Thursday, November 20, 2008

One Big Weakness of the Theory of Evolution

By "the theory of evolution" I mean to signify the notion that new, superior species arise through the processes of genetic variation and natural selection. Those who control public education in Texas are presently debating whether our curriculum should continue to address both strengths and weaknesses in the theory of evolution. I didn't realize that the debate had prompted even national Baptist Press to sit up and take notice (see here). The pseudo-scientific groups do not wish to acknowledge that there are any weaknesses at all in the theory of evolution. (Even the evolutionists believe in an inerrant text, apparently—the only difference between them and conservative Christians is that the evolutionists believe that they have authored their own inerrant statement, whereas Christians will at least acknowledge their own fallibility and ascribe inerrancy only to God and God's word!)

So, are there weaknesses in the theory of evolution? You bet there are, and I'll only trouble myself to mention the most glaring one: In thousands of years of recorded human history, we've not once seen it happen. Scientists have coerced a thing or two like it in a lab somewhere, but with all of our myriad species on earth and with as long as humans have been recording history, you'd think we'd have a record of somebody saying, "My cow gave birth to a buffalo last week!" After all, as the theory goes, this is supposed to be something that just happens, and just happens with regularity, right?

If it ever does happen, it will be a pretty strong argument for the theory: "See kids, Tommy over there has another set of eyes in the back of his head. That makes him a new species derived from homo sapiens, and guarantees him lower automobile insurance rates."

But it doesn't happen. And most scientists appear to have the same relationship with evolution that some Christians seem to have with the second coming—they'll affirm it as a matter of dogma 'till they're blue in the face, but their words and actions sometimes make you wonder whether they really believe it. Consider the book A Plague of Frogs. William Souder is apoplectic over a rash increase in mutated frogs allegedly caused by contaminants in their watery habitat. Scientific sources utter grave pronouncements over our certain imminent doom if these things aren't sorted out quickly.

But wait a minute. Why aren't these scientists gleeful about the uptick in mutations? Shouldn't we be supremely confident that the outcome will inexorably be a superior frog? Or do they need Charles Darwin to reach down through the decades and help their unbelief?

The basic foundation of science is to be dubious about a person's grand, sweeping claims and to observe for one's self. Observation over doctrine. On occasion some labcoat will stroll away from his bunsen burners and wave before the world some evolutionary Shroud of Turin to encourage the faithful, but the processes of evolution simply are not observed and do not repeat in real-world experience. It is because of the fundamentals of science, not in spite of them, that people continue to see weaknesses in this theory.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Spectator's Seat in Divorce Court, Perjury and Broken Vows

Today I attended the sentencing hearing of the sexual predator whom our staff discovered (I last made mention of this situation here). The hearing was relocated to Auxiliary Court 3 in the lavish new Collin County Courthouse.

But before they could get to our case, they spent an hour processing divorces and related matters. My associate pastor whipped out his iPhone, activated the stopwatch function, and after a while turned to me and said, "They're doing these at about four and a half minutes a pop." An hour of four-minute divorces. You do the math. It was really depressing.

Perfunctorily each case stood before the judge, most with attorneys but some without, and rehearsed a set of formulaic questions and answers as a part of the divorce ritual. As I listened, I couldn't help but think to myself that most of these people either weren't listening to what they were saying, hadn't thought much about what they were saying, or just didn't care that they were lying and committing perjury.

Each had to affirm that "the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship." There's so much to parse there—where to start?! Had all of those marriages really become "insupportable"? The word means incapable of being supported. Is it really the truth that they could not support the marriage, or that they would not do so? And what are "the legitimate ends of the marital relationship"? For what legitimate reasons does marriage exist? Just to make me happy? Does it not exist for me to sacrifice for the good of my spouse and my children (if any)? Does it not exist as one of the basic building blocks of our society? If it requires a little bit of flexibility and grace and forgiveness on my part to keep the marriage going, are not the legitimate ends of the marital relationship met thereby? How can it be that, in case after case after case, these people have all carefully discovered (some after as little as two or three years in the marriage) that there is absolutely no way to meet the legitimate ends of the marriage?

