Eugene Cho

the atheist vs christian bus: war or conversation?

christian-bus-ads-001

One of my blog readers and now newly assigned European correspondent sent us this report from the the UK about the “escalation” of the “There is [Probably] No God” Atheist Bus that I shared about several weeks ago.  In response, a group of Christians have responded in kind with the “There Definitely Is a God” Christian bus.

Mary – my European correspondent [just writing that makes this blog seem that more impressive] writes:

I don’t know much about the group that has financed this response to the Dawkins “There is no God” bus campaign, but I think it is worth thinking about the way they chose to address it.

I find it interesting that the Time article (although being a bit overly dramatic calling it the “London Bus Wars”) mentions the spread of the atheist bus campaigns all over the world.

Does this sort of campaign matter to those of us who believe in God? Should we see it as an attack or a stimulus for dialogue about God? Why does it appear that Christians (as opposed to other groups who believe in God) seem to be the most up in arms regarding the campaign (and thus are the ones who have responded with their own adverts)?

Just some questions to think about…

Couple Pennies for your Thoughts:

What do you think? Is this good? Are these as the Time articles writes the “London Bus Wars?” – a la ‘culture wars?  Or is this good cultural engagement and conversation?

My Thoughts:  I don’t think Christians need to go crazy and/or “up in arms” but see this simply as a wonderful entrance into conversation and culture.  I know that some may think the money could have been used by the Christian groups for “better” things.  And there are certainly other things but there’s always others things.  The bus ads – from what I’ve read – have sparked numerous conversations that typically would not have taken place.  They should actually be thanking the Atheist groups.  I see this as good cultural engagement -> leading to what I hope to many conversations -> leading to the Church in the UK going deeper in their commitment to Loving God and Loving People -> and Living That Out.

You can read more from Time Magazine, BBC News, and here’s one article from the Guardian.

 

The Trinitarian Bible Society, which is running advertisements on buses quoting a line from the Bible, is not a church; it is a Bible publisher. The society has asked us to clarify that its campaign is unconnected to those being mounted by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Christian party.

 

In the beginning, there was the atheist bus campaign. And it was good. Unless, that is, you were one of the many God-fearing folk who considered it blasphemy. They, however, are planning to get their own back.

A trinity of Christian groups have created their own series of advertisements to run across London buses, the medium of choice for the battle of beliefs, it seems.

The original ads from the British Humanist Association insisted: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

The new campaign is organsied by the Christian Party, the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Russian Orthodox Church. Their pro-God campaigns will run on 175 buses for two weeks from Monday.

In a somewhat cheeky move, the Rev George Hargreaves of the Christian Party has created a bus advert which proclaims: “There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.” It will run on 50 bendy buses in central London, east London and the West End.

Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church has booked 25 supersize bus advertisements, backed by a sponsorship deal with Russian Hour TV, using the line “There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.”

The Trinitarian Bible Society has taken a less temperate approach, using a line from the bible to scold nonbelievers: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,” runs the advertisement’s slogan, taken from Psalm 53.1. The church’s campaign, which like the others was booked through outdoor advertising company CBS Outdoor, runs on 100 buses.

Last month the Advertising Standards Authority received almost 150 complaints that the atheist bus campaign was offensive to Christians, and that the “no God” claim could not be substantiated.

However the ASA ruled that the campaign did not break the advertising code, concluding that the ads were an “expression of the advertiser’s opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation”. As such, it said that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause widespread offence.

Writer Ariane Sherine first suggested the campaign in a Guardian Comment Is Free blog last June, to provide a reassuring counter-message to religious slogans threatening non-Christians with hell and damnation. She wrote: “Yesterday I walked to work and saw two London buses with the question: ‘When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8) … If I wanted to run a bus ad saying ‘Beware, there is a giant lion from London Zoo on the loose!’ I think I might be asked to show my working and back up my claims.”

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31 Responses

  1. queermergent says:

    i think it perpetuates and emphasizes the Us v. Them mentality, which breeds arrogance. This is not necessary. Believing in G-D consists of faith. To say G-d definitely exists is arrogant and a turn off to many people, especially in post-Christendom Europe that is way more secular today.

    Maybe it would have been better to say ‘We believe G-D exists’, which is an opinion and less confrontational and serves to get rid of that Us v. Them mentality. This mentality divides rather that brings together.

    Just my thoughts as i process this all.

    Warm Regards,

    Adele

  2. Theresa says:

    If I recall the story correctly, the conflict initially occurred because the bus driver, a man of faith, refused to drive the bus with the Atheist ad on it.

