Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stickin' it to the intellectual dogmatist elite!

How about that for a title, huh? We at the Ross King World tour office like to read a lot, ok? We like to use big words. We like irony, so we write intellectually elitist-sounding sentences when trying to take a jab at the intellectual elitists.

What am I talking about?


Go there and watch the "Super Trailer." Then watch all the other stuff, too. If you like Ben Stein (and who doesn't?), you'll love it. If you are tired of the government run education crisis in this country (and who isn't?), you'll love it. If you believe that there is a vast, organized conspiracy to steal away everything good and right and wonderful about the world (of course you do), this will help you know that you're not crazy.



Johnny! said...


Yeah! I was first!

Robert Conn said...

I just don't want to be that drooling guy...

I just might postpone the chips and salsa in order to see this one!

BHG & Co. said...

I love that it ends with the classroom... anyone? anyone?


on another note. I have been trying to get in touch with you Ross about coming to Elkhart on a Wednesday night sometime for a handful of my young families.

What do you think? 903-764-2978

rk said...

so sorry for not being easier to reach. I"m not sure what happened, but i do know that my email has been unpredictable lately. i think it's all fixed now, but either way, if you send something to both my accounts, i should get it and i'll get back to you asap.


thanks man. looking forward to talking to you.

Lauri Hahn said...

Stein just may pull it off. Enough of the Darwinists, Dadaists & moral relativists think he's cool, OR have fond memories of him relating to when THEY were still joyful, impressionable, open-minded and content. How great would it be for a Jew to lead scientists (along with himself) to Jesus?

Melanie said...

Wow...this is awesome! Can't wait to see! Thanks for sharing.

On another note, I've really been enjoying the new CD!

Shane said...

Happy Birthday, Ross!

Art said...

Sorry to be the lone voice of dissent here, but I just don't see the point. Scientific journals, and serious scientists, are all about ... science! Yup, science, not faith, science. There is this thing called the scientific method that real scientists use to do their work. My life is all about Jesus, and I am a scientist by trade. Why does it bother people so much that the things in which you have faith cannot (generally) be proven by science? Choosing to believe in a so-called young Earth is very different from trying to prove the Biblical creation scientifically. The scientific method does not start with the conclusion and then seek to prove it. So scientists say to Christians: "you can't prove it, so it's not true." Scientifically, they are correct. You can't prove faith. If you could, then it would not be faith!

It does not bother you (intellectually anyway) if your neighbor is a Jew, and thinks Christianity is mostly false teaching. Why then are Christians so bothered by the scientists' opinions? They don't change your faith. They are unrelated to your faith.

I can see one response already: "They ram this stuff down our kids' throats in public schools." Well, there are certainly teachers who stand up and say in class "The Bible is wrong, and let me tell you about the Truth." Those teachers should be fired. However, every science teacher has the responsibility to stand up and teach the current scientific beliefs.

I could obviously type all day on this one. If you made if this far, I commend your open-mindedness.

rk said...

I get what you're saying, I think, and I respect that you're being bold about a possibly less-popular opinion. But I think I'm missing your point or something. Either that or we look at The Kingdom from completely different perspectives.

I don't parse up my life into categories like that, and i'm pretty sure Jesus doesn't either. Faith/science, sacred/secular, work/play, blood family/spiritual family. These are lines that, in the context of the Kingdom That Never Ends, are blurry at best. I look at every part of my life thru one set of eyes. These ostracized scientists are attempting to do the same. It's called "intellectual honesty," and it's as important to science as The Scientific Method.

Speaking of that, I'm not sure what to do with your point about the Scientific Method and this video. No aspect of the creation of the universe can be rightly tested by scientific theory, because there is no way to recreate the conditions that existed (or didn't exist) then. So the Christians aren't the only ones who are unable to scientifically defend their positions. When discussing the creation, whenever and however it happened, everyone is, at some level, guessing.

What (it sounds like) you're doing is saying that the World gets to define anything that isn't expressly "faith-based." Not true, and not smart. How would you even know how to make those distinctions? Before there was science to explain God, God was. So He presupposes all science.

Ironically, your position is sort of a narrow-minded one. If I'm reading you right, you're saying "only scientists get to talk about science." Well then, only chefs can discuss whether or not a cheeseburger is tasty. Oh, and only musicians get to speak with authority on music. And only accountants can discuss money. So on. No thanks.

I'm far from a stickler or a legalist on these issues where Christians are at war with the World to prove stuff. I really don't care about any of that, other than the areas where following Jesus puts me at odds with the World's laws. But this video isn't really about that. I'm wondering if maybe you're just responding to a different aspect of the video than I am.

Because what I was so interested in was not some "victory" for Christians against scientists (my blog title was, as usual, kind of a joke). As you pointed out, Ben Stein is Jewish. I never even really looked at this as some kind of "Christian" thing (again, i've got one lens). I was interested in this video because it features a smart, well-respected individual pointing out great prejudice, hyporcisy and dogma among a group who seems to always be pointing fingers, screaming "Prejudice!" Hypocrisy! Dogma!" If real, educated, qualified scientists "follow the evidence where it leads" and find that Darwinism has holes, THAT IS SCIENCE, and outright rejection of those findings is foolish and ultimately harmful to our growth and progress as humans.

So, Art, I appreciate your input, and I'd genuinely love to hear more. But I think you're off on this one. Or perhaps I'm totally misreading you.

Either way, thanks for posting.

Dave said...


Thanks for the reply. This is "Art" which is actually Dave. (A friend was reading google mail, and I didn't log him out till after I posted.)

