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A Study in Contrast

August 4, 2007

Reverend Bill Funderburk sings “He Cared That Much For Me”
Charles Surratt introduces his own composition “On Calvary For Me”
“The Joy of Knowing Jesus” is a song of pure delight featuring John Barbee

The pure tenor quality of the voice of Harold Montgomery
Gives a special interpretation to the grand old hymn “The Old Rugged Cross”
Chill bumps appear and I am frozen in the web they weave as they reveal their
Innermost selves with the outpouring of their hearts
On and on the songs roll and soon you are caught up
In the sermon in each rendition as you come to feel
The devotion and dedication that is poured forth
Suddenly, you know they are real, they mean it!

“Let your light so shine”
Could not be more aptly applied
As there shines a light from heaven on your heart
Through their singing. As an artist, Rhonda Montgomery
Exemplifies piano artistry. That’s Rhonda! An artist!

This album can be the instrument to mend a broken heart
Or to straighten out your life through the sincere testimony
In the songs of The Revelaires. A must!

J. Elmo Fagg, founder and leader
Of the Blue Ridge Quartet
For 23 Years. Temple Records, LST 390
Planning to make a record?
We are associated with United Music World Recording Studios, Inc.,
West Columbia, SC. The finest sound available anywhere

“The Joy of Knowing Jesus”,
Produced by Joel Gentry
Cover/Backliner Design/Reesor

The Revelaires, A must
The Revelaires
A must, in their home

R.E.M.The Voice of Harold

So I was going through my DVR this weekend, erasing shows that I’d been saving for one reason or another. I came across a “Good Morning America” recorded last May 25th. The story I had saved it for was on the opening of the $27 million dollar “Creation Museum” in Petersburg, Kentucky. The story opened with the statistic that 60% of Americans believe God created the world in six days. I’ve always had trouble with that Bible story in that while God creates the heavens and the earth “In the Beginning”, God *doesn’t* create the Sun, Moon and Stars until day three.  If that’s true, how can there be evening and morning on days one and two? Sure, God created light and seperated it from darkness, but how did this light and dark function without a sun or it’s absence to generate the difference? And if God just performed “magic” to make morning and evening, how long did these days last?

 Anyway, the story goes on to have an interview with, Ken Ham, the president of the organization “Answers in Genesis” (the people who bring us this museum), explaining that the reason they show “Adam and Eve” living along side the dinosaurs is because God created all “land” animals on day six.  Dan Harris, the ABC correspondent, starts to say, “a lot of scientists would say….” and is corrected by Mr. Ham to say “secular” scientists. Anyway, in answer to the “secular” scientist’s claims that dinosaurs died out millions of years before man arrived on the scene, Mr. Ham says, “they can say that, but what’s their scientific proof?” My guess would be radiocarbon dating and radiometric dating which are often targets of Christian distractors but are skillfully defended here (and here) by the scientific community.

 The crux of the argument for “creationism” or “intelligent design” comes down to the notion that evolution jepordizes people’s belief in the Bible.  Creationists also claim it leads to things like pornography and abortion although I’m not sure I follow how they make that leap. One interviewee said, “In an evolutionists world view, why should you have things like absolute morality? Why would it be wrong to kill someone. I’m not saying evolutionists aren’t moral, I’m saying they have no logical reason to be moral.” Okay, for anyone who believes in creationism or intelligent design, here’s the thing: Evolution is *not* a religion. I’m not sure if that actually sunk in, so let me repeat and expand. EVOLUTION IS NOT A RELIGION.

Evolution doesn’t purport to have any moral authority. There is no deity to worship. It has no societal teachings to share. It has no cosmic insight or political agenda to push upon the masses.  It is mearly a scientific explanation of how biological life developed. That having been said, moral teachings should come from some place else.  Let’s say parents or society or, I don’t know, a church maybe. Whereas, scientific teachings should come from, oh, I don’t know, scientists and use the Scientific Method and be subject to Peer Review.

