as Target, Walmart, Sam's, Home Depot, etc., all have aisles amidst hard surface floors. The floors, whether linoleum or concrete, are ideal surfaces for roller-skating (or is it, roller-shoeing?). This is unfortunate, because kids shouldn't be allowed to whiz down raceways that contain multiple intersections.
Rather than being called skate-shoes, they should be called collision-footwear.
Apparently, according to this Yahoo!News report, there were 1,600 emergency-room injuries from these roller-shoes last year. From the article,
The injuries were mostly in children, the target market for the wheeled shoes that send kids cruising down sidewalks, across playgrounds and through shopping mall crowds.
Yeah, it's the last bit that concerns me - through shopping mall crowds. Kids shouldn't be riding these contraptions through a store for the same reason we wouldn't let someone ride a mountain bike through a store.
Calla lily, in black & white.
Sometime close to Christmas, 2005, I shot a series on several calla lily flowers in my backyard. Most of the shots I kept in color, however this particular shot seemed to call out to be imaged monochromatic. I decided to go with a tighter crop, excluding a full shot of the flower, as well as shooting the image with a vertical orientation. One of the things I like best about the image is the general flow, from top to bottom, of white to black.
I was fortunate to have the image selected to be featured in the weekly contest Weekly Shot under the category of Zen. Being a concrete-sequential thinker, I sometimes have a difficult time addressing topics such as... Zen. The idea (and the photographic results) seem to be a bit too subjective in nature and much too open to personal interpretation. That said, how does one actually get an image selected as indicative of Zen? Is it simply a matter of the consensus of other subjective opinions as to what constitutes Zen? Who is to say that this image qualifies as Zen in the same manner that another image would qualify for the category Hands?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the spiritually stagnant secular notion of Zen is but a glimpse of the enigmatic experience of Joy as expressed by C.S. Lewis, in the quote,
The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.
Joy, as defined by Lewis (and, in many respects, the Bible), is not equivalent to happiness and it certainly isn't equivalent to fun. While Zen, as an attainment of awakening, may attempt to understand Joy, such an attempt is bounded by the ever present limitations of our human existence.
Maybe, as Lewis said,
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
Image - © 2005 A. R. Lopez
In a May 20th sermon, by Pastor Jim Bradford of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri, he spoke of advice he's received with regards to how best structure or - market - the church (presumably to best respond to the needs of the community). Besides the typical "dress up" vs. "dress down" comments, he related the following,
One of the leading experts in... the emerging church - the young, very non-traditional emerging church - he said to me a few weeks ago, "Jim, as I travel around the country, I find most people do not believe that a church like Central has a future. Most people do not believe that historic, multi-generational churches will be able to effectively reach a culture that has changed more than most of us realize... We are talking about some things that are happening at Central. We do need you to succeed, because most people believe that your task right now is impossible."
I wonder, you know, what does a church need? Do we need to just focus on a very narrow age group that most fast growing progressive churches seem to be doing in America? Do we give up on multi-generational churches, like ours? - which I happen to be sold on - the possibility of a multi-generational church having a future, and being healthy, and doing mission.
...Increasingly, my peers happen to believe that pastoring a church like this is a dead-end job.
In my opinion, the idea that the multi-generational church is no longer relevant is flat out wrong. If, in fact, the multi-generational church is no longer relevant, then we might as well send up the white flag , admit defeat, and retreat to the catacombs - for the West is lost.
When asked how Hispanic students can improve academic performance, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated,
You've got to turn off the Spanish television set - it's that simple. You've got to learn English. (emphasis added)
This, I believe, reveals the distinction between someone wanting to become a functioning member of American society and, eventually, a U.S. citizen, and that of someone who simply wants to earn money in the U.S. Schwarzenegger later stated,
...I know that when I came to this country, I very rarely spoke German to anyone.
In other words, he chose to immerse himself in the language of the country he was now living in.
A couple of months ago, a friend from work pointed me to an e-mail of a speech by Herbert Meyer who "served during the Reagan administration as special assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council." The text of Meyer's speech can be found at this post of The Braden Files.
In the speech, a Global Intelligence Briefing for CEOs, Meyer proposed that there are four major transformations that are affecting, or will affect, the socio-political climate of the West:
I found his proposals intriguing not simply for their clarity, but for their congruence with points made by Daniel Pink in his book A Whole New Mind (and, many thanks to Joe Carter for recommending this book to me). In A Whole New Mind, Pink predicts that to thrive in the future economy of the West, one must embrace new paradigms in the way we will work. The key factors to be aware of, according to Pink, are that our economy and culture is now driven by Abundance, Automation, and Asia.
From the Belmont Club, For God's Sake, Please Stop:
Kenyan economist James Shikwati is interviewed in Der Spiegel. And he says what many people think about the development assistance and international NGO racket but are quite afraid to say.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa...
