Remembering Lauri Lebo's words....Stephen Meyer takes on Bill Nye: Is there a way to confront this situation before next year?

My students—who are Gen Z—basically all know Bill Nye from PBS. Nye, as you know, was so befuddled by what he thought creationism was he went to the Creation Museum to debate Ken Ham, who is linked to two books about young people statistically dropping out of church or never going in the first place.

Watermark Church down the street where I live is hosting the Discovery Institute next year. This church is doing booming business with mostly white young urban professionals in the city of Dallas. It is certainly a multi-million dollar facility.

Ray Bohlin of Probe Minstries has taught about ID from the Watermark pulpit. Probe as I mentioned in an earlier post is now listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for comments made by Bohlin’s wife Sue about the LGBT community. Probe has also significant ties to Dallas Theological Seminary.

The Institute of Creation Research is opening a 30 million dollar museum here in the fall.

Bill Nye recently came to the University of Texas at Dallas to a sold-out house. It is within easy driving distance of Watermark.

Eric Metaxas came here to talk to Stephen Meyer in Park Cities Baptist Church just a few months ago. Discovery has an office here.

I say all this to say that I feel like Dallas is the center of American creationism at this point. All the money these institutes need is here, and it is eagerly given by churches that agree with Ham’s thesis.

I forgot to mention Discovery has done a presentation at the world’s largest seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, here in Fort Worth.

I spoke to journalist Lauri Lebo about the devastation the Dover trial created in the Dover community, shutting off neighbor from neighbor.

I spoke to Barbara Forrest in Louisiana about her participation in the Dover case. When asked about Forrest, John West of Discovery called her a “hypocrite”.

I have to tell you after 15 years of chasing these participants around the nation I am getting tired. Then when I found out Metaxas wrote a children’s book celebrating Donald Trump as champion of forgotten Americans, and when I see Discovery’s website make references to “making America great again”, I get exhausted as a historian of the controversies.

Now comes the election of 2020. Climate change is front and center.

Creation science is seems to me is centrally about evangelism and dispensationalism.

Intelligent design, it seems to me, is about redefining science altogether. A lot of William Paley in Behe’s thinking, and I see Behe’s ideas as the center of the science part of the movement. But it seems to me Discovery is about transforming American society as a whole—governmentally, economically, etc.

Just look at the Discovery website.

ID has a presence at UTDallas because of an organization called Reasonable Faith that works with students.

I constantly remember meeting Lebo. And reading her book, The Devil in Dover.

I can’t chase Bill Nye or Stephen Meyer all over the country to question them. When I asked Meyer a question at a meeting here, I had to jam it onto an index card and someone else read it. He brushed off the content completely. I asked about the battle at Baylor about the Polanyi Center, etc.

Lebo and Forrest represent a lot of people, and Bill Nye is one of their champions.

Is it worth trying to talk to the pastors who invite these organizations to speak about what Lebo said about Dover, and about the universities here in Dallas?

I am thinking of making a series of YouTube videos giving context on the culture wars surrounding evolution, and maybe participating in the making of a documentary about things like neighborhood impacts of the national fracas.

That would be tricky.

You can have the conversations in the contexts of trusting relationships but it’s hard to initiate trusting relationship in the context of contentious issues. Maybe you could start with other pastors with which you already have those relationships. If you have none, then maybe that is the more pressing issue.

Is there a way for a single person to build trust with a cohort of pastors in the city? Meeting them for office hours?
Telling my story, hearing theirs,
talking about students and young people that meet pastors and professors next?

Yeah, one at a time. Over coffee (well, or some other beverage or lunch or whatever). Hear their story. Share yours. Hear their heart. And then bring up your concern by the third time if you still want to by then…?

So what you are saying is, try to propose to them meeting a few times and then maybe by the third time bring up my concern?

I really appreciate your counsel. Sounds like you know a lot more about the etiquette to use in this delicate matter than I do.

I am surprised somewhat that this question did not elicit more replies. Maybe I misunderstand the general use of the forum discussion format and perhaps you could share your reflections on this? Thanks

I actually sent you a PM with my email address. I can probably hook you up with just about anyone you’d like to meet.

Yes. I’m also suggesting that by the third meeting your concern might not be as pressing as you thought. Then again, it might.

I don’t think the conversation is out of place at all. Then again, I’m not a Biologos Forum “power user.”

