Tuesday, February 28, 2012


HUG brought this to my attention the other day. By now it is headlines. I didn't plan on commenting on it but it fit into this discussion about apologetics.

Ricky said over the weekend that Obama wants all our children to go to college, where their religious faith is taken away.

Now, lots of people, including good Christian blogs are looking at this statement head on. But I wanted to take the tangential look.

You see, the blame doesn't rest on the back of our friend Mr. Santorum. He is, by profession after-all, a politician. The job of a politician is to get elected and to stay elected.

Rick is a smart man. I don't blame him for this statement. It is part of his strategy to steal the most vulnerable Republican votes away from Romney. Mr. Romney's weakest side, within the Republican tent, are the Evangelicals. The evangelicals would only vote for Romney while pinching their noses because he is a Mormon.

So the question isn't what was Rick thinking?  The real question is why is Rick right in his belief that such statements, about education, will attract more Evangelicals?

Just before I left my old Evangelical church, and the event that led up to that (in a long line of things) was a film series by Ken Hamm on evolution and creation. It was horrible. I felt like I had been zapped back to the Dark Ages. Rev Hamm is a Rev and not a scientist. He is also a mind-entertainer, where he fools you into believing that he is teaching you something.

At the end of that series, we finally had an hour discussion time.  I was so disgusted that I wanted to keep quiet. I knew if I spoke, I would be the minority and seen as spiritually inferior.

But then something happened. As Ricky mirrors, our head elder and football coach (whom I do love and admire as a man) spoke up.  He said basically what Rick said. Something to the effect, "The reason that we are loosing all our kids today is that we are sending them to college where they are learning evolution instead of Jesus. We also have been too soft on them, allowing them to pick their music and books and stuff."

I spoke up.  I said, "The reason the kids are leaving the church is that they have an intrinsic desire to know truth and when we lie to them, and they figure it out, they want nothing to do with church anymore."

Of course people were instantly disgusted with me. The coach then added, "My Bible agrees with Mr. Hamm, that the earth is 6,000 years old. God said, I believe it and that settles it. If you (looking at me) don't believe the Bible, then, I'm not sure how you can say you are a Christian."

I was depressed.  I knew that day that I had to leave that church. It was killing me.  I discussed it with my wife over lunch. She was equally mad at me for being the trouble maker that I am.

But here is my point.  There is something seriously wrong with any form of Christianity that believes that the way we win the souls and minds of anyone is by keeping them ignorant. This is the same thinking as the Taliban. The Church wasn't always that way. Remember the Ivy League schools, with their very high standards of learning were started by thinking Christians . . . some ministers.

This takes me back to my last post. If God is there, then he is real. If He is real, then learning and knowledge (different from brain-washing) will bring us closer and closer to Him.  I wish that all Evangelical kids could get a PhD from Harvard. It wouldn't make them worse Christians but better Christians. However, if we lie to them . . . telling false things about science (as Mr. Hamm is fond of doing) and then they find out the truth . . . yeah, they will walk.


Eagle said...

Ah...but MJ fundageliicalism needs people to be ignorant. They need people to live in the 1500's. Why...? It's simple...they can be controled, and its the lazy thing to do. Critical thinking skills really don't exsit today. They won't work for a Christian in a faith that has to live in this "either/or" context.

For example one cannot be a Christian unless the believe in YEC.

Or...one must believe in the pre-trib rapture to be an orthodox Christian.

One can't say otherwise. People have to fall in line, whipped in shape. Many fundy churches should add to theri doctrine statement the following:

"The beating will continue until moral improves..."

trevor said...

Good points, MJ. If Christianity really is about Truth, then we should not be afraid to seek truth aggressively, fearlessly, and humbly. It's why I liked working with research scientists: when the observed facts contradict your favourite theory, there's no shame in saying 'well, I believed this strongly but it turns out I was wrong.'

If we don't think that our faith can withstand rigorous questioning, probing and testing, then I guess we don't think very highly of it at all.

Philip said...

"If we don't think that our faith can withstand rigorous questioning, probing and testing, then I guess we don't think very highly of it at all."

You nailed it Trevor. I think that the "fundagelicals" Eagle describes above are afraid of doubt partly because they believe in a small God. I know I've been guilty of this a lot.

I work with youth in a para-church outreach, and one of the main things youth need to hear today is not a defense of God (like he needs us to defend him), but an affirmation of their doubts and questions and seeing how the gospel engages those very questions.

