How should I engage 22 antievolutionist apologists at a Dallas megachurch?

Watermark church I assume is one of the most influential in the South, if not America.

It’s membership is certainly in the thousands, and it is sitting among apartment complexes in a highly urban section of Dallas, and its clientele look to be young white urban professionals who are de- or unchurched. Burnouts and secular youth.

Its pastor Todd Wagner is in his 50s and an athlete who went to Dallas Theological Seminary. He often refers to the culture warrior Francis Schaeffer in his book.

Tomorrow night there is this apologetics discussion called Great Questions. Twenty two apologists trained by a Biola grad rotate in leading discussions. Biola is I think strongly ID oriented.

Next year the Discovery Institute is holding its annual conference at Watermark.

So the church is thick with anti evolution. Finally a Probe Ministries staff conducts regular discussions about science at Watermark.

The apologists rank science issues low on the list of priorities. They talk about essentials of the faith, convictions, and opinions. Science issues are to them a matter of opinion.

People in the groups hardly ever ask about science. They ask about the resurrection, reliability of the Bible etc,

If I engage these apologists, especially this Biola trained leader guy about evolution, how should I speak to him about Darwin?

I cannot say God isn’t using this church in a powerful way. I don’t want to disturb their work with burnouts and the lost.

But they are creating culture warriors regarding science.

Your thoughts?

1 Like

I think your consideration for their ministry here is a good guide you already seem to have in place.

If we’re talking in a small group setting where you may get a chance at personal interaction over the subject, I’d recommend just having a probing question or two prepared that wouldn’t necessarily need to be some “throw-down the gauntlet” baiting tactic, but more of a signal to other listeners in the group that there are some present (at least you, anyway!) who have considered these matters and come to different conclusions. That may open the way to further private conversations then if others know you can be safely approached about their own reservations. Just registering your presence as someone who hasn’t bought into their dismissal of [evolutionary] science (and yet isn’t wanting to make a big fight about it either) might be a large enough job right there.

[of course if you are “merely a visitor”, then you are at quite a disadvantage since you wouldn’t have any prior relationships there and would probably be dismissed as just an outsider who needs to be brought into the fold.]

I attend another large and influential church in the South, North Point Community Church.

Our pastor Andy Stanley, not long ago in a sermon, mentioned the “greatness” of evolution. I don’t remember his exact word (it wasn’t greatness), but it referred to the power of the process.

Andy also attended DTS.

1 Like

You’re in the information gathering stage. Ask a lot of questions. Your strategy for engagement will become clear later on.

1 Like

I’ve listened to (and admired) a number of Stanley’s sermons online. We recently had some good forum discussion about him sometime back. Just search for ‘Stanley’ and those threads should come up if you’re interested.

1 Like

I have attended his church for more than a dozen years, and I worked with his eldest son.

Andy is an excellent communicator, and it appears to me that his views are inspired.

I will search him on the forum when I have time. Thanks.

To treat evolutiophbia it is a good idea to work out their fears about loosing the authority they believe to have by insisting on a materialistic interpretation of Genesis, a book written to be understood even by the illiterate and children that could neither fathom the concept of millions, nor the complexity of planetary birth or genetic codes. To them the picture of God making mud pie humans is perfectly adequate. Once you learn that God is not Santa’s big brother bringing us gifts upon prayers and does create not in a materialist way by putting molecules in place by hand but using love and logic to control the behaviour of matter you have to think about the definition of survival fitness. Lee Margulis already realised it to be group theory and symbiotic relationships that drive the process back in the last millenium. Ask them if they believe evolution or reality to be regulated by killing thy neighbour or by loving thy neighbour like thyselves. If it would be the first we should see monocultures everywhere, but we know that they are unstable and easily collapse. It is the diversity that generates system stability. Once People accept that the law of evolution is the ability to love thy neighbour they may be able to overcome their fear of the process and take ownership of it instead of praying for it to go away.

@jbabraham88,

Our job is not to teach science, but to tell good theology.

