Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Several Must-Read Books on Islam

1. Mark Gabriel, Islam and Terrorism, Islam and the Jews, Jesus and Mohammad. Gabriel was a professor of Islam history in Egypt before his amazing conversion. That man knows the Qur'an and Muslim history in depth. He write in clear, knowledgeable, and compelling prose.

2. Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, The Religion of Peace: Why Christianity is and Islam is Not, The Truth About Mohammad: Founder of World's Most Intolerant Religion. Spencer documents his case and tells the truth, no matter how unpopular. Muslims have already called for his death.

3. Chatwat Moucarry, The Prophet and The Messiah. Written by Christian Arab who knows the Qur'an and its relationship to Christianity.

4. David Horowitz, Unholy Alliance. Explains why the left is incapable of understanding the Islamic threat and why it often sides with Islam against America.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bell Expelled

I expelled the Bell post and comments because things were degenerating into name-calling. I thank those who made helpful comments. I will probably read Velvet Elvis and review it.

After Civilization

As we were lamenting the state of the church and the world (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it), my wife uttered this hilarious remark, which I instructed her to write down for posterity:

Someday, when all of civilization has collapsed,
someone will discover Doug Groothuis and say,
“Aha, here is the way back!”

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Screwtape Writes Again: The Luciferian Laptop

My Dear Wormwood:

Your new charge is a seminary student, a young man of twenty-eight years of age, with plenty of idealism, but little experience or knowledge of the Bible or of his own soul. Make note of that! You know how our Father Below loves ignorance and reckless enthusiasm. The propaganda on the other side says that "fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." So, we must be on our guard not to let these pious pussy cats get too much of it. Better to give them "blind faith," which we can spin as the deeper spirituality. Since we love darkness, the "blind" part fits us so well.

I'll have much more to say to you about tempting this miserable creature, but let's start with a blind spot that we get so much mileage out of with so many: technology. Yes, yes, I know we have experienced some losses to the subterranean cause at the hand of technology: the Utopian and unrealistic Christian message has gotten around the world through technology. But let your man think only about the reach of technology, not its subtler effects. Your man has been accustomed since his earliest youth to have it dancing around him and dancing within him. He never gives it a second (or even first) thought--except on how to use it. Oh, how he can use it! He got an iPod as soon as he could afford one. He "traded" music files before it became illegal. I must add, in my sublime humility, that I myself invented that term for theft--"trade." Oh, how the suckers ate it up.

Well, back to business. He was raised in front of the television, never drives without music or the radio on (and got satellite radio as soon as it came out), he takes his laptop everywhere and has been known to sit for hours with his friends while playing on it (while they play with theirs). I once spied him with his iPod blasting in his ears while he was looking at his lap top and talking on his cell phone! It made my week. He seldom reads, but was able to get a 3.5 GPA at the university by his native smarts, a lot of BS, and plenty of easy classes filled with PowerPoint graphics, film clips, and so on. And he thanks God for all of it. How I love this kind of faith. It is positively contagious in America: so much money, so much freedom, so little knowledge. We are doing well here, Wormwood.

Now, here is your plan. This seminary (as they call them) can give him seminal thoughts about the enemy--you know, all that rot about his holiness, power, love, wisdom... I just cannot go on. He will have entire classes on theology (but none, thank darkness, on demonology), the Bible, and apologetics (the thing we hate the most; rational thought in service of Christianity is just too dangerous). It could truly be harmful for our Luciferian cause if that young man realizes the possibilities these years could afford him. He could become a person of knowledge and wisdom--or at least be well on the way. If so, he might even make our Top Ten Hit List in his town when he takes a church.

But do not fear, we have an ally: technology. These besotted earthlings love their gizmos. In fact, they often worship them. (Really, they do. They are transfixed by them, amazed in the presence of a new one, and heartsick when one of them fails to satisfy.) They think these devices are neutral tools, and they always need more tools. They have become "tools of their tools," just as Thoreau said before we even invented television. They never apply any of their precious theology to how or whether they use technologies. Even in all their precious prattle about "mentoring" and "spiritual formation," they never think of how technologies might affect their souls. And, oh, how I love this ignorance! It befits them, the slimy believers.

So, here are the specifics. I get bat-bumps just thinking about it! Tell your charge that he must do as much as he can while in seminary. He must multitask. Why stop now?! He must bring his laptop into the classroom and never be far from it. Tell him that he needs not to only take notes on it, but to scan the Internet for related articles, stories, photographs, and more. Then tempt him to send emails, check his E-Harmony page (more on the possibilities of postmodern, digital romance in another letter), to shop, and to play video games. Any twinge of conscience that he is not fully attending to the professor or that he is not being respectful can be blasted in a moment by telling him the following:

"You are young. You are a digital native. You know how to use all these devices and you can do them all well all the time. The old professor can be interesting, but he is tethered to the past. He is a digital immigrant. He doesn't get it. He doesn't even send text-messages and hasn't figured out his cell phone. In fact, the cell looks like a pet rock it is so primitive. So, pick up the highlights of the lecture (especially when he starts yelling), but keep exploring the gigantic world of the Internet. You can do it all, be everywhere all the time."

There it is, Wormwood. You may be surprised just how effective (and humorous, at least to us) this strategy is in keeping knowledge and sobriety away from your charge. And, for hell's sake, do not let him read Jacques Ellul or Neil Postman.