I take it that you are a teacher science in the Dallas area and are upset that your students are being indoctrinated by ID and Creationism. I do not think that it is your job to confront those who advocate these ideas.

I think that your first duty is to teach your students science the best way you can. BioLogos has materials that might be helpful in this. I do not know if it is wise to make Bill Nye into the center of this. I would think that this tempts picking an argument. Use the best text you can and let others bring up Nye or whomever in discussion. You could have an optional reading list, including several points of view, which could be the basis of discussion, based on book reports, so no one is forced into a corner.

I should hope that you can find a church where you can discuss these issues freely. We cannot control what people think, but hopefully we can find a place where people can discuss.

The politicalization of conservative Christianity is very troubling because it represents the World taking over the church. This is a serious spiritual challenge to our faith, perhaps the beginning of the Tribulation.

I sympathize with your situation, but this is not something that you can fix. You need to address it in the fellowship of fellow believers.

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I would recommend not doing that. While in theory we are all supposed to be eager to spend lots of visiting and fellowship time with others, the American reality is that most people are jealous of their time and schedules. If somebody I don’t know sits down to visit with me without stating their business up front, then (rightly or wrongly) I have only one thing on my mind while they’re talking: “what is their agenda … or what are they hoping to sell to me?” If somebody is planning on waiting for a 3rd visit to disclose something to me (and that something is really the only thing they care about), then it’s probably safe to say I’ll never hear their concern because I doubt I will allow them to “schedule” three visits without me knowing of any apparent agenda.

Instead I would recommend being up front with what you want, even in communications prior to your first meeting. Sure, that will lose you some if they aren’t interested … but hey, then it saves your time too, right? And the ones who are can get right down to business with you when you do meet.

I agree, Mervin. I got several phone calls a day from such people at my medical office. They were usually sales people or people who wanted to use me in some way to advance their goals. Many if not most were good people, but I just had no desire to waste my time listening to something I had no interest in.
While building relationships is a good thing overall, to build a relationship to promote a specific agenda is abusive. Unfortunately, churches do it all the time. Feed the hungry, but do so only in exchange for time give a gospel message. Invite someone to dinner, but only to proselytize. Give shoes to the barefoot, but only if you come to a church service. Now, all those things can be good, but I am not sure many in this day and time can be bribed to heaven.

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This is a fantastic discussion and great use of the forum format. I am going to try to print out your responses.And pray about them and use them in my discussions locally with people in ministry at the university and such. Before I consider talking to pastors.

I see now 113 people have viewed this post. My ego feels better that spending 11 years researching this national story for the University of Florida. Just kidding.

I taught a class on this matter for 45 hours twice this year. One student ended the class by saying, “This is good stuff that applies to my practical life.”

That’s the effect I wanted. It is tempting to think the history of science dissertation was a colossal waste of time and money and effort given adjunct professors are on food stamps, sleeping in their cars, and living in homeless shelters. That last one is a true story locally here.

I have learned “radical acceptance” and it has taught me the following—see if you agree…

  1. The Discovery Institute and Probe Ministries are multi-million dollar trains the leaders of whom have no intention of stopping what they are doing for decades to come. Perhaps they are talking some carnal Christians into returning to church. But they surely aren’t talking to Bill Nye, or Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Who is? Stephen Colbert, who has the ears of millions of Millenials at night.

  2. Married people are not available at night to do things at all. They are simply too busy with responsibilities at home. A single friend with decades of ministry experience told me he never sees his married friends at night. I am single.

  3. A history of science degree is economically worthless if you cannot move a lot and even if you can, it still is pretty worthless in this economy. And laypeople don’t read books published by academic presses. Ronald Numbers and George Marsden will never be read by fundamentalists. I think the degree however has great intellectual value. It is just that the humanities were not designed for this economy, but for a past one. But I don’t need money. I have resources for the rest of my life. And I cannot move around the country in pursuit of tenure. I have a health condition that requires geographical stability in a well-structured medical system.

  4. Because ICR and Discovery are here in Dallas and Baylor 90 miles away, this may be the best location in America for a trained historian of creationism to live if he wants to have a neighborhood impact.

Thank you so much for the thoughtful responses. I scored high on “discernment” in a spiritual gifts questionaire and the reason why is I l believe that “in the abundance of counselors there is safety/victory/deliverance.”

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