Next came, as night follows day, the affirmation that "no reasonable expectation of reconciliation exists." In Texas, none of these people were required by law to go to any sort of marital counseling, and statistically we know that many of them had not. Yet how could anyone assert that "no reasonable expectation of reconciliation exists" without having lifted a finger or made any effort to get help in reconciling the marriage? Is picking up the phone and asking for help not reasonable?

I think it likely that these folks were just perfunctorily babbling off a script that they had before them—saying whatever it took to get their divorce and committing perjury (even if thoughtlessly so) in the process.

Shocking? It shouldn't be. These are, in many cases, the same people who mindlessly and meaninglessly muttered their vows at the beginning of the whole journey. Their shallow and empty affirmations at their divorce proceedings serve to complete the set of bookends to their whole marital experience.

Birth Control Roundup

I promised some time ago a follow-up post on the abortifacient properties of oral contraceptives. I think I can get it all out there in just a very few words…a smattering of bullet points:

  • Makers of oral contraceptives have claimed in their marketing that their pills create a "hostile endometrium" as a failsafe to prevent the implantation of any "breakthrough ovulation" eggs that might happen to be fertilized. They list this claim for the marketing benefit for those to whom such a feature would be attractive.
  • The makers of oral contraceptives have not conducted scientific studies to prove that this "hostile endometrium" has ever actually prevented implantation of a fertilized egg.
  • A group of pro-life OB-GYNs have seized upon this lack of proof to suggest that the marketers have overreached—that oral contraceptives do not actually cause the endometrial lining of the uterus to be so "hostile" as to prevent implantation of the newly-conceived human being.
  • The defenders of oral contraceptives against the charge of being abortifacient have also not conducted scientific studies to prove that there is no such thing as a "hostile endometrium" effect.
  • The fact that oral contraceptives are in existence that prevent women from having menstrual periods at all is evidence that the hormones in the oral contraceptive pills do affect that nature of the endometrium. The items at question are (a) whether the hormonal changes that take place at conception would override the endometrium-thinning effects of the oral contraceptives, and (b) whether the newly conceived human being is hardy enough to implant regardless of a "hostile endometrium."
  • The most accurate statement, therefore, that any of us can make is that oral contraceptives promise to prevent the implantation of conceived human beings.
  • I incorrectly stated in a comment several posts earlier that IUDs were not abortifacient. I have since learned that they are.

Next will be a post on the value of catechisms, as promised to Chris Bonts, who most correctly predicted the time of John McCain's concession speech. Congratulations, Chris!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Baptist Convention in Texas?

BGCT blogger Rick Davis reported yesterday of rumors that some within the BGCT are contemplating a departure to form yet another Baptist state convention in Texas. (HT: Aaron Weaver, aka Big Daddy Weave)

Having not kept up with goings-on in the BGCT, I don't know what to make of this. Are we talking about three or four people or three or four hundred people? Was this talk prior to or subsequent to the most recent annual meeting of the BGCT? In Davis's comment stream, Ken Coffee (recent unsuccessful candidate for the BGCT vice-presidency) suggested that the sore spots for these folks were the plans to morph the BGCT into a national convention and the BGCT's hostility toward the SBC.

To any such folks, if they exist: If you are comfortable with the BGCT's budget priorities (80% for us, 20% for the rest of the world) and with the liberal doctrinal positions and low view of the Bible manifest at the Texas CLC, some of the BGCT universities, etc., then you ought to wait things out and not do anything drastic right now. If your sole objection is to BGCT expansion beyond Texas, I'm not sure to what degree such plans are really on the table any more. The name change to "Texas Baptist Convention" (if adopted) seems to imply a return to a Texas-only philosophy at BGCT. If your only objection is to the tension between the BGCT and the SBC, then you need a reality-check—the BGCT's budget priorities and liberal doctrinal positions, juxtaposed against the SBC's financial plans and conservative doctrinal positions, guarantee ongoing tension between these two bodies in their current relationship. Don't let some of the folks on blogs fool you—attempts to bring the SBC to liberal positions on women preachers and the like are failing.

