We Can Rebel But We Can’t Escape the Consequences of Rebellion

“God gave them over,” Romans 1:24.

“God gave them over,” Romans 1:26.

“God gave them over,” Romans 1:28.

I have read the apostle Paul’s words hundreds of times over the years. I have studied and taught from Romans 1. But as I read Nancy Pearcey’s new book, Finding Truth, I saw these words as if for the first time.

Richard Weaver’s famous phrase, “Ideas Have Consequences,” (in his book by the same title) is one of the driving concepts behind the work of the Disciple Nations Alliance. What Weaver argues in his book is nothing new. It is a reformulation of Paul’s argument in Romans 1.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul argues that:

  • consequences of rebellion built into creationTruth is revealed through creation (Romans 1:19). God reveals truth to man internally–we are made in the image of God, and in the external world, the rest of the created order.
  • From this revelation we can know that God exists and can know something of his nature (v. 20).
  • This revelation is so clear that human beings are without excuse (v. 20b) when they deny God’s existence.
  • Even though truth is clearly revealed, human beings SUPPRESS the truth (vs. 18).
  • Rather than have an intimate relationship with their Creator, human beings would rather have a smaller god of their own making, a god they can have dominion over. So they EXCHANGED the glory of God for things that God had made. They worship things from the created order (vs. 23). We see this in pagan humanism – man as the center of the universe, and in pagan animism – the worship of nature.
  • Thinking themselves wise for denying God, they in fact are fools (vs. 22).

And what are the consequences of this foolishness? “God gave them over.” The Greek term, paradidomi, means “to hand over to or to convey something to someone, particularly a right or an authority – ‘to give over, to hand over.’”[1]

In this, God did not abandon humans as if they were nothing. Rather, he is affirming human significance. Even when humans live in rebellion against God we are not nothing. We are still “something!” God is affirming the free moral agency of humans.

As human beings we are free to rebel against God. But we are not free from the consequences of rebellion. God’s “giving us over” affirms our significance and dignity. We are not children whose misbehavior is overlooked by an indulgent divine grandfather. God will allow us to receive the consequences of rebellion, the natural fruit our ideas.

As Nancy Pearcey puts it, God allows people “to play out the negative consequences of their idolatrous choices.” Pearcey writes that this “divine strategy” is seen throughout scripture. It is as if God says, “Okay, have it your way and see for yourself how destructive it is.”

We cannot change reality. If we refuse to accept reality, we can only seek to deny it or flee from it. But, reality works! When our lives go crashing into walls that we deny or do not see, we get bruised and broken.

To flourish as human beings is to worship the living God and to wisely live within the framework of the universe that he has created.

  • Darrow Miller

[1] Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd Edition, Edited by J. P. Louw and E. A. Nida.  Copyright © 1988 by the United Bible Societies, New York, NY 10023. Used by permission.

See these related posts:

Creation Laws: Wisdom Sustains the Universe

Poverty: The Fruit of Neglected Wisdom

Gaining Wisdom in a World of Folly

  
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More from Christian Overman on Contextualization

Christian OvermanRecently we published a post by our friend Christian Overman about the importance of context. Here’s a follow up on the same subject worthy of your consideration.

 

 

The Basic Problem of the Christians

Francis Schaeffer wrote in A Christian Manifesto: “The basic problem of the Christians…is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.”

Contextualization is a way of seeing that brings greater understanding and meaning to things than the things have in themselves. For followers of Christ, ultimate contextualization is about viewing all things in the context of the greatest larger “total:” the biblical world-and-life view.

Students contextualize academic disciplines when they view them in the context of something much larger than the academic disciplines themselves. When plants are viewed in the context of a biblical world-and-life view, they take on greater meaning, significance and purpose than plants have by themselves. George Washington Carver got this.

Post continues at Worldview Matters

  
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The Most Historically Significant Sculpture You’ve Never Seen

A renewal of the founding principles of the US is past due; no big headline there. But we’ve come to a pretty turn of things when the “largest solid granite sculpture in the U.S.”—a magnificent tribute to our Pilgrim founders—is virtually invisible, and at the same time, the anchor of a major news program is clueless about a fundamental tenet of the US Declaration of Independence.

