Challenging Darwin

It is about time you published helpful articles on evolution, such as Thomas Woodward’s on Phillip Johnson’s challenge to Darwinism [“A Professor Takes Darwin to Court,” Aug. 19]. It is well documented that it is very difficult to achieve tenure in a secular university if one is open about not accepting the Darwinian philosophical orientation.

I queried a well-known agnostic biologist I once had the pleasure of working under, when I found out he did not accept evolution. I asked him how he could come to that conclusion. He stressed that, in his opinion, evolution was empirically wrong and, at best, “comic book science.” I had assumed that rejection of megaevolution automatically made one a creationist, but he replied that the best and the most scientific answer is that we don’t know how the basic forms of life got here, and it is far better simply to stress what little we don’t know instead of trying to cover this with dubious, or what he considered wrong, answers.

Many reviews of Johnson’s book are either very laudatory or attacks that are inappropriate for gentlemen, let alone esteemed scientists. One who is aware of the data realizes this is the only way it can be. Until we deal openly and objectively with all of the known facts, the question will not be resolved.

Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.

Northwest Technical College

Archbold, Ohio

Your review is a welcome wake-up call to Christian unity on the sometimes divisive creation/evolution issue. Johnson makes two key points with forceful clarity: (1) While evolution is a word of many meanings, Darwinian evolution is a mechanistic process without purpose, plan, or any meaningful role for a creator; and (2) Darwinism is a philosophy masquerading as science.

John L. Wiester

American Scientific Affiliation

Buellton, Calif.

Darwin on Trial is worthy of Saint Paul. That book review alone justifies my subscription for the year.

Dan Lyons

Catholic Communications

Bloomsbury, N.J.

None of the three responders mentioned an even more devastating attack on Darwinism: from mathematical calculations of natural selection as an explanation of modern man and his achievements—that a team of monkeys sitting at typewriters and randomly hitting its keys would eventually type out the Encyclopedia Britannica. Mathematicians would agree, but add that the time required for this, with any reasonable probability, would be many, many times greater than the longest possible age of the Earth as postulated by geologists.

A hurricane swooping down on a junkyard and in one hour whomping together a fully completed airliner ready to carry several hundred passengers into the sky would be a better illustration. This goes much further than demonstrating Darwinism to be a nonscience; it simply destroys its credibility. But undoubtedly it will be a combination of these two approaches that will finally do in the great Darwinian aberration.

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Henry Williams, Ph.D.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Selfishness as truth

Donald Bloesch’s article, “Lost in the Mystical Myths” [Aug. 19], is excellent in showing how selfishness masquerades as truth and plays on the vanity of humans. This modern attempt at spirituality is merely a resurrection of the old lie “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). It is impossible to find God by focusing on oneself. God is a real being, existing apart from humankind.

James A. Supensky

Kettering, Ohio

Wildmon’s tragic/comic efforts

Your August 19 cover was most appropriate—Donald Wildmon as a cartoon gunslinger, armed with a remote control, facing villainous television sets in his own zany, little ghost town—a fitting symbol of the evangelical world in its tragic/comic attempts to confront the entertainment-industry giant [“Taking on TV’s Bad Boys”].

As a committed Christian in television, I have watched with sorrow as Wildmon and others have boycotted their way to notoriety. Their rhetoric and strategies indicate a stunning ignorance of how television really works. Imagine trying to change the moral fabric of Saudi Arabia by boycotting Shell gasoline in Iowa! As an isolated culture, Hollywood is almost as far away.

The church has a choice. It can view Hollywood as either a mission field or a battlefield. Led by “gunslingers” like Wildmon, the choice has been the latter. No wonder the failure has been so miserable. Their only weapons are fear, threats, and arrogant posturing. The leaders of the industry understand those weapons well. Compared to their expertise in such warfare, Wildmon is like a child with a toy gun.

Speaking from the “inside,” I can tell you that Wildmon and his concerns never enter the minds of those who truly create and control prime-time television. Corporations and advertisers do not control programming. People, with all their sins and anger and heartaches, personally create what appears on your screen. For better or worse, what you see comes from the heart. Can you bully a broken-hearted, angry person into a new life? Through the intimidation of a boycott, can you give him a heart out of which will flow the programs you want to see?

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The tragedy is that in the frenzied battle to recoup “traditional family values,” the mandate of the Great Commission has been lost. Wildmon and the leaders of the evangelical world have never understood that the way to reach the heart of Hollywood is not through boycott, but by the servanthood of the Cross.

Coleman Luck

Burbank, Calif.

Heeding what we sow

I suppose I must qualify as one of those “loudly and confidently shouting” ignoramuses Michael Mangis refers to in his review of Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen’s Gender and Grace [Books, Aug. 19]. But how can “natural revelation”—empirical observations in our physical world—add to God’s root imperative to humanity beyond his own personal direction? No amount of observation of genetics, hormones, biological differences, and such physical manifestations in the human body will tell us what God commands the soul that inhabits that body. Nor can cultural and sociological observations (which tell us what we do) translate into imperatives (which tell us what God wants us to do).

Is it possible that when God made us male and female in his image this included our souls as well as our bodies, that there is more dimension in his will for the two genders than physical observation could ever reveal? Of course, this would imply “inequality” (in the sense that the genders are charged with distinct imperatives, not that one is categorically “less” than the other). But as C. S. Lewis showed in his essay “The Grand Miracle,” it is only inequality perverted to diabolic purposes, not inequality per se, that causes injustice and misery. Someone (rightly) concerned with the woes of children’s gender insecurity ought, I believe, to pursue a course that seeks to turn social gender-role distinctions to the service of God and from the service of Satan, rather than undermine them. Human society is the only visible safety net for gender identity in a fallen world distanced from God. It pays to heed what we sow; we will reap it.

