This journal and the ministry that produces it is dedicated to the proposition that science and faith are friends, not enemies. Our appeal is to look at the evidence fairly and openly and realize that any conflict can be due to bad science or bad theology. The problem with Expelled is that it is promoting one view of the conflict that is going on between creationists and militant Darwinists, and it pushes some viewpoints so strongly that it makes mistakes.
Stein maintains that evolutionary science leads to atheism. The problem with that view is that their are many evolutionists like Francis Collins, who are also dedicated Christians. In the film, cases of people who believe in Intelligent Design are portrayed as having lost their jobs when they suggested that evolution did not hold all the answers. Atheists are showing that many of the cases Stein portrays either did not lose their jobs, left for some other reason, or were portraying something other than just questioning Darwinism. Stein claims that Darwinism led to Hitler, but most people who have studied Hitler know that he claimed to be a Christian. Some of his colleagues used evolution in their discussions, but the bottom line is that Hitler used whatever suited his objectives--including this quote by Hitler "My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter ... How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after 2000 years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before, the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the cross" (Adolph Hitler, April 12, 1922, from The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, Oxford University Press, 1942). Such blatant distortion of the Bible has to upset any Christian, but so too are attacks on atheists and naturalists which are unbalanced, unfair, or inaccurate.
Be very careful when you watch this movie or recommend it. It is easy to champion a public work that supports some of what we might believe, but when the approach is badly slanted and bashes randomly and inaccurately it will ultimately do damage. We need to help students learn to think, look at evidence, and ask questions correctly and in a way that is constructive. A good paper on this subject is Jeffrey P. Schloss's paper "The Expelled Controversy: Overcoming or Raising Walls of Division" at www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Schloss200805.pdf.
National Geographic Backpedaling Again. In 2006 National Geographic magazine had a feature article titled "The Judas Gospel." This article portrayed this gospel as historically accurate and many skeptics used the article to bash Christianity and the New Testament as inconsistent with the evidence. Biblical Archaeology Review referred to the National Geographic article as "arrant nonsense." Other scholars have charged that National Geographic scholars mistranslated and misunderstood crucial parts of the Gnostic Text. National Geographic has revised and reprinted The Gospel of Judas saying that "mistakes have been acknowledged" including the sensational reading. The pressure on magazine publishers to come up with something new and flashy causes unfortunate material to get circulated, and in this case it is likely that many people negatively impacted by the original article will never know that it has been redone. Reference: Biblical Archeology Review, May/June 2008, page 52.
Atheist Attacks Continue. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins has now sold 1.5 million copies in English, and Dawkins has spoken to sold-out auditoriums all across the country. Seventeen hundred showed up at Stanford, and hundreds had to be turned away after a 700 seat auditorium filled at Berkeley. Thirteen hundred showed up at the University of Wisconsin. The success of the attacks on belief in God by Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris has produced a constant stream of new books which continue to flow from leading atheists attacking belief in God, biblical studies, and religion in general. A new book titled The End of Biblical Studies by Hector Avalos is the latest in this subject area. Avalos claims that the entire field of biblical studies and archeology is so riddled with shoddy practices, erroneous conclusions, political bias, and forgery that its usefulness has come to an end. Published by Prometheus Press, this book would have all learning stop and discard all of faith, biblical archeology, and theology. There is no question that there has been some unfortunate frauds and cases of poor scholarship, but learning continues and academic processes continue to root out the fakes and poor scholarship. It would seem that Avalos and his friends are at odds with everything education stands for. Source: Austin American Statesman, March 20, 2008, page B1.
Narnia Films Hits While Golden Compass Flops. In previous issues of this periodical we have mentioned the constant stream of films coming out that have faith implications. In 2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came out and earned $291.7 million and produced a whole group of sequels. The Golden Compass came out last December and grossed only $70 million and no sequels are being produced. Audiences are beginning to flex their muscles and resist the constant attack on faith, and money does speak. Maybe someday Hollywood will listen. Reference: Time, May 26, 2008, page 65.
Mecca Time, not Greenwich. Muslim scientists and clerics are calling on the world to reject Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and force the world to use Mecca as the standard for all time and location tools on this planet. Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy claims that it has been proven that Mecca is the true center of the earth and since Muslims face Mecca when they pray it should be the world standard. Muslims go on to say that Greenwich was forced on the world by the English when Britain was a colonial power. In the release, Muslims claim that Mecca is in perfect alignment to magnetic north. This is just one more example of why religion needs to be kept out of politics and other fields. The scientific data does not support the claims being made. The earth's magnetic field moves from one year to the next, so no alignment is ever possible. Reference: BCC News, April 21, 2008.
E8, String Theory, and Bad Science. We continue to have letters and e-mails making claims of discoveries in science that disprove some point we have made, or some claim in religious periodicals. Media claims of E8 as an explanation of everything known to science by studying the symmetries of an eight-dimensional lattice. This is done mathematically, and computers tell us that there are 248 dimensions in E8. We all know about the three-dimensional world in which we live, usually represented by X, Y, and Z. Sometimes time is portrayed as the fourth dimension since it can be plotted graphically against X, Y, or Z. Mathematically you can get predictions of many more dimensions, and in string theory 10 or 11 dimensions are proposed.
To be good science, something must be able to be falsified which means tested in some way. Continued attempts to get computers to make predictions have been going on for a long time, and models that fit these predictions have been made. The problem is that they cannot be visualized and tested in a rigorous way. One logic experiment is not a proof of a theory. Marcus du Sautoy, a University of Oxford mathematician wrote "Unfortunately, the consensus, after investigation, is that it is impossible to use E8 in the way [promoters were] hoping and produce a consistent model that reflects reality." When you read claims in string theory, cosmology, and quantum mechanics, do not be confused by claims that something has been proven. This is just bad science and does not meet the criteria scientists use. Reference: Scientific American, April 2008, page 30.
California Home School Fiasco. In March 2008, the California Court of Appeal ruled that parents "have no legal right to home school" their children. This reversed an earlier decision by a California Superior Court which said "parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home." One of the appellate judges referred to the "ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent." The case was brought about because a family had enrolled their daughter in a private school that assisted in home schooling. In July this same Court of Appeal revisited the case and in August ruled that "the state's education code allows parents to home school their children." In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle the author pointed out that home schooling "works and that public schools do not always provide quality education." One comment in the discussion about home schooling that should apply to public instruction is "Parents should be involved in their children's schools, with their teachers, and with their homework and activities." Due to parental involvement, this is why home schooling works so well. Had the case not been reversed thousands of students in California would have "been subject to criminal sanctions." There are several references to this case: http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=69177; http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=208120; and http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/06/23/EDHU11CC0I.DTL (an online article from the San Francisco Chronicle).
Cavemen and Race. We have maintained for many years that the various cavemen such as Neandertals, Homo erectus, Cro-Magnon etc., are just racial variations. A pygmy and a Swede are very different in appearance, but they are one species, and claims that the evolution of humans from one form to another are profound exaggerations. In Scientific American (March 2008, page 20) is a report from archaeogenetics experts saying that they have discovered genetic evidence that modern humans mated with Homo erectus. How varied the genome can be and still have fertile offspring is still being debated, but the evidence continues to grow that we are all related and that the claims of subhumans is not well supported.
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