Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Other Intelligent Design theories

"Intelligent Design (ID) is only one of many 'alternatives' to Darwinian evolution", says author David Brin. His article, "The Other Intelligent Design Theories" appears in the online "Skeptic" magazine. Brin says that ID proponents claim that they must be heard in the classroom if educators were to play fair and be complete about evolution theories.

This pitch may backfire says Brin. After all, to be complete, there are several ID theories. Surely the ID proponents could not object to teaching all the alternatives:

  • Guided evolution. (A lot of scientists hold to this one.)
  • Intelligent Design of Intelligent Designers (IDOID - a Mormon view?)
  • Evolution of Intelligent Designers. (This one involves Black Holes!)
  • Cycles of Creation (let's not forget Hindu and Mayan concepts)
  • Panspermia (spaceships, anyone?)

Other possibles:

  • The Universe as a simulation
  • We have been resurrected at the Omega Point
  • ... perhaps you have a favorite?

UPDATE (7/21/06): I just had to check the original article date when I came across the Locusts and Honey blog's link to "Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity with 'Intelligent Falling' Theory". I was so sure it had to have been April 1st. But no ...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Churches: Get back to basics

Author Clark William, in The Vital Church , says that the decline of mainstream Protestant churches will not reverse until churches get back to their core values and basic mission using four principals:
  • Teaching
  • Worship
  • Community
  • Service
Of the four, I'd say that modern churches are weakest at community and service. On the other hand, some teaching may be boring or outdated and some worship may be too stiff and formal for today's relaxed, yet fast-paced society.

Our Savior preached a gospel of hope, a standard of love, and a focus on outreach to the poor and those looked down upon in society. Christ didn't "hang" with the wealthy or politicians, nor did he lust for power, as many who call themselves Christians do.

Friday, June 23, 2006

An Evangelical speaks out

Randall Balmer takes fellow evangelicals to task for abandoning evangelical ideals and emphasis. Balmer is the author of the upcoming book, Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical's Lament". In general, his point is that evangelicals have lost their way.

Here are a few of his points in one essay:
  • Religious groups should not ally themselves with a political party.
  • The early followers of Jesus were counterculture -- obviously apart from the norm.
  • If you oppose abortion on religious grounds, you should also be opposed to torture and the death penalty. These are moral issues not just PR problems.
  • The bible contains 2000 references to the poor and our responsibilities to the poor.
  • The religious right seems to have allied itself with power and wealth, even adopting a so-called "prosperity gospel".
  • The leaders of the religious right have adopted a language of militarism. They viciously attack anyone that does not agree with them. (Karl Rove would be proud.)
  • The conduct of an evangelical "roll call of rogues ... makes Bill Clinton's adolescent dalliances pale by comparison".
  • Leaders of the religious right seem fearful of pluralism, but pluralism is healthy. These religious extremists seem to want enforced religion -- their type and style done their way.
  • Balmer would not make abortion illegal -- he'd make it unthinkable. That requires educating people at home and in church, not at school and not by law.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Satellites help human rights watchers

When governments or groups harm God's children, satellite views of the area can help prove the felony was committed. One example is Zimbabwe's destruction of a settlement.

While the computers to process the images costs about ten grand, support for the human rights groups using satellite imagery in increasing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Where are cell phone manners?

Youth and even young adults seem caught up with instant communication at the expense of people around them. Recently, one guy at our church had a cell phone go off. OK, a natural "slip", you think. But it was at the communion rail. And he opened the cell phone to check it out!

People loudly talk into cell phones or seemingly into the air (headsets are getting more popular ... shades of the Cloud City security guy in Star Wars). They even interrupt talking with the sales person at a cash register to answer a call.

A USA Today article about this abysmal lack of common courtesy suggests that perhaps it's because this generation of parents have not taught their kids that good manners are important. Plus technology makes social multi-tasking easier, though comprehension may suffer.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pope John Paul called evolution "sound"

During a recent conference, physicist Stephen Hawking reminded the audience that Pope John Paul in 1996 said that Darwin's theory of evolution was "sound" and that it was more than a hypothesis.

So ... creationists disagree with Pope John Paul, it seems.

What's your eschatology?

Eschatology ... you know ... that "end times" stuff. There are several different views of end times. Which group do you fit in? Well, don't fret if you're not sure, because the Eschatology Quiz will tell you. Answer what you believe and the results will place you amongst the spectrum of end times beliefs.

If the quiz gets your thirst up about end times, consider a bible study of the Book of Revelation. Just be prepared to keep a commentary or two handy if (when) it gets a bit bewildering.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Temporary worship

When we fixate on one style of contemporary worship, we ignore the "temporary" part of "contemporary". What's contemporary today may be "old" to the upcoming generation.

"Temporary 'contemporary' worship" at Midnight Oil Productions challenges us to adjust our thinking. Dave, one of the MO guys, points out that people don't often listen to radio stations that play hymns, let alone old hymns. Are liturgical worship services in touch with the real world today? What do average people today want in a church worship experience? Are we filling their needs?

Jesus used stories from the culture of his day and related parables to that culture. He rejected the standard old style taught in the temple. Is there a message for us today in Jesus' actions and pattern of behavior? Dave says we should have a worship experience where our members would feel very comfortable inviting a neighbor of about any type.

As one of the 19 comments about the posting states, there's a missional aspect to worship.

Stewardship: Poverty and Conservation

What are Christians to do about conserving God's world in an area where people live in poverty? As Christians, we are called to help those in need. At the same time we are to be good stewards of God's earth. These two actions need not conflict, though.

The latest Nature Conservancy magazine addresses this thorny problem in " The Poverty/Conservation Equation ". The issue includes related articles, too, including "Does Conservation Matter to the Poor?" and "Is Poverty Relevant to Conservation".

Conserving God's world ... helping the poor ... are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stewardship: What is 'Green Energy"?

Both red and blue politicians go green on energy, says the American Council on Renewable Energy. Even power companies are beginning to offer customers the choice to pay a bit extra per month for blocks of "Green Energy", also called " renewable energy". Georgia Power's pages on Green Energy describe what Green Energy is and how to sign up.

Related Green Energy links

Supplemental reading: Care of God's Earth

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Origins of churches

Have you ever wondered how various denominations and churches got started and what they are all about? Wikipedia is one of several online source to satisfy your curiosity. This online encyclopedia with group contributions also has lots of related links in each article.

Here are few links to get you started...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Church nursery tips

Chidren's Ministry Magazine has a special section on the church nursery. It includes sample policies as well as articles on safety.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mid-life crisis a good thing?

God does not intend for our lives to be humdrum, monotonous, same-old same-old, says Rev. Gregory Lee. So, he ponders, perhaps midlife crises are not such a bad thing after all if they get us to re-examine our lives.