The Battle At Kruger: These Water Buffalo Are NOT Darwinists

Here is a YouTube video I saw recently with a friend. Its pretty amazing. It isn’t your typical “When Animals Attack” video. Check it out (and turn the sound down if you don’t want the colorful commentary.)

Some Notes:

Richard Dawkins writes about the “selfish gene” – his words, not mine. He makes a great argument. He’s a very intelligent man. And the Selfish Gene is a comment on natural selection. Dawkins argues, and the majority of evolutionary biologists today concur, that natural selection selects, not for a population or species or individual organism, but for a gene. Its almost as if the gene itself is selfish and wants to reproduce itself in the next generation.

If the gene is for a desirable trait – a beneficial protein – that increases the chances of reproduction for the organism that carries it, then that gene will be naturally selected for.  Over time, that gene will persist in the population.  That gene may increases an organism’s survival rate by making it run faster or increase its reproductive rate by making it more attractive to a mate or increase its ability to thrive in its environment by allowing it to digest a different food source.  But if the gene is a negative factor, then it will be lost.  Now its not the gene itself that is lost, but the population that carries it.  

For example if there are two populations of an organism, and one has a gene that allows it to blend in with its surroundings while the other has a gene that makes it stand out, the theory goes that the one that blends in will reproduce more young.  It will thrive meanwhile the other population will die out.  Thus it is the gene that is reproduced and essentially stays alive throughout many generations.

This mechanism is commonly referred to as the survival of the fittest.  A good gene would allow survival if it aided in the four Fs – feeding, fleeing, fighting or … reproducing.  (so says Patricia Churchland in almost as many words).  Survival of the Fittest makes a lot of sense.  The one who runs best from the lion or the tiger or whatever the case may be, will survive to reproduce again, and thus continue the line.

Dawkins argues, and most evolutionary biologists concur, that this idea of acting for the benefit of the population is hogwash – my word, not his.  It is not populations that want to survive.  It is genes.

If you’ve watched the video, The Battle at Kruger, you will see something quite amazing, in light of this reasoning.  You will see water buffalo putting themselves in the way of danger, stepping up to fight lions – the most fierce-some of the the wild beasts – on behalf of another.  

These buffalo seem to have forgotten that the world operates on Darwin’s idea of the survival of the fittest (note the sarcasm).  They are not killing the lions so that they will never be bothered again by the pesky cats.  They are merely running them off, one at a time.  How long will it be before these hunters regroup and attack again?  No one can say.  But chances are, it will be much sooner if they are hungry than it would have been if they had just devoured a nice juicy buffalo.  Chances are the herd would be further away had they run from the lions and left their calf to the jaws of its predator.  

But alas, it seems that these buffalo have forgotten the rules of nature.  It seems that there isn’t a darwinist in the entire herd.

Published in: on September 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm  Comments (3)  
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Save the People! Recovering Dignity in a Postmodern World

Salvo Magazine is a quarterly publication by St. James Fellowship (which also offers Touchstone) about life in the west. A clever tagline of theirs is “Recovering the only worldview that actually works.”  It regularly comments on science, ideologies, sexuality, art & entertainment – a host of things, really, all culturally relevant.  As always, there’s a link to their home page to right.

This week I was reading an article of theirs on Human Dignity.  It was called Yodelay Cuckoo!  And in a way only Salvo has thus far delivered, it dealt with the arguments and issues of human dignity, setting it in Switzerland where some of the undoubtedly craziest ideas on the subject don’t just originate, but are turned into law.

The article by Michael Cook gives a quick look at Switzerland’s policies extending dignity to anything and almost everything.  “In 2006, for instance, a researcher was forbidden to give thirsty monkeys a drink of water because a reward mechanism to get them to carry out a task was deemed harmful to their dignity.” And “the Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology, recently released a discussion paper about the dignity of plants.”  Apparently mowing the yard could soon be classified as a felony offense.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Plants are on their way.

With all that dignity being shelled out all over the place, you would think the lives of people would be of utmost importance.

But Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world where assisted suicide is legal.  Heck, its a business.

Its easy to look at the Swiss and these crazy laws and say “Wow, overboard.”

But the Swiss are not alone.  Baroness Mary Warnock, an influential medical ethics specialist has recently made the statement “If you’re demented, you’re wasting peoples’ lives.” She thinks you should be “put down.”

Growing up on a farm, I learned that when a cow was sick beyond the chances of recovery, it had to be put down.  Are humans on the same level of dignity as cows?

Cook goes on to blast American forms of the same idea.  Although it hasn’t been acted upon nearly to the same degree here in the states, the loss of human dignity is just as prevalent and just as extreme.  

And why not?  After all, thats where postmodernism leads.  If we forget all about objective truth, if we forget that we are made in the image of God, then where can human dignity come from.  This is where Michael Cook doesn’t go far enough.  Lets connect the dots.  If Darwin was right, if there is no God, if we, humans, are just one long string of cosmic accidents, where is dignity?  Think about it, if a particular bacteria, eons ago, had had a different mutation, we could have all ended up as bacteria!  If the dignity of the person, is built on an accidental gene mutation, then there’s no room for dignity at all.  

In fact, there’s no room for personhood.  If a person is only some random genetic mutations, then we are just like trees and frogs and fungi.  There’s no personhood there.  We see in our personhood that we are not random mutations.  And we see, in the Bible, what we really are – human beings, made in the image of God.  I’ve written about this before and described this dignity with Francis Scheaffer’s term “Manishness.”  Its at the bottom of who we are, at our core.

We should not forget this.  If we do we’ll be swayed by every wind of ideology that comes along.  We’ll give grass a place that should be reserved for men.  This darwinistic worldview is what these outlandish governments and “thinkers” have as their working base.  Its their way of understanding the world around them.  As Christians, we must not think this way.  We must learn to think in God’s way.  And he declared man and woman “very good.”  Let’s be the people who don’t forget who we are.  Let’s be the people who remember in whose image we were created.  And lets save the people from having their dignity thrown into the gutter so that grass can be dignified.

Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Constructing a Christian Worldview: Redemption

This is a follow-up from the previous two posts.  It will make more sense if you’ve read the first two before this one.

When last we left off, the world was in a horrible predicament: fallen.  Thats no good way to be.  All constructed worldviews must have at least these three phases: creation, fall, redemtion.  Every worldview has a theory of origins, a beginning to the world and ourselves, the world’s inhabitants.  For the naturalist, this is merely a cosmic coincidence, an accident somewhere in space-time; and for the darwinist, we humans accidentally evolved.  Every worldview is then conflicted in some way.  It is met with a problem that has messed up something.  Just look around, the world is not all that we wish it were.  There are people starving, people killing each other, people sick and dying.  There are problems.  For the naturalist, these problems are merely the root of having not evolved and developed quite enough yet.

Then there is redemption.  What is going on now?  How should we struggle against this problem?  What is the proper course to righting these wrongs?  Again, for the naturalist, believing that there is no God, the problems are right in front of us – poverty, hunger, disease, war, etc.  And if we band together we can eradicate the world of these problems.  We can end hunger and starvation one bowl of soup at a time.  Meanwhile, science holds the answer to all of our medical delimmas.  The glaring problem with thinking this is that death comes.  It comes to all.  Last I checked, nobody gets out of here alive.  And even with all our scientific advancement and humanitarianism, death will still be the last great undefeatable catastrophe.  Death is coming.

But the Christian Worldview is far different than the naturalist worldview.  It is based on a God who is all powerful and all loving.  And especially One who has revealed to us His worldview.  So what does this worldview say about our present state?  It says in big letters:  REDEMPTION.

I must admit that it is a monumental task to even take on speaking of redemption.  It is such an all-encompassing, all-reforming idea, that I will not do it justice.  But what I want to do, is make you think about it.  I want to give you something to ponder, something to focus on and set every part of your life toward.  As Christ set his face toward a cross, we must set ours toward redemption.  And Christ is redemption.