On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable with the BGCT's doctrinal positions and budget priorities, then you ought to try a dual affiliation with the SBTC before you go and start a third state convention. None of the blogs that I've read have given any explicit shortcomings that these allegedly discontented BGCTers have with SBTC that would convince them to start a third state convention rather than joining the other one already in existence for a decade now. I could speculate as to a few possible items in that category.

It may be that you've heard horrible things about the SBTC that have eliminated any interest in joining. I would ask you, why not find out for yourself? Isn't it possible that the BGCT is not the most objective place to learn about the SBTC? If your church is comfortable with the SBC's statement of faith, then you meet the criteria to belong to the SBTC (and if not, then I've already suggested that you might just ride things out over at BGCT for a while). If, after adding an affiliation with SBTC, you find that the SBTC is every horrible thing that its detractors have alleged, then you can quite easily end your SBTC affiliation, and you will still be aligned with BGCT. If, on the other hand, you find that SBTC has been misrepresented, then you'll have saved yourself the work of establishing a third convention.

It may be that you've met a person or two connected with SBTC whom you haven't liked that much. Such an experience frankly slowed the rate at which I dipped my toes into the SBTC pool. But quite obviously, since you're considering breaking away from BGCT to start something else, you have had some sort of a bad experience with some people at BGCT. Yet you're still a member of that convention. Every convention, church, Sunday School class, fellowship group, you-name-it, is a mixed bag. I've found the SBTC to be a warm, wonderful, Christ-honoring, gospel-spreading, mission-affirming fellowship of Baptist believers. You might find it differently, but don't you owe it to yourself to find out for yourself?

It may be that you're tired of all of the fighting—not interested in being a part of some sort of government-in-exile. Guess what: Neither was I. I was pleasantly surprised at first and continue to be pleased to find that BGCT is never mentioned at SBTC events. We've moved on. In fact, if you haven't moved on, and are looking for a place to join in BGCT gripes, then please don't come to the SBTC. Souls are too precious and time is too short for such things. The place to gripe about the BGCT is the BGCT annual meeting.

It is your privilege as believers to choose your own affiliations, and it is your duty as believers and stewards to pursue vigorously what you believe to be the best strategy for proclaiming the gospel to the world. But before you start something new, you owe it to yourself and to your progeny to have considered and tried every option for affiliation with present groups. Perhaps that process will lead you to a newfound sense of belonging within the BGCT. Perhaps it will lead you to join your brethren in the SBTC. Perhaps it will lead you to launch something new. Whatever should come of it all, my prayer is that you might honor the Lord, remain true to His Word, and diligently pursue His work to His glory.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Putting the Holy Back in the Holidays

There's a really disheartening poll from Zogby this morning. Actually, it has nothing to do with electoral politics, and what disheartens me is not the results of the poll (which don't exist yet), but the actual poll question itself. Here's the Zogby interactive polling question that came in this morning's email and broke my heart:

Thinking about the upcoming holiday season, which of the following best describes what it means to you? (Choose up to TWO)

  • Sharing time making memories with family and friends
  • Finding the right selection of gifts for everyone on my list
  • Waiting in shopping lines/crowded malls
  • Traveling
  • Being a little nicer to everyone I encounter
  • Stressing out
  • Other
  • Not sure

Notice anything missing from that list? Is the spiritual significance of the holidays so far lost that it rightfully belongs in "Other"?

For a few years we at FBC Farmersville have tried to put before our people some tangible ways to keep a spiritual emphasis during the holidays. We list nativity re-enactments in the DFW area, suggest family activities for the holidays, and this year we're even making music suggestions. Does your church do anything to try to cultivate the holidays as a spiritual occasion? If so, do you mind sharing with the rest of us what you do?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Most Succinct Election Analysis on the Web

The only way for Republicans to lose the White House is to pretend that ours is not a conservative party.