    The angle that resonated with me most on this topic was not so much the nature of the sign and the position it took, but the quandaries of having to make such a decision – as a citizen, as a member of a larger community, as a Christian, and as a family breadwinner. To top it off, with the unemployed population breaking records in the United States upwards 11.6 million, I’m not certain what choice I would have if I were in that situation (granted, he is in the UK). The level of finesse required for any employer, whether it be organization, government or business, to successfully execute the fine balancing act of providing employees with situations where they feel that their personal beliefs are respected (or not disrespected), while at the same time trying to maintain some type of non-watered-down stance and character as a well-meaning entity that is profitable (and in this case, advertising throws a whole different level into the mix) is really too much for anyone to even want to think about, is my guess. I suppose this would be one of those cases where an employer who has a pre-established system championing employee respect and morale-building programs would probably give the driver an option to “swap” buses with another bus. I do believe that if the issue for the driver was beyond his own bus with the ad – but with the company in general – then it would be time for him to decide to leave. Just one more reason why it’s become more and more critical for corporations to adopt robust workplace wellness programs and flexibility as not just an added plus but as a necessity and for long-term survival.

    Regarding the whole issue on the ads themselves – I am not really sure how one ended up trying to counter the Atheist message to begin with, and what would actually be accomplished from the simple iteration of the fact that there “is a God.” It’s not like it’s something that the folks in the UK hadn’t heard before, not to mention the fact that there are many religions that believe in a god, and that even Jehovah without Jesus would be… pretty much a Jewish message. Regardless, it does seem like the exact type of message that Uncle Screwtape would tell his nephew in one of his infamous Letters… something about keeping people’s focus on the overt-yet-futile matters which seem important but really don’t get to the core of touching anyone’s soul – and keeping them distracted in a seemingly and deceivingly purpose-filled battle so that their efforts aren’t focused elsewhere on anything meaningful. At the end of the day, I wonder whether the message of there being or not being a God really changes anything. And it also makes me wonder what God would think looking down on this entire situation; I wonder whether He is shaking His head at the sheer absurdity of it all.

    Thanks for the post, and for allowing comments!

  3. [...] Full posting at the atheist vs christian bus: war or conversation? « beauty and depravity [...]

  4. Dadofiandi says:

    Not being a bible thumping christian myself and not a seven day creationist etc, it irks me to see the fish with darwin written in there. So i understand the knee jerk reaction but it just seems to be one side thumbing their nose at the other. I sincerely doubt anyone’s mind or heart will be changed via the bus(es).
    Good analogy Theresa with the screwtape letters.

  5. Andy M says:

    The only thing that bothers me is that this is likely to, probably already has, turn into a war going back and forth between the athiest side and the believers side, and it doesn’t go anywhere. We need to come up with a creative way to subvert the advertisements rather than just attack back with our own.

    I think that if we begin with that us vs. them mentality, then we are doing exactly what Dawkins expects us to do and then he can point at us when we get all upset and shout about how we are crazy and stupid and only harm the world, and we would sadly look the part. We need to stop being defensive, and begin to use the creativity God has given us to find a better way to share His love, for Dawkins, for athiests, for everyone.

  6. Just Meee~ says:

    One day while driving home from work, an expressway that is very busy, a billboard appeared and remained for about a month… it’s simply said:

    YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!
    ~ GOD ~

    It has haunted me…

  7. Andy M says:

    Just Meee, Just wondering, are you haunted because you believe it?

    I am personally appalled by such a message. Where is Jesus in that? Where is anything remotely like love or forgiveness in that? And I assume that that message was placed there for the sake of non-christians, but I think that christians will be held more accountable for what they do or don’t do than non-christians. Jesus reprimanded the religious leaders and his followers for their hypocrisy and disobedience, but he showed nothing but love and forgiveness to other people. I don’t think it is our place to condemn people if Jesus didn’t do it.

    And even if we look past the poor theology behind the message, what is a non-christian supposed to do if they see that message? It doesn’t mention anything of repentance or salvation, how is a person supposed to understand Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness if the only thing on the billboard is condemnation. Did it even mention a church or someone to inquire to? Talk about unhelpful.

  8. royalbblood says:

    We Cannot fight for God, He ca Fight for himself.
    However when confronted personally what we belief,As a Christian we share ,testify,tell etc others of what Christ has done for us .The Greatest evidence of God’s Existence is the proof of the change we have had personally because of God in our lives.
    Where as we mature Christians should point out to others the philosophy behind the Atheistic bus scenario.
    In Jesus day Who wanted to kill the male babies?
    It was Herod/For what reason so that his throne or power would not be jeopardize by soon coming Jewish king predicted in Bible prophecy.
    But It was the Devil behind all of that not Herod himself . So if this principle is applied then we can say its not the young lady so much the young lady who initiated the project of the Buses, But it was satan himself that is driving Atheistic thinking in modern times in modern ways.
    We cannot fight the devil, He has angelic experience and powers beyond us remember he has observe man for 4000 years (if you believe in Creation). So we leave him to do his thing .While we Christian do our thing that is spread the gospel.
    God does not force His way on us any way remember he says :Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
    Leave the decision up to the receiving audience

  9. Sue says:

    This is stupid and silly. On both sides.