My objection to YEC is that it is based on the Bible as the Word of God, when Jesus is the Word of God. If that is what this church is teaching and preaching, that the Bible is the Word of God, then it is up to you to point out a clearly and firmly as possible.

For instance if the church is teaching that Christians must be anti-Gay or something like this, because the Bible says this, then we must point out that Jesus said Love your neighbor. Of course you need to pick your platform carefully.

1 Like

I have had some worthwhile results in pointing out to YEC people that there are two creation stories with different orders and methods of creation.

I ask them “was man created after plants had sprung up, as in the first creation story, or was man formed before any plants had sprung up, as in the second creation story.”

Unfortunately, most retreat to simply denying what the text actually says — a strange response for someone espousing a literal view.

2 Likes

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock , and it shall be opened unto you: (Matt 7:6-7)

Jesus has some very good advice - you can try to teach as much as you want to, but unless the student is ready to learn, your works are fruitless. If you want to go down this road, I would suggest not to speak, but to listen. Listen for the people who are searching for something else than what Wagner has to offer and start with them. Good luck!

1 Like

(@Shawn_Murphy – Luck, in the strict theological sense of the word? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)

Being a fairly recent convert to recognizing the legitimacy of evolutionary science, what was compelling to me was to learn not very long ago that neo-Darwinism, aka “the modern synthesis”, has been falsified and replaced by the neutral theory of evolution and population genetics. (It is fairly concisely noted here and here.)

Not long before that, I was recognizing that biological design cannot be demonstrated empirically.

On top of that was this comment that really clinched it for me:

…the most common mutations, transitions, are not really “copying errors,” because the keto-enol transition of the base is driving them and the polymerase is working correctly. So if you’d like, that can be seen as providence more than chance.

The reason that was the tipping point is because, as I said in my request to have my ‘title’ changed from ‘Creationist’ to ‘Providentialist’,

Since I have what appears to be unusually extensive experience with God’s providence in my life (the extent of it is surprising to most who know me, including me :slightly_smiling_face:), and also since God’s providence violates no natural law in its supernatural timing and placing and is thus immune to scientific detection, it makes perfect sense that his design and implementation of it in the biological realm need not be scientifically detectable either. I still very much believe in intelligent design, but lowercase ‘id’. [Evolution was itself designed.]

So, @jbabraham88, what I would start with is to say that Darwinism has been disproven and that God’s sovereign direction of evolution in his providence removes the atheistic ‘blind chance’ component that is rightfully offensive to Christians, adding that design cannot be empirically proven (including ‘specified complexity’, etc.).*

(Of course, it is significant that I was already an ‘Old Earth Creationist’, and had been for over half of my adult life – I am a septuagenarian, or in my early geezerhood, as I quip. :slightly_smiling_face:)


*I was once a fan of Michael Behe. Now, not so much.

1 Like

get yourself an up to date bible. It is usually the pride of the religiophobes to claim that the authors were so stupid not to realise they had wrote two contradicting genesis stories or the believe of some bright sparks that they did that on purpose to give us something to puzzle about.
It must have taken some good translation to create a contradiction by messing up the tenses, but to fathom that is is a problem of lack of logical thinking in translation is too hard to fathom for some.

If your bible still tells you it’s okay to beat a slave as to have him die slowly you should scrap your bible and get an up to date translation. If someone offers you that interpretation you should examine his/her/its mind why they think the bible would advise us on the preference for a slow and painful death to be the less punishable way and why the bible did not debate the benefits of a slow death for a free fellow :slight_smile:

Hope Josh can tell us how it went for him

Many of the things that horrify is now in the Mosaic Law, such as slavery and slave beating, may be a function of how bad the times were then and how things could not change immediately.

An eye for an eye sounds unmerciful. At the time, it was likely viewed as a limitation—you could not kill a person who put out your eye.

the lex talionis is an expression of justice.
What horrifies me now about the mosaic law is just how much worse we are with justice with regards to our own hypocrisy. What one reads into the bible is ones own attitudes towards others and it can be very embarrassing for some.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.