National Monument to the ForefathersThe sculpture is the National Monument to the Forefathers. At 81 feet tall, it features the statue of Faith (which alone weighs 180 tons). And yet, seemingly, few Americans know anything about it.

The news anchor is Chris Cuomo, co-host of the “New Day” show at CNN. More about that below.

Darrow taught recently at Rivendell Sanctuary where he saw the documentary “Monumental” by Kirk Cameron/ @KirkCameron. The film relates the story of the Pilgrims coming to the US, and includes a description of a monument that was built to celebrate the Pilgrim principles and convictions upon which the US was founded. (Click here to see more photos and information about this amazing sculpture.)

The experience of seeing the film and learning about the sculpture triggered an interesting exchange of emails in the DNA circles (an edited summary of which follows):

DARROW: I have lived a long time, and consider myself well educated and I had never heard of this sculpture. How could something so significant be so hidden?

ELIZABETH YOUMANS (DNA friend, founder and president of Chrysalis International): I used Gov. William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation as a textbook for teaching Christian character in my graduate courses. I was told by the Dean of Education that I was “too biblical” in my courses (in a Christian graduate school) and that most Christian educators didn’t care much for my inclusion of the Pilgrims in my Character Development course! He told me they said the reading was “too difficult” and not relevant to today’s Christian!

Of Plimoth Plantation reads like an extension of the book of Acts and has influenced my thought and teaching for many years.

SCOTT ALLEN (DNA president): I have not heard of this monument either.

How could it be so hidden? Because at the time that you (and I) were taught US history Darrow, we were not taught to revere God or honor the virtues enshrined on this monument. We were taught that the founders were deists and secularists. We were taught to be ashamed of the Pilgrims.

I was largely taught that the Pilgrims were oppressors of native peoples, and dangerous religious fanatics who burned witches. They were pharisaical legalists who made women caught in adultery wear scarlet letters. The only positive: They did host a nice Thanksgiving meal at one point.

Years after I graduated from college I finally read Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation and wondered how I could have ever missed this beautifully written, moving account of the courageous sacrifices made by our American forbears in my studies of history (my degree was in history)! This book revealed to me the seed of our American constitutional form of government.

If you’ve never heard of the National Monument to the Forefathers … you’re in good company. Thanks, Kirk Cameron, for exposing this wonderful piece of American history to our view.

Which brings us to the cable news host story, another indication of pathetic ignorance (or worse) of the founding principles of the US.

You may have seen the recent news about an exchange between Chris Cuomo and Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. In the conversation, they came to another fundamental aspect of US history. Their back-and-forth captures the core of our current cultural conflict.

Moore, of course, has been in the news recently because of his conviction that the federal government does not have standing to force a state to recognize same-sex “marriage” and his accompanying refusal to stand down in the matter. At issue is the provenance of our rights as human beings.

Here’s their exchange, excerpted from the CNN broadcast (as reported at Brietbart):

MOORE: … our rights contained in the Bill of Rights do not come from the Constitution, they come from God. It’s clearly stated –

CUOMO: Our laws do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man.

MOORE: Let me ask you one question, Chris. Is the Declaration of Independence law?

CUOMO: You would call it organic law as a basis for future laws off of it?

MOORE: I would call it the organic law because the United States code calls it organic law. It is organic law because the law of this country calls it the organic law. [The term “organic law of this country”] means “where our rights come from.” And if they come from there, men can’t take it away.

CUOMO: Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country. Our laws come from the collective agreement and compromise.

MOORE: It’s not a matter of faith, sir. It’s a matter of organic law, which states, ‘We hold these truths to be held equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’[1] And the only role of government is stated in the next sentence is to secure those rights for us. The government starts taking those rights away from us, then it’s not securing and it is defiling the whole purpose of government.

A person claiming that “our rights come from man and not from God” is speaking either in ignorance or arrogance. But we can be thankful for public figures like Judge Moore, who have the temerity to challenge such folly, and the scholarship to know whereof they speak.

Thank you, Justice Moore.