  10. eugenecho says:

    What would be great if there was an actual “conversation” between these two groups? How cool would it be if a gathering was specifically designed for atheists and christians [particularly from the groups behind these advertisements] to get together for a meal and dialogue?

    That would be so cool.

  11. Andy M says:

    I agree, it would be incredible if a real discussion began. I find it unlikely, but I would love it.

    Has anyone seen Ben Stein’s “Expelled”. It is a great film about something close to this, the idea of God or at least Intelligent Design within the world of Science and Academics. I think of it in particular because he has a conversation with Richard Dawkins. Ben Stein calls for discussion, open debate and dialogue. I do hope that it does happen soon.

  12. Laura Turner says:

    1) Good thing there are no more impoverished and hungry people in the world and we can spend our money on silly bus ads. OH…WAIT…

    2) “Christian party” rubs me the wrong way, as overly politicized and creepy. Unless, of course, we are talking about brunch after church.

  13. BIG question says:

    I join millions of people who believe in God. When Christians say, I BELIEVE, it means I KNOW. I know that God IS, because I have experienced it.

    There is nothing arrogant about the statement: I KNOW that I am a human being. Because everyone agrees.

    What is arrogant about KNOWING that God IS, when one really knows? Is TRUTH not anymore truth because someone disagrees?

    I would not necessarily write all this on a bus!

    But my big question is: Are we getting INTOLERANT toward Christians in the name of tolerance?

  14. Katie says:

    Great blog and hope to have some time soon to come back and read more!

  15. Al Shaw says:

    It is perhaps worth mentioning that the first bus ads in the UK in recent times to overtly advertise a religious message were those associated with the Alpha course and have been running without controversy for several years each September.

    They take a more inquiring, “What if” approach to matters of faith and are partly responsible for the high level awareness of the Alpha course in the UK.

  16. Andy M says:

    Big question,
    I would think so. But it is a reaction to the intolerance that so many christians have shown to other people. Usually the reason it is considered arrogant to “know” God, or know He exists, is because people think if “I” know God, then I must have some kind of authority over other people, so I can tell them how horrible of sinners they are. That is arrogant.

    And “knowing” God is considered relative truth, it is relative to the person claiming it. In this society it is arrogant to claim that the God you “know” is not just relative to you, but is The God of everybody. It is difficult to speak absolutely to people who consider your absolutes to be relative.

    I’m curious about the Alpha course adverts. A “What if” approach would be better.

  17. Enos Denhere says:

    lam devout christian ,l dont smoke nor take alcohol.Thank you very much for site ,may God Bless you.lam young man aged 27 from Zimbabwe looking for christian family /indvidual to stay with me in London.l am asking for the good samaritan to assist me with air ticket ,visa expenses,assist me woman and man of God ,my ambition is to live,study ,serrve my God in Uk
    please get in touch enosden@gmail.com
    Remain Blessed

  18. [...] atheist bus ads arrive in seattle And so, the Seattle PI reports that atheist bus ads arrive in Seattle.  Remember my posts from recent months about these bus ads from the UK:  There’s Probably No God and then of course the Christian response:  The Atheist vs Christian Bus Ads… [...]

  19. [...] To support and amplify the already pervasive non-religious reputation of Seattle, the atheist bus ads are set to arrive.  To refresh your memory, read my posts from recent months about these bus ads from the U.K.:  There’s Probably No God, and then of course the Christian response:  The Atheist vs. Christian Bus Ads… [...]

  20. Gribblethemunchkin says:

    Funny how the atheist were attacked for making a claim they couldn’t substantiate but the christians then made a much more definitive unsubstantiated claim. Swings and roundabouts indeed.

    To address some commentors.
    Dadofiandi: You aren’t a creationist but many in your faith are. While you may have perfectly sensible believes about the origin of life, many of your fellow christians believe things that are manifestly not only wrong but ridiculous. These bumper stickers mock them, not you.

    Andy M: I am heartened by your response to the YOU WILL BE JUDGED sign, it is indeed horrid. However, it is also entirely accurate according to christianity. Your faith doesn’t belief in kindness and forgiveness after death, it belives in fiery torture for all eternity for nonbelievers. Gandhi and Confucious burn in hell according to christians. Hitler, as a believing catholic has more chance of a decent afterlife than Gandhi according to the bible.

