Welcome to tomthinking.com Monday, March 18 2019 @ 03:33 PM UTC

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Philosophy or History?

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I’m  wondering how much of the creation/evolution debate is caught up in the labels of “Evolution,” “Creation,” and “Intelligent Design.” I say this because of the popularly understood notions of what these labels mean. While you personally may not regard evolution as beginning with the idea that God does not (or must not) exist the published works indicate that the evolutionary idea propagated in public schools does begin from that starting point. I think for most Evangelicals this is where the rub gets raw. Most of us do not object to the teaching of evolution as a theory to explain the process of life or even origins (though we disagree), rather we object to teaching evolution as a finally proven conclusion with no room for another possibility, or leaving out the possibility that the evidence could point to a Designer.

The commonly understood ideas of “Creation” or “Intelligent Design,” for those who have not explored the topic beyond reading the general press reports, gravitates toward 6-day creation positions, Young Earth vs. Old Earth, miraculous intervention (spontaneous creation by an outside force) and so on. In point of fact, Intelligent Design is not necessarily about any of these issues. Intelligent Design is about whether observation of the evidence can lead to a conclusion that creation is the result of an intelligent agent. Or in the case of some, whether the observation can lead to a conclusion that the process of evolution apart from an intelligent agent is the best explanation. Even some in the Intelligent Design movement still regard evolution as the best scientific explanation for the process of creation, but not its origins.

In the whole debate of whether or not Intelligent Design is science, let’s remove the preconceptions that seem to go along with the terms Evolution, Creation, and Intelligent Design. In fact, let’s remove those labels all together and simply place all of these issues under the banner of “Origins.” Possible questions could then be:

The Jaw-Dropping Peace of God

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Have you ever heard a Christian say they have decided to do something or not do something and that they “have a peace about it?” “Peace” is one of those Christianese terms that is sometimes used in the context of decision-making as a test for God’s will. Often when a Christian says, “I have peace about this or that,” they mean that they take that particular thing to be God’s will for them. Every Christian I’ve gotten to know over a length of time, no matter what country or culture they are from seems to have this universal catch-phrase in common. “Peace” is used as a barometer to determine the right thing to do in a given situation. Many go so far as to say, “God has given me a real peace about it.” (As opposed to him giving a false peace?)
In my Christian experience I’ve sometimes taken to using the peace barometer to aid decision-making. Rather, I should say that I used to do that. I don’t do it anymore because, uh, well, because…
I don’t have a peace about it.

Is What You Believe The Real Deal? Are You Sure?

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I stood before a class of university journalism students in Mongolia to talk with them about journalism and truth. A smaller group, about five of them, stood at the front of the crowd to accept a challenge from me. I handed them two bills and asked them to tell me which one was real and which one was a counterfeit.

As I passed them the money I told my story. Shortly after coming to Mongolia I made friends with a police officer who was involved in busting a ring of counterfeiters. My police officer friend gave me one of the counterfeit bills as a gift.

The students diligently handled the money, looking at both sides trying to spot differences in the design work, ink, layout, etc. They held it up to the light. They rubbed the paper to see if the texture was the same on both bills. They even opened their wallets to compare the bills with their own. They questioned each other about their opinions. After a few minutes of back and forth I took the bills, held them up for everyone to see and ask the students to vote. Which bill was real? Which bill was fake?

All of the students gave their answer, choosing one bill or the other as real or fake. I held the bills high, pausing for dramatic effect, watching as the students sat, some on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out which bill was counterfeit. I made my announcement.

They were both real. My story was a lie.

Christians Denying Reality

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I recently had an interesting exchange with a young woman who attended a church event where an evangelist claimed that hundreds of people were healed. As I was watching the event myself I knew that the claim was false.

The young woman, whose sincerity I do not doubt, was adamant that hundreds of people were healed. When I asked her for evidence so that I could rejoice with her, what I received instead were seven statements that could only be described as denying all reality. In fact, these statements are common among Christians who have a tendency to over-super-naturalize their experiences. When you hear these objections to a request for evidence of something then you can identify a person whose understanding is divorced from reality and scripture.