The trees that have grown to obscure the National Monument to the Forefathers in the 126 years since its construction comprise a metaphor for the cultural lies which hide truth from our view.

As Elizabeth Youmans put it, “We must labor to keep alive God’s testimony in the founding of America throughout our generations that He might be glorified and that our youth might know of His mighty Hand of Providence in the founding of this nation!”

  • Gary Brumbelow

[1] An attentive reader points out that Justice Moore left out the bolded text: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …”

 

Related posts:

EUPRAXIA: Education for Skills is Not Enough

TECHNOLOGIA: The Most Powerful Concept of Education You Never Heard Of!

A Secularist Inquisition: Houston and Freedom of Religion

  
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More About That American Dream

Last July we published The Nightmare on the Way to the American Dream about our good friend Lyd Pensado serving among the poor in Mexico City. We especially wanted to highlight Lyd’s efforts to the Central American women and children traveling through Mexico pursuing the American Dream.

Lyd recently filed an update which we excerpt here for our readers.

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In December, we had the opportunity to start a movement of awareness about illegal immigration and the risks involved for Central American migrants. We talked to people and invited them to write a message for migrants who are awaiting their deportation. We also realized that in general, people do not know much about the situation in Mexico.

The challenge is not only to convince people not to go to America for the risks they face on the way; the real challenge is to help them see that the American dream is just that — a dream, and sadly, it is one that fractures and divides families, exposing them to human trafficking, extortion and exploitation.

The “Dreams” project seeks to prevent trafficking and other tragedies. We also want to support community development in the countries of Central America, especially Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

On December 18th, International Migrants Day, some of the Dreams project volunteers went to the streets and we were challenged to talk with people. It was a moment of great confrontation because sometimes we felt rejected by those who were not interested in the issue of immigration. That made us think about when migrants suffer rejection in our country; however, as a team this experience helped us increase our commitment to the “Dreams” project.

American Dream lures Central American immigrants into danger

  
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Muslim No-Go Zones? Really?

Following the publication of Do You Want Political Correctness or Freedom of Speech? a reader, Randy, responded, asserting that the idea of Muslim no-go zones is a myth. (To read his entire response click on the link above and scroll to the bottom.) This post comprises our reply to Randy’s response.

~

Randy, thank you, as always, for your comments. It is good to hear from you and to have opportunity to dialogue once again.

First, I agree with your comment that we should “resist creating rumors that are false in order to win the battles of belief.” I trust that I have not done that in this blog.

immigrant communities not the same as no-go zonesSecond, I also agree that simply because there is an immigrant community, we should not designate it as a “no-go zone.” What you have said about immigrant communities is one of the things that adds beauty and diversity to a city. Most of us who have lived or traveled in large cities have experienced the sights, sounds, and tastes of cultures that are different from our own. We have enjoyed the companionship of people who are part of those cultures. This is part of the celebration of the richness of life.

Most immigrant communities are not no-go zones 

Immigrant communities and “no-go zones” are not synonymous. Many, perhaps most, Muslim communities in the West are typical of other immigrant communities. But not all. No-go zones are not merely examples of ethnic diversity lived out in a neighborhood. The key difference: a no-go zone may begin as an immigrant community that refuses to accept the legitimacy of the host culture, choosing rather to insulate itself against that culture, and perhaps planning to remain separate from the larger community. If this trend goes to extreme it could lead to an intention to undermine or overthrow the host culture. It is this posture that transforms a peaceful and vibrant enclave into a no-go zone where “outsiders” are not welcomed. When a segment of a refugee group resents the culture of, say, France, or immigrants from a traditional society reject the pluralism and freedom of a modern society and want to destroy it, this is where the problems begin. This is happening in many places in Europe and beginning to happen in some places in the United States today.

You write: “The truth is that Muslim ‘no-go zones’ have been purely myth, false and have no basis in fact or reality.” I disagree with this assertion, Randy, and it’s not just a matter of a different opinion. In some places and communities the facts are contrary to the assertion.

