Monday, October 31, 2005

Be A Light in the Darkness

I have to confess. I don't like halloween.

However, as a Christian, I am told not to "isolate" my faith. I am also told not to become part of the world that rejects Christ and God's Word, the Bible. We are to "insulate" ourselves from the darkness of evil, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ with non-believers. Our Great Commission calling is to influence the world and we are to infiltrate the world with the Gospel of Christ.

I take this night as a subtle opportunity to witness to others. As the children choose their big candy bars from the bowl, I place a "Lord of the Rings" or "Tower Power" tract into their bag and tell them that it is something that they can read later.

In past years, I have seen some of the tracts torn up and/or thrown on my driveway the next day. But that's O.K. Most of them end up going home with the children and who knows where sharing the Gospel of Christ in this way might lead?

When they say, "happy halloween", I respond with, "have fun, be safe, and God bless."

There goes the doorbell again!


Thomas said...

Howdy Christine,

I'm sorry you didn't much enjoy Halloween, but I respect that. I for one am saddened by the fact that the once great pagan feast of Easter has been so Christianized in recent years. I can't in good conscience celebrate it anymore, even with a bunch of surrealist bunnies laying eggs on that holy, holy day.

Anyway, you mentioned the famous "Dr." Kent Hovind and his amazing, super-tough questions for evilutionists. I would be happy to read those questions, so that I can prepare for what's coming to me. You see, I'm going to be lecturing at a local Christian student group next week, as the sole defender of science on an "Intelligent Design" panel. I'm sure you'll agree with me that ID is a wishy-washy, watered-down version of the real deal creationism, which is outlined in the Book of Genesis (twice!) and took only six 24-hour days. Anything else is HERESY! So, hit me with your best shot.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Thomas,

Over the years, halloween has turned into such a dark 'holiday'. It is no longer just the innocent "All Hallows Eve" of my Catholic upbringing.

In fact, two days before, my daughter and I went into a costume store and there was a young man with a large satanic symbol tattooed to his calf. I suspect that you might laugh at this, but I believe there is an evil being known as satan influencing people towards evil and wrecking havoc in this world. Seeing that tattoo, representative of evil, reminded me of the recent horrendous murder of a lawyer's wife by a 16-yr.old boy who was involved in satanism. Gave me the creeps to see a teen boy in my town showing allegiance to such evil. It's not a harmless 'stage' that they go through when indulging in activity sanctioned by the prince of evil and lies.

On to a better subject.

Wow Thomas, I'm impressed that you will be on a panel speaking to (high school age?) students about EVILution! Haha...j/k. There are facts about evolution that are not denied by either Creationists or IDeists. It's mostly the extrapolation of the evidence of micro-evolution (e.g. change within a species) into the unfound and totally lacking realm of macro-evolution (e.g. no transitional fossils ever found to show evolution from one species to an entirely different species), that we see as bogus.

ID is currently an hypothesis that I think students should be exposed to. What's the harm? The errors in evolution (a.k.a. icons of evolution) have been going on for about 150 years now? Why not inject some new life into the subject of origins?

O.K. Here is the entire post as it appears on my message board. Good luck! You'll need it...

Questions for Evolutionists

By Dr. Hovind
If you think evolutionists have all the answers, try a few of the following questions on 'em.

Creation Science Evangelism -
The test of any theory is whether or not it provides answers to basic questions? Some well-meaning but misguided people think evolution is a reasonable theory to explain man’s questions about the universe. Evolution is not a good theory — it is just a pagan religion masquerading as science.

1. Where did the space for the universe come from?

2. Where did matter come from?

3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?

4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

6. When, where, why, and how did life come from dead matter?

7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)

10. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)

11. Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor?

12. Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?

13. When, where, why, and how did
a. Single-celled plants become multi-celled? (Where are the two and three-celled intermediates?)
b. Single-celled animals evolve?
c. Fish change to amphibians?
d. Amphibians change to reptiles?
e. Reptiles change to birds? (The lungs, bones, eyes, reproductive organs, heart, method of locomotion, body covering, etc., are all very different!)
f. How did the intermediate forms live?

14. When, where, why, how, and from what did:
a. Whales evolve?
b. Sea horses evolve?
c. Bats evolve?
d. Eyes evolve?
e. Ears evolve?
f. Hair, skin, feathers, scales, nails, claws, etc., evolve?