Your affectionate uncle,

The Mind: It's Real

Angus Menuge recently debated PZ Myers concerning the reality of the mind. His excellent PowerPoint presentation (full of quotes, not graphics) is available. Dr. Menuge argues against materialism on the basis of mental states and against the idea that neuroscience can explain away religious belief on the basis of brain function. PZ Myers was one of the fuming Darwinists in "Expelled."

Academic Freedom: In Name or Reality?

If you believe that those who teach the controversy over Darwinism should be protected from expulsion and be granted academic freedom, please consider signing this petition.

Friday, April 25, 2008

From Darwin to Hitler

The American Spectator published an article by Dr. Richard Weikart, who appears at the end of "Expelled," on the logical connection between Darwinism and Nazism. This summarizes some of the essential material from his academic title, From Darwin to Hitler. While critics are fuming that this argument is absurd or reactionary, it is not. Dr. Weikart is is professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. (I hope he has tenure.)

Richard Dawkins and Darwinian Fundamentalist

In the film "Expelled" (reviewed below), Richard Dawkins is asked how intelligent design might be identified. He replies that an alien civilization might have designed life on earth and left a signature somewhere in the biosphere (my paraphrase). But, the alien designers would themselves have to have been evolved through Darwinian mechanisms.

Think about that for a moment...

Dawkins grants that it is possible that an alien civilization designed us, but that they themselves must be undesigned. So, he is explaining design in terms of nondesign. It must be Darwinism all the way down--or nothing. Dawkins's explanation leaves the postulated alien designers unexplained in terms of any original design. This indicates his a priori (or philosophical or worldview) commitment to naturalism as the only explanation for life. He can admit no possible evidence for any original designer. Now who is closed minded?

This illustrates that Philip Johnson pointed out near the beginning of the Intelligent Design movement in his work, Darwin on Trial: Darwinism is supported more by an a priori commitment to naturalism than it is by the empirical evidence. If naturalism is true, then something like Darwinism must be true. But if one keeps both design and naturalism on the table, the evidence for design can at least be seriously considered (and should be considered in the same way that evidence for design is detectable in archaeology, SETI, cryptography, forensics, and so on. See chapter one of William Dembski's The Design Inference on that.)

The Dawkins's response is a poster child example of a point made--but not adequately made--in "Expelled." The Darwinists claim that their science leads to their worldview (Darwinism). But, in reality, it is more like the opposite situation. Their naturalistic worldview demands Darwinism (or something very much like it--that is, some design-free explanation for all of life). This kind of philosophical commitment is a brand of fundamentalism: I have made up my mind, don't confuse me with the evidence. Consider this quote from biologist, Richard Lewontin.

Richard Lewontin on materialism as absolute

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.--Richard Lewontin, ‘Billions and billions of demons’, The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31.

Thank you, Professor Lewontin. You revealed what many of us have seen for years, and what Richard Dawkins recently confirmed--on the big screen, no less.

1. See Bruce Gordon's essay on Dawkins's comments.
2. See also Jon Wells essay on Dawkins's comments.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blog of Note

Author Robert Velarde has a smart blog, called A Reasonable Imagination, which features his writing on C.S. Lewis. Please look it over and buy his excellent new novel about Lewis, called Conversations with C.S. Lewis.

Is Jesus the Only Way?

I will be giving a public lecture called, "Is Jesus the Only Way?" at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado on Monday, April 28, at 7:00 in Engineering Auditorium 100. The message will last about 45 minutes and will include plenty of time for question and answer. I will address the significance of Jesus, the reliability of the New Testament, and the claims and credentials of Jesus. All are welcome. Some of my books will be available there as well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Introducing "Men and Women: Leaders Together"

Author and editor Rebecca Merrill Groothuis has started a new blog called Men and Women: Leaders Together. She is the author of Women Caught in the Conflict (Baker, 1994), Good News for Women (Baker, 1997), and is co-editor of Discovering Biblical Equality (IVP, 2004) as well as articles and reviews in publications such as Christian Scholars Review, Priscilla Papers, Christianity Today, and Christian Ethics Today.

Blogger Question

I know someone who is making a new blogger blog. The functions for links is utterly different, as it the HTML language. Does anyone know how to put a permanent link into a new blogger blog? Please email if you know. Thank you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New Blog Worth Noting on the Gender Debate

Adam Omelianchuk, a very astute thinker on the theology and logic of gender, has started a blog on this issue called Equality Press. He engages the topic fearlessly, frankly, and logically. Whoever appreciates the work of Rebecca Merrill Groothuis on egalitarianism will like Adam's work as well.

Break Down the Wall: A Movie Review of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (corrected and updated)

[I saw this film again tonight (4-21-08) and took notes. I have expanded the review somewhat in light of this. Updated again, 4-23-08.]

We should break down the wall of censorship, intimidation, and retaliation that keeps intelligent design theory out of the academy. America has honored and must honor free speech if it is to remain America. That is the message of “Expelled,” a controversial new film featuring Ben Stein. That message is communicated through interviews with Darwinists and Intelligent Design (ID) theorists as well as through various scenes, both humorous and somber. A reoccurring theme is that of the Berlin Wall keeping out Western ideas of freedom and keeping its prisoners locked into a dead and deadening ideology--Communism.