    Further Andy M: Please do not treat Expelled as any kind of reliable study. Go here for more http://www.expelledexposed.com/
    Expelled seeks to legitimise intelligent design, a thoroughly discredited and unscientific idea. There is a reason intelligent design advocates don’t go far in science, it is a poorly thought out idea that does not stand up to criticism. It has been so massively debunked that to continue to hold onto it marks one as deeply unscientific. Ben Steins call for debate, discussion and dialogue is disengenuous, intelligent designers got all three at the Dover school board trial and they lost, terribly.

    Big Question: You say you know god exists. Good for you. However, you have no way to convince me based on your personal testimony. You need to show me evidence. Everything i believe is either solely a matter of opinion (such as my transhumanism) or a matter of fact and evidence. On opinion i can try and convince you and you can try to convince me but my evidence based believes (world is 4.6 billion years old, mankind evolved from bugs, etc) i can show you the evidence, the cold hard facts. You cannot show me the cold hard facts for god, you can only hope to sway me with opinion and yet you still claim that your belief in god is a truth. To a non-believer, that does indeed come across as a little arrogant, yes.

    As for the bus adverts, i think that they are great. They get people thinking and they show people that otherwise might be scared of taking the leap into atheism that there are lots of us out here. they are not alone. Admittedly in the UK this isn’t such an issue, but stateside i’d imagine it is more of a big deal, especially away from the cities.

  21. Andy M says:

    Gribble,
    To be bluntly honest, your understanding of the Bible and of the Christian God, is a poor one. Judgement, in the Bible, is not a bad thing, it is the event in which God puts the world right. And there are many different viewpoints both recent and historical, as to how Heaven and Hell come into the picture, most I would say disagree with your understanding of the bible. It sounds like your ideas came more from Paradise Lost and the Divine Comedy. The Bible is a complex book full of various kinds of literature, literal and metaphoric, that was written in the language of 2000+ years ago. Looking deeper into the bible and it’s context, it is a book about a loving, just, and merciful God that has put into action his plan to restore the world to how it should be.

    You say you are heartened by my response to the sign, “you will be judged”, but you assume that I am not aware of what the scriptures say. I have done enough studies of my faith and the scriptures to understand that there is more to it than the most vulgar and unexamined understanding which you have falsely represented as the Christian faith.

    In your opposition to “Expelled” it is clear that you are the type that the film exposes for your own unscientific bias’, prejudices and preconceptions. All Ben Stein asks for in that film is the room to have a dialogue about ID. Just a dialogue, not that we accept it.

    I think it was a very profound moment when Richard Dawkins, among other scientists, said that possibly it was aliens who “began” life on earth. He apparently doesn’t disagree on intelligent design, he just cares who’s intelligence it is. Between aliens or God, I choose God, because if both are unlikely, God is more pleasant. Because if God were the type you describe, he would have already destroyed us rather than let us mess around on earth for as long as he has. Since we are still here, I’ll give God the benefit of the doubt.

    And then there is the fact that Dawkin’s explanation of aliens being the possible “Intelligent Designer” avoids the problem of how life began. It just avoids the question, rather than answers it, because if we evolved after aliens or whatever, started the process, and they had evolved, who began their process? If aliens, then who began their process? This goes on forever. There has to be a beginning point, whether it is with us, or not.

    Oh, and the cold hard facts, I’ve never actually seen anybody really explain evolution, or several other related issues, without skipping over important details and avoiding hard questions. If the evidence is so strong, why is it not more available? Is it only the super-elite scientific atheist guys who can understand it, so we must bow our intelligence to their superiority? To me, that is how it seems. We are supposed to believe in evolution by just taking some distant scientific guy for his word in the matter and we blindly follow. I call that an intelligence dictatorship.

  22. Andy M says:

    Gribble,
    I want to add, that whatever you choose to believe, I do sincerely hope that you get a better understanding of the wealth that is in the scriptures, whether you believe what it says or not. It is easy to make claims about other people’s opinions and assumptions, and I hope that you find that people who believe in God are not just a bunch of idiots, though like any group of people we are bound to have a few. And they aren’t the ones to listen to about who God is, or what Christianity is about.

    Peace to you,

  23. R. Anderson says:

    Andy M,

    Having just recently seen the film “Expelled” I must comment on the fact that it is doing much, much more than just asking for dialogue. It makes a number of very serious claims that it either fails to back up, or backs up with misinformation and accusations.

