How does church appear to someone raised in a non-Christian home?

My friend Wes posted an article about how communication is set up in the church, and why it’s not effective at equipping Christians to defend their worldview in hostile environments. The article describes what I encountered in church, after I was raised in a non-Christian home and become a Christian on my own by reading the New Testament. The view presented in the essay is how I viewed the church, and is probably how most outsiders view church. I think it explains why young people leave the church in droves once they move out of their parents’ houses.

The author writes:

On the Internet, one soon discovers that many respected church leaders are quite unable to deal directly with opposing viewpoints. In fact, many of them can’t even manage meaningful engagement with other voices. Their tweets may be entirely one-way conversations. They talk at their audiences. They can talk about other voices, but fail to talk to them, let alone with them. Their representations of opposing viewpoints reveal little direct exposure to the viewpoints in question.

[…]Around this point, it can start to dawn on one that many church leaders have only been trained in forms of discourse such as the sermon and, to a much lesser extent, the essay. Both forms privilege a single voice—their voice—and don’t provide a natural space for response, questioning, and challenge. Their opinions have been assumed to be superior to opposing viewpoints, but have never been demonstrated to be so. While they may have spoken or written about opposing voices, they are quite unaccustomed to speaking or writing to them (not to mention listening to or being cross-examined by them). There are benefits to the fact that the sermon is a form of discourse that doesn’t invite interruption or talking back, but not when this is the only form of discourse its practitioners are adept in.

Many church leaders have been raised and trained in ideologically homogenous cultures or contexts that discouraged oppositional discourse. Many have been protected from hostile perspectives that might unsettle their faith. Throughout, their theological opinions and voices have been given a privileged status, immune from challenge. Nominal challenges could be brushed off by a reassertion of the monologue. They were safe to speak about and habitually misrepresent other voices to their hearers and readers, without needing to worry about those voices ever enjoying the power to answer them back. Many of the more widely read members of their congregations may have had an inkling of the weakness of their positions in the past: the Internet just makes it more apparent.

One of my friends who comments here as “Wintery’s Friend” actually did his M. Div, and I think it was he who told me that his seminary had dropped the lone course in apologetics that had been part of the curriculum. Now seminary grads don’t learn any opposing views. They just pre-suppose that the Bible is true in the same way that Mormons pre-suppose their Bible is true, or Muslims pre-suppose their Bible is true, etc.

More:

If one’s opinion has never been subjected to and tried by rigorous cross-examination, it probably isn’t worth much. If one lacks the capacity to keep a level head when one’s views are challenged, one’s voice will be of limited use in most real world situations, where dialogue and dispute is the norm and where we have to think in conversation with people who disagree with us.

The teachers of the Church provide the members of the Church with a model for their own thinking. The teacher of the Church does not just teach others what to believe, but also how to believe, and the process by which one arrives at a theological position. This is one reason why it is crucial that teachers ‘show their working’ on a regular basis. When teaching from a biblical text, for instance, the teacher isn’t just teaching the meaning of that particular text, but how Scripture should be approached and interpreted more generally. An essential part of the teaching that the members of any church need is that of dealing with opposing viewpoints. One way or another, every church provides such teaching. However, the lesson conveyed in all too many churches is that opposing voices are to be dismissed, ignored, or ‘answered’ with a reactive reassertion of the dogmatic line, rather than a reasoned response.

You can imagine that the first questions that you’ll be asked by a non-Christian co-worker would be things like “why think God exists?” and “why think the Bible is history rather than legend?”. In order to answer those questions, you would have to know how to counter what a non-Christian believes. You would have to show them the reasons for your view.

Unfortunately, many of the conservative Christian leaders we trust think that the best way to be convincing is not to show your work, but just to speak Bible verses at people who don’t accept the Bible as an authority. Some people attend church for 20 years, and they never meet a single person who didn’t just assume that the Bible is trustworthy without doing an investigation first.

What’s most surprising is that this fideistic view of Christianity is not even Biblical. The Biblical view of faith is that faith is trust in God, based on evidence. This is why Jesus offered his own resurrection as evidence to a generation of unbelievers. His miracles were also evidence offered to unbelievers. And the Old Testament is filled with examples of people like Isaiah presenting evidence to unbelievers. The fideist view sounds more like the Mormon “burning of the bosom” view. We can do better than that!

Look:

That debate has over 6 million views on YouTube. That’s a debate with Christopher Hitchens, one of the most famous atheists of the last 100 years. In the post-debate comments, the atheist admitted he lost. Watch it. You won’t find it in most churches, so you’re going to have to learn it on your own. Without anyone’s help. Don’t be a spectator. Don’t settle for youth pastor Christianity.

Knight and Rose Show – Episode 6: Knighted by the King: Authentic Masculinity

Welcome to episode 6 of the Knight and Rose podcast! This is the first episode where my audio is improved, so you should not notice an echo. In this episode, we discuss what it means to be masculine according to a Christian worldview. If you like this episode, please subscribe to the podcast, and subscribe to our Youtube channel. We would appreciate it if you left us a 5-star review on Apple iTunes / Apple Podcasts.

Podcast description:

Christian apologists Wintery Knight and Desert Rose discuss apologetics, policy, culture, relationships, and more. Each episode equips you with evidence you can use to boldly engage anyone, anywhere. We train our listeners to become Christian secret agents. Action and adventure guaranteed. 30-45 minutes per episode. New episode every week.

Episode 6:

Episode 6 Summary:

Wintery Knight and Desert Rose discuss male nature. We discuss Bible verses that describe masculine virtues and roles. We discuss how masculinity is portrayed in classical movies, classical literature, and military history. We talk about male strengths, and how men leverage their strengths to lead and equip others. We talk about which women are the most attractive to men who are on mission. We talk about whether men have to get married and have children in order to be masculine.