Being a bookish soul, I seldom attend films—perhaps two per year at most. Thus, I am not conversant with contemporary cinematic values or customs. (The previews nearly killed me. I keep my eyes shut, but my ears had to hear and bear a monstrous assortment of crashing, thumping, exploding sounds from hell. One preview was of a Batman movie I would not wish on my worst enemy. Amazingly, some ignoramus brought a baby into this sonic inferno.) I found the film's extreme close ups, jump cuts, and rapid scene changes annoying. Often during an interview there would be a cut away to an old black and white scene to illustrate a point. This became cloying and detracted from the debate. I yearned for more cognitive content and fewer special effects. Nevertheless, some important realities—hidden by the mainstream media—come crashing through this significant documentary.

Those who have advocated ID or even allowed its ideas some voice in their classroom or in their journals have been excommunicated by the Darwinian priesthood. That language is strong, but utterly apt. A biology professor’s teaching contract is not renewed after she mentions ID in her class. Another professor’s web site is censored by Baylor (a Baptist school) because it advocated ID. The editor of a science journal is fired because he supervised the publication of an article by Stephen Meyer defending ID. Professor Guillermo Gonzalez, despite a stellar academic record as an astronomer (he discovered several new planets and wrote a textbook), was denied tenure because his book, The Privileged Planet, which argues that earth was designed. A journalist's career is threatened because she didn't use the typical "boilerplate" caricature of ID in a story. Several professors make comments under the protection of secrecy; they rightly fear Darwinist reprisals.

I will not give all the details of this egregious and draconian persecution here, but these stories are true and indicative of the sociology of knowledge at work. The Darwinists control the academy, the grant money, and most of the media. They set the plausibility structure: things taken for granted and things unthinkable. This, by the way, has little to do with actual epistemology: things rational and things irrational. The Darwinists are seldom open to honest give-and-take debate; instead, they typically reject ID as anti-scientific and ban it from public forums. I have observed this for years, and it is heartening to find a major-release motion picture telling this story. Good evidence needs the proper venue to be seen as such. The Darwinist fight like mad to make this impossible.

Neither the scientific case against Darwinism (yes, there is one) nor the scientific case for ID (yes, there is one) are adequately communicated in “Expelled,” although ID thinkers such as Paul Nelson, William Dembski, David Berlinski (a brilliant and delightful curmudgeon), Jon Wells, and, Stephen Meyer are given some (but not enough) time to explain it. It is remarkable how articulate Dembski, Meyer, Wells, and Nelson are and how much intellectual punch they deliver in just a matter of minutes. However, we never hear of “irreducible complexity” (Michael Behe’s argument concerning the bacterial flagellum and other devices) or “specified complexity” (the indicator of design presented by Dembski). One computer-generated scene shows the complexity of the cell, but little is explained. (For the best DVD available arguing for ID, and against the criticisms of it, see “Unlocking the Mystery of Life.”) Dembski and Nelson briefly comment that one can believe in aspects of evolution and still support ID, since the key claim of ID is that aspects of nature require design to be explained. This does not rule out considerable development after the design has been introduced by an intelligent cause. However, this point needed more emphasis. One hopes that those moved by the film will consult the works of these authors, as well as the ground-breaking writing of Michael Behe, the most important practicing scientist of the ID movement, who, strangely, did not appear in the film.

“Expelled” also explores the philosophical and social implications of Darwinism, arguing that social Darwinism flows from biological Darwinism. Contra The New York Time's sneering and unserious review, social and biological Darwinism are of a piece. If the material world is all that is (or can be known), then there is no objective morality or moral law that exist outside of it that can be wrong to bear on it to correct it or direct it. (Yes, there are theistic Darwinists, but the film largely explores Darwinism as a naturalistic worldview. This is, in fact, how it is taught in the vast majority of public institutions today.) If so, the struggle to survive is all that matters; it is all that one is left with. Darwinian biologist William Provine makes this basic point in the film to introduce the section on Nazism, although he does not speak to social Darwinism or the Nazi's appropriation of Darwin. However, Provine denies objective good and evil, since biology is all that counts across the board. As Berkinski says in the film, Darwinism is a necessary condition for Nazism, but not a sufficient condition. That is, Nazism needed Darwinism for its ideology, but it needed other false considerations (of race and history) as well. However, Darwinism, in itself, does not provide any refutation to Hitlerian ideology, since (again) there is no knowable objective moral law outside of nature. The stronger must prevail—period.

The number of interviews and their brevity obscured some important differences between those within the Darwinian camp and between those who oppose Darwinism. It was briefly pointed out that Dawkins disagreed with Darwinists (represented by Eugenie Scott) who say that religion and Darwinism are compatible. He claimed that Darwinism explains religion away and leads toward atheism. Although the line was not used in the film, he is famous for saying that Darwinism allows one to be “an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” My take is that if Darwinism is true—the entire biosphere can be explained on the basis of undirected, natural causes (or by chance and necessity)—then theism is much less likely to be true. This is because biology is denuded of any evidence for a designer, when, in fact, Christianity (and other forms of theism) claim that evidence for God can be found precisely there (see Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-21).

While Alister McGrath was interviewed making comments against Dawkins’s atheism, it was not mentioned McGrath does not support intelligent design. In fact, he endorses methodological naturalism and is a theistic evolutionist. This is the chief reason why the debate between Dawkins and McGrath did not go well for McGrath. He could not argue from nature itself for a designer, thus ceding tremendous too much ground—the entire universe!—to Dawkins. Professor John Lennox (a brilliant and charming man I met in Hungry last summer, who holds three earned doctorates), who also appears in this film, did a far better job of handling Dawkins in a debate. The reason was that he deftly employed ID arguments against atheism.

