Friday, January 23, 2009

Dinesh D'Souza: The Evolution of Darwin

I post this article from Christianity Today. Hopefully they will accept my appreciation for posting it here. It's a nice short article providing very useful reference information on this subject and makes for a nice addition to the record.

I've never felt a conflict between the basic assertions of evolution versus the Bible either. People, on the other hand, can take both and go places with them where neither let's them. What's new about that?

Dinesh D'Souza, a former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, is author of What's So Great About Christianity and other books.


It was in 1859—exactly a century and a half ago—that Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species. It is perhaps the most controversial book of the past millennium, and the work that has since made Darwin the patron saint of modern atheism. According to Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
Evolution does seem to turn many Christians into unbelievers. A famous example is the distinguished Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson. Evolution gave him a profound sense of intellectual liberation from his Baptist upbringing in the South. Evolution also makes some people secular evangelists for the Darwinist cause. Michael Shermer was an evangelical Christian studying at Pepperdine University when his study of evolution convinced him to give up his faith. Shermer is now the editor of Skeptic magazine.

So does a belief in evolution automatically lead to disbelief in God? Actually, Darwin didn't think that. Darwin was not an "intellectually fulfilled atheist"; rather, he called himself an agnostic. Atheists say God does not exist, while agnostics say they don't know one way or the other. Moreover, Darwin did not boast about his unbelief; rather, he approached it with marked public caution. Shocking the mores of traditional believers may be Dawkins's thing, but it certainly wasn't Darwin's.

Here we must distinguish between Darwin the scientist and Darwin the unbeliever. Darwin, who was raised Anglican and even considered becoming a clergyman, did eventually relinquish his Christian faith. But he did not do so because of evolution.

The story is told in Adrian Desmond and James Moore's authoritative biography, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. When Darwin's daughter Annie died at age 10, Darwin came to hate the God he blamed for this. This was in 1851, eight years before Darwin released Origin of Species.

Around the time of Annie's death, Darwin also wrote that if Christianity were true, then it would follow that his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and many of his closest family friends would be in hell. Darwin found this utterly unacceptable, given that these men were wise and kind and generous. Darwin's rejection of God was less an act of unbelief than a rebellion against the kind of God posited by Christianity. A God who would allow a young girl to die and good people to go to hell was not anyone whom Darwin wanted to worship.

When Darwin published his work on evolution, the American biologist Asa Gray wrote Darwin to say that his book had shown God's ingenious way of ensuring the unity and diversity of life. From Gray's point of view, Darwin had deepened man's understanding of divine teleology. Darwin praised Gray for seeing a point that no one else had noticed. In later editions of his books, Darwin went out of his way to cite the English writer Charles Kingsley, who described evolution as compatible with religious belief. To the end of his life, Darwin insisted that one could be "an ardent theist and an evolutionist."

Some of Darwin's followers, however, were attracted to Darwin's theory precisely because they saw it as helping overthrow the Christian case for divine creation. Thomas Henry Huxley, for example, noted that evolution's "complete and irreconcilable antagonism" toward Christianity constituted "one of its greatest merits."

So why didn't Darwin correct his overenthusiastic advocate? Here is where the story gets complicated. Over time, Darwin's hostility to Christianity did play a role in his scientific views. While Darwin was originally very modest about evolution—a theory to account for transitions from one life form to another—he became increasingly insistent that evolution was an entirely naturalistic system, having no room for miracles or divine intervention at any point. When Darwin's co-discoverer of evolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, wrote him to say that evolution could not account for man's moral and spiritual nature, Darwin accused him of jeopardizing the whole theory: "I hope you have not murdered too completely your own and my child." Darwin's ultimate position was that it was disastrous for evolution to, at any point, permit a divine foot in the door.

This history is important because we can embrace Darwin's account of evolution without embracing his metaphysical naturalism and unbelief. Dawkins and others like him are in a way confusing the two faces of Charles Darwin. They are under the illusion that to be an evolutionist is essentially to be an atheist. Darwin, to his credit, rejected the equation of these two stances as illogical, even if he didn't always maintain, within his own life, a clear distinction between his science and his animus toward God.

Dinesh D'Souza, a former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, is author of What's So Great About Christianity and other books.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

She Wants to be a Mennonite.

I wonder if now is a good time to get some thoughts down. It's only 8:30pm on a Thursday night. Even though I'm exhausted from trimming feet today, after acquiring Shingles about 5 days ago(that is when Chicken Pox comes back after you're 50, or even 49 1/2, in my case ), the 10 minute nap at 7pm is not going to let me sleep so maybe I'll get some things written down. The thoughts are streaming and they are the kinds of thoughts I've been looking for a chance to get on the record.