15. Which evolved first (how, and how long, did it work without the others)?
a. The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juice (stomach, intestines, etc.)?
b. The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?
c. The lungs, the mucus lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?
d. DNA or RNA to carry the DNA message to cell parts?
e. The termite or the flagella in its intestines that actually digest the cellulose?
f. The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate the plants?
g. The bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or muscles to move the bones?
h. The nervous system, repair system, or hormone system?
i. The immune system or the need for it?

16. There are many thousands of examples of symbiosis that defy an evolutionary explanation. Why must we teach students that evolution is the only explanation for these relationships?

17. How would evolution explain mimicry? Did the plants and animals develop mimicry by chance, by their intelligent choice, or by design?

18. When, where, why, and how did man evolve feelings? Love, mercy, guilt, etc. would never evolve in the theory of evolution.

19. How did photosynthesis evolve?

20. How did thought evolve?

21. How did flowering plants evolve, and from what?

22. What kind of evolutionist are you? Why are you not one of the other eight or ten kinds?

23. What would you have said fifty years ago if I told you I had a living coelacanth in my aquarium?

24. Is there one clear prediction of macroevolution that has proved true?

25. What is so scientific about the idea of hydrogen gas becoming human?

26. Do you honestly believe that everything came from nothing?

After you have answered the preceding questions, please look carefully at your answers and thoughtfully consider the following questions.

1. Are you sure your answers are reasonable, right, and scientifically provable, or do you just believe that it may have happened the way you have answered? (Do these answers reflect your religion or your science?)

2. Do your answers show more or less faith than the person who says, "God must have designed it"?

3. Is it possible that an unseen Creator designed this universe? If God is excluded at the beginning of the discussion by your definition of science, how could it be shown that He did create the universe if He did?

4. Is it wise and fair to present the theory of evolution to students as fact?

5. What is the end result of a belief in evolution (lifestyle, society, attitude about others, eternal destiny, etc.)?

6. Do people accept evolution because of the following factors?
a. It is all they have been taught.
b. They like the freedom from God (no moral absolutes, etc.).
c. They are bound to support the theory for fear of losing their job or status or grade point average.
d. They are too proud to admit they are wrong.
e. Evolution is the only philosophy that can be used to justify their political agenda.

7. Should we continue to use outdated, disproved, questionable, or inconclusive evidences to support the theory of evolution because we don’t have a suitable substitute (Piltdown man, recapitulation, archaeopteryx, Lucy, Java man, Neanderthal man, horse evolution, vestigial organs, etc.)?

8. Should parents be allowed to require that evolution not be taught as fact in their school system unless equal time is given to other theories of origins (like divine creation)?

9. What are you risking if you are wrong? As one of my debate opponents said, "Either there is a God or there is not. Both possibilities are frightening."

10. Why are many evolutionists afraid of the idea of creationism being presented in public schools? If we are not supposed to teach religion in schools, then why not get evolution out of the textbooks? It is just a religious worldview.

11. Aren’t you tired of faith in a system that cannot be true? Wouldn’t it be great to know the God who made you, and to accept His love and forgiveness?

12. Would you be interested, if I showed you from the Bible, how to have your sins forgiven and how to know for sure that you are going to Heaven? If so, call me.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth to show Himself strong to those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

Christinewjc said...

Here's an article that backs up my reasons to dislike halloween and everything evil that is typically associated with it!

Bizarre Culture

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thomas said...

First of all, Halloween...

I have no love for Satanists. You'd have to be doubly foolish to believe in all the mythical deities associated with the Christian religion, and then go ahead and choose the side which is guaranteed to lose. There aren't many people around who are THAT stupid, although I'll grant you that teenagers can be pretty dumb.

I spent Halloween watching the Charlie Brown Halloween special with my boyfriend and his family. We don't get many trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, but we do make sure to give each one a copy of Stephen Jay Gould's Structure of Evolutionart Theory. J/K!

My friends and I did share a Halloween giggle over this wonderful holiday-themed Chick Tract. Enjoy!

Christinewjc said...

Sometimes it's not that the teens are dumb, per se, but they are easily influenced into thinking something is "cool", when in actuality, it is dangerous. There have been psychological studies done that the brain functioning (hope that's the correct word to use) of children are not fully developed until they reach age 21! This is only one of a variety of reasons why I (personally) don't think that the 'teaching' of homosexuality is appropriate for K-12 children. But that is another subject for another time, perhaps.