    First, it claims that scientists are losing their jobs and being terrorized for merely suggesting that evolution may be wrong. The very first example in the film is Richard Sternberg, who claims he was fired by the Smithsonian for publishing an article supporting Intelligent Design (ID). They demanded his keys and kicked him out of his office. Banished and humiliated. This all sounds terrible, until you find out (not through the film, by the way) that he had submitted his resignation six months before the article came out. Also, they asked for his keys because they were asking for EVERYBODYS’ keys and replaced his with a smart card, the new system, they moved his office in a reorganization of departments. He still has an office there but has not used it in some time. This sort of misrespresenation continues with the other cases sited in the film.

    Second, it argues that belief in evolution automatically leads to atheism. It does this by only interviewing scientists who are also atheists. There are plenty of scientists who use and value the theory of evolution and who believe in God. My sister, a biochemist doing cancer research, is one of them. So is Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University and author of the book Finding Darwin’s God. Miller is a devout Catholic and evolutionist. There are many others.

    More seriously, the film presents hate propaganda, claiming that belief in evolution led directly to the the Nazi holocaust of the Jews. No mention of the centuries of anti-Jewish sentiment prevading Europe and European churches long before Darwin was born.

    Intelligent Design has been discussed and debated in scientific circles and, though this movie would have you believe otherwise, it is still discussed and debated. What it has not been, is accepted as a workable alternative to evolution. ID wants to be accepted without passing the rigourous tests that all ideas in science must pass.

    To try to present the Evolution/Intelligent Design issue as one of Freedon of Speech, is disingenuous.

    “Expelled” is propaganda that smears people who believe in evolution as Nazis in waiting.

  24. Andy M says:

    I disagree, on several points.

    Maybe the video didn’t show all the details about that first guy Ben Stein interviewed, but my question about what you said is, if the guy resigned, why was he still there, and why did he say the things that he said in the video? Maybe there is more going on in that situation, but your additional info doesn’t help clarify the situation. It would be worth digging into, but it is still very unclear.

    What about the other scientists in the video and their statements? Do we skip over their voices because the first guy may not have shown the whole story? Is every one of them a liar? And if you accuse them of lying, where do you get your proof? From the scientist communities that fired them, denied them tenure, among other things? Just because the institutions say that something else happened, doesn’t mean that it did. It comes down to who you choose to trust in the situation. The institution or the individual. Maybe the individuals are lying, but then we have to also consider the possibility of the institutions lying to protect their own image and integrity, which in this day in age I would suggest is likely.

    I think there is much more evidence than even the video shows that points to the fact that most of the scientific community considers the evolution debate to be closed. This may or may not mean much, but just look at our schoolbooks across the country. They do not present evolution, and various other scientific theories, as theories, but as fact. The knowledge that we as a society has deemed appropriate for passing on to the next generation is evolution, and not anything else. Teaching kids that evolution is fact is not a good way of teaching them about the scientific method, or about how to decide for themselves what is credible or not. But to try to teach something other than evolution would be a bad idea because you might be teaching religion or something. Many teachers would be scared of losing their jobs if they tried to teach about any other theories or possibilities. That doesn’t seem like there is much freedom of speech or freedom of thought.

    I do not think that the video argues that belief in evolution automatically leads to atheism. But either way, it is hard to deny that there is a very strong connection between the two.

    The film does not present hate propoganda. Nowhere did he say that evolution led directly to the Holocaust. The film points out the pure fact that evolution was an underlying belief and way of thinking that influenced the worldview of the Nazi’s. I think that believing in evolution does affect your worldview, because it affects the way you see humanity. While it does not mean that every believer of evolution must be a Nazi, it worth considering the possibility that the worldview implied by evolution, added with the centuries of anti-Jewish sentiment, helped lead to the holocaust. I mean, if the Nazi’s had believed the Biblical principle that we are all created in the Image of God, would they have dared to kill the Image of God that resided in all of the people they killed? What you believe about humanity, its origins, its current state of being, affects how you will treat other people. The film is not a message of hate. You cannot deny the fact that evolution and atheism has strong connections to some of the worst cases of oppression and violence within the last century, including the Holocaust. You can disagree with the extent of its effect upon those events, but it is a fact that the atheistic, evolution believing, nations in the world have a poor track record when it comes to human rights. I’m not even saying that they are the only ones with a bad record, but it is fair to ask the question, “Does atheism and the belief in evolution possibly contribute to these kinds of oppression?”

    Also, who gets to decide what theories get passed by the “rigorous tests”? Because honestly, evolution has huge flaws that are obviously not getting discussed. I don’t mean for this to turn into an evolution vs. ID debate, because I personally don’t care what you believe in scientifically. But let’s be fair. Evolution is a theory, and some would consider it a poor one at that. But it somehow is beyond all of the “rigorous tests”, because it is generally accepted and taught as fact. If ID doesn’t pass the tests, then I doubt that evolution would either. Just listen to the arguments of the pro-evolution crowd in the film. When it came down to hard questions about the holes in evolution, especially about how the process began, they started sounding like science fiction writers.

