Monthly Archives: September 2013

Bill Nye…. and Bible Guy?

Bill Nye, the Science Guy.  Comedian and science educator for a generation of young people.  Now a participant in the culture wars??

Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Comedian and science educator for a generation of young people. Is Bill Nye now taking sides in the culture wars??

I love watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Back in the 1990s, I would get up on Saturdays and watch Bill Nye’s science television show on PBS. It was fast-paced, slapstick comedy, but it was a very clever way to get young people excited about science.

Recently, while most folks were watching Bill Nye enter the realm of Dancing with the Stars (watch Bill go!….Bill! Bill! Bill!), here at Veracity, we have noticed a more serious “cha-cha” move by the geekie-favorite Science Guy.  It appears that Bill Nye has entered the fray about the status of education in America. Nye is concerned that Americans might be losing the innovative edge in science and technology. What is the culprit for Nye? “Creationism.
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Generous Justice

Is there a connection between the Bible's teaching on justification by faith alone and living a life that promotes justice?  Tim Keller says, "Yes!"

Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone”.   This quote, often attributed to the Protestant Reformer John Calvin, reveals an important truth that pastor/author Tim Keller wants everyone to know.

A lot of people experience injustice.   A lot of people find themselves on the receiving end of life’s bitter struggles. Then along comes some Bible-toting Christian saying that “all you need is Jesus“.  Well, how does Jesus help you when you can not pay your medical bills, you lost your job, or when your spouse ran off with someone else and left you in thousands of dollars of credit card debt?

Is the Christian faith just some pie-in-the-sky hope for an eternal future or does it mean something for the here and now? Ouch.

Meet Timothy Keller.  Keller is a pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  This fall our church is doing a six-week study on his book Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just.   Many critics of historic, orthodox Christian faith complain that the Bible stands in the way of really making progress towards eliminating injustice in our world today.   Others find that efforts to promote “social justice” in the church are undercutting the message of the Bible.

In his book, Tim Keller is attempting to make a crucial connection between the experience of God’s grace on the one hand with a life empowered to live justly with our neighbor on the other.   The following is a 30-minute talk where Keller summarizes the message of his book based on the teachings he finds in the Bible.  Does he succeed in making that crucial connection?


Life After Death (Part 1)

Serenity

Serenity by Henri Martin, 1899

Have you ever tried to share the concept of Heaven with someone who doesn’t understand much about the Christian faith?  The theology of Heaven can be a stumbling block to those who have haven’t thought much beyond caricatures of floating angels and harps in an afterlife.  How can something that every reasoning adult must process be so subject to myth and misconception? Can an apologetic approach help?

Yvonne Brendley recently gave me back issues of Bill Brendley‘s Areopagus Journal, published by the Apologetics Resource Center. The Fall 2011 edition addresses the topic of life after death.

So is there evidence for life after death?  This journal will address biblical, historical, philosophical, and scientific evidences that support the reality of life after death as well as refute false ideas about it.
Craig Branch, Senior Editor, Areopagus Journal, Fall 2011

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Navigating the Young vs. Old Earth Debate

James Ussher (1581-1656), Ireland Archbishop who calculated from the Bible that the earth was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C.    Throughout   church history, most (but not all) Christians have embraced  such a   view of a "Young Earth" as taught within the pages of Holy Scripture (Wikipedia, painting by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).

James Ussher (1581-1656), Ireland Archbishop who calculated from the Bible that the earth was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C. In the 21st century, very few young people in the developing world still accept the concept of a “Young Earth”.  But is there a way to reconcile the teachings of the Bible today with the findings of modern science? (Wikipedia, painting by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680)).

A recent informal survey at the social networking website, Reddit.com, was conducted that asked atheistic young people who left the Christian faith, what were their reasons for leaving the faith. By far, the most common response from over 50% of the respondents was concerning “Christian teachings that conflict with [the] findings of modern science.”    Though not a definitive be-all, end-all conclusion by any means, I find this to be an incredibly disturbing trend explaining what is draining people out of evangelical churches.  In my view, the heart of the controversy centers on the debate over the age of the earth.

So, how old is the earth? Is it relatively young, say between 10,000 to 6,000 years old as many Young Earth Creationists would argue? Or is it really old, some 4.54 billions of years according to many Old Earth Creationists?

Evangelical Christians are deeply (and rightly) concerned about the erosion of biblical authority undercutting the proclamation of the Gospel. Yet for many, any departure away from a specifically Young Earth perspective is a compromise of biblical authority. This is a serious claim. For if adopting the modern scientific consensus of an Old Earth is against the clear teaching of the Bible, then surely every Bible-believing Christian should reject that scientific consensus and embrace creation science, based on a literal six 24-hour day understanding of God’s creative act in the first few chapters of Genesis.

But is this the only way to understand the timing of creation as taught in the Bible?  The Old Earth Creationist, on the contrary, makes the claim that the teaching of modern science is instead compatible with a high view of the Bible’s divine inspiration. The Old Earth advocate argues that the Young Earth community is driving an unnecessary wedge between faith and science, thus harming the integrity of the evangelical witness of the church. Mmmm… Which perspective is the right one?  How does a Christian navigate through these competing ideas regarding the age of the earth?
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Dover Design Debate Debacle

Dover, Pennsylvania.  Symbol of the defeat of Intelligence Design as scientific theory..... or a tragic setback for the advancement of scientific discourse?

Dover, Pennsylvania. Symbol of the defeat of Intelligent Design as scientific theory….. or a tragic setback for the advancement of scientific discourse? (photo credit: msnbc)

Should Intelligent Design be taught as science in the classroom?

It has been almost ten years since the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case in Dover, Pennsylvania. There a group of elected school board officials, spearheaded by some Christians favoring Young Earth Creationism, sought to have a particular biology textbook removed from the classroom. The biology textbook was co-authored by Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University, a practicing Catholic, and an outspoken advocate of what some call “theistic evolution.” Instead, a different textbook developed by the Discovery Institute, Of Pandas and People, would be used. The Discovery Institute is a think-tank that advocates Intelligent Design as opposed to Darwinian Evolution, among other important cultural and intellectual interests. A lawsuit ensued, and while it was not as big and spectacular as the famous 20th century Scopes Monkey Trial, the Dover case still became a media sensation. In the end, the court ruled that teaching Intelligent Design in a public school science class is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court reasoned that Intelligent Design (ID) is not science and therefore cannot be uncoupled from its Creationist, and therefore religious, antecedents.

It was a devastating blow to the movers and shakers behind Intelligent Design. I pretty much thought that the ID movement was dead in the water after that. However, the issues behind the controversy are still with us.
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