You imply a uniformity to Muslims which is simply not the case. Like any other ethnic and religious community, Islam is very diverse.  In this case, secular and reform minded Muslim immigrants generally choose to assimilate into their host country. In fact, the political and social plurality is likely one of the motivating factors for them moving to their new home. More traditional Muslims may have a different perspective. Likely they have sought out a new home to find work or to avoid violence and persecution back home. They may not so much want to be integrated into their new environment as to have a safe place to raise their families. They want to maintain their identity.

Many urban communities have “dish cities” where Muslim immigrants stay connected through satellite TV and the internet to the simple and ancient culture they have left behind. They have no interest in assimilating into Western pluralistic society. These communities, in and of themselves certainly do not constitute no-go zone

No-go zones are often fostered by hostility toward the host culture

My guess is that you are referring to people like this. But there are also communities of Muslims who are hostile to the West, its values, freedoms and pluralistic society. These militants want to destroy the dominant culture and bring a global caliphate where the society surrenders to Allah and where sharia law replaces the host country’s legal system. There is open hostility in these communities. There are growing numbers of “religious and moral police” who seek to enforce strict Islamic virtues in these largely Muslim communities. And people from other communities and local police and fire officials are reluctant to go there. At this point a relatively benign “dish community” becomes a “no-go zone.”

In a way we have always had no-go zones. Consider, for example, the Mafia. Many things go on within the Mafia that the outside world knows nothing about: feuds, killings, trials, sentencing, probation … it’s a whole separate system.

Similarly, many Muslim communities—imams, teachers and congregations—maintain a cloak of secrecy over the abuse, tax evasion, medical and Social Security fraud, polygamy, etc., that is happening in their community. They deal with these matters by their sharia law administered by the imams (who are more like Old Testament judges than pastors).

Polygamy is a clear example. Here in the US and in Europe a Muslim man can marry 2, 3, or 4 wives. After the first marriage, none of these unions is registered with the US government but they are all considered legitimate in the community. When such a man wants to get rid of a wife, he can go to the imam and divorce her. All of this is hidden from government view.

Even the Snopes article you cited includes an admission that no-go zones do indeed exist (if not as abundant as some may suggest).

A few [Zones Urbaines Sensibles] are truly no-go zones, while most are just areas where the government is focusing more development and police require special procedures to operate. A few (NOT ALL of the 751 ZUS, as falsely reported in “anti-jihadist blogs”) of these zones, primarily around Paris, are under control of radical Islamists.

Soreren Kern, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the International Policy Council of the Gatestone Institute and a Senior Analysis at the oldest Spanish think tank Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos, writes of no-go zones.

No-go zones are Muslim-dominated neighborhoods that are largely off limits to non-Muslims due to a variety of factors, including the lawlessness and insecurity that pervades a great number of these areas. Host-country authorities have effectively lost control over many no-go zones and are often unable or unwilling to provide even basic public aid, such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services, out of fear of being attacked by Muslim youth.”

Kern argues that Western multiculturalist are working to explain no-go zones as a mythology. 

The problem of no-go zones is well documented, but multiculturalists and their politically correct supporters vehemently deny that they exist. Some are now engaged in a concerted campaign to discredit and even silence those who draw attention to the issue.

 For more see his entire piece: European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 1: France.

  • Darrow Miller
  
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Creation Laws: Wisdom Sustains the Universe

Wisdom and its fruit—shalom—is found when we live in synch with God’s order.

God governs the universe through a set of laws and ordinances. You could call them creation laws. They fit broadly into three categories: Truth (physical and metaphysical laws), Beauty (aesthetic laws), and Goodness (moral laws).

Truth

Truth is another term for reality. This concept encompasses both the physical and the metaphysical realms.

creation laws are something like speed limitsGenerally, when we speak of “laws” we mean regulations. Speed limits are an everyday example. Such laws make good sense and serve a society well. They are not arbitrary, but neither are they universal.

Creation laws, on the other hand, are universal, as well as immutable (unchanging) and inviolable (unbreakable).