Near the end of the film physicist John Polkinghorne said something out of sync the ID perspective by claiming that science has one view of the world and religion another; and we need to put them together. What that means, essentially (from what I know of the man's work), is that science explains the empirical and religion explains the spiritual. But ID claims that nature itself, when properly interpreted, shows signs of a designing intelligence. Evidence for intelligent causation in nature lends some intellectual and empirical support to theism, although it by no means gives us all the details of a religion. Polkinghorne and McGrath hold to a kind of "two domains" approach to science and religion. Science and religion cannot be at war because they speak of two different things. The leading ID thinkers, on the other hand, hold to more of an "interactive approach"--science and religion both make truth claims about reality that need to be assessed according to the best canons of evidence. On this, see J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City, chapter seven.

A few comments are in order about Ben Stein’s interview style. I know little about this man, except that he has been both an academic and in movies. Strange combination, that. He took a rather droll approach, and the interviews are highly edited and too short. His interview with Dawkins wastes time by asking him if he disbelieves in all gods (“the Jewish God, the Hindu gods…?”) and trying to pin him down as to what the exact percentage is that there is no God. This got laughs when I saw the film, but was intellectually pointless. Dawkins gets the best of him. Stein, however, did help reveal the absurdity of Michael Ruse’s idea that life began by riding on the back of crystals by simply repeating the bizarre idea several times in an incredulous tone of voice. Without a designer, the unliving, unthinking, unplanning universe must become enormously creative and lucky beyond belief.

While the major news outlets are viciously attacking “Expelled” as creationist propaganda (and they didn't have to actually see it to say that), the fact is that the film reveals a systematic, unfair, and deeply un-American suppression and distortion of ID thought in the academy. (For example, Eugenie Scott claims that ID thinkers have produced no peer review work. This is flatly false. Just go to to find a list of peer-review work.) The Darwinian inquisitors make Joseph McCarthy look like a girl scout. In fact, there were Communists deeply embedded in the academy and the motion picture industry (something young Ronald Reagan fought against) during the Senator's day, and Communists were genuinely dangerous to the American experiment. McCarthy was not entirely wrong, although he has become a whipping boy of the sound-bite crowd. ID thinkers, however, are no threat to science or to any American ideal. Yet they are a threat to Darwinism, which has become a largely unchallengeable orthodoxy in America.

I say, "Break down the wall."

For a brief case for ID and its place in the university, see my essay, "Intelligent Design and the State University: Accepting the Challenge."

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Straw God, Understanding the New Atheism, Part I

This is a new essay of mine published at TrueU on the attacks of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et al, against the existence of God. Part II will be on the atheists' attack on the Bible specifically.

I am opening this post to comments, but have a new policy. Uncivil posts--those containing personal attacks, condescension, and other assorted vitriol--will be immediately deleted. I have deleted posts in the past, but will be more proactive and watchful this time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Darwinian Censorship Once Again

Displaying their open-mindedness, commitment to freedom of speech, and confidence that their theory can win in the heat of debate, some Florida scientists are urging law-makers to oppose a bill that would protect science teachers from being fired if they offered evidence against Darwinism. These kinds of tactics indicate extreme repression and discrimination.

Obama and Clinton on abortion: evasion and ignorance of basic biology.

Human life begins at conception; it is not potential human life, but actual human life with potential. These people are deceiving themselves and would further corrupt law and culture if elected. Obama refers to the medieval (Aristotelian) view of "the soul being stirred" or ensoulment. This is found nowhere in the Bible, which views human life as a continuum.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blog Holiday

I will not be posting new things or reading threads indefinitely. But you can expect a review of "Expelled" after I see it. I need to put more time into reading books, writing books, articles, etc. This blog is becoming a distraction, I'm afraid.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Given their recent posts, I will not respond on the blog to anything by Stockwell or Sir Fab on ID. They are simply going over old ground: How can most biologists be wrong? (2) You are not a scientist, so shut up. If they want to actually deal with the empirical evidence for ID, then I will re-engage, but not before. The first is the ad populum fallacy; the second the is ad hominem fallacy. Both avoid the empirical arguments and forms of reasoning.

I have publications coming out in both Think and Perspectives on Science and Christianity defending ID. These are peer review journals. I cannot waste time with pointless distractions on this blog.

Curmudgeon Recommends a Movie!

"Expelled: The Movie" is coming out Friday, April 18. It is a documentary on how Darwinists have unfairly excluded their critics from public debate. I hope my faithful readers will fill the theaters to overflowing. This one is about a serious subject; it is not a guilty pleasure. Everything I have heard about the film makes me think it will be well done and very significant for the cause of free speech in American, which is still covered by the First Amendment (I recently rechecked that).

Screen Them In

It is a revelation. It is efficient. It it technologically savvy. It is market sensitive. It works.

Screen them in.

Many churches fail because their pastors are not with-it, not informal enough, not funny enough, not big enough personalities. Some even have bad hair.

They are so, well...yesterday.

Screen them in.

But we all know pastors who are road-tested, the real deal, the high-octane. They command huge audiences each week. They stand before mega-congregations of adoring and money-giving people. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They sit comfortably on bar stools. They make us comfortable. They are positive. They never scold. They always smile. Their teeth are perfect. They are telegenic. And that hair-positively supernatural!