Just because science doesn’t fit nicely into bible stories is no reason to attack scientific findings. If your religion is so fragile that the ideas of science can cause it to crumble, then you’ve got bigger problems than the concept that we evolved out of primordial stew millions of years ago. Moral lessons learned from stories are no less true just because there is no such thing as a witch living in a gingerbread house or the fact that there were animals on this planet millions of years before man arrived.

I don’t want to belabor this arguement since everyone I’m close friends with thinks creationism is either infantile or hysterical, so let me move on to the story that immediately followed this one on GMA. Tibetan monks in Kansas City asked if they could create a sand sculpture known as a mandala in Union Station.  Over the course of two days, eight monks began creating their offering, painstakingly pouring colored sand from metal funnels known as chakpur. Well, between the second and third day of construction, a two year old toddler did what two year old toddlers do and ran to play in the pretty sand. He barely needed to duck to slip under the stanchions put up to keep folks away from the work.

sand-mandala.jpg dsc00476.jpg

Okay, here are the things that I want to highlight out of this story. The first is the the monks of the Buddist religion, faced this set back in typical Zen fashion saying, “No problem. We didn’t get despondent. We have three days more. So we will have to work harder.” and that, “It teaches us that nothing is permanent.” Not to push any one religion here, but faced with a society that is fervently religious, would you rather live with the society based on that kind of teaching or one that is based on religious texts that declare an eye for an eye as justice?

The second thing I want to highlight from the story is this somewhat overlooked fact. From the story: “The mother did not report the incident, but a security camera at Union Station captured the moment. ‘She summarily picked the child up and boogied,’ said Bob Smock, security manager for the station.” Now, I’m not sure who this woman was, but odds are in my favor when I suggest that this woman was probably raised Christian. And seeing as how Kansas is the home to the evolution debate between schools and the National Acadamy of Sciences, I’m guessing there’s a good chance she may even be an Evangelical Christian. So my question is this, “how does this abdication of parental responsibility for one’s child’s actions gel with Christian teachings?”

Perhaps she was going all Old Testament on these monk’s asses and destroying the alters of pagan religions ala 2 Kings 23. If that’s the case, I’m surprised that more Evangelical leaders haven’t called for the firebombing of mosques, temples and other non-Christian houses of worship. Since the Bible is the Absolute Word of God and is Absolute Truth, shouldn’t we, like Josiah in 2 Kings 23:20 be slaughtering the pagan preists on their own altars and burning human bones on them? Is that not God’s Absolute Word on the subject?!? Or is that passage more of a “situationalist” verse than an absolute?

Even if you haven’t guessed by now, it will probably come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of religion. What makes my heart sink however, is these stupid, mindless and foolish debates America seems to be endlessly involved in about Christians being persecuted here and their faith marginalized. I wrote a rant a few years ago and sent it out to family and friends about how the US is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a Christian nation (Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11). I think it’s a stroke of genius that the founding fathers put in our constitution not only the freedom OF religion, but also freedom FROM religion (US Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendment 1). It terrifies me to think of religious leaders in charge of a nation’s government. If these people won’t listen to reason and scientific study, the rule of law is merely the rule of what religious leaders claim is law. How exactly does one go about fighting God’s word in court? Would apologetics experts replace forensic experts? Would “Bible Detectives” replace “CSI” in primetime?

At the end of the day, I pray that what the monks believe will come to pass as a generally accepted way of behaving in our world rather than the religious fundamental rancor that seems so pervasive today. They believe that life tests compassion over experience and that true wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind. Amen brother, Amen.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Miller permalink
    August 6, 2007 9:05 pm

    Unfortunately, logical discussion is useless to resolve matters of faith, which by definition is to believe without evidence. No list of facts, no matter how well prepared can refute faith. In return, the scientific method is also helpless against the possibility of alternate explanations (hence the need to keep updating textbooks when the old explanations are found to be too simple). One can always come with an alternate way to explain around the facts that have been presented. All we can do is ask the person who does not believe in evolution not to screw it up for the rest of us, who perhaps, might prefer our medicines to come from the doctors who do believe in it.

