Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

This Christian conference is a scandal and a waste of time. Discuss.

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October will feature a meet called “The Vibrant Dance of Faith & Science II in Houston, Texas, offering “respectful conversation” about “Creation: Biblical Options, a gracious dialogue.” Co-sponsored by Christianity Today International and Fuller Theological Seminary, the literature features Senior Editor Andy Crouch welcoming prospectiveattendees, asking “Why is it so important for Christians to be able to discuss these issues with Grace?”:

Cultural assumptions are all the more fascinating when one doesn’t share them. Consider these:

🙄  The editors at Christianity Today recently portrayed Adam and Eve (whom Christians worldwide have assumed to be our parents) in a coarse way, to stress that they are really kin to apes – not perfect creations of God. Yet they assume the role, with no sense of irony whatever, of moral authority about “gracious” and “respectful.” Could you cut this with a chain saw? A laser?

Other cultural assumptions that I, for one, don’t share: Crouch goes on:

Christianity and science are like neighbors who share a long, contested border. At stake in the way we relate to our scientific “neighbors” are matters of ultimate concern, including the credibility of Christianity and the flourishing of human beings as the image bearers of the world’s Creator and Lord. Yet, precisely because of our faith, we are able to engage these significant issues with grace instead of legalism, hope instead of fear, and love for our neighbors, both in the secular world and within the diversity of the Christian community.

🙄   Ultimate concern for “credibility” in the eyes of the world? Being all too familiar with the Velvet Oppression (which Christianity Today itself published!), I am not the least concerned with credibility. People decide to be Christians when they discover facts that I can’t represent for them, no matter what. Any time Christians must impose a new vision, we look incredible (and dangerous) to the guardians of dead ideas. And so? You thought you would look like the young Marlon Brando?

🙄  grace instead of legalism, hope instead of fear, and love for our neighbors, both in the secular world and within the diversity of the Christian community. I’m for legalism and fear, myself. In my neck of the woods, more churches close from grace than from legalism, and from hope than from fear.

Stray thought: As soon as a pastor starts telling you that his church isn’t about sin, leave. That’s like a doctor telling you his hospital isn’t about illness. Then why go there if you’re sick?

Has anyone noticed how legalistic doctors and nurses are when it comes to illness and injury? They go overboard. They drive you crazy. They make you feel guilty about little things that probably don’t matter. Half the time they are wrong. But the more laid back people the conferees like so much better will be group hugging “against a backdrop of interpretive dance” at your funeral. Your life. You choose.

🙄 The default media and cultural message in the world today is that science refutes faith in a personal God. On the contrary, scientific evidence increasingly points to a loving, creator God … In other words, the conflict is framed as to how we can use facts to change media stars’ minds. Well we can’t, and it doesn’t matter whether we do. The legacy media are going under without changing. The public largely believes in God anyway. Given how much the ID community has needed to defend our civil rights, this community hardly owes the walking dead media even the courtesy of an explanation. Though I certainly don’t care if someone chooses to provide one.

🙄 Last, and most important: The continued focus on a ”safe“ forum (meaning merely emotionally safe) when the reality outside is this: Anyone who questions the reign of Darwinian atheism is not safe at all, as the Expelled or kairosfocus could testify. The conference’s focus on merely feeling good, feeling safe, and feeling respected – in this environment – is a sure sign of breathtaking irrelevance.

So what works? Barry Arrington recently did far more good for any form of Christian social witness by compelling Prof. Pompous to quit harrassing a Darwin-doubting student. Oh wait, that’s legalism. My gosh, it’s even law!

😀 Maybe Arrington doesn’t care if Pompous feels good about himself. I sure don’t. I don’t care if he becomes a Christian or gets saved. I don’t care about his perspective. I don’t want to go to conferences about his perspective or about anybody’s in particular.

I want him to quit harassing politely dissenting students, and he had better.

Guys, a reasonable discussion does NOT begin with Christians congratulating each other for being more gracious than other folk. It begins with what Barry did: Setting a limit on how much evil is tolerated. And you won’t see many conferees doing that, let me tell you.

I’d be glad if they proved me wrong, but I’ve been right for 30 years and counting.