Daniel R. Levy Lisle, Ill.

Vissers first CETA president

I am grateful for Randy Frame’s generally accurate article regarding the formation of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association [News, Aug. 19]. I am sorry, however, that the impression was left that I was elected its first president in May 1991. Let the record show that Prof. John Vissers of Ontario Theological Seminary worked hard over several years to form the group, and he was elected its charter president in May 1990. I am honored to succeed him.

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John G. Stackhouse, Jr. The University of Manitoba

Winnipeg, Man., Canada

A. N. Wilson: Media gadfly

Here is some perspective on Britain’s A. N. Wilson [“Book on Jesus Stirs Outrage,” News, Aug. 19]. Besides being a wildly prolific novelist and a media gadfly with a hornet’s sting, Wilson is also a secular religious pundit. Like Madonna, he thrives on outrageous behavior and notoriety. Now he has announced his disbelief in God. In an interview in Britain’s Church Times (Feb. 1) he says breezily, “A blessing of my present state of mind is that I feel very close to the bishops: none of us believes in God.”

One can admire Wilson’s journalistic chutzpah and his phenomenal mental energy without taking his one-man show seriously. As a TV critic sighed recently in Private Eye, “What will he choose for the next turnaround? Islam? A sex-change?”

Kathryn Lindskoog

Orange, Calif.

Tillapaugh resignation voluntary

Your reporting of Frank Tillapaugh’s affair and resignation could have misled readers [North American Scene, Aug. 19]. Frank was not “forced to resign”; rather, he willingly and voluntarily submitted his resignation.

Jeff Giles, Executive Pastor

Bear Valley Church

Lakewood, Colo.

Aguilar a “truly successful pastor”

In reading “Biker Pastor Hits Rough Road” [Aug. 19], I did not know whether to laugh or become indignant. Anyone who knows the situation as I do will react to charges of dictatorship, slave labor, and Phil Aguilar’s luxury living with scorn or compassion. He is a truly successful pastor, not a pastor-entrepreneur. He draws no salary, expense account, parsonage, or car allowance. He is not building equity under any pretense, excuse, or device. I wish I could say the same for all or most, or even some, of the luminaries I know in the Christian constellation!

Set Free is no perfect paradise, and errors have been and will be committed. But anyone repeating these charges without really knowing is either misinformed, ignorant, or malicious.

Israel Carmona

Corona, Calif.

Presbyterians in agreement

The statement by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America [as reported in News, Aug. 19] says it is a “distinctly different denomination” from the PCUSA and “reaffirms that sex is a gift from God which should be expressed only in marriage between a man and woman. Therefore all sexual intercourse outside marriage, including homosexuality and lesbianism, is contrary to God’s Word (the Bible), and is sin.” One is left with the erroneous impression that the PCUSA has taken a different stand. The PCUSAis distinctly different from the PCA in some regards, but not on the issue of sexuality. The most recent General Assembly of the PCUSA in Baltimore basically affirmed everything quoted in the PCA statement.

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As an evangelical pastor in the PCUSA, I often work alongside PCA pastors and churches, and sometimes I disagree with them. But please don’t make it look like the two denominations are at odds on the issue of human sexuality.

Dr. Ronald W. Scales

Central Presbyterian Church

Baltimore, Md.

Scotland’s great contribution

Thank you for your one-page article in honor of the late James S. Stewart [From the Senior Editors, July 22], Scotland’s great contribution to the pulpit ministry in the twentieth century. Richard Longenecker voiced the opinion of countless ministers in America for whom Stewart’s preaching, testimony, and deeply Christian example were an enduring inspiration.

Donald Macleod

Princeton Theological Seminary

Princeton, NJ.

I Sing the Hymnal Electric

Pity Miss Hedwig Bleifuss, our organist at First Church. She may be out of a job. Not for a lack of enthusiasm, mind you. In fact, that’s the problem. Miss Bleifuss plays the hymns at a remarkable clip, considering her age and lack of sure-footedness. Something about the pipe organ seems to energize this frail, little woman, allowing her to play “Abide with Me” at the tempo of “The Flight of the Bumble Bee,” and “Majesty” with all the fury of “Ride of the Valkyries.”
Our panting pastor and breathless congregation may have found a contemporary option other than Miss Bleifuss. While she is on vacation, we are experimenting with a remarkable “advance” in church music technology.
We figure there’s nothing like an electronic gadget to announce that a church has entered the twentieth century. And now some Silicon Valley electronics company is letting us “test drive” a device that can be hooked up to your electronic keyboard (you know, those disembodied rows of keys, unattached to pipes or strings, that some rock groups pile three deep) that is programmed to play hymns without anyone’s fingers having to touch the keys. And, unlike Miss Bleifuss, it can be controlled. It can be set to any tempo, can transpose hymns into keys that don’t make you strain at the chorus, and can be preset to play the number of verses you want to sing, rather than the number the hymnal editors thought you ought to sing.
Mind you, we are strictly experimenting while the redoubtable Miss Bleifuss is off to visit her sister for a few weeks. Before she returns, we’ll know whether the congregation can agree on hymn tempos and keys better than they can come to a consensus on where to set the thermostat. If they do, it will be a miracle. And if they don’t, our organist won’t have to worry. Either way, Pastor will just have to take the heat, and learn to take deep breaths between verses.


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