Campaign to lift the government ban on evolutionism from school Religious Education classes

Dear Sir,

The religion of evolutionism has been discriminated against across the UK and much of the world for decades. Currently the UK government’s guidelines allow creationism to be taught in Religious Education (RE) classes but evolutionism is banned from such classes, due to claims that it is “unreligious”. This discrimination prevents evolutionism from being taught in its proper forum amongst the other major origins belief systems of this age.

Despite this discrimination, we evolutionists have had some success in getting our religion into schools “through the back door” by having evolutionism taught in science classes. However, this can only be done when evolutionism is taught together with scientific observations such as variation within a kind and natural selection. The teaching of evolutionism only in science classes creates a blur between these scientific observations and the religious aspects of evolutionism, such as the belief that all life forms share a common ancestor and that natural processes can turn chemicals into complex information systems. This blurring leaves students at risk of seeing all aspects of evolutionism merely as scientific, rather than seeing that it is primarily a belief system rooted in naturalistic philosophy.

It’s only fair that the faith position of evolutionism should be allowed to be taught alongside creationism. It’s time that the government stopped giving creationism a privileged position and instead allowed all religious beliefs to be taught and discussed in the RE class, including deistic and/or atheistic religions such as evolutionism. The teaching of evolutionism alongside creationism will give students the freedom to make up their own minds regarding which philosophical belief system about the past to believe in. Children shouldn’t be brainwashed by the state to believe in creationism when evolutionism is at least as much of a faith position itself.

If those lobbying the government to maintain this false classroom divide between evolutionistic religion and creationism are so confident that creationistic beliefs are more philosophically viable than the belief that all living things, the DNA code system and the complete works of Mozart are unplanned by-products of an explosion that happened billions of years ago, then they shouldn’t be so scared of allowing the religion of evolutionism to be taught to students in the same forum as creationism. After all, if a theory has popular support but is intellectually so weak, surely it is better for it to be explained to the students than for its teaching to be suppressed and confined to being taught as part of an academic subject which doesn’t do justice to all aspects of the theory. Teaching the two belief systems together within the same academic subject will enable the students to critically evaluate both theories and reach their own conclusions, which is surely the most philosophically sensible and honest position.

For these reasons we are launching a petition on the government to lift the ban on evolutionism from being taught in RE classes.

Yours,

Ivo Lutionist

S. Aght (Eire)

P.S. feel free to sign the petition by using the comment section below

Advertisements

A new Bible reading plan

After recently coming to the end of reading through the whole Old Testament in my regular Bible readings, I found that a disadvantage with doing that is that you go a long time without reading anything from the New Testament! I decided to look at various Bible reading plans that have been made (including the many on the YouVersion Bible app), but was disappointed to find that most of them seem, shall we say, rather silly.

One common flaw is that many plans involve reading more than one book at a time (for example the widely used M’Cheyne plan). I can’t think of any other situation in life where this would be seen as a good idea. If I gave you four books to read, would you say “ok, I’ll read pages 1-2 of each book, then pages 3-4 of each book, and so on”? That would be absolute madness, yet most Bible reading plans do that! This makes it very difficult to see a book as a whole, so you miss out on being able to determine the author’s overall purpose of the book. As the Bible was written as a series of separate books by different authors, it seems to me to be very important to read it one book at a time. So:

Priority 1: One book at a time.

As I’ve mentioned already, there are some ways in which reading the Bible from cover to cover isn’t ideal, even though it does give you one book at a time, because of the long period of time spent away from the New Testament. It would seem that the only way to fix this is to:

Priority 2: Mix between Old and New Testaments.

Also, given a plan to read the whole Bible, I don’t think the best thing to do is to read all four gospels consecutively and then go the rest of the time not reading them, partly due to the high level of repetition between them. Similarly, reading Chronicles straight after Kings can become a bit of a drag as there is a lot of repetition of events. Reading consecutively books that describe the same events can lead the reader to focus on spotting the differences between the books, rather than on more important matters like what each book is about on its own. So:

Priority 3: Separate books that cover the same events.

The traditional order of the Old Testament books isn’t chronological, especially in the later parts, which results in quite a lot of hopping around in time. I think that with the Old Testament, there is a benefit to a chronological reading, given the developments over the centuries in how God interacted with his people in preparing them for the coming Messiah. Some Bible reading plans I think take this too far, with constant hopping around between books to read accounts of the same event from different books, so I wouldn’t want this to be higher up the priority list. This means that perfect chronology won’t be possible, as many books cover a timespan that overlaps with other books, and some books cannot be precisely dated. There therefore isn’t a single correct chronological arrangement of the Old Testament books, but I’ve had a go at making one, also taking into account Priority 3 to do a bit of separating. (The idea is that, in the event of a conflict between two priorities, the earlier priority should win.) So:

Priority 4: Chronological Old Testament

Regarding the New Testament, I don’t see as much of a benefit to a chronological reading, so have elected instead to choose an order with other benefits. What I did was, after deciding the Old Testament order, I inserted the New Testament books into this framework in what I thought was a beneficial way. I split the Old Testament into four parts, and had the first New Testament book in each part being a gospel. For some NT books, I put them near associated NT books (e.g. Acts after Luke). I also tried to put some NT books in places that are theologically linked with nearby OT books. The nerds among you might want to see if you can spot any such clever linking between adjacent books (some of which I’m quite pleased with!). I’ll admit that the last few NT books I put in were just filling in the remaining gaps, so not every NT book has a clever link, but maybe I inadvertently included a profound link without realising it! Another factor I considered was to apply a bit of NT “refuelling” before and/or after some of the more hard-to-read parts of the OT, so these OT books could be read more joyfully in the light of their NT significance.

Nerd section: The book of Psalms is actually five books in one, so I decided to split these into five given the massive length of Psalms as a whole and do a bit of spreading out of the books. 1+2 Samuel, 1+2 Kings, 1+2 Chronicles and Ezra+Nehemiah are, so I’m told, not separate books but were originally single books, so I’ve kept them together as single books.

I think that after Priority 4, there is quite a bit of freedom in how to specifically arrange the books, so my proposal is just one particular way of doing it, and there might be other ways that work even better (challenge!). I’m going to read through this plan myself; do add a comment if you plan to as well or if you have any suggestions for improvements or alternative plans. Do you think the four priorities are good and in the best order?

So here it is, as a picture file, with New Testament books highlighted in yellow:

Bible reading plan picture

Here it is as a text list:

Genesis

Matthew

Exodus

Hebrews

Leviticus

Galatians

Numbers

1 Thessalonians

Deuteronomy

2 Thessalonians

Joshua

Philippians

Job

Colossians

 

Judges

Ruth

Mark

1+2 Samuel

1 Peter

Psalms 1-41

2 Peter

1+2 Kings

1 Timothy

Psalms 42-72

Song of Solomon

2 Timothy

Proverbs

Philemon

Psalms 73-89

Ecclesiastes

Psalms 90-106

Romans

1+2 Chronicles

Titus

Psalms 107-150

 

Jonah

Luke

Amos

Hosea

Acts

Isaiah

Ephesians

Micah

Nahum

Zephaniah

Habakkuk

1 Corinthians

Jeremiah

Lamentations

2 Corinthians

Ezekiel

James

Daniel

Obadiah

 

Haggai

John

Zechariah

1 John

Joel

2 John

Esther

3 John

Ezra+Nehemiah

Jude

Malachi

Revelation

Time to get reading God’s word!

Kermit Gosnell – why the media silence?

Arguably the worst murderer in US history is over one month into his trial, yet most people only started to hear about it a few days ago. For those who haven’t heard yet, Dr. Kermit Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in the US that was “dodgy” to the highest extreme, including apparently routinely carrying out illegal late-term abortions and killing babies that survived the procedure after they had been taken from their mother, were breathing and could quite easily have survived. The conditions in his clinic were appalling, and he was apparently making over $1m per year from it.

All highly shocking, and the report I’m about to link gives a fuller analysis as to what happened, but I warn you it includes images of killed babies for which he is apparently responsible, and which are clearly well developed. Here’s the link.

I’m going to focus here on only one question: why has the mainstream media in the US and throughout much of the world not been making this front page news since the trial started two months ago? Why is the story only now finding prominence thanks largely to Twitter?

I give here three potential answers:

  1. Fear of the pro-abortion lobby – It will be quite difficult to report on this case without sounding anti-abortion. After all, the main element of it is a man carrying out abortions. There are various aspects to it that would be criticised even by the pro-abortion lobby, of course, but if you don’t want to come across as being anti-abortion, it’s best not to touch this one. In particular, to criticise late-term abortion as being wrong raises the question of how far back you have to go for it to start being right, and if you don’t want to touch that issue you’d be better off not touching this one.
  2. The press is (in general) pro-abortion itself and knows that this doesn’t help their case – they’re suppressing it deliberately as the shocking facts would make most people seriously consider their views on abortion. It’s very difficult to look at the images of the babies aborted (i.e. killed) after leaving the womb and to maintain the view that as long as they are killed while still inside the womb that is ok.
  3. A genuine belief that this isn’t really big news – If one already holds the belief that a developing baby isn’t really a person in its own right, and that a woman has the right to choose to terminate it as it’s part of her body, then consistently there isn’t much of a difference as to whether the abortion is carried out while the baby is inside the body or just after it’s been taken out. Therefore, the news story is reduced to simply being about a man who had an unhygienic clinic, which is understandably not as big a story as others would claim it is.