When we speak of “creation laws” we are not talking about regulations. God’s creation laws define and direct the physical universe. Webster’s 1828 defines them as “the determination of a body to certain motions, changes, and relations, which uniformly take place in the same circumstances.”[1] Among these are the law of motion, discovered by Johannes Kepler, the law of gravity discovered by Isaac Newton, and the laws of thermodynamics. All these laws are necessary for sustaining human life on earth.

Metaphysical laws are the “internal framework.” Our worldview, our mental infrastructure, these are the metaphysical[2] laws. These include our understanding of the nature of the transcendent universe—it is relational, the nature of man—we are made in the image of God, and the creation itself—it is more than material, it is an open system.[3]

Beauty

Beauty circumscribes the aesthetic order. Beauty is an ordinance – the nature of God reflected in his creation, an objective standard, just as truth is an objective standard. Does that sound unlikely? Many people, even those who believe in absolute truth, are relativists when it comes to beauty. It’s fashionable to believe that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I have said that in the past, until I was challenged by a wonderful book by Thomas Dubay, The Evidential Power of Beauty. Dubay argues that beauty comes from God. Of all that is beautiful, God is most beautiful. Thus God’s nature of beauty establishes the criterion for beauty. Beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, we all have our favorite colors; some people prefer red over blue. But that does not admit the notion that beauty itself is a wholly subjective matter. This is a concept of modern relativism. Beauty is in the glory of God.

Goodness

That brings us to Goodness, the moral order. Again, relativism has shredded much of the notion of goodness. The loss of an objective moral code in the West has wrought unspeakable grief and harm.

The moral boundaries of the universe are summed up in the Decalogue, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments. These are creation laws. To keep them is the path to thriving; to abandon them leads to death.In these ten laws, the Creator drew a circle around human behaviors which lead to flourishing, behaviors which bless others and bring joy to one’s self. Like gravity, these are not arbitrary moral codes, on the order of “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” When we violate this moral boundary—by committing adultery, for example— the law “thou shalt not commit adultery” is not broken; after all it is immutable. But in violating the moral law we ourselves are broken, we bring grief and injury to ourselves, our spouse, children and to others. Just as we can be physically injured by ignoring the law of gravity, we will be personally (and often permanently) injured when we ignore the moral boundary.

Proverbs 29:18b (KJV)  reminds us “but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The people are mistaken when it seeks happiness through “license” – living outside God’s moral framework. No, the pursuit of happiness is a good thing, but it is found by order our lives within the framework of God’s holy ordinances.

The uniformity of the laws of  creation is a constant revelation of the immutability of God. What they were at the beginning of time they are still today. They are the same in every part of the universe. No less stable are the laws which regulate the operation of the reason and conscience. The whole governance of God, as the God of nature and as moral governor, rests on the immutability of his counsels.

The universe was formed according to God’s purposes. Human beings are to live within this form to flourish. We are subject to real laws and ordinances – the decrees of God’s creation order that govern our lives.

Freedom is found when we recognize this truth and live within this design; when we discover the form and live within its bounds we are most alive On the other hand, to ignore or reject this truth, to refuse to live within this design, results in enslavement. In the water, a salmon is perfectly free. It has the ideal environment for finding food and thriving. A salmon that decided to abandon that environment, to live on a grassy riverbank, would not be free. Nor would it survive. A pelican freely flying over coastal waters in the company of his fellows seeking a mouthful of anchovies is the picture of a creature living in the freedom of God’s design. If such a bird could decide I want to swim under the sea he would very quickly lose all freedom. A fish is made to swim, a bird to fly.

Even in the world of technology the same is true. Boeing makes vehicles for flight, not for running on parallel steel tracks. That’s the domain of locomotives.

When we choose to live outside the framework of creation laws, we experience horrible consequences: alienation, ugliness, destruction, and death. By the same token, living within that framework generally results in a more abundant life. E. Stanley Jones, in his book, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, records the observation of a Swedish surgeon, “I’ve discovered the kingdom of God at the end of my scalpel – it is in the tissues. The right thing morally, the Christian thing, is always the healthy thing physically.”[4] The surgeon sees reality, the kingdom of God, evidence of God’s creation, in the human body. He does not see simply tissue, but God-ordained life.