Your link to a tract gave me an idea. I googled for a link to a site that described the tracts I had given out this year.

Take a look. Lord of the Rings

Thomas said...

Well, now for the real serious stuff...

The talk I'm going to give is going to be a brief critique of the Intelligent Design movement, at a local college organization of campus Christians. They're quite nice people, but I'll probably be the only atheist homosexual in the room -- unless I can drag my boyfriend along. Like Daniel in the lion's den, is how I like to see it -- yet these lions are more like confused little pussy cats. I'll have to make sure not to step on them.

Anyway, evolution and paleontology have been my passions since I was a young kid, so I can tell you that the notion that there are no transitional fossils is just dead wrong. I'm not an expert, just an admirer of the scientific method and the amazing fossils that have been discovered. For a detailed examination of the facts about transitional species, see the Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ at the excellent TalkOrigins website. You may also want to check out this FAQ which debunks common creationist arguments about hominid evolution.

Anyway, I'll try to tackle some of Hovind's questions, even though there are an awful lot of them. Hovind uses the common technique of hecklers to ask a million little technical questions that no one (let alone an economics major like myself) has all the answers to. Yet the answers are out there for people with the time and energy to pursue them. Other questions he asks pertain to fields of active research and ongoing controversy. Yes, controversy! Scientists don't always agree -- that's what makes it progressive and exciting, unlike the compartively stale orthodoxies of religion. That's another story...

One big problem I have with Hovind's questions is that they confound non-evolutionary questions with biology. For instance, the first three questions:

"1. Where did the space for the universe come from?
2. Where did matter come from?

3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?"

These all have to do with physics, not biology. Physics is fascinating, but most evolutionary biologists have nothing to say about it. As far as I can tell, "space" in modern physics is a very complicated field that can expand, contract, and warp itself into crazy shapes. Space, and all the energy in it, was once condensed into a infinitely compacted singularity about 13.7 billion years ago. Since that time, the universe has expanded, like leavened dough, to the point where it now consists almost entirely of empty space. We do not know whether it is infinite or finite. We can say that the nearest galaxies are all millions of light years away, and by analyzing their light we can tell that the more distant galaxies are travelling away from our own at an ever-increasing speed. The matter which makes up those galaxies is thought to have formed in the first seconds after the Big Bang, when the universe cooled a bit. Einstein's theory tell us that matter and energy are equivalent, so the matter of the universe condensed out of the enormous energy which permeated the early universe, forming electrons, protons, and other particles. After another brief period of cooling and expansion, the elementary particles combined to form hydrogen and helium atoms, the two simplest elements. That's the way things stayed for several million years, until stars began to condense out of the primordial gas. All of the more complicated elements, such as the carbon and oxygen that we animals are made of, were forged in the hearts of stars as the result of nuclear fusion, and then returned into space by stellar explosions. We can still oberve the formation of new stars from interstellar gas going on today. If you have a telescope, check out the Orion Nebula sometime this winter. It is beautiful to look at, and is one of the most active regions of stellar birth in our galaxy. So that's where the matter came from. You should check out this article from Scientific American for a great explanation of some of the common questions people have about the Big Bang.

As for the origins of the laws of nature -- who knows?! No one has an explanation as to why the universe has the laws it does -- not the God people, and not the atheists. The most interesting idea that I have heard is that all possible universes exists, and we are just one of them -- there is an interesting popular article on the notion here. Yet this is not quite science yet -- just metaphysics. It is an interesting question, but we'll have to wait and see. We don't even know what the ultimate laws of physics are yet.

Questions 4 & 5 relate more to biology:

"4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?

5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?"

It is impossible to know what Mr. Hovind means by "perfectly organized." There are different kinds of organization. Crystals are highly organized, repetive arrays of molecules, and chemists can explain why they come about (I can't). But something that is endlessly repetitive is also very simple. Matter likes to arrange itself in a low-energy state, or else it will be knocked into a different arrangement. That is why planets are quite round, but not perfectly so. An enourmous planetary lump (except at the equator) would weigh too much, and tend to collapse back to the baseline. Gravity explains the spherical nature of the earth, the moon, and the sun, with deviations that cause the equators to bulge a little. The lack of gravity makes asteroids and comets quite lumpy.

Hovind is probably talking about the complex organization we see in living organisms. This comes about by natural selection, combined with physical and mathematical laws that tend to promote symmetry, elegance, and patterned complexity.

