Most of the clergy of mainline Protestant denominations are sitting on the left—in a manner of speaking.
Last week we reviewed a major survey on religion in the United States. One of the major findings of that survey was that the proportion of Americans attending mainline (usually theologically liberal) Protestant churches has declined a quarter in seven years—down from 17.2 percent in 2001 to just 12.9 percent last year.
A separate survey, conducted by Public Religion Research, asked a series of questions to ministers from the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The results are compiled from the 2,658 respondents.
Ironically, the report claims mainline Protestants are an important group to study because “they make up 18 percent of all Americans” (obviously an out-of-date statistic, as last week’s study showed).
Although Answers in Genesis is a nondenominational, parachurch ministry, we must express our sadness at several of the results, since it appears a majority of mainline Protestant clergy stand at odds with biblical views on fundamental issues of the Christian faith.
As with last week’s survey, we went through the survey results of this one ourselves and pulled out some of the highlights:
The final report includes limited analysis of the analysis of the data along with many helpful graphs, including many that break the answers out along denominational lines. Some highlights:
It is not the role of Answers in Genesis to take denominational stances. However, our vision and mission are centered on proclaiming the truth of the Bible as the foundation for our faith. We continue to emphasize how the rejection of God’s Word and the acceptance of millions of years of evolution undermines the very foundation of Christianity. We believe that is an important element (though far from the only one) in the steady decline of mainline Protestant churches in the United States, as many congregants are continually taught that the foundation of their faith is fictitious and that one can choose truth apart from—in fact in opposition to—the Scripture.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Canadian creationists.
It all started Tuesday, when a reporter asked Gary Goodyear, Canada’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, whether he believed in evolution. Goodyear’s reply? “I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate.”
Unsurprising, of course, was the flurry of commentary—positive and negative—on Goodyear’s silence. One professor told CBC News he was “first flabbergasted and then embarrassed” by Goodyear’s statements, while another criticized the phrasing of the question, arguing that you don’t “believe” in evolution; it just is. In the meantime, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended Goodyear as having been “ambushed” in an interview on another topic.
Also among the commentary were numerous scientists telling the old tale that evolution is the foundation of modern biology and medicine. Others disputed whether the minister’s personal beliefs should be public knowledge. And still another claimed that Goodyear’s beliefs didn’t matter as long as he increased funding for research.
So—is he a creationist? Creationists’ initial excitement was dashed when Goodyear himself resolved the situation (somewhat, anyway) on the CTV Newsnet program Power Play. He explained:
I didn’t answer the question because it’s not relevant to the [job], it’s not relevant to what we have to do, what Canadians are worried about. It’s unfortunate a reporter has chosen to take this as something of interest when in fact the focus should be on . . . creating jobs and securing our economic future.
Then, when asked on Power Play if he believed in the theory of evolution, he answered:
Of course I do. We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it’s to the intensity of the sun . . . or to the effects of walking on concrete. Of course, we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant.
Those vague comments didn’t placate everyone, however, as a CBC News article explained. Goodyear’s evidence for “evolution” isn’t exactly textbook molecules-to-man evidence, nor does it reveal his views on whether humans evolved, whether God was involved in creation, or how old the earth is.
Or perhaps Goodyear is answering “foolish” evolutionists according to their folly (Proverbs 26:5)—responding by citing the sort of firsthand evidence of “evolution” that actually does nothing to prove molecules-to-man evolution. If that’s the case, we hope he will also heed Proverbs 26:4 when he is asked the question more directly.
If you needed an “exhibit A” of evidence for catastrophic fossil formation, this is it.
Paleontologists have found the fossil imprints of five octopuses in Cretaceous sediments in Lebanon, and three of the octopuses belong to new species. For the paleontologists (but probably not for many of the rest of us), the find is cause for celebration, as octopuses are a fossil rarity—with “fewer specimens than octopuses have legs,” ScienceDaily reports.
What’s remarkable is the state of preservation of the fossils, which include “traces of muscles . . . rows of suckers,” and even “traces of the ink and internal gills” in some of the specimens. But what usually happens when an animal dies, especially one that lacks a skeleton? The report states:
The body of an octopus is composed almost entirely of muscle and skin, and when an octopus dies, it quickly decays and liquefies into a slimy blob. After just a few days there will be nothing left at all. And that assumes that the fresh carcass is not consumed almost immediately by hungry scavengers.
No wonder the lead author on the report, Freie University Berlin’s Dirk Fuchs, called the fossils “sensational” and “extraordinarily well preserved”! The relatively poor fossil record of octopuses, combined with these incredibly preserved specimens, repudiate the old-earth model of fossilization and provide powerful evidence for a catastrophic Flood that quickly buried these octopuses in sediments (before they could decay or be scavenged). The find also forces scientists to revise the origin of octopuses “by tens of millions of years.”
The other point of interest for creationists is that while one of the fossils is “almost indistinguishable from living species,” according to Fuchs, the others have fleshy fins on their bodies, unlike modern octopuses. Although the report calls this discovery “important evolutionary information,” it actually informs us of the correctness of the creation model: modern octopuses are either identical to their fossil ancestors, or they have fewer features (and, thus, less genetic information).