I think it’s likely that more than only one of these is at play (and maybe I missed some other factors?) but I would speculate that the most relevant reason is 3., with a bit of 1. thrown in to make it not worth the risk of reporting the “dirty clinic” story. If that’s true, it really is very sad as it means our culture has largely bought the lie that a developing baby is just a part of the woman’s body and not a person in its own right.

If any good is to come from this it would be a realisation among people about that lie, and a return to a situation in which the rights of the developing baby to survive outweigh the rights of the woman who would prefer not to keep it.

What do you think of the media quietness? Comments appreciated.

Genesis 1-3: Myth-Busting?

This article sets out three possible interpretations of Genesis 1-3: ‘mythical, miscommunication or myth-busting’. I agree that the mythical and miscommunication options are wrong, but is myth-busting the only other option? This is based on a view that, because Genesis was written by Moses, and because there are creation myths dated from before the time of Moses, Moses was writing with a view to debunking the false creation myths around at his time.

This could be the case, but it seems to assume that before Moses came along, God’s people had no idea how God made the world. They didn’t yet have the book of Genesis, but does this mean they didn’t know anything about what this book would eventually describe about events before Moses, stretching back to creation?

Did they have no idea about the global flood either? It is often noted by creationists that there are flood legends all over the world. People don’t tend to say that Moses wrote the Genesis flood account with a view to debunking these flood myths. Moses wouldn’t have known about many of them anyway because of the great distances separating these people groups.

Rather, I think it makes more sense that, with the flood and with creation, Moses was simply writing an account of what his people generally already knew. This could have been known through oral tradition and/or written records predating Genesis.

Any similarities between Genesis and creation/flood myths of other cultures is I think better explained in that Noah and his family will have known the true accounts of both of these. As people separated after Babel, the accounts would have been distorted by cultures adapting the stories as they were passed on.

I’m not aware of any culture on the planet today that doesn’t have a story about how the world began or how they came to be where they are. The stories vary a lot, from fantastical creation myths to beliefs of Darwinian evolution, but it seems to be an inherent property of humanity that we want to know such things. That’s why I find it so surprising to think that, before Genesis was written, the people of Israel had no knowledge of such things or didn’t ask such questions themselves.

The Bible (TV Series)

I just watched the first double episode of the 10 episode series “The Bible”, which has recently been aired in the US. My overall reaction is very positive! It’s very professionally made, but the best thing is that it takes the Bible at face value and presents all of it as history. There is no worrying about whether things really happened or not, and no watering-down of stories to reflect modern liberal interpretations.

Right from the beginning we have Noah in a proper-sized ark telling the creation account to his family, with visuals showing as he narrates through (in case you were wondering, Noah had a Scottish accent!). The flood was shown as a global event, with footage of the whole earth covered by water. The fall of Adam and Eve is explained, and the reason for the flood is explained as well, setting up the rest of the Bible.

Then we have Abraham, who is also well represented. The story takes a very human aspect, particularly with the rivalry between Sarah and Hagar, and the emotions of Abraham and Isaac in the near-sacrifice of Isaac were also done very well.

The show is very much American, as best shown by the scene where Abraham and his men creep up on Lot and his people to try to rescue them from capture. Abraham makes SWAT team hand-gestures to coordinate his troops, just like something out of 24. Also, at the beginning of the later episodes of the show (which I haven’t watched in full yet) we get the narrator saying “Previously, on The Bible”, which is hilarious.

Another example of this is the three angels who meet Abraham and then go to Sodom. They are depicted as cool action heroes, one of whom is Chinese and skilled in martial arts.

We then move on to Moses, who again is depicted well and the crossing of the Red Sea is again shown to be a miraculous event, with walls of water on each side.

Watching The Bible on TV was in many ways a lot like watching any other film adaptation of a well-loved book. You find yourself saying “nooo, why did they leave [insert favourite part here] out!”, but in practice they are cramming the whole Bible into about 7 hours so this is to be expected. Similarly, as with most film adaptations there are some minor alterations made from the text to simplify the stories. Most of these I found to be not too bad, in that it didn’t spoil the main focus of the story.

I’m definitely going to watch the rest of the series, and I think it would be wonderful if this were to be shown on terrestrial TV in the UK. I find it unlikely that any of the major UK networks will want to show it though, given that it presents the Bible as true history, and the networks will probably fear a backlash from other religious groups in the country complaining that their religious text hasn’t been given the same airtime. It’s shown on the History channel in the US and I expect it will probably stay there for the UK, meaning only about 3 people will watch it. Perhaps the DVD will fare better, though.

I’m not going to rant about any minor details that they got wrong. The overwhelming truth is that this was a production of the highest quality expressing the Bible as real history, and I pray that many will come to faith through it and will be inspired to read the real thing.