Shikwati: ... for God's sake, please just stop.
SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.
Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.
From The Insider, Helping Africa: Lack of Money Isn’t the Problem,
Hopefully, a part of the push to help Africa will involve making an effort to understand where the problems in Africa come from in the first place, and a good place to start is understanding how foreign aid can and has made things worse. James Shikwati, a Kenyan, and Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan, are two good people to listen to on this topic. At the recent Technology, Entertainment, Design conference in Tanzania, both Shikwati and Mwenda made the case that aid provides the wrong incentives to Africans. Mwenda says that foreign aid convinces the brightest Africans to work for corrupt governments. Shikwati, meanwhile, says Africans need to develop confidence as entrepreneurs, something that aid forestalls.
How can a Christian in the West, in the face of governmental corruption and human greed, help a needy person on another part of the globe? Does writing a check and saying a prayer cut it? Does mankind's fallen nature render campaigns such as One Vote '08 and Make Poverty History as moot?
In The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark writes about how early Christians acted like... Christians, by ministering to the needy, the poor, and the sick. During times of epidemics many Christians died while nursing the sick. Stark relates what Bishop Dionysius wrote, around 260,
Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking of only one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead...
These early Christians did not seek out any campaign of reform intended to organize large sums of money and aid to the sick - they simply acted within the community they lived in. During times of highly contagious disease, rather than act as their secular counterparts and leave their infected communities, the early Christians were determined to stay and help those in need. The impact was not missed by the non-Christians of the era. Stark writes,
...the emperor Julian launched a campaign to institute pagan charities in an effort to match the Christians. Julian complained in a letter to the high priest of Galatia in 362 that the pagans needed to equal the virtues of Christians, for recent Christian growth was caused by their "moral character, even if pretended," and by their "benevolence toward strangers and care for the graves of the dead." In a letter to another priest, Julian wrote, "I think that when the poor happened to be neglected and overlooked by the priests, the impious Galileans observed this and devoted themselves to benevolence." And he also wrote, "The impious Galileans support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us."
In the global community of today, is the same type of action even possible? How does a Christian in Tennessee demonstrate benevolence to a starving Ethiopian or an AIDS patient in Rwanda? How does a Christian in America face issues of corruption inherent when dealing with Third World governments, much less the bloated and red-tape laden policies of our own? Do we simply throw up our hands and settle for cost inefficient programs because, after all, something is better than nothing? How many of us are prepared to minister to the needy while simultaneously facing the prospect of death? I can't say that I am.
Perhaps the notion of engaging in large-scale reform campaigns, while appearing to demonstrate major accomplishments, is not the best approach. What if Christian workers - missionaries, if you will - were trained to go out into the world, specifically to areas with the most need? What if Christians in developed countries supported such workers with the resources needed to develop in-country aid?
What if we did - really did - what we're capable of? Would it be enough? I would argue that, ultimately, it doesn't matter whether or not our actions would "be enough." The early Christians saw a need and acted; they knew their obligation and they fulfilled it.
That, it would seem, was the point.
Additional ref: see Joe Carter's posts on One Vote '08.
What I wouldn't give to have $1,450, per month, twelve months a year, to spend on the educational needs of our two children. That's $17,400 for the entire year (or, $8,700 per child). (HT: Why Homeschool)
Yet, that's the average expenditure per student across the U.S. From CNN,
The United States spent an average of $8,701 per pupil to educate its children in 2005, the Census Bureau said Thursday, with some states paying more than twice as much per student as others. (emphasis added)
Wouldn't it be intriguing to perform a little experiment comparing how public schools, with their $8,700 / child expenditures, compare to other, less funded endeavors in educating children? Imagine, if you will, the difference between home educated children and public educated children, as compared on a per pupil dollar expenditure. Now, I'll be the first to admit that the home educator has a distinct advantage over the public educator in, namely, the luxury of a lower student to teacher ratio. Another advantage the home educator has is that there is no waste of taxpayer's money spent on administrative costs.
So, it appears the situation we'll be left with is one in which a child educated in the public school system has more money and less time spent on him than a home educated child.
At WorldMagBlog, the question is posed, "Must we have public schools?" At $8,700 per student, would it not make sense, and would it not be more efficient, to engage in a bit of free enterprise? Has the governmental education model become so bloated that the job might be better done by private institutions?
Bonus sidenotes: Of course, public schools are not without their own, unique forms of "education". There's, 1) fake, unannounced gun attacks (to stimulate adrenaline, no doubt), 2) guest speakers encouraging students to engage in sex (that's part of the "What about socialization?" question every homeschool parent is asked), and 3) showing the R-rated movie "Brokeback Mountain" to 12 year-olds, without parental notification (just don't you dare try and show a movie about Intelligent Design, though).