The universe, contrary to the belief of some religions or philosophies ,is real. And more than that, it is good, beautiful and true. The Creator so declared it. It is good, in contrast to Eastern faiths that see the world as something that is broken, something to flee. The creation is a comprehensive and integrative whole, material and spiritual. It is marked by order and not chaos.

Furthermore, the Creator considers progress in the material world to be normal. History—whether that of an individual, nation, or the world—is not to be static. Nor are humans to be destroyed. They are to flourish.

From a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller and Gary Brumbelow 

[1] He goes on to point out that “These tendencies or determinations, whether called laws or affections of matter, have been established by the Creator, and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture, ordinances of heaven.”

[2] With reference to “metaphysical,” Webster notes the following: “The natural division of things that exist is into body and mind, things material and immaterial. The former belong to physics, and the latter to the science of metaphysics.”

[3] For more on this see Miller, Darrow L. Discipling Nations: The power of Truth to Transform Culture; YWAM Publishing, Seattle, Washington; 2001

[4] E. Stanley Jones, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1972), p 54

See these related posts:

What Wisdom Has to Do with Wealth

Poverty: The Fruit of Neglected Wisdom

Gaining Wisdom in a World of Folly

  
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Another Rape Victim Keeps Her Baby

Recently we published the stories of Rebecca Kiessling and Valerie Gatto, two women conceived in rape whose mothers refused to abort them.

Now here’s a similar story, this time told from the mother’s perspective.

When Lianna Rebolledo was raped at 12 years of age, she was counselled to abort her baby. But she could not see the compassion or even the logic in that scheme of things: “Why should I have the abortion if I’m not going to forget the rape? … It wasn’t my baby’s fault.”

Go here to read, and watch, Lianna’s life-affirming testimony.

 

Related posts:

Abortion Doesn’t Contribute to Women’s Health

10,000 Cases of Breast Cancer Every Year Because of Abortion

Abortion’s Bitter Legacy

  
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There’s No Christian Education without Context

Bible teachers have long emphasized the importance of context to establish the meaning of a text. The same is true for any communication. A friend pointed out to me once that an instruction to “Make the boat fast” without adding any context can be understood at least three completely different ways:

  1. “Design the boat so it can travel at high speeds.”
  2. “Tie up the boat so it will not come loose.”
  3. (with minor grammatical license) “Hurry up and build the boat!”

Context is essential to understanding. Yet that truth is often lost on Christian educators. Too much Christian education is fragmented: a little science taught here, math there, Bible around the corner.

Our friend Christian Overman is working to change that. He offers a robust view of why all education needs to be tied together. In fact, he says contextualization “is what Christian education is all about.”

Christian offers some splendid application of this truth with reference to teaching and learning. He exposes a frequent weakness in teaching and makes a strong argument for wholism instead. … And his writing is always fun, too!

– Gary Brumbelow

 

Christian education requires context says Christian Overman

Dr. Christian Overman is founder and director of Worldview Matters. His blog is often featured at Darrow Miller and Friends. Dr. Overman is a writer, a speaker, a coach, and a Colson Centurion, coaching training through Creative Results Management.

 

“In the past year, I have been using the word ‘integration’ less, and the word ‘contextualization’ more. Here’s why …

The Power and Import of Contextualization

 

 

 

 

  
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Scott Walker, Evolution, and the Media

Scott Walker

photo by Gage Skidmore

During a recent interview Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was asked,  “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you accept it?”

Realizing the peril behind this question he chose to defer on it.

Scott Walker could have done worse. And he’s taking plenty of heat for punting. Nonetheless, the issue behind this question is a real one and it merits a response.

Any public figure who believes an intelligent force created the universe would do well to prepare for such a question. Here are some suggested responses.

Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you accept it?”

Yes, there is unmistakable evidence showing micro-evolution, i.e. changes within species. This ability to change within a species enables it to adapt and survive.

If you are asking whether I think Darwin’s theory of random mutation and natural selection is sufficient to account for the complexity of life, there are those is the science community who question this in light of growing scientific knowledge and I respect them for their commitment to let the evidence lead, not the theory.