    Disagree with me if you want, I’m sure that you will, but don’t say that the film is hate propaganda. It isn’t, even if you happen to disagree with its message.

  25. littlejinx72 says:

    I would’ve been impressed if the Christian response bus ads had said something like, “We’re sorry. We know we’re supposed to be recognizable by our love. We’ll try to do better.” As some people have pointed out, a bus ad questioning God’s existence is no threat to any substantial faith. But it does show that we Christians often fail to live in a way that shows our religion as something positive–as something others would want to become part of. I grew up Catholic and have no plans to leave the church. But the most cruel and hateful things I’ve heard or read have come from people who call themselves “Christians.” Someone with mature faith wouldn’t need to descend into defensive and petty tit-for-tat games like “There definitely is a God” response ads. Someone with wise faith would learn from others’ negative views of us and try harder to live Christian love.

  26. R. Anderson says:

    Andy M.

    Responding to your comments regarding my concerns about “Expelled”. Regarding the other cases of scientists claiming mistreatment in the film, there is evidence to show that their stories were also not as clear cut as presented in the film. It is well presented on the following site: http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth

    As to why Richard Sternberg was still editing the magazine if he had resigned six months before: he had handed in his resignation to take effect in six months. In other words, he gave six months notice of his resignation.

    If you are interested in learning more regarding evolution and the rigourous tests it has passed there are many good resources on the net. One such site is: http://talkorigins.org

    Here is one quote of interest from that site:

    “But consider: About a hundred years ago, scientists, who were then mostly creationists, looked at the world to figure out how God did things. These creationists came to the conclusions of an old earth and species originating by evolution. Since then, thousands of scientists have been studying evolution with increasingly more sophisticated tools. Many of these scientists have excellent understandings of the laws of thermodynamics, how fossil finds are interpreted, etc., and finding a better alternative to evolution would win them fame and fortune. Sometimes their work has changed our understanding of significant details of how evolution operates, but the theory of evolution still has essentially unanimous agreement from the people who work on it.”

    In science you teach the theory that best explains the facts that are known, even if it can’t yet explain all of the facts (if we only taught theories that explained everything, we could never teach anything). Once a theory is developed that better explains more facts then it is gradually accepted and adopted as the new theory to teach. Intelligent Design has yet to present a theory that can be put to any tests. It has not yet earned itself a place in the classroom.

    Regarding evolution leading to oppression and human rights abuses: human beings will use and misuse ideas at hand to justify their actions. Religious ideas have long been misused to support things as terrible as genocides and torture. Many Nazis were Christians. Their religious beliefs did not prevent them from carrying out atrocities. It is as fair to ask if religious ideas contribute to these horrible actions. I would suggest that this kind of argument only leads us back to the capacity of human being to do terrible things to each other (and to justify the actions with whatever ideas they can).

    To present evolution as a main cause of the holocaust, as this film did, is misleading. You may not have seen this as inciting hatred, but some came away from the film seeing people who believe in evolution as responsible for the holocaust and expressing anger and hatred at them. Here is a letter that was sent to Michael Shermer after the film:

    “Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing. We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!”

    When Shermer wrote back asking if he had just seen “Expelled” the letter writer responded that he had and that: “Things began to make sense once I saw the movie and I am just appalled. I have learned a lot from Ben Stein, a Jewish brother, who has opened my eyes up a bit.”

    This information is from: http://richarddawkins.net/article,2488,Open-Letter-to-a-victim-of-Ben-Steins-lying-propaganda,Richard-Dawkins
    The site also includes a response to the letter writer from Richard Dawkins.

  27. Andy M says:

    I hate it that people are ignorant enough to misread what the film said, but the film did not say that evolution caused, or even was the main cause for the Holocaust. Many things led up to that point, the worldview and understanding of humanity that evolution provides was a part of it. There was even an old Nazi propoganda video that they show in “Expelled” that shows how the Nazi’s used the idea of natural selection as their basis for Jews being inferior.

    The film does not say that evolution was the main cause of the Holocaust, but that it was a cause. And just because some idiot misunderstood the film and started putting Nazi ideas into the mouths of current day evolutionists does not mean that the film said the same.

    The reasons Dawkins tries to redeem evolution in the letter he wrote are things that are true, but are missing the point. Of course Darwin didn’t put Hitler in power. Of course Hitler was driven, as many were, by anti-semitism that was widespread. And of course the theory of evolution was not meant to be a form of racism. But there is without a doubt a connection between evolution and the reasoning behind the Holocaust. So let’s ask why.