Remember way back at the beginning, in the created order which God called “very good.”  He gave mankind a job, one known as the Cultural Mandate – that is to fill the earth with civilization and God-honoring cultures.  Thanks to the fall, we initially failed miserably.  But because Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross, all is being redeemed.  Remember, God subjected creation to futility in hope.  In hope of what?  “That the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Thats where we’re headed.  Thats where the Christian Worldview points.  It points to freedom from the effects of the fall.  It points to ultimate redemption.  We are to set about at the task of the Cultural Mandate.  We are to be a part of redeeming everything to the glory of God.

It is not enough to have our sins forgiven and our hearts redeemed.  Every part of our lives must be saturated with the redeeming grace that has freed us from death to life.  That is a part of discipleship.  And it is not an easy part. But when our minds are turned to the mind of Christ, our lives are transformed.  As Christians, we must not be conformed to the worldly ways of doing things and separate our spiritual lives from our public lives, from our relationships, from our work, from our thinking.  We must make Christ supreme over every part of our lives.  We must be a part of this Redemption.

Pearcy describes it this way:

A young woman working as a technical writer once told me that her job was merely a way of establishing a financial base to do the things she really wanted… but she was mistaken in regarding her earthly vocation as merely a temporary expedient.  In our work we not only participate in God’s providential activity today, we also foreshadow the tasks we will take up in cultivating a new earth at the end of time.  God’s command to Adam and Eve to partner with Him in developing the beauty and goodness of creation revealed His purpose for all of human life.  And after He has dealt with sin once for all, we will joyfully take up that task once again, as redeemed people in a renewed world.

This comprehensive vision of Creation, Fall, Redemption allows no room for a secular/sacred split.  All of creation was orginally good; it cannot be divided into a good part and a bad part.  Likewise, all of creation was affected by the Fall, and when time ends, all creation will be redeemed.

This is so exciting.  Everything is being redeemed.  We are part of God’s plan to redeem all creation.  The proper Christian Worldview has answers to questions that we never even think to ask.  Everything, even death, is being redeemed.  It is not longer wrath and punishment, but grace, that we may say with Paul, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain… My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Now lets take one more minute here and roll back to another worldview and look at its idea of redemption.  With creation and fall, I dealt with Kant’s worldview of communism, in which it was private land ownership and competition which ruined everything and brought about the fall.  What would he then say of redemption.  Give all land and property to the state.  Let men work for the state and let us all aim for the good of the state and humanity with our work.  If private ownership is the problem, then state ownership is the solution.  Only problem is, just as with naturalism, death is coming.  Giving everything to the state doesn’t fend off or redeem death.  Its still the end, the very end, the last great opponent that we, ourselves, cannot overcome.  But that simply highlights the goodness of Christ and the Redemption He brings – True Redemption, Ultimate Redemption, where even death is a grace.

In closing I would just like to hit on the topic of Consumation.  Some will argue that the worldview has a fourth part and that is the final consumation of the redemption that has been initiated.  And I would say yes.  There is a coming consumation.  It will be the completion of this redemption that we currently experience.  And giving it its own category is a worthy idea.  I mean, look around, redemption is not complete.  We still have hunger and sickness.  But I would answer that Consumation is that final completion of the redemption that is now ongoing.  We must keep in mind that we are the redeemed and all creation is going toward a point where everything is redeemed.  That day is not yet come.  But let us hold on to the hope that it is coming.  If we should put it in its own category, that is OK with me.  But if we should see it as the completion of that which we now experience that is OK with me too.  For me it is easier to think about the Big Three – each separated by a turning point:

Creation.   Fall.   Redemption.

Constructing A Christian Worldview: Fallen

Recently I published an article on creation, on the origin of our world and our society, on how things were at one point and how life was projected to work out properly.  This is not that article.  To put it bluntly, this article is about how all that stuff got messed up.

We left off at the end of Genesis 2.  God had made the world.  He made everything in it, including people – male and female – whom He made in His own image.  Life in the garden was good.  He gave them a job to do and they began doing it.  Everything was just rosey.