I Like To Fight

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Confession time. I like a good fight. Not a punch you in the face, knock you out fight. Rather, I like a good argument. I like trying to match my wits with someone over something I control or can win at.

I didn't realize how much of this was true until one day in Mongolia when my friend Mike came to see me. We were talking about a problem with Eagle TV's leadership after I left the station. Suddenly, Mike said, "You like a good fight."

"No I don't," I replied. "I'm just standing up for our rights."

Mike didn't buy it. And he was right. Often my first intention is to go for a knock out blow. I want to dominate my opponent, force him to go my way, and gloat over the win. I really do like a good fight.

But what does it really get me?

Reasons For Rejecting Jesus

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Rick told me that he no longer believed in Jesus or the Bible. After many years of church involvement and even ministry involvement, my friend turned away from Christianity and instead decided to embrace Buddhism. His chief reason for rejecting Jesus was the hypocrisy of Jesus' people.

Such a decision always cuts us to the core. When we hear that our bad behavior has lead someone away from Jesus, it stings. We want the church to do better. We want to do better. However, I'm not convinced that the bad behavior of some Christians is really the reason why such people give up Jesus.

Do You Know What You Need To Know To Have Eternal Life?

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Many years ago I used to teach a Sunday morning Bible study to a group of men who had been in the church I attended for many years. Almost no one in the group was under the age of 60. Needless to say, when I was asked to take over the teaching post I was pretty well intimidated. What in the world did I have to teach a group of men who had claimed Christ for longer than I had been alive?
For the first set of lessons I decided to teach on principles of spiritual growth. Each week went by and the guys listened, and I taught, and we discussed, but I could tell underneath that something was a bit off. I discovered it one day when one of the men spoke up and said, “What do I need to know all this stuff for? I mean, hey, I prayed the prayer and I’m in!”
What kind of attitude do you hold about your salvation? Do you care about growing spiritually? Do you care about pursuing Jesus?
You may have heard the saying, “What did the thief on the cross know?” Someone usually says something like that to justify their lack of pursuit of spiritual things. If the thief on the cross could receive salvation without knowing much about Jesus, then why make any effort to know Jesus at all? Just pray the prayer and you’re in!
Sadly, such an attitude may mark a person who does not know Jesus at all.
What did the thief on the cross know? It turns out he knew quite a lot—a lot more than most people think. Look carefully at this account from Luke 23:39-43.

What Were You Created To Be?

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What does it mean to be in God’s image? And what does it mean to be created in God’s likeness? Are these two things the same, or are they different? 

Let me share two perspectives on what it means to be in God’s image.

1.) We share God’s communicable attributes.

2.) His image is to imitate his works in Genesis 1.

The first place in scripture we are told about the image of God is in Genesis 1:26-27.

“God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”


Ask Tom: Why Is Young Earth Creationism Pseudoscientific?

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During a discussion on creationism I was asked the question, “Why is young earth creationism pseudoscientific in your view?”

Allow me to explain.


Have you ever seen this photo? Here is a great example of what speech says and what it means. The meaning of the sign is that the parking space is reserved for vehicles that use electric or hybrid engines instead of gas fueled vehicles. However, the driver of the truck took the spot because the color of his truck was green. He was probably having a good laugh about it, but it helps to illustrate a point. Does the usage of the word “Yom” in Genesis 1 refer to a 24-hour day, or does it mean something else? What was the intention of the writer? This is one of the central battles between young earth and old earth creationists.

Now, this is a religious argument between believers of differing persuasion. But what about the science? What are the hypotheses of young earth creationism from a scientific perspective? Not a biblical perspective, but a scientific perspective. There seem to be none. Consider these four truths:


Christianity In Constitutions

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How do you answer the charge that America was not founded on Christian principles since there seems to be no religious language in the US Constitution? Here’s one answer: Christian language was in America’s State constitutions. And there was a lot of it.

Here is language from America’s first 24 State Constitutions filled with Christian references. The reason the US Constiution did not feature such language was because the State Constitutions already had it. This was the same reason why the Bill of Rights did not appear in the Constiution until 4 years after the US Constitution was written, the State versions already had their own Declarations of Rights.

I hope you find this interesting and inspiring. Please share.