    The idea of natural selection was not intended to be a reason for racism. But it does have an effect upon how we look at humanity. To simplify natural selection is to basically say “survival of the fittest”. Now, in an uninterrupted world where things happen naturally this can make sense. But add in humans who tend to live rather unnaturally. All it takes is for some people to declare that “we” are the fittest, and “they” (Jews, blacks, hispanics, etc.) are inferior. This thinking at best leads to the most simple of racist behavior and at worst leads to the Holocaust. They had their idea of who the “fittest” were and everyone who didn’t fit into that category was considered second rate, or even a sub-species.

    Now again, of course, that was not the intention of the idea of natural selection, but it is a result of what humans can do with it. But looking at other idea’s about humanity, you would end at very different conclusions. Like if you believed, like the Bible, that all people were created in God’s image and were meant to be a reflection of the love and truth of God, then you would never end up at the conclusion about humanity that the Nazi’s did.

    Evolution is a particular way of understanding humanity that inherently has the possibility of humans using it against other people who they decide is inferior. It was not it’s intention, but it is possible with humans. There are many ideas out there that have been used as reasons for oppression and genocide, but some ideas are easier to misuse than others. It would be rather difficult to use the “All humans are made in God’s image” idea for genocide. But it would not be quite so hard to use the idea of natural selection, as I have shown.

    Maybe you took the film incorrectly in it’s assertion that evolution, with implied human interactions with it, can help lead to such atrocities as the Holocaust. And Dawkin’s and all the other evolutionists forever repeating that there is no connection between the two just doesn’t seem to erase the fact that there was indeed a connection. This is not much different than the people who misread the New Testament and use it as a reference point for anti-semitism. That was not the intention of the Gospels, nor of the authors, nor of God. But people incorrectly use it that way.

    Just because some people took the film the wrong way does not mean that the film said or did what they say it said or did.

    And while I can’t be certain of this, I’m sure that someone like Richard Dawkins is just upset that Ben Stein made him look like an idiot. But that is just simply a byproduct of asserting that aliens created life on earth. You don’t have to try hard to make someone who believes in aliens (and says so in public)look stupid.

  28. Andy M says:

    By the way, I appreciate that you gave a few resources to look at the issue.

    But I will say that so far I am unimpressed with the talkorigins.org website. I have not dug into it much really, but when I read the page that talked about evolution as fact as opposed to theory, it really just seemed a bunch of scientists who kept asserting that evolution is fact, while not giving any reasons for it. Saying something a lot doesn’t make it true. I’m sure that they do have reasons, but if the website wants to show the factness of evolution, they are going to have to do better than that.

    There are many other scientists out there that would say that evolution is a theory, and some would say it is not even a very good one. Who decided that their voices don’t count?

  29. R. Anderson says:

    Andy M,

    It is a sadness to me that people look at the theory of evolution and misread it as the “survival of the fittest” and then go on to interpret ‘fittest’ to mean strongest. Fittest, in regards to evolution means that most able to survive and reproduce most successfully. There are many things that allow one to survive and many of them include co-operative behaviors and moral virtues.

    You said, “If you believed, like the Bible, that all people were created in God’s image and were meant to be a reflection of the love and truth of God, then you would never end up at the conclusion about humanity that the Nazi’s did.”

    And yet sadly, many Christians who could be expected to hold this belief were Nazi’s or supporters of the Nazi regime. The German soldiers’ belt buckles read “Gott Mit Uns” – God is with us.

    My point is that religious and scientific ideas have been used and abused for oppression, so this is a bit of a red herring to club evolution with.

    Just one more point and then I will retire from this discussion. I think it is a misrepresation to say that “evolution is a particular way of understanding humanity”. Evolution is a way of understanding the change in species over time, how species have adapted and continue to adapt to changing environments.

    I have appreciated your considered responses, though I do disagree with you regarding the film’s intentions and presentation.

    We have probably kept this thread off track for long enough. If I don’t respond to future posts it is due to lack of time and not a snub.

  30. Andy M says:

    When I said that evolution is a particular way of understanding humanity, what I meant really was that while evolution is what you said, from the purely scientific point of view. Evolution was not just about humanity, but because of the conclusions it does come to about humanity, its origins, its nature, it is in fact a way of understanding humanity. There are many things that whether or not they were intended for a single particular purpose, they actually have an affect on many other things that were not part of the initial purpose.