Heck as Christians we're so worried to ask or say the wrong thing, not because we honor God, but because we fear what people will think of us. In the Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Job we see the very opposite! (Sorry about the tangent.)

Philip said...

Oh and I think I should take it a step further: the reason we so often hush questions and doubt is precisely because we don't believe God is real. MJ's point exactly.

Ken said...

Unfortunately your assessment is all too real. Some of my friends and I were thrown into a real tizzy in the 1980s when we discovered that the likes of Mr Hamm were really more like Mr Bean rather than the Einstein that they pictured themselves to be. We were all in the middle of science degrees.
Fortunately some of us made it through, having to examine our faith more deeply.

It was quite the journey. Unfortunately too much roadkill along the path.

peaceofchange said...

"There is something seriously wrong with any form of Christianity that believes that the way we win the souls and minds of anyone is by keeping them ignorant."

Totally agree! Absolutely!!

However, what I am confused about is your statement about our kids leaving the church because "they found out we lied to them".

I will confess that I do not have an opinion on the Young earth/old earth...I've heard both sides and I don't know...I just don't care.

One of the things I do understand is that both creationism and evolution are a theory. A person can choose to believe either one. Educated decision or not.

I guess what I am saying is that if a pastor stands in the pulpit and says we have a young earth...that is his belief. How is that lying to our kids when evolution is a theory as well?

I mean, when the rubber meets the road, nobody knows for sure. It's all faith.

jmj said...

I've gotten strong reactions when I've used the word "lie" before (during personal conversations) so might seem harsh. But what I really mean, are the real lies that we tell. I'm not saying that Young Earth concept itself is a lie. I can respect you for believing in a Young Earth. But I've been involved (back when I was a Young Earth person)with groups like Creation Research Insititue and then there's Ken Hamm. When you twist the facts to support your position, you are lying.

We lie to our youth in many more ways. We make them think that we, their parents, are more godly than we are. We fake motives all the time. The youth figure it out and it is when they figure it out, they walk.

The first time I wanted to leave Christianity is when I found a huge stash of hard liqueur basement, when they were tea-totting anti-alcohol Bible Belt Christians on the surface.

So, you can be a young earth person and that is not a lie. You have to believe that God created the earth to look old. For example the 400,000 years of annual rings or layers in ice core samples, not to mention the other proofs of old earth (much older than 400,000). But is is possible that God created the earth 6,000 years ago and just wanted it to appear old, for some odd reason. But if you say the annual ice core (Greenland for example) have been created by the atheists . . . then you are lying and the youth will find you out.

jmj said...

I'm sorry Peaceofchange, I wrote that last comment in a rush as someone was saying hurry!

First, the finding the alcohol was in my parent's basement and, on the surface, they pretended to hate people who drank.

So, what I was trying to say is that being a young earth believer is fine. Not giving a rat's ass about the age of the universe is swell. But the lying is the actually lying. Where, on either side, you make up stuff to support your position and in my humble opinion, the young earth people do quite a bit of lying.

Now regarding the "who cares about the age of the earth" position, again that is fine. That is not the problem.

I use to come home from Sunday school so frustrated and my wife would get mad at me and say, "Who cares about the age of the earth!"

But the problem was, while she was off in her women's Sunday school studying the wonderful life of Elizabeth Elliott and all the women loving and supporting one other, I was upstairs with the men. There, I was the only one who did not believe in a young earth. I didn't bring it up. They brought it up. They showed the movies and had the discussion. I tried to keep my mouth shut as much as possible.

The problem was, week after week I was being told by all the men of the church that I was at best a very bad Christian, and the chief elder suggested that I wasn't a Christian at all. This is what really hurt and frustrated me.

I had complete respect for the fact that they could be wonderful Christians and still believe in a young earth. But they could not reciprocate. It was worse when they said we must mandate that our kids see a young earth.

I hope that makes sense.

peaceofchange said...

I think it makes more sense now. In my journey of questioning my faith and all that I had been taught as a child, the YE/OE never mattered to me because I didn't feel that it affected my Christianity. I feel that it is something, if the mood strikes me, I will study later...just for fun...not for salvation. It is sad that you were treated that way by the men in your SS...I don't believe there is an excuse for their behavior, but if I were going to question someone's Christianity, it would be over something like the deity of Christ or the resurrection or something like that...not a young or old earth...thanks for taking the time to clarify.