Then Genesis 3 rolls around.  The serpent shows up, tempts Eve, then Adam to sin.  And they fall.  Yes, they fall.  God curses them to toil and to die.  He curses the ground because of their sin.  Everything that he made, though pronounced “very good” has taken a turn downward.  Our rebelliosness has cost us.

The nature of the sin is that we sought to disobey God’s good and perfect law and make up our own.  We saw ourselves as the ultimate authority on what was right.  We stood ourselves up as the pronouncers of “very good” and we threw God’s law down.  We disordered everything.  In other words, we totally screwed up.

It may seem like it was only Adam and Eve who committed the sin, who ate the apple.  But each one of us has disordered, in our own lives, the law of the Creator.  It was a law just like gravity, built into the fabric of creation.  And when it was broken, all creation changed.  All creation fell.  It wasn’t just that death was introduced into our lives.  Everything in creation took a downward turn.  Everything.  Nancy Pearcy writes:

Music is good, but popular songs can be used to glorify moral perversion.  Art is a good gift from God, but books and movies can be used to convey nonbiblical worldviews and encourage moral decadence.  Science is a vocation from God, but it can be used to undermine belief in a Creator.  Sexuality was God’s idea in the first place, but it can be distorted and twisted to serve selfish, hedonistic purposes.  The state is ordained by God to establish justice, but it can be perverted into tyranny and injustice.  Work is a calling from God, but in American corporate culture it is often an addiction… In every area of life, we need to distinguish between the way God originally created the world, and the way it has been deformed and defaced by sin.

But the Christian Worldview is not the only worldview that involves the idea of a Fall.  Remember when discussion creation.  Just as Marxism involves the idea of an original creation – perfect and pristine – it also involves an understanding of the Fall.  The Marxist worldview holds that the fall was property ownership – that when people became property owners and went into business for themselves, everything was turned upside down.  According to Marxism, there is no God and the Fall is not a result of rebellion against Him, but of man’s desire to own property, to work to put food on his table and a roof over his head.

Paul tells us in Romans 8 that “creation was subjected to futility” by One who did it in hope.  Who can subject all creation in futility in hope?  Only God.  That hope is for redemption.  God didn’t leave the world fallen.  He hasn’t forsaken the world or destroyed it.  He is still at work here.

Coming Soon:  Construction a Christian Worldview:  Redemption

Published in: on September 12, 2008 at 6:12 pm  Comments (1)  
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Constructing a Christian Worldview: Created

Whats in a worldview?  Everything.  Abraham Kuyper wrote:

Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’

For Kuyper, everything was under the domain of his Biblical Worldview.  For Kuyper, every single “square inch” of his life was brought under the supremacy of Christ.  That is a biblical worldview.

But how does one go about understanding life in this way.  It is not easy.  We live in a world where everything around us does not scream “Christ is everything!”  We live in a world where the religious aspect of life is relegated to the private and personal realm.  Religion becomes a collection of values.  And values are true only for the individual who upholds them.  They can’t be applied in the public realm.  Doing so would certainly offend someone.  Values are important, we are told, just not important enough to influence our lives in public.

Recently at school, a medical doctor spoke to the class about birth defects and abnormalities.  This particular doctor helps screen for such things.  And if defects are found, the pregnancy is commonly terminated.  The decision to terminate, he insisted, must not be influenced by our “values.”  Our “values” should not enter the conversation.  We should leave those at home.

I find it interesting that this is a part of his value system which he believes is OK to bring to work.  He is a post-modernist.  He doesn’t believe that there exists an objective truth or a right and wrong.  Right for one person may differ drastically than right for another person.  That’s his worldview.  And he brings it in to work everyday.  But he tells me I cannot bring mine.

Well, pardon me, but in the first place that is absurd.   No one makes an important decision after first eliminating everything they believe about life, about morality, about clean-cut issues such as murder.  No one.  And secondly, its impossible – as if any of us could really forget everything we believe, walk away to a completely neutral standpoint (as if that standpoint even exists) and make a decision from a fresh perspective.