See also: My letter, as a former equity reviewer, to my school board trustee, on the tax-funded “sharia” public schools in Toronto.

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Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

Comments
Well that didn't take long... It generally takes me several posts to kill a thread. I'm losing my touch. p.s. It has been pointed out to me by one of my RTB brethren in Houston that Hugh Ross is NOT speaking at this conference. I, not carefully paying attention, saw Hugh's name in the featured products section and saw what I wanted to see. Apologies all around for the inaccuracy. Thanks.tgpeeler
July 25, 2011
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I'm going to do something I don't usually do and that is admit to a fair amount of ignorance up front about the details of the conference. That said, the hosting church just had Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe preach last Sunday and are following up with 5 weeks of apologetics lectures in adult Sunday School. This is a huge church in Houston and we are hoping to generate a lot of interest in Christian apologetics with these talks. Yours truly will be speaking on worldview warfare August 7. Hugh Ross (a man I much admire and saw destroy Michael Shermer in a debate in Austin Texas a couple of years ago) is also one of the speakers for the conference. Walter Kaiser, another speaker, is one of the top Old Testament scholars in the world. Just sayin... Maybe we need a little more info before we go off trashing fellow warfighters because we think they aren't hostile or in your face enough... This from one of the more in your face people here. I get the irony, believe me... :-)tgpeeler
July 24, 2011
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Granville, here is my point, and the first prof to respond in high dudgeon, at the Christian Apologetics site, completely missed it: We have three big problems: 1. Darwin thugs censor, behave in violation of due process, and get laws passed when any critical discussion of their theory looms. 2. Stupid, doomed media pander to these thugs. To give you some idea how bad it is, Mark Oppenheimer for the New York Times was a breath of fresh air when he *actually phoned Bill Dembski to ask if something a Darwin thug said is true.* He did not just report that guy's conspiracy theory as a fact. Of course, the thug's story collapsed. It's Oppenheimer's fault really - he should never have even sought confirmation from someone who might know. Hope his bosses aren't too hard on him. Is this a first, or what? 3. Christians who don't know what time of day it is want to discuss their doctrinal differences in a nursery full of teddy bears - when they should be demanding intellectual freedom and civil rights for everyone, and an end to unscholarly harassment - unconditional. Just end it. Stop it now. If the conference issues a strong statement like that, you can be sure I aim to be first give it plenty of air. If not, I am glad I am not an American, so I don't have the collection can shaken in my face to pay for that or for Marie Antoinette's fashion statements either. Americans are unique all right - the only people in the history of the planet who can be governed by thugs and not actually know it. In Canada, we are in the process of throwing off the thugocracy. But to do that, we must start by lighting a fire under a LOT of sanctified deadwood. And good on you for fighting for justice, re your recent paper. cheers, Denyse PS: You can share this with your friend by all means. - d.O'Leary
July 16, 2011
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From the conference website:
More than ever before, recent scientific discovery is both confirming and illuminating our Christian faith. From progressive-creationism to theistic-evolution, including intelligent design, there is a wide spectrum of interpretations of both science and the fact-and-mode of God’s creative activity.
From this statement of purpose, and from what I know about one of the main organizers, and about last year's conference, I would guess that at least portions of the conference should be worth attending, though since I didn't go last year, I am guessing.Granville Sewell
July 16, 2011
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It's the postmodern substitute for a real academic conference. That means that disagreements will be "tolerated" and not discussed. What is right and true will be decided by who the cool people are. Anyone who wants to actually discuss disagreements will be labeled uncool and irascible and their views automatically marginalized as a result.tragic mishap
July 16, 2011
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Denise, It is not very clear from the conference web site what this is all about, but I know and have high respect for one of the main organizers of last year's conference in Austin, which included Steve Meyer as a keynote speaker, so I wonder if you are jumping to conclusions calling this a scandal and a waste of time. It certainly does not appear to be anti-ID (questioning Adam and Eve as historical figures does not make one anti-ID, I hope!), though, as I said, I am not too familiar with what this conference is all about.Granville Sewell
July 16, 2011
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I have a nit to pick. Adam and Eve were not "perfect" creations of God. They were "very good" creations of God. Nothing can be perfect when there's engineering trade-offs and compromises to be made.tragic mishap
July 16, 2011
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