My daughter is overnight at my ministers house due to my needing quiet time to heal from working when I should have been resting. They have 11 children from 6 mo. to age 16 and are challenged, and blessed by, and ready to serve her constantly. The Mennonites specialize and excel in raising godly families. Godly families merely being those that simply pattern themselves after and imitate those people and ways that the gospel asks us to. Sometimes I wonder at their large family sizes but am always left in amazement at how well they do raising them up. This minister(servant), Jonathan Martin, came from a family of 15.

Now she's more than halfway through their '4th grade' school year after deciding on her own to go there midway through last summer vacation. She hasn't looked back. She had already asked to get rid of the t.v. many times, not even knowing it was a requirement for enrollment. In fact she talked me into it even before the issue of enrollment came up. Now it's just a distant memory of ungratifying titillation, that has finally revealed itself to her as being completely empty. Even myself, looking back, now see that it occupies a large part of ones world with mostly unnecessary clutter and requires constant maintenance to remain satisfied. I wouldn't have dreamed of asking her to give it up. At that time it was as if it was an inextricable piece of life itself. Now I can't get her to quit reading to me, or alone, singing or just playing. In hindsight, the t.v. environment seems to both of us like one big marketing scheme. It had even robbed us of our precious imaginations. An imagination and freedom that you don't know until you're free from it's mindless enchantments. Oh, it's still fascinating and full of thrilling(oh and sensuous!) things that really have no bearing on reality once it is turned off...that leave their own partly debilitating imprint on ones mind; and an empty one at that that keeps on needing to be fed with...more of the same. It's amazing how you can do without it and replace it with simply more valuable things.

She's out of there. She's fled the afflicted world to a traditional Christian community of great satisfaction to her marked by people with distinguishably godly hearts. With almost no coaxing from me. Gladly never needing to watch the High School Musical 3 to give contorted and very fleeting excitement to her life. She's found the riches of Christ and a people of God who are overflowing in them. She sees Christ reflected in them. She's in love with not only God and Christ, but a people of Theirs as well.

And they know how to do it all in the way of living a life for the Lord. They've learned from earlier pioneers in biblical living that it's possible to find all of God's rich living pleasures and wisdom in the simple and plain message of scripture and be filled up to the fullest measure in life of joy and peace in the Lord. They simply revel in pleasing and honoring the living Lord and enjoy His Life presence in their own lives. And love doing it together.

I can't begin to tell you. But I surely will as time goes on.

She gets out of school a month before the public school kids. Then during the summer she'll learn gardening and canning and producing food and livestock that fills ones life with the mysteries and magnificence of creation. She has seen large happy families with beautiful hearts born of God, who want to share their lives with her, and can't wait to one day help raise one of her own.

I've told them I can't join their church because there needs to be an online Mennonite presence. My daughter has not looked back at her prior fondness of the Internet because she prefers to do those things other ways and thereby avoid the snare and temptation of wasting her valuable time online. It's easy to do. We've all been there. Many of us keep returning there and simply don't give a good account of our time spent on the Internet. Not in relation to it's and our own potential anyway. She won't be allowed by me to use the Internet unsupervised until she's an adult. That's not to say others can't chose to discipline themselves in the use of the Internet if they'd like. We are all different. The Mennonite's avoidance of the Internet serves the purpose of not wasting time and not unmanageably putting the filth of the world in front of their children. It works for them very well. The average Mennonite family's child, it seems to me, has more knowledge of the bible than the average pastor. Almost everyone in my church could be a pastor. And raising a child to that capacity takes a wise use of the family's time.

So while we are not all 'radical disciples' and not all of us consumed with living out a sort of 'practical holiness', let us hope that we have our own regimen of following after and honoring God who appeared on earth in the flesh to make Himself and His ways known to us so that we could know and serve Him. As many of us know there is no greater joy than coming to know Him - serving Him and serving each other.

Well my Shingles are calling me back into bed for the night. Peaceful and joyous abiding in the Spirit of our living and faithful God. Todd

Friday, January 09, 2009

Interpreting "Tongues".

What are "tongues"?

"The gift of tongues" are prophesied of in the book of Mark chapter 16 verses 17-18:

"These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

The gift of tongues were displayed by the disciples on the night of Pentecost following Jesus ascension after they were delivered by God's Holy Spirit as shown in Acts chapter 2 of the Bible. It was Xenoglossy; a phenomenon in which a person is able to speak a language that he or she could not have acquired by natural means. We know they were speaking in a manner of xenoglossy by how it is recorded in the account:

Acts 2:4-8,

"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?"