    Science and religion are not necessarily mutually exclusive, unless one chooses to take either their religion or science as an all-or-nothing package. While it is hard for many worshipers to accept that religious beliefs might need altering or adjusting, it is overly simplistic to assume that any religion already works as a complete package. No religion is without internal debate and contradictions amongst its writings and leaders. Similarly, science is not so complete that it fulfills all of our needs.

    Alas, there are many historical examples of both science and religion being used to unleash great evils upon the world. Neither science nor religion is inherently “good” or “evil”. Unfortunately I have not seen any one religion that had a close enough connection to God to prevent any of its members from showing their worst side (with the possible exception of the afore-mentioned Buddhists, but I likely just don’t know enough about them). The great logic of science has not always extended to choosing its proper uses, either. We’ve come up with some pretty impressive techniques for messing each other up over the years.

    I just don’t see how the number of days we waited for man to exist is so central to Christian religion. Why would it be any less wonderous if God created the entire universe in one big bang, setting up an elegant system of physical principles so simple that they can be largely understood by college students, yet be complete enough to shape the universe into something that would gradually cool, and form places that could support life, and that those lives would eventually lead to the species to which we belong and eventually our own personal existence? Is that not cool enough? How is the 7-day construction method more effective as a source of our morality?

    – Tom

  2. August 5, 2007 2:32 pm

    I had realized about the 60,000 year limit on Radiocarbon dating. I included it, as you said, to show the earth’s age was easily older than 6,000 years. Radiometric dating, however, can date samples back billions of years based on the half life of urainium/lead and other combinations.

    All these dating methods serve to reinforce one another and generally prove true “secular” science’s position that the earth is older than 6,000 years. It also shows dinosaurs could *not* have been wandering around with Adam and Eve. My question is did Adam and Eve really exist? Were they real persona or were they meant to convey concepts of the Jewish religion? If they were real, what is Ken Ham’s proof?

    And yes Jeff, you are correct. Were I to vote Republican, I wouldn’t vote for Mitt, I’d vote for Ron Paul.

    – G

  3. Mitch permalink
    August 5, 2007 9:11 am

    Your link points out that radio carbon dating is only effective back to about 60,000 years, which, while it’s an ample time to destroy the “universe is only 6,000-years old” dogma, doesn’t get you back to the age of the dinosaurs. The actual scientific evidence to the age of the Age of Dinosaurs is in the record of rock strata visible around the globe.

    As geology began to come of age in the late 18th and 19th centuries, amateur naturalists (Darwin included) began to suspect that the rock layers we observe could not have been laid down in only 6,000 years or all at once by a Great Flood (as Biblical scholars maintain to this day, Ken Ham included).

    The history of geology as it relates to the development of the theory of evolution is quite interesting in itself. Two books I recommend, which explain a lot of scientific concepts in highly entertaining ways, are “A Brief History of Everything” by Bill Bryson and “Song of the Dodo” by David Quammen. I suggest that everyone who has an interest in this “debate” (ESPECIALLY the most die hard Creationsts out there) read these books so that when the subject comes up, you can speak from a base of knowledge. Facts are fun!

    In fact, here’s a fact to start with: Evolution doesn’t deal with the origins of “life” but only the way in which organisms change over time [that is to say “evolve.”] It doesn’t even TRY to explain how life began, only how life forms have changed SINCE life began.

    Here’s another: There is no debate among scientists that evolution is a proven fact, supported by almost two centuries of intensive scientific research, the fossil record and, yes, radio carbon dating. There is still a lot of discussion about the biological process of how it work, but none over the fact that it happens. In fact, we can watch it happen on a microbial level and doctors today MAKE it happen in AIDS therapies and other medical tretments.

    So when Creationists demand that schools “teach the controversy” between religion and science, those lessons should be taught in social studies or comparative religion classes, NOT in science class.

    If Ken Ham wants to see the scientific proof for evolution, I suggest he start with the books I recommended and go from there to, say, the Library of Congress. Sorry, Ken, it’s not all in one little book for you to twist, distort and hold up as the final word on all subjects. Hmmm, maybe that’s the problem with evolution for him and his ilk – real science is just too hard.

  4. Jeff permalink
    August 4, 2007 7:45 pm

    Guess you won’t be voting for Mitt eah …

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