Helpful evangelistic tool or yet another stumbling block for others to hear the Gospel? Apologist Ray Comfort’s new video raises a controversy.
Is it ever appropriate for a Christian to misrepresent the beliefs of other people?
Surely, the answer to this is a no-brainer, but apparently a controversy over a recent evangelistic film suggests evidentially that not all Christians agree when this is happening. Lest you think that I woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning, let me tell you that there is something bugging me here that simply will not go away.
Though I am not overly familiar with him, I understand that Ray Comfort is an apologist from New Zealand with a ministry to reach out to a lost and hurting world. In the summer of 2013, Ray Comfort released a 40-minute video, Evolution vs. God, which is designed to challenge beliefs about evolution and present a case for the Gospel. Comfort interviews science professors and college students who claim to be atheists because of their confidence that science has somehow disproven the Bible. I have had a chance to see the film, but I have a very mixed reaction to it.
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.”
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.
Whale Shark at the Georgia Aquarium (photo credit: Zac Wolf)
During a family visit to the Georgia Aquarium last weekend, for no particular reason I started wondering if they might have a clown triggerfish on the premises. Clown triggerfish are part jaguar, part piranha, and part Peter Max—among the most colorful and striking of all animals.
Eventually I asked a docent in the Tropical Diver exhibit if there were any triggerfish around (leaving off the word ‘clown’ so as not to appear star-crossed with only the most beautiful fish). He was very knowledgeable—probably a professor or teacher of marine biology just gazing at beautiful fish and waiting for someone to ask a question. He led me around the exhibit, describing the three triggerfish they had (no clowns), where they normally hang out, their swimming patterns, and a whole host of interesting fish facts. He said there was a triggerfish in the surf above our heads (go figure), and if we were patient the fish would eventually come into full view. It did, he spotted it, and let me know right away so I could get a couple of pictures. Then he said, “The evolution of their tails is really quite interesting.” Continue reading