The only way for Democrats to win the White House is to pretend that theirs is not a liberal party.

Good night to you all, and congratulations to President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama.

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Election-Day Eve Piece of Political Trivia

You've all heard the parable of Abraham Lincoln, the man who failed at so many things and yet persevered all the way to the White House and to the pedestal of history.

At the other end of the spectrum is a particular twentieth-century president who only lost one election in his entire life.

  1. Name this President.
  2. Name the man who defeated him in a run for office.
  3. Name the fictional character based upon the man who is the answer to #2.

Note: Although there is more than one twentieth-century president who lost only one election, there is only one for whom all three questions above make sense.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If Barack Hussein Obama Wins

In my last post I tried to address some of the things that you might not think about at first consideration of the prospect of a McCain victory. Of course, it goes unstated that a McCain victory would be far and away the better of the two choices. Among things that I didn't mention, a McCain election would not mean that the campaign to save the lives of teeming masses of innocent children every day wouldn't be set back a couple of decades. That, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission. And then there's the specter of facing the hostility of a President who regards our faith as something to which desperate people stubbornly and foolishly cling. But, a shocking come-from-behind McCain victory would also prompt (I predict) the reactions delineated in my last post.

Now, on the other hand, although I would go to great lengths if I thought that I could prevent Obama's election (and I'll do what I can in a polling place on Tuesday morning!), I think there are a few things that we believers ought to remind ourselves when we face a more hostile environment to people of faith on Wednesday morning:

  • FIrst and foremost, I think we have to acknowledge something of the hand of God in the events that have swept Obama into the White House. I mean, who foresaw this economic cataclysm coming at just the right timing to have maximum impact upon the election? And which political party could have made it happen on cue if they had wanted to do so? Nobody.

    I know…I know…God didn't make people take out crazy subprime interest-only ARMs. We got ourselves into this mess. But I'm talking about the precise timing and ferocity of the meltdown. McCain was surging on a Palin-induced rally and this economic mess came just in time to nip that in the bud. It happened long after Republicans had the opportunity to pick a more economically savvy candidate, and long after John McCain had any opportunity to get his bearings and sort out his talking points. Yet it happened long enough before early voting for the bleak reality to sink deeply into the consciousness of so many American voters.

    If something like that had emerged to catapult McCain to victory, we would have declared it—without much hesitation—to be the hand of God. Well, why must it be something else if it puts Obama into office?

    Because Obama is a bad and godless liberal? Remember, this is the same God who brought bad and godless Assyria down upon Israel. He brought Nebuchadnezzar upon Judah and the Bible explicitly says that God gave into Nebuchadnezzar's hands the sacred vessels of the temple to put into the treasury of a pagan idol (Daniel 1:2). I don't believe that Barack Obama is a whit closer to God than Nebuchadnezzar was, but I recommend that we all be VERY careful about thinking that we know what God would do or what God wouldn't do.

    The United States of America may very well deserve precisely Barack Hussein Obama. This may be the election where God lets us have just that.

    And if the result is socialism (and the inevitably ensuing collapse of our economy and poverty for everyone), then socialism will not defeat the church. Just ask my friends in Cub@. And even in that, we can give thanks. For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom, and a little poverty just might facilitate a lot of revival.

    If the result is persecution of the church and (a generation or so down the road) the imprisonment of those who will preach the whole Bible, then we can rejoice. For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and just such a thing might do us more good than any jingoistic convention program could ever do in bringing back purity and vitality to the church (and we won't even have to design a logo for it).

    So, God might have lots of good reasons to hand this election to Obama. I would still be sinning to vote for him, but God can simultaneously expect me to vote for McCain and plan for an Obama victory.

  • I will pray for Barack Obama and will show him respect as my President. I reserve the right to disagree with him, and I'm sure that I will exercise that right on many occasions, but I will not treat Obama that way that so many people have treated President Bush. A great many liberal church members (indeed, liberal churches!) have flagrantly sinned in their language and attitudes toward President Bush. They reveal, methinks, that they have a higher regard for "Never trust anyone over 30" than for "Honor the King" (1 Peter 2:17).