The energy for all of this comes from the sun, which is slowly running down its supply of fuel. Without the light of the sun, all life would die, and the "perfect organization" we admire in organisms would break down very rapidly. There is a new book out called Into the Cool which talks about the ways that living things use the sources of energy available to us on earth. It is also an interesting example of how evolutionary biology is constantly bubbling over with new ideas.

"7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?"

Well, that's a toughie! ;-) I'll level with you, Christine -- nobody knows. This is the question of abiogenesis -- the origin of life -- and it is separate from the question of evolution, although obviously related. The very earliest possible forms of life must have been very simple indeed -- single molecules or chains of molecules that manipulated their chemical environments to make copies of themselves. We don't know much about the first lifeforms, because the earth has changed so much since those days, about four billion years ago. The general idea is that molecules are capable of manipulating their neighbours and rearranging their parts. They do this all the time, especially big carbon rich molecules and amino acids, which are formed spontaneously in nature. If you could have a molecule that produced a complicated chain reaction, one of its products being a duplicate of the original molecule, then you would have a replicator on your hands. Even if the first molecule was very improbable, it need only have been formed once. That molecule and its offspring would then go ahead and produce more copies of themselves, until they had filled up their little pond, and maybe the entire sea. After a certain point, they would use up the available free materials, and start competing with each other for the left overs. Any replicator that was formed incorrectly would probably not be able to replicate, and its unique shape would be lost. Yet if that change brought even a slight improvement over the original pattern, making it reproduce faster or make better use of the chemical soup, it would start to outcompete its neighbours. In time, the new and improved replicator would dominate the sea, and then it might face competition from even newer mutations. In each generation, the improvements are retained and multiplied, and the defective replicators never get a chance to replicate -- their faulty pattern is "erased from the book of life," as some would say.

That's evolution in a nutshell!

"8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?"

First we need to know that after a very long time, the replicators became quite a bit more complicated. They stored the instructions on how to make new chemical parts on a molecule known as DNA, and kept a number of spare parts floating around the DNA in a bag known as the cell. The most important fact is to know that the instructions are all that survive from one generation to the next. Everything that affects an organism's chance of survival and replication is stored on the DNA in the form of genes -- the coded instructions for making proteins, which are the basic tools of the cell. In a sense, it is a mistake to view the genes as existing for the cell's benefit; rather, the cell exists for the benefit of the genes. The cell will pass away in one generation, while the gene has the potential to endure forever, in numerous different copies on DNA molecules in other cells. Genes don't live in isolation, however -- they need the instructions found in other genes to build the living vehicles that carry them from one generation to the next. It turns out that some small one-celled organisms actually go to the level of devouring other cells to acquire their genes to combine with their own -- a sort of hostile takeover. We humans have learned to genetically engineer organisms in recent decades, and nowadays we gleefully inject cow DNA into tomatoes and human DNA into bacteria to make the proteins and chemicals we want. Bacteria sorted this out on their own long ago. Just as selfish human beings trade with one another and work together for their mutual benefit, so to did early life-forms combine forces and trade genetic secrets. This process eventually became institutionalized as sex. Genes command their organisms to find other members of their species with whom they can merge with, preferably the most succesful kinds. This leads to a new force in evolution -- the competition for mates. Dorion Sagan and Lynn Margulis have written an interesting account of this process: you may want to read their Orgins of Sex.

"9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)"

Once again, we must be careful not to ask what plants and animals "want". Most plants and animals don't "want" anything at all, if we're only talking about conscious desires. Humans are apparently the only animals to notice that breeding like bunny rabbits leads to problems down the road -- and even we do not give the problem sufficient thought. The question to ask is what types of genes will be more succesful: genes that try to maximize their number of offspring, or genes that play it prudent and think about the future. The answer is that the altruistic, small family genes will be wiped out by their greedy competitors. Each year, organisms in nature will produce too many offspring, and most of them will starve. It may be a tragic waste -- but who will survive? The survivors will be those organisms with the greediest, most fertile parents -- and these children will be cast in their mold, to do the same thing all over again, each time facing competition from the best and brightest in their generation. It is a relentless and unavoidable law of nature.

A reasonable sort of god would try to prevent this system. It leads to horrible suffering and waste all over the animal kingdom. At the same time, it leads to the production of ever more interesting and incredible organisms.

Anyway, that's enough questions for now. I'll check out the rest after I get some work done.