11-12, "--we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

They had been filled with the Holy Spirit and received the 'gift of speaking in tongues', that is, speaking in a language that he or she did not know until that moment and could not have acquired by any other means than through an immediate gift from God. Discovering this, even the disciples were beside themselves in amazement.

What other kinds of 'tongues' are there?

There is Glossolalia. This is the term Paul used for what the people of Corinth were doing. It was a ready made Greek word for something that had been going on in other false religions since ancient times. Unknowable utterances from men to God.

What is known about Glossolalia?

The highly respected 1972 study of John P. Kildahl (The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues) concludes that "from a linguistic point of view, religiously inspired glossolalic utterances have the same general characteristics as those that are not religiously inspired." In fact, glossolalia is a "human phenomenon, not limited to Christianity nor even to religious behavior." (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements by Spittler, P. 340).

Felicitas D. Goodman, a psychological anthropologist and linguist, engaged in a study of various English - Spanish - and Mayan-speaking Pentecostal communities in the United States and Mexico. She compared tape recordings of non-Christian rituals from Africa, Borneo, Indonesia and Japan as well. She published her results in 1972 in an extensive monograph (Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia by Felecitas D. Goodman, University of Chicago Press, 1972).

Goodman concludes that "when all features of glossolalia were taken into consideration--that is, the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and its suprasegmental elements (namely, rhythm, accent, and especially overall intonation)-- she concluded that there is no distinction in glossolalia between Christians and the followers of non-Christian (pagan) religions. The "association between trance and glossolalia is now accepted by many researchers as a correct assumption," writes Goodman in the prestigious Encyclopedia of Religion (1987).

Goodman also concludes that glossolalia "is, actually, a learned behavior, learned either unawarely or, sometimes consciously." Others have previously pointed out that direct instruction is given on how to "speak in tongues," ie. how to engage in glossolalia.

In fact, it has been found that the "speaking in tongues" practiced in Christian churches and by individual Christians is identical to the chanting language of those who practice voodoo.

This is the glossolalia that the apostle Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verse 2.

2 "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries."

For the rest of the chapter, even using the Lord's own words, Paul schools us in xenoglossy - the Lord's tongues - or when, through other strange languages, by the lips of strangers, the Lord says "He" will speak to His people. Biblical 'tongues' are the Lord speaking 'to men', 'through other men'.

It's also important to note that Paul is not introducing a biblical contradiction here by showing 'tongues' as being spoken like those in 14:2, "not to men but to God", and then posting the Lord as stating in verse 21 that they are spoken "God to men". Paul is not introducing a contradiction into scripture but simply contrasting how they are being spoken in Corinth, to the way the Lord's tongues are actually prescribed by the Lord as being spoken. Paul instructs that the 'tongues to God' going on in 14:2 are, actually, supposed to be the 'tongues to the Lord's people' of 14:21, done with a corresponding edifying message in a known language.

It has been said, "tongues are a sign!". I'm sorry, "tongues to God" had been around over a thousand years before Christ, practiced by false religions, and therefore impossible to be regarded by anyone as any sign from the True God. Anyone can do them, whereas, the Lord only performs signs that no one else can do. See His words in the following verse:

John 15 15:24"If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well."

Xenoglossia is a sign from God to unbelievers; glossolalia is no sign, but merely unknowable human utterances from 'men to God'.

The recorded cases of Glossolalia go back as far as 1100 B.C. If you would care to click on this link, it takes you to an article by someone named Rene Norbergen. I have not tried to confirm all the things he asserts but don't expect a problem doing so. His references are provided.

Regarding the "Gifts of the Spirit" in general. Today all believers have the "gift" of the Spirit - all have equal and impartial access to the Lord who eagerly bends His ear when we raise our prayers and supplications to Him. We as Christians have to be careful not to put ourselves in the uncertain position, when asked by unbelievers about the available healing powers of God, of pointing to individuals we claim are given special Spiritual healing powers. There were once those disciples who healed everyone that was brought to them. Those have ceased while healing and miracles still go on today through prayer and supplication according to the Lord's will. Today, we freely go to His waiting ear in faith and thanksgiving, and ask that healing be done, knowing that our prayers will be answered according to His will, for the good of those that love Him.

I'll be developing this as time permits.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Interpreting "The Gift of Tongues".

Amidst a terrible display of my own reasonings, I've been able to go through the process of allowing scripture, and Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14, to speak it's Truth concerning 'tongues'. You'll find those reasonings in the last two posts and their 'comments'. It will be painful and cumbersome to read, but Truth reveals itself finally, and now I will try and share with you what it's taught, hopefuly not just me, but all men, in this very post, when time permits. If the Truth is well-served, then it should be a fairly brief post. The Lord is faithful. And even a lot more. Wishing you grace and peace. Todd