    Let not the same be said of us. Let us argue the issues, but if he wins, let us show President Obama biblical respect. Let us remember that, in the face of wrongful laws and oppressive treatment, Daniel and his compatriots always showed deferential respect to Nebuchadnezzar.

  • Barack Obama may not turn out to be as bad of a president as I think he will be. The events that define a presidency often happen during the presidency itself. Think for a moment how much the events of September 11 have defined the presidency of George W. Bush. When I voted for him in 2000, I had no idea that those 2001 attacks were coming. Neither did you. Neither did HE. To some degree, every President-Elect is a pig in a poke. Some of them just smell a lot worse.

    So, God is able to shape the events that will shape Barack Obama. Don't forget, "The King's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1). Perhaps we pastors ought to practice a corollary to a principle that we've prescribed for so long: If we want a better president, we should pray for the one that we get. And we should perform those prayers knowing that God is quite powerful enough either to harden Obama's heart around his wrongful ways (Exodus 9:12) or to bring him around to an entirely new way of thinking (Acts 16:22-40).

God is able to bring good things out of an Obama administration—with Obama's help or in spite of his resistance. But even if He does not, let us be faithful and obedient, remembering that, as it pertains to our true citizenship, the administration of our kingdom does not hang in the balance on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

If John McCain Wins

Tonight I give you the first of two pre-election posts. The second will be entitled "If Barack Hussein Obama Wins."

A surprising number of people in my contest have chosen to predict a McCain upset victory. I remain unconvinced. But if it should happen, I have the following observations for you:

  • If McCain has not conceded the race by Wednesday morning (November 5), I recommend that you go out to your cars, yards, etc., and immediately remove every sticker, sign, or placard that might say "McCain/Palin" or any other such thing. An Obama loss would provoke scattered violence throughout our nation. I'm as serious as I can be. If you don't want your car keyed, your house egged, or your person confronted, then you'd better take those signs down and don't even think about gloating. The sole exclusion from this rule is C.B. Scott. If an angry mob of Obamaniacs surround and attack C.B., they have coming whatever they get and we should have no pity upon them.

  • Wave goodbye to Sarah Palin. John McCain will put up a high-voltage fence around the Naval Observatory (where the VP resides) and instruct the Secret Service to shoot her if she approaches the gate and tries to escape. Her best shot at getting on TV after the election would be if she could land a cameo on Deadliest Catch. I'm a fan (my bumper sticker says "SARAH!" with a tiny "McCain" underneath), so I'm not saying that she doesn't deserve better. I'm just predicting what she'll get.

  • McCain will be under tremendous pressure to bring "healing" to a nation deeply riven over the election's outcome. In response, McCain will do the sort of thing that he does when he's under that sort of pressure—he'll cooperate with Barney Frank or some other such wild-eyed liberal to draft some piece of "bipartisan" legislative agenda. In doing so, he'll be operating in the same way that President Bush did early in his administration before he learned better. For the Kennedys, Franks, Obamas, and other folks on the left, a firm cooperative hug is merely a better position from which to insert the stiletto into your back.

  • The happiest people on earth will be David Letterman, Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart.

  • Oprah will cry.

  • Rush Limbaugh will say "I told you so."

  • American troops will get out of Iraq on about the same timetable that they would have under an Obama administration.

  • Barack Obama will not go gentle into that good night. He will not pull an Al Gore, freak out, gain 120 pounds, and jet around the world to encourage people to forsake travel for the environment's sake. He'll preserve his image in hopes of running again.

  • The NYSE will not like a McCain victory. Stocks will plummet if he wins, albeit temporarily. Eventually stock traders will trade on news other than politics.

  • Contrary to speculation, John McCain will easily outlive his term of office. Until some Democrat socializes it, for now we have the best healthcare system in the world. The President of the United States gets the best of the best. McCain would not, while serving, die of disease.

Stick around for the flip-side in part two.