    One thing I have noticed recently, I see that documentaries are made to be dramatic, made to catch your attention. While I was watching The End of America, I felt that it was a bit overly dramatic, but that doesn’t nullify their argument. And honestly, if it wasn’t a bit over-dramatic it probably wouldn’t get watched. A sad reflection on the desensitized society we live in that you must make almost outrageous statements just to get people just a little interested. Sadly, a small effect of that means that a few people are going to misunderstand the film then be over-zealous about the wrong thing, like that guy who wrote Michael Shermer. I do not believe that Ben Stein would have wanted that kind of reaction to his film.

    Maybe what the evolutionists should do is make their own documentary where they actually show some of the evidence for evolution. Maybe that wouldn’t leave people like me who basically see most of the evolution talk as elitist scientists who continually assert that evolution is fact while never showing one bit of evidence for it, and expect everybody to essentially bow at their supreme intelligence and accept their every word as unquestionable fact. I’m exaggerating a bit here but seriously, when I find myself listening to a serious evolutionist, I start wondering how many PhDs I would need to understand evolution as they do. Does it only make sense after the 4th PhD? Their inability to explain evolution in a way that most people can understand (without condescension or talking over people’s heads) will be a big thorn in their side.

    But one way or another, what bothers me is not so much what happens in higher education so much, as what happens in K-12th grades. Kids are being taught what to think, not how to think. They are being told the “facts” instead of how to interpret and understand what is fact. There was a time when people thought the the earth was flat, as a fact. A time when people believed that the sun sent around the earth, as a fact. Which tells me that some of our “facts” are probably still theories and we just aren’t aware of it yet.

    Anyways, this comment ended up way longer than I meant it, and I probably have other things I need to do as well. I appreciate the discussion and a variety of opinions as well. It is because of different opinions and ideas that we are challenged, which is a good thing.

    Peace,

  31. R. Anderson says:

    Article of interest on animal behaviour and conservation biology (which draw heavily on evolution in their practice) being taught to inmates and how it has helped them build healthy relationships.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20127006.700-the-benefits-of-science-behind-bars.html

    If we understand animals in the real world better, seeing humans as part of the animal world can help us work together better and treat each other better.

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It's a privilege to travel but there's something special about returning and your heart says, "Home sweet home." #seattle What a joy to celebrate Dr. John Perkins' legacy this week. Like many others, he has been a deep inspiration to me. 
When I finished the first draft of my upcoming book, OVERRATED, he was one of the first folks I showed it too. 
He wrote back with the following endorsement: "We are called to give ourselves to our generation, and Pastor Eugene's work here in OVERRATED is exactly that. This deeply personal narrative takes readers on a lived journey of wrestling through the realities of being a justice fighter today. I've given my fifty plus years to this fight, and his story is my story. I believe it may be yours as well. I encourage all believers to read OVERRATED. It lays a course for how we must proceed as humble but faithful justice leaders in an unjust world." Needless to say, I'm humbled by his endorsement and words of encouragement. It was painful to complete (and I'm still working on final edits)...but I CAN'T wait to share the book in September when it releases. Wow. Blessed are the artists that help others reimagine the Gospel. #HeIsRisen #questchurch Amazing Resurrection celebration service. Especially love celebrating Communion every Sunday. Today, hosted a super Feast with bread from many different countries. #HeIsRisen Don't rush too soon to the empty tomb. Reflect on the cross. Thank you, Jesus, for your life & love. Thank you, Jesus, for you have redeemed this day of injustice and violence to be "good." You are truly the Light of the world. #GoodFriday Layover. San Francisco. Having grown up here, my heart still flutters. No other city like it.

my tweets

  • Travel is a privilege but always special flying back & your heart sings, "Home sweet home." instagram.com/p/nMMPiUSWVy/ http://t.co/bm61XOe8h4 || 9 hours ago
  • "Don't mistake God's patience for His absence. His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He's always with you." - Deut. 31:6 || 14 hours ago
  • Beautiful. 29 churches have raised $128K. Amidst the Oso Mudslide tragedy, humbled by collaboration and generosity: wp.me/pT6R-2WC || 14 hours ago
  • About to preach in Minneapolis. Pray that in proclaiming the Gospel, I may honor God, be led by HolySpirit, & simply direct people to Jesus. || 18 hours ago
  • Be humble. Stay humble. Walk humbly. And kick butt. Then give God all the glory. || 1 day ago
  • The book was painful to complete (and I'm still working on final edits)...but I CAN'T wait to share the book in September when it releases. || 1 day ago
  • I nervously showed @JohnMPerkins a draft of my upcoming book, OVERRATED. He wrote the following endorsement: instagram.com/p/nJoXdUSWQy/ #Humbled || 1 day ago
  • "Waiting time is not wasting time. Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life." ~ Henri Nouwen || 1 day ago

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