In a similar story this week, the Associated Press reports on dinosaur fossils preserved in mud. To whet your appetite, one paleontologist’s comment: “Without the correct environmental conditions, these fossils would not have been found in nearly pristine condition—uncrushed or worn down.”
A fossilized feathered dinosaur found in China—are they serious this time?
Reporting in Nature, Chinese paleontologists tell of a fossilized dinosaur that was apparently found surrounded by “dino-fuzz”: filaments the team call “protofeathers.”
The twist is that the dinosaur doesn’t belong to the group (theropods) that scientists claim modern birds evolved from! Thus, instead of interpreting the discovery as supporting dino-bird evolution, the fossil “muddies the waters” of feather origins, according to paleontologist Lawrence Witmer of Ohio University. “Maybe all dinosaurs, even the predominantly scaled ones, had fuzzy parts,” he added. An artist’s impression shows what some evolutionists imagine.
The Bible doesn’t declare that dinosaurs didn’t have feathers, and assuming none are alive today, there is no easy way to confirm or deny the proposition. Most creationists have been skeptical of “feathered dinosaur” claims for several reasons, since the evidence is circumstantial and tenuous, and this certainly appears to be the case here, with strange filaments assumed to be “protofeathers” because evolutionists presuppose dinosaurs evolved into birds (and that feathers could have easily evolved, despite their complexity and great difference from scales—see Did Dinosaurs Turn Into Birds?).
Also in the news is a chicken-sized dinosaur that might look like the latest “evidence” that chickens evolved from dinosaurs. Identified by just six small pelvic bones found in Canada, Hesperonychus was a carnivorous raptor that likely fed on insects and perhaps small mammals, amphibians, and perhaps even baby dinosaurs. It also pushes the alleged origin of this type of dinosaur back 45 million years.
And what’s the twist in this story? The fossil has been known for decades, but for 25 years was thought to have belonged to a lizard rather than a dinosaur. Yet take a look at the artist’s illustration of the fossil! Take six bones, add evolutionary dogma and some artistic license, and they’ve got it: more visual proof of dino–bird evolution, despite any evidence of feathers. Even if the drawing were to wind up being close, it would only prove that such an animal existed, was catastrophically buried, and subsequently fossilized—and how is that any different from what a creationist would say?
Science isn’t everything: a summary of the conclusions of the latest Templeton Prize winner.
Bernard d’Espagnat, a French physicist, has been awarded this year’s $1.4 million Templeton Prize for the idea that “the reality revealed by science offers only a ‘veiled’ view of an underlying reality that science cannot access, and that the scientific view must take its place alongside the reality revealed by art, spirituality, and other forms of human inquiry” (in the words of ScienceNOW’s David Lindley).
Though that general idea probably doesn’t sound very original, d’Espagnat’s claim to fame is his work in quantum mechanics, which he ties into to his philosophy. Lindley explains, “But the inherent uncertainty of quantum measurements means that it is impossible to infer an unambiguous description of ‘reality as it really.’”
Lest this sounds anything like Christianity, New Scientist’s Amanda Gefter points out that d’Espagnat refers to this underlying reality as “a [b]eing or [i]ndependent [r]eality or even ‘a great, hypercosmic God.’” And because this underlying reality is unknowable, the article continues, “it would be nonsensical to paint it with the figure of a personal God or attribute to it specific concerns or commandments . . . [it] can in no way help Christians or Muslims or Jews or anyone else rationalise their specific beliefs.”
Gefter need not worry, though—we weren’t relying on d’Espagnat or quantum mechanics to “rationalize” our beliefs.
Texas state representative Leo Berman wants to help the Institute for Creation Research—now located in Dallas—award master’s degrees.
ICR, something of a cousin ministry to AiG, runs a graduate school for those who want to study science from a biblical perspective. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board refuses to allow ICR to grant master of science degrees, however.
Berman, from Tyler, Texas, proposed House Bill 2800 (PDF link), which would exempt private, nonprofit schools from the state board’s authority and thus allow ICR to grant a master’s degree in science education. While ICR isn’t mentioned in the bill, Berman openly identified ICR as the inspiration and personally avowed creation.
The bill has met widespread criticism, of course, and will have difficulty passing especially because critics claim the bill is written too broadly. Meanwhile, ICR’s status is currently in the hands of a Texas judge. ICR needs this state approval in order to apply for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
An Associated Press article this week brings the Creation Museum in the spotlight once again.
The item, by AP writer Dylan Lovan (who has covered the museum a few times in the past), announces a new museum exhibit that shows how natural selection is good science that fits in easily with biblical creation. “That might seem odd to many who have watched the battles between evolution scientists and creationists,” Lovan writes.
Natural selection, which is both observed and repeatable, and evolution (in the molecules-to-man sense) are often confused, so it is important to understand them both. For more about the difference, see Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution? For more on the new museum exhibit, see Natural Selection Exhibit Opens (or come visit us in the Cincinnati area!).
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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