Screen them in!

We no longer need worry about training huge numbers of pastors--many of which will fail anyway, unable to win market share--to brave the hostile world of picky consumers.

Now we can screen them in--the superstars, the darlings of the stage, God's annointed. For every live performance of a sermon, there can be an infinite number of video presentations of that same sermon, anywhere in the world! Local worship leaders and coordinators can provide whatever local color is needed, but the sermon is always taken care of, always on target, a product you can trust.

Screen them in--or they will screen you out.

For more information, contact:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Month for Jazz

April, 2008, is Jazz Appreciation Month, as celebrated by the Smithsonian. Look at what they have to offer. If you have never listened seriously to jazz, you may want to start with these recordings:

1. Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue."
2. John Coltrane, "Giant Steps."
3. Thelonious Monk, "Underground."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Francis Schaeffer, "A Christian Manifesto" (DVD)

This is a sermon delivered at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 1982 by the seventy- year-old evangelist, apologist, theologian, preacher, teacher, author, and activist, Francis A. Schaeffer. It was two years before his death from cancer in 1984. He was not a flashy speaker; he trades rather on reason, passion, and knowledge.

The message basically covers the material from his book, A Christian Manifesto (Crossway, 1981). Schaeffer argues that the secular humanist worldview is responsible for the loss of human value and religious freedoms in the United States. He claims that the Christian worldview will bring forth a different and better culture than a worldview that takes the ultimate reality to be impersonal matter. Schaeffer calls Christians to know their history and to know their Lord as the Master of all life, to use their political freedoms to counter the humanistic consensus in law and culture.

This is solid and stirring stuff. There was no bluff, no glibness, and no trivia in this brave and wise man. He saw the big picture, but did not revel in superficialities. His words are measured, but delivered with fire and light. May his tribe multiply in our day—twenty six years after he delivered this message, a day when abortion on demand is still the law of the land, when infants who survive abortions are left to die, when the infirm are left to die or actively killed (as with Terry Schiavo in 2005), a day when too many Christians are stupefied by conformist and apathetic ways of life that fail to honor Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

This is highly recommended for small groups, adult education classes, family viewing, and in Christian education (high school and above). It would serve the Kingdom of God well if every pastor in America saw this vide and read the book of the same title. Forget about Barna for awhile and take this into your soul.

As Schaeffer once wrote, “Oh, triune God. Shake the world again.”

Myths About "Expelled"

Please read Charles Colson's commentary on the new film, "Expelled." The Darwinian thought police have made several preemptive strikes against it--all false. This is one film I will see, probably on opening night.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Memory: computer and human

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. --Psalm 119:11.

The BBC reports that a new technology for computer memory may increase it a hundred fold over present capacities. Perhaps. IBM may create a hand-held device that can hold half a million songs. This is sure to bring about world peace. (Are there half a million recorded songs worth listening to?)

But what about human memory? It seems to shrink as computer "memory" expands. A Somali is taught to memorize her genealogy going back dozens of generations. I don't know any of my great grandfathers' first name. Do you know the first name of any of your great grandfathers?

How much reality do we carry inside of us, in our souls? What do we commit to memory? The ancient Greeks worried that inscription would erode memory. If it is written down, why internalize it? Primary orality requires vast memorization. Literacy requires less, yet does not necessarily debase memory. C.S. Lewis had a prodigious literary memory (due, I believe, to a photographic memory). Some rabbis shortly after the time of Jesus could consult the Hebrew Bible in written form, but memorized it in its entirety. Think of it. But is was easier for them. They didn't have television.

What have we memorized--accidentally or intentionally? Do you remember the five main characters of "Friends"? Do you know the five freedoms of the First Amendment? Which is more important to know? Do you know what's on your iPod? Do you know what's in your Bible (if you have one)? Have your tried to know, tried to remember?

Remember to remember.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Two Moments In Church Time

"You become what you behold"--Marshall McLuhan.

During "the prayers of the people" part of the Anglican Liturgy, a young couple attend to their baby while looking at their brightly-lit cell phone. " The baby looks as well. "Strange and sad," I thought, "Can't they ever turn it off? Can't they focus on the sacred service going on in their midst?" Then during the Eucharist, the summit of the service, this couple takes the baby to the altar along with the well lit-cell phone.

Many are now wearing their technologies like clothing. They have no sense of when to leave them behind and when to take them, when to turn them off and when to turn them on along. And "on" is the new default mode; multitasking is the way of being. Life is impoverished thereby.

To this, I declare:

is in.
is out.


Turn off;
tune out;
and dive in.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Human Life and the Law of Colorado: Do Something!

I just learned that there is an organization called Colorado for Human Rights, which is sponsoring an amendment to the Colorado constitution to define human life as beginning at conception. This is a biological fact and should be seen as a moral and legal reality. Please look over their material and consider signing and distributing their petition. They are also sponsoring an event Sunday evening, April 13.

Fight fetus fatigue and get involved! I have a petition, so if you see me, ask to sign it.

On Learning to Write Well

One of my Philosophy of Religion graduates from Denver Seminary, Rebecca Vartabedian, has written a post on learning how to write clear philosophy. It is well-written and instructive for aspiring writers of philosophy (and other subjects).

Monday, April 07, 2008

What's Left of the New Age?