If you are asking whether I fully support scientific investigation and discovery, the answer is a wholehearted “yes.” We need a cure for cancer. We need to understand autism. We need to find better ways to harness energy. Yes, I support scientific pursuit for the good of the earth and all human beings.

Do you believe Genesis 1:1 – that God created the earth?

If you are asking whether I believe in God as a stop-gap for what we do not know, I agree with the German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonehoefer that “we are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know. ”[1] What we do know is that scientists are discovering a tremendous amount of information hidden in the structure of the universe and in all living creations. We know from all human history, and all of science, that only intelligence is capable of producing information.

We also know that the probabilities for some aspects of evolution are so astounding that they make winning the powerball look like a sure thing.

In light of all this, I can understand why some scientists increasingly take serious the theory of panspermia–that life was seeded here from another part of the universe, or the multiverse theory—that there is an infinite number of other universes and ours just got lucky.

For me, it is reason to believe, along with billions of other people of many other religious persuasions, that an intelligent force might yet be the source of all this.

Again, if you are asking whether I am anti-science, the answer is no. I believe that the study and discovery of our natural world and universe is one of the most noble and fruitful vocations a person can have.

Do you believe God created the earth in seven 24-hour days.

I think that if an intelligent force has the ability to create life from non-life or ignite the big-bang that brings the universe into existence, or create the mysteries of quantum mechanics, then this being can potentially create the earth in very long days or in very short days (that appear long geologically). I will let the theologians and scientists wrestle with this question. Either way, it does not diminish the wonder of the result or the cause behind it.

Of course Scott Walker was expected to deliver a sound bite, and these are not sound bite responses. But, this is not a sound-bite issue. It deserves a serious response, as the entire premise of a person’s Christian faith and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ sits on the foundation of Genesis 1:1.

  • Dwight Vogt

 

 

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, letter to Eberhard Bethge, May 29, 1944, in Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, trans. Reginald H. Fuller (New York: Touchstone, 1997), pp. 310-12: Translation of Widerstand und Ergebung (Munich: Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1970).

  
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Without Structure There’s No Art

Francis Schaeffer’s book, The God Who is There, introduced me to the intersection of Christianity and the arts. He wrote about the influence of art in Western society, a theme further developed in his later book, Art and the Bible:

What is the place of art in the Christian life? Is art- especially the fine arts- simply a way to bring worldliness in through the back door? What about sculpture or drama, music or painting? Do these have any place in the Christian life? Shouldn’t a Christian focus his gaze steadily on “religious things” alone and forget about art and culture? … I am afraid that as evangelicals, we think that a work of art only has value if we reduce it to a tract.

art, like this sculpture of Samson killing the lion, is created by imago Dei humansSchaeffer insists that Christians have a legitimate stake in the world of fine art. It’s part of what it means to be human made in God’s image. Human art flows from the cultural mandate of Genesis 1 and 2. Indeed, if the creation of art is not from God, from whom does it derive?

Darrow has written many blog posts on this subject (see below). His forthcoming book on wisdom will include an intriguing excerpt from author and columnist Janie B. Cheaney.

The ancient (and possibly mythical) philosopher Pythagoras discovered that dividing a lyre string in half produces an octave, while three-quarters of the string sounds a fourth and two-thirds sounds a perfect fifth. These mathematical ratios produce a pleasing musical progression known the world over. Based on this external framework, Western music established principles of harmony and melody that endured all the way up until the early 20th century. And what happened then?

Contemporary composer John Adams put it this way: “I learned in college that tonality died somewhere around the time that Nietzsche’s God died, and I believed it.” No God, no order. Musical structure collapsed, clearing the way for Arnold Schoenberg, who composed pieces built on abstract principles of numerology. From there it was only a step or two to John Cage, who tossed dice to pick the notes for his compositions and staged “symphonies” around kitchen appliances. Not all avant garde composers abandoned tonality, but music cut off from its defining structure ceased to be anything we would recognize as music. (emphases added)

I’m guessing Cheaney’s critique would be dismissed, if not hooted down, in many music schools. We’ve been reminded all our lives that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the musical equivalent of which is “tonality is in the ear of the listener.” Cheaney is challenging that assertion. She would no doubt affirm individual taste in our appreciation of the arts. But she also asserts that much of modern art amounts to an abandonment of the “defining structure” that had always framed the artist’s creativity.