Speaker biographies

Wintery Knight is a black legal immigrant. He is a senior software engineer by day, and an amateur Christian apologist by night. He has been blogging at winteryknight.com since January of 2009, covering news, policy and Christian worldview issues.

Desert Rose did her undergraduate degree in public policy, and then worked for a conservative Washington lobbyist organization. She also has a graduate degree from a prestigious evangelical seminary. She is active in Christian apologetics as a speaker, author, and teacher.

References

Cultural Marxism, a lecture from Founders Ministries featuring Pastor Voddie Baucham

The First of the Few (movie, aka “Spitfire”)

High Noon (movie)

A lesson about men for marriage-minded women from the movie “High Noon” by Wintery Knight

Cyrano de Bergerac (movie, based on a play by Edmond Rostand)

A Man for All Seasons (movie, based on a play by Robert Bolt)

Emma (movie, based on a book by Jane Austen. Note: the 2009 version is my favorite)

Badly Done, Emma (a scene from the 2009 movie version of Emma)

Wahoo: The Patrols of America’s Most Famous World War II Submarine  by Richard “Dick” O’Kane

Clear the Bridge! The War Patrols of the U.S.S. Tang by Richard “Dick” O’Kane

Podcast RSS feed:

https://feed.podbean.com/knightandrose/feed.xml

You can use this to subscribe to the podcast from your phone or tablet. I use the open-source AntennaPod app on my Android phone.

Podcast channel pages:

Video channel pages:

Music attribution:

Strength Of The Titans by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/5744-strength-of-the-titans
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Evidence for design in living systems is changing the way scientists work

If you look over in the right column of the blog, you’ll see that I am reading “The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith”. It’s a collection of short essays intended for laymen to explain all aspects of the design debate. I’m actually listening to the audio book version, and just looking in the book for diagrams. I wanted to talk about a few resources that are similar to what I’m seeing in the book.

First, there’s this excellent post from Evolution News, where Dr. Casey Luskin (who recently appeared on the Apologetics 315 podcast) lists out all the areas where intelligent design is fruitful for studying living systems.

Here is his list:

  • Protein science
  • Physics and cosmology
  • Information theory
  • Pharmacology
  • Evolutionary computation
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular machines
  • Cell biology
  • Systematics
  • Paleontology
  • Genetics

These are all good, but I’m going to focus on some of them that are interesting to me coming from a software engineering background.

Information theory: ID leads scientists to understand intelligence as a cause of biological complexity, capable of being scientifically studied, and to understand the types of information it generates.

I looked into this one when naturalists were trying to argue that specified complexity was just the same as Shannon information. Shannon information is just concerned with the complexity, or information carrying capacity, of strings. But specified complexity is a step further, where certain strings have meaning or purpose, because they conform to a pattern. A random set of characters the same length as this blog post is complex (like Shannon information), but it’s not specified. What makes my letter sequences specified is that it conforms to the English language, and conveys meaning.

Here’s another:

Evolutionary computation: ID produces theoretical research into the information-generative powers of Darwinian searches, leading to the discovery that the search abilities of Darwinian processes are limited, which has practical implications for the viability of using genetic algorithms to solve problems.

When I was in grad school, there were courses on using “genetic algorithms” to solve problems. But thanks to the work of ID proponents like William Dembski, we now know that these algorithms only work if constraints are put on the search algorithm up front. As such, they don’t support undirected evolution at all.

Bioinformatics: ID has helped scientists develop proper measures of biological information, leading to concepts like complex and specified information or functional sequence complexity. This allows us to better quantify complexity and understand what features are, or are not, within the reach of Darwinian evolution.

Before ID came along, people weren’t really interested in calculating the probability of sequencing amino acids into a protein by chance. They just wanted to assume that it happened, because what else could have happened? Sometimes, you make better decisions when you listen to both sides of a debate. Now we have two sides to the debate on origins, and it helps both sides to defend their views.

Molecular machines: ID encourages scientists to reverse-engineer molecular machines — like the bacterial flagellum — to understand their function like machines, and to understand how the machine-like properties of life allow biological systems to function.

I’ve blogged before about how human inventors are regularly reverse-engineering natural designs in order to come up with designs for man-made machines.

Genetics: ID has inspired scientists to investigate the computer-like properties of DNA and the genome in the hopes of better understanding genetics and the origin of biological systems.15 ID has also inspired scientists to seek function for noncoding junk-DNA, allowing us to understand development and cellular biology.

By now, everybody has heard about the predictions by Darwinists about the “uselessness” of junk DNA. That all went out the window with the data from the ENCODE project, that found that the so-called junk DNA was almost all useful. Another Darwinian prediction falsified by the progress of science.

A 40-minute lecture

I saw a nice lecture from the recent Science & Faith conference that was held in Dallas this year. The speaker was Dr. Brian Miller:

Dr. Miller is Research Coordinator at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Duke University.

More about him and the articles he has written can be found here: https://www.discovery.org/p/miller/

The video talks about all the areas where evidence for design is changing the way that scientists look at living systems.

The talk was very cutting edge, with a lot of new stuff I had not seen before. It’s worth the time to watch it. There were also a couple of prior lectures from the conference. One from Eric Hedin, where he talked about being “canceled” by Darwinists for teaching both sides of origins issues at Ball State University. Another from Stephen C. Meyer talks about the Judeo-Christian origins of modern science. I’ve only watched the Miller lecture so far, but that’s what Saturdays are for! Watching lectures and debates.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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