[In light of the Oprah flap or blip, I offer an essay originally written for Moody magazine (now defunct, sadly) a few years ago. It explains the essential ideas of New Age teaching and constrasts this with Christianity. Given biblical illiteracy and the lack of apologetic and worldview training in the church, it is no wonder that so many Christians end up practicing yoga, applauding Oprah, and falling for other New Age enticements. There is one word for what must be done: Repent!]


A staff member of Denver Seminary was concerned about several of our students who were getting very involved in a questionable organization. They were also aggressively recruiting other students. She asked my advice. I began investigate his organization and interview students. The group promised personal transformation through intensive and expensive seminars. It turned out to be a human potential outfit nearly identical to est, the Forum, and Lifespring—all New Age. I advised several Christians involved in it to withdraw. Because of situations like this—even some fifteen years after my first book on the New Age movement was published—I believe that Christians should continue to unmask the New Age, because it is a significant, stubborn, and harmful factor in American life.

Some think the New Age movement is outdated, because the term “New Age” is no longer in vogue. Several celebrities who sparked the public’s interest in spirit channeling, reincarnation, meditation, crystals, and occult practices have faded from the scene (although Shirley MacLaine recently released a best-selling book called The Cameo).

The New Age world view never left the American landscape. Instead, it adopted the generic label of “spirituality,” and put down deep roots into the fertile soil of America’s ignorance and gullibility. Some of the New Age players have changed, but the message remains. Many people today believe in reincarnation instead of resurrection, trust in their own divinity rather than turning to Christ for deliverance from sin, indulge in occult practices instead of relying on God through prayer and obedience, insist that there are many spiritual masters instead confessing Jesus as the only way, and believe they “create their own reality” rather than obeying God.

New Age influence is broad and deep. Several recent articles indicate that yoga, an intrinsically Hindu religious practice, is now a staple of America’s exercise culture. Many Christians think there is nothing wrong with it. The Clintons consulted with popular New Age teachers Marianne Williamson, Anthony Robbins, and Jean Houston. A series of best-selling books by Neal Donald Walsh were based on his “conversations with God.” Walsh’s “God” opposes traditional morality and announces that Hitler went to heaven—without repenting. This blasphemy is taken as wisdom by millions.

Deepak Chopra has spun out many best-selling books, all of which teach that we are divine and unlimited beings who tend to forget who we really are. He says: “You are not a human being who has spiritual experiences, but a spiritual being who has human experiences.” Chopra recently appeared in Denver at an event where the best seats sold for well over $100. His recent book, How to Know God, claims that God is “not a person,” but an infinite intelligence.” Instead of the “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14), Chopra’s god is an impersonal and amoral “It is what it is.”
This pantheistic (all is divine) view makes a living relationship with God logically impossible. A relationship requires persons who are related. We relate to God as finite and personal creatures before our infinite and personal Creator (Genesis 1). But rather than believing that “God so loved the world, he sent his one and only Son…” (John 3:16), New Agers believe that God is the world. Love, then, could not have anything to do with it.

The New Age viewpoint fosters and furthers a sloppy and illogical approach to spiritual life because it is purely pragmatic, randomly eclectic, and relativistic. It maintains that there are many paths to enlightenment (see Matthew 7:13). We may follow whatever path “works” for us (except for narrow-minded Christianity). Such “spirituality” robs the self of its moral backbone and destroys discernment. The notion that we chose our own destiny and create our own reality weakens our God-given conscience and contributes to the ongoing decline of public and private morality. Reincarnation denies the titanic and eternal reality that a person may lose his or her soul in hell, as Jesus soberly warned us (Matthew 16:26; 25:41-56).

The New Age counterfeit remains a widespread spiritual danger. We must test the spirits (Colossians 2:8-10; 1 John 4:1-4) and offer good reasons for the hope that is within us to those who are ensnared by the darkness that masquerades as light (1 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Corinthians 11:14).

Once More to the O

Many of my loyal and disloyal readers already know the truth about Oprah Winfrey, but given there is some kind of Oprah blip recently in connection to her new darling, Ecky Tolle, we need to get to the bottom of things.

Despite her background and language, O does not believe in or promote biblical Christianity. For many years, she has instead promoted authors--such as Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukov, and now Tolle--who deny the Bible by affirming a New Age worldview. That means a perspective that denies the Creator/creation distinction, denies the personality of God, and elevates humans as divine. Instead of repentance and faith in Christ as the Mediator, it teaches that Christ is merely a way-shower, one of many ways to discover "the divine within." These writers may use Christian terminology, but they empty the terms of biblical meaning. "God" now means a universal force or energy. "Christ" now means a state of consciousness. "Faith" means faith in your own divinity, not in the objective work of Christ, dying on the Cross to atone for our sins.

My first books took on this counterfeit worldview. The first, Unmasking the New Age (InterVarsity Press, 1986), is still in print (barely). Although many of the names have changed, the worldview has not. A worldview that was a just starting to insinuate itself deeply into American culture is now mainstream for millions. Nevertheless, it is false, illogical, and unbiblical, as I argue there and in several other books. I have been writing, teaching, preaching, and debating on this topic for thirty years. This is nothing to take lightly; it is a false gospel (see Galatians 1). My prayer is that Christians will wake up, develop a truly Christian worldview, and not be deceived by the likes Oprah Winfrey.

Several years ago, The Christian Research Journal ran a solid critique of O. If you have any doubt about her New Age views, please read this! There is a six minute video on YouTube that reveals some O's basic beliefs. I cannot vouch for the book promoted at the end, however. Does anyone know anything about it?