Of course the suggestion of any transcendent structure to the creation of art would be anathema to some, but only because of a concomitant rejection of divine order (see Romans 1:20-21). That unseen structure comprises the framework necessary for art’s pleasing effect. Rob the structure and whatever remains has little resemblance to art, visual or aural.

But why does so much modern art feel the need to abandon the structure? Maybe because to the degree that the artist’s worldview is driven by atheism and evolutionism, there is no place for order. The very notion of a structured universe clashes with the randomness necessary to a materialist view of reality. To be sure, there are artists who profess atheism yet produce pleasing art, i.e. art undergirded by the “defining structure.” In doing so they are rejecting the worldview of atheism and borrowing from the Judeo-Christian worldview. In that sense, John Cage’s “music” represents a compositional approach more in synch with atheism’s creed: what rationale could a true atheist mount for creating anything other than random sounds?

Yes, artists create. They apply imagination to their world, to their work, and the result is something never before witnessed in the world of humans: a music score, a painting, a film, a story, a sculpture. If that imagination comports with the reality of an orderly universe, they can achieve beauty. On the other hand, the John Cages, more honest to the underlying doctrine of randomness, must strike out in some “new” direction (since to create is to make something new) by “breaking the rules.” The resulting chaos—desultory strokes of color, erratic sounds—leaves the audience empty and fails to do justice to the artist’s own imago Dei nature.

Author J.R.R. Tolkien, in his splendid essay, “Tree and Leaf,” effectively exposes this tendency in contemporary art by means of some of the most elegant prose in the English language. Every artist struggling to create would benefit from these words.

Spring is, of course, not really less beautiful because we have seen or heard of other like events: like events, never from world’s beginning to world’s end the same event. Each leaf, of oak, ash and thorn, is a unique embodiment of the pattern, and for some this very year may be the embodiment, the first ever seen and recognised, though oaks have put forth leaves for countless generations of men.

We do not, or need not, despair of drawing because all lines must be either curved or straight, nor of painting because there are only three ‘primary’ colours. We may indeed be older now, in so far as we are heirs in enjoyment or in practice of many generations of ancestors in the arts. In this inheritance of wealth there may be a danger of boredom or of anxiety to be original, and that may lead to a distaste for fine drawing, delicate pattern, and ‘pretty’ colours, or else to mere manipulation and over-elaboration of old material, clever and heartless. 

But the true road of escape from such weariness is not to be found in the wilfully awkward, clumsy, or misshapen, not in making all things dark or unremittingly violent; nor in the mixing of colours on through subtlety to drabness, and the fantastical complication of shapes to the point of silliness and on towards delirium. Before we reach such states we need recovery. We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. We should meet the centaur and the dragon, and then perhaps suddenly behold, like the ancient shepherds, sheep, and dogs, and horses – and wolves. p 58

Christians who are artists have the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, the beauty that lives in the orderliness of a universe created by a God of order. As Father Thomas Dubay points out, such beauty frames both our calling and our destiny.

Both science and theology agree on the objectivity of beauty. While there is a subjective readiness in us, greater or lesser, for perceiving the splendid, both disciplines assume and insist that beauty is not merely in the eye of the beholder; it is primarily something “out there.” … Revelation and theology have for centuries likewise taught the same idea cast in religious terms, namely, that the purpose of creation is man, destined to be enthralled eternally in triune glory. The Evidential Power of Beauty, pages 16-17.

– Gary Brumbelow

See these related posts:

Imitating the First Artist: The Place of Beauty and Creativity in God’s Design

Christian Artists: Imitators of the Grand Creator

Artists Speaking to the Culture

How MUSIC Shapes a Culture and the World

A Powerful Resource for Creating Godly Culture

How to Disciple a Nation with a Paintbrush

Get the complete list of posts on this subject by clicking “Arts” from the dropdown at Categories.

  
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