What he told us to do was both absurd and impossible.  On top of that, he doesn’t do it.

We are faced with worldview questions everyday.  So the big question is: how do we construct this worldview.

As you may have noticed, the catchphrase of my blog (see above) is “Created, Fallen and Redeemed.”  That is a good place to start.  It applies to every person in a slightly different way.  I mean, a plumber is not really affected by the way a doctor views his life.  But at the same time, the Biblical answer to the big questions affects, on its own, every single person’s life.  So it may apply differently across the board, but it certainly doesn’t ever not apply.  (Pardon my grammar, or lack thereof.)

Created:  The place to begin is creation.  Now I don’t necessarily mean “creation” in the biblical context.  I just mean that every worldview must account for the origin of everything.  How did it all get here?  What were things orginially like before they were disordered?  Even the communist worldview answers these questions.  Communism says that once upon a time there was no land-ownership and no competition.  Everywhere there was a peaceful communal life where people thrived.

The Biblical Worldview is a little bit different.  The Bible holds that God created the world and put man in it.  Man was without sin and without problems, living in community with God.  There wasn’t sin in the original created order.  There weren’t natural disasters.  There wasn’t disease or crime or poverty.  “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).  Indeed.  It was.

God made man in his own image.  We had (and have) an innate dignity.  There is an importance, a value, a worth to us, just because we are “us.”  Just because we are made in the image of God.  This is huge.  People are important because God made us that way and told us we are important.

Then God gave man a job.  (And when I say “man,” I just mean people.  Come on.)  Man was to fill the earth and subdue it.  We were supposed to reign over the earth.  Under God, we were supposed to reign supreme.  And we were supposed to fill the earth.  We were supposed to fill it with Image Bearers.  We were supposed to build civilizations and develop cultures, all to give glory to God.

This is what Creation means.  This is what it is all about.  God made it and he proclaimed it to be very good.  This is the basis for the Christian Worldview.  This is the foundation.  The Worldview doesn’t end here.  But it cannot start anywhere else.

Coming soon:  Constructing a Christian Worldview:  Fallen.

Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 12:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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Big Questions

There are big questions floating around in peoples’ minds.  They have been there for as long as there have been people.  Who are we?  Where did we come from?  What is out purpose?

These questions were asked by Plato and Aristotle.  And sadly, their answers are still around.  They were asked by the ancient Egyptians and by Eastern peoples of what’s now China and India.

They were asked by such great theologians as Augustine, Aquinas.  They have been asked by philosophers both ancient and modern ranging from Kant to Huxley, Nietzche to Schaeffer.  They are asked by our great literary writers like Hemingway, Hawthorne, Thoreau and O’Connor.  These are the big questions and we need to ask them.

It seems more and more, America is becoming a place where we fail to ask the big questions.  We are more interested in the Dark Knight, SUVs, and vacations.  We pay closer attention to who is going to be the next president than we do the meaning of life.

This is a sad time.  This is an indictment.  I will say, first of all however, that it is indictment upon myself. I, who have spent far too much time trying to figure out LOST and not nearly enought time trying to figure out the world around me, the world I’m living in, the real world.  Not some world conjured up in the mind of a television writer.  As exciting as our world is, ours is moreso.  The questions in our world, the big questions, they really matter.  The season isn’t going to end and then fade into oblivion, or, if its popular, show up on DVD.

I challenge and urge you to think about the big questions – to explore.  Consider the possibilities.  And consider what could possibly be truth.  Dont look at it from a skeptical “anything is possible” standpoint.  Eliminate the impossiblities and go for what seems accurate.  What does your heart tell you.  I encourage all to read and study the biblical worldveiw – the only one that gives solid answers to all of the questions.  And I encourage Christians to grapple with this worldview; try to figure it out.  And be ready to give an answer to the big questions.  Or be ready to ask the big questions.  After all, if we can’t answer these, then we are all LOST.

Published in: on September 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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