On Line Gallery of Paintings

Elayne Mosley, a Denver artist, attends my church, Wellspring Anglican Church. I just learned tonight that she is also an artist. Please view her on-line gallery of wonderful paintings.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Blog on Francis Schaeffer

I have started a blog to discuss the film series and book, "How Should We Then Live" by Francis Schaeffer. This is primarily for the group that is meeting at Wellspring Anglican Church, but those who have seen the films or have read the book may contribute.

Lessons from Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984)--updated and corrected

Having recently reread many of the works of Francis A. Schaeffer, I am compelled to list several lessons he can teach Bible-believing Christians (and others) today. Schaeffer was a pastor, prolific writer, prophetic generalist, apologist, and primarily an evangelist. That latter is how he typically described himself. Schaeffer inspired a generation of evangelicals--including me—to honor the Lordship of Christ over all of life and to reclaim the mind and culture for Kingdom causes.

1. Schaeffer had a deep passion for God and for truth. This came out of his intellectual conversion as a teenager, after he read both classical Greek literature and the Bible, as well as from his intellectual crisis that hit him after over a decade of ministry. Having not seen the reality of Christian love and the work of the Spirit, he questioned everything for several months, yet returned stronger, spiritually and mentally to the task. True Spirituality is the fruit of this crisis and renewal.

2. Schaeffer cared deeply about the lostness of modern people. NonChristians were not "objects" for this man of God, but image-bearers of God who were hopeless apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Schaeffer exegeted culture, he did so with an angle on how so much of culture reveals a lack of hope and meaning. In his apologetic conversations, Schaeffer would not cognitively spare with opponents, but try to lead souls to truth through love and reason—and not without tears, as he often said. Schaeffer wrote of the primacy of love for the Christian life and mission in The Mark of the Christian.

3. Schaeffer was an unapologetic generalist for the cause of Christ. He studied the areas he thought pertinent to ministry and the calling of the church in his day. While some wrongly took his judgments as the last word, they were almost always a vital first word and call to further study and prophetic engagement with the world under Christ.

4. Schaeffer was not a self-promoter, but sought God for life and ministry. The L'Abri ministry of apologetics, evangelism, and study in the Swiss Alps developed as Francis and his wife Edith responded to the needs of questioning students. Later in his ministry, Schaeffer was sometimes promoted too heavily. This may have been the fault of his son, Franky, who produced the film series, "How Shall We Then Live?" and "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?" Schaeffer never even planned to write books, but wrote when his lectures and discussion were so well received that books were requested.

5. Schaeffer loved the arts, could recognize aesthetic goodness even in nonChristian (or anti-Christian) art, and gave Christian artists permission and vision for artistic endeavor. On all of this, see Art and the Bible, recently republished with a foreword by musician and author Michael Caird. Schaeffer often spoke of bringing "beauty" into the Christian life.

6. Schaeffer had a deep knowledge of and love for Scripture. The Bible was a living reality for his man. He said in The God Who is There that we must be studying the Scriptures daily in order to present the truth to unbelievers. He himself read at least three chapters from the OT and one from the NT each day. His writings exude biblical truth and wisdom. Let us do likewise (Acts 17:11).

7. Schaeffer was "a man of the Reformation," who, nevertheless, was not doctrinaire or haughty about his Calvinism. Schaeffer realized that the Reformation was necessary and that we must remain "a reformed church always reforming." The Reformers, while hardly perfect, brought the Scripture back to its rightful centrality and also opened up social and cultural wonders for the West, as Schaeffer pointed out in How Should We Then Live? and A Christian Manifesto. While Schaeffer believed in and taught The Westminster Standards, his appeal radiated far wider than Reformed and Presbyterian circles.

In a time when some, such as emergent author Brian McLaren, are calling us to be "post-Protestant," this means needs to be heard and headed. The Five Solas of the Reformation are not optional for Christianity, but are its life blood. Nevertheless, those who hold to the Five Points of Calvinism (the TULIP), as I do, should do so with conviction, but also humility. Five Pointers can and should work with Christians of other persuasions so long as the essential gospel is not
compromised. (I believe some forms of Arminianism do this, however.)

Therefore, let read and reread the works of Francis A. Schaeffer. I suggest you purchase The Collected Works and work your way through them—for the glory of God, for the good of his church, and for the furtherance of the Kingdom. If you think you have "no time" to read, then please make time. Eliminate distractions and immerse yourself in these books.


Schaeffer wrote over twenty books from 1968 until his death in 1984. I recommend you procure The Complete Works, if possible. If not, here are some of his more noteworthy works to get you started:

1. The God Who is There. InterVarsity Press. Originally published in 1968, this apologetic masterpiece gave Christians a way to view culture and history that challenged them to speak historic Christianity into the modern world. The most recent edition is the 30th anniversary edition (1998), which I endorsed on the back cover.

2. He is There, He is Not Silent. Tyndale, 1972. This succinct, but profound volume argues that the Christian God is the best explanation for epistemology, morality, and the nature of the cosmos and human beings.

3. Christian Manifesto. Crossway, 1981. This is warning and a call to action in light of the decline of the Judeo-Christian perspective on law and culture. It was a key document in calling Christians to be informed activists.

4. The Mark of the Christian. InterVarsity. A compelling meditation on the meaning of Christian love as central for all Christian endeavors.

5. True Spirituality. Tyndale, 1972. Explains the basic of Christian living doctrinally and practically. These are truths that revived Schaeffer’s ministry after a burnout experience. A modern classic

6. How Should We Then Live? Fleming-Revell, 1976. A wide-ranging history and critique of Western civilization from a Christian viewpoint. A motivation for Christians to understand their history and to live accordingly under the Lordship of Christ.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Schaeffer Film Series Hosted by Doug Groothuis

Starting on April 6 at 7:00 PM, I will be teaching a ten-week series on the Francis A. Schaeffer film series, "How Should We Then Live?" This will be held at Wellspring Anglican Church, 4300 S. Lincoln, Engelwood, CO 80113. As a long-time student of Schaeffer, who was initiated into apologetics and social criticism by his work, The God Who is There (1968), I relish this opportunity to present his ideas to a new generation.

This series, released in 1976, looks at Western Culture--beginning with "The Roman Age"--from a Christian perspective. There is also an excellent book by the same name, which I highly recommend. Each episode is about 30 minutes long. I will introduce each episode and lead discussion afterward. I will try to give examples and make points that bring the material up to date. There is no charge for this series. Any thinking, civil person is welcome.

The aim of this endeavor is to equip Christians to know their times by knowing history so that they might be salt and light in their culture. Too many Christians do not know the history of Western Civilization or the part that Christianity has played in it. Sadly, many colleges and universities today do not even require a course on Western Civilization. The films should also be interesting and challenging to those inquiring into Christianity who are not yet Christians.

Warning Label

Most humans should have the following warning label placed on them in some conspicuous place:

Warning: Contents Under Pressure

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tips on Doing Radio Interviews: With Special Emphasis on Promoting One's Books

Having done my first radio interview in 1983, I have done hundreds since then on various topics, on both secular and Christian stations. Through it all, I have noted some themes and developed some principles for engagement. I hope they are helpful in bearing Christian witness over the airwaves (and now on line as well). The advice here is mostly geared to doing interviews over the phone, but many principles apply to in-station interviews as well.

1. If you are a professor or teacher, realize that radio interviews have little in common with lectures. I did not realize this during my first interview. During the opening ten minutes or so, I started a lecture. Just after I explained the New Age worldview, and the host started taking questions from the audience. One caller thought I was a New Ager, because I had not gotten to the critique of that aberrant worldview! Economize on time and concepts.

2. Realize that most radio hosts have not read your book. They will probably rely on the cheat sheet provided by the publisher—or they may wing it.
Find out exactly what the format for the radio program is and plan accordingly.

· Find up as much as you can about the basic spirit and outlook of the program

· Some programs have no commercials. When on these programs, one can develop ideas more fully. If you will be on a commercial station, try to find out how long the segments are.

· Figure out how many hosts you will be addressing. More than one host tends to make it more complicated. Use their names in your comments if possible. This adds warmth.

· Determine whether or when the program will take callers. Some programs are prerecorded and not live. If so, you may even ask the host to start the program or segment over if you make a mistake.

· The appearance of theme music means they are coming up on a break. It is a warning signal. Finish up the thought.

3. Callers can say most anything. It may or may not be related to your book. Many callers heap ideas upon ideas. Try to respond to one salient point of the caller. You need not respond to everything they say. Usually the host doesn’t want to spend that much time on each caller.

4. Try not to interrupt the host or hosts or the callers if possible. However, if someone is talking over you or not giving you enough space, you may need to interject yourself tactfully. I had to do this when interviewed on Intelligent Design on a Boulder public radio station. The anti-ID fellow was going on and on, the host was against me, and time was running out. So, I said to the host, “When do I get to respond?” The man was adding up fallacies so quickly that I was losing count and wanted to weigh in. It worked well.

5. Don’t be afraid to say the title of your book a few times, especially if the host forgets to do it. The main point of the interview is to get people to read your book.

6. Have a glass of water near the phone to lubricate your voice if needed.

7. Make sure you are using a phone that does not have call waiting. An incoming call would interrupt the flow of the interview.

8. Make sure you do not have a cell phone on near the phone you are using. This would also provide a distraction if the phone goes off.

9. Have your book near you for the interview. You may forget key points that you need to emphasize.

10. Pray before, during, and after your interview (1 Thessalonians 5:17). You want your words to count for time and eternity in this medium.

11. Conduct the interview in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.

12. If you have to cough, sneeze, or make other bodily sounds with no intelligible content, cover the receiver or turn your head away from it. Otherwise you will blast out your audience.

13. Try to minimize stutter words and phrases such as “I mean,” “you know, “um,” “I tell ya,” and the like. These are unpleasant to hear and waste precious time. Make every word count.

14. If you are new to doing interviews, have a trusted friend listen to your performance and then give his or her recommendations and comments. "Iron sharpens iron."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Way of the Heart

The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen is a small, but profound work on the spirituality of the desert fathers and mothers. Although written by Roman Catholic priest, I found nothing offensive to Protestants such as myself.

It outlines the stories of Egyptian believers who fled the corruptions of ancient culture to learn solitude, silence, and deep prayer. They then returned to participate in live in a different and higher mode. Our frenetic and unhinged culture needs solitude, silence, and prayer. Christian leaders are too often dragged along by cultural themes and rhythms that fit not the gospel way. For these reasons, I recommend The Way of the Heart.

I suggest you read it in one sitting, by yourself, with prenty of time for reflection and prayer.