I will come back with more later, but a few points:

It's not that only scientists GET to do science. It's that only scientists DO science. Believing that the world was created in 6 days is fine. Setting out to prove it by rejecting all opposing evidence, and then presenting your findings to the scientific community is simply asking for trouble. Bad form, old chap.

About parsing your life - I don't and I agree, you shouldn't, and I don't need to. I can simultaneously do science for a living, and believe that the scientific method is the way to do science, AND have faith in all things at all times. I realize a lot of folks will see a conflict there, but I don't.

More later.


- Dave

Dave said...

I think I finally came up with a good example to best describe my thoughts here. Suppose a bunch of scientists came to the Christian world and said we should move Christmas. It is well established that Christ's birth simply could not have been in late December, and almost had to be in the springtime. As far as I know, there is no Dec 25th in the Bible, so we would all jump at the chance to increase our church's scientific accuracy, and change our calendars. Right? Of course not. We would (I hope politely) send them packing.

I don't see it as any different when we try to superimpose our belief system onto theirs. You can't prove faith with science. You won't prove ID, or a young Earth with science. They are belief systems. If you are going to disprove their scientific theories, then you are going to have to do it scientifically. If you are have a belief system you want to prove with science, you are going to have to phrase it in the form of a scientifically testable hypothesis.

If you and your whole congregation were visited by Jesus one afternoon and He said Christmas should be in April, you'd change you calendar. Because you would all have faith that it was the Lord's will, and that's that. (Funny - I almost used the pope in that example ;-)

So, there's my piece, and also my peace.


- Dave

Johnny! said...

Hey, this turned into a real discussion! Hi, Dave.

First off, Christians have never thought December 25th was the actual date of Christ's birth. That's not why we celebrate the Nativity then. It was moved to that date to put down the holiday Sol Invictus that a pagan Emperor had created to compete with it. We won! Yay.

Anyway, Dave is right that Christianity is a belief system. But so is materialism, or naturalism, or however you want to parse it. The sorts of folks Stein is butting heads with are defending a set of beliefs every bit as much as any other adherent of a particular faith. There are a whole host of faith assumptions one must make prior to engaging in scientific inquiry. Dave, you're fortunate, because as a Christian you alone have a concrete basis for those assumptions that your non-believing colleagues don't have. Yet it's usually those same people who proclaim (rather condescindingly at times!), "you believe things on faith, while we believe the evidence." But the first question out of the gate should always be, "Where is the evidence that your senses apprehend the evidence in a reliable way?"

Johnny! said...

That would be, "condescendingly." Damn you, Blogger!

Robert Conn said...

Science is/ has always been/ and will always be bound by God not Christianity. Let's face it, Science does not wake up in the morning unless God ordains it! Science is not the ruler of God... God is the source of Science.

If this is not what the argument is about however, please ignore this post. I'm coming in towards the tail end of this thing.

rk said...

There’s so much to deal with here that it’s hard for me to even know where to start.

First, I’ll be totally honest. I could not care less when we celebrate Christmas. Again, I have one lens. I do my best to celebrate Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection every day of the year. In fact, I only celebrate Christmas the way that I do because it’s convenient to do so (and that, only because of the historical circumstances that Johnny pointed out). But I’ve got absolutely no problem changing the date. So unfortunately, that analogy isn’t helpful to me in understanding your position. In fact, I’d argue that anyone who would actively, thoughtlessly “send them packing” is probably bowing at the altar of tradition.

This is what I tried to get at earlier. I just think you’re barking up the wrong tree. I really believe that you have no idea how differently you and I view the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that we don’t worship the same God. It doesn’t even mean that one of us is totally wrong and the other is totally right. It is what it is. We just aren’t speaking the same language.

Maybe if I more thoroughly deal with one of your points, it will make more sense.

“Only scientists DO science.” Man, I’ve got so many problems with this. First, I’m not even sure why you would say that in relation to this movie, because the movie is ABOUT SCIENTISTS who, in the course of DOING SCIENCE, discovered SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that stands in opposition to current SCIENTIFIC THEORIES. So, where’s the rub there, exactly? You keep assuming this has something to do with Christians and faith. These people are talking about “following the evidence wherever it leads.” They’re aren’t taking one category (faith) and inappropriately integrating with another (science), but you insist that they are. I’m really confused by that. These scientists are simply asking for the right to view world with intellectual honesty.

But I have to even back up from there, because I don’t even agree with that statement about only certain people being able to do certain things. I made a marinara sauce a few nights ago, from raw ingredients, utilizing various skills, tools, and knowledge that I have. Hate to tell you, but that’s science. If it’s not, then why do they teach chemistry in culinary school?

Or how about this: a few months ago, my wife and I prayed for a woman who had a tumor in her body. Two days later, she went to the doctor and the tumor was completely gone. The doctors (scientists to be sure) were unable to explain the absence of a tumor that had most certainly been there days before. There’s some kind of science going on there as well. And in that instance, the scientists were wrong, and the regular folk were right. Formal science prescribed medicine and surgery. The Lord had another, equally scientific prescription. His idea was better.

See, your position is only correct if I let you define everything (and I have to warn you that I think you’re letting the world inform you on your definitions). But I’m unwilling to do that. And I feel pretty good that Jesus would agree. I’m not sure how water is turned into wine, but I’m absolutely certain that it involves (at least) complex chemical reactions, and a carpenter pulled it off without so much as a grape or a Bunsen Burner. Go figure.

Here’s an example. I have almost zero formal musical training; about 2months of piano lessons when I was a teenager, actually. I stunk at it, so I quit (for better or for worse). I can’t read or write music. I have almost no knowledge of musical theory. According to your view, “only musicians DO music” (unless you think science is the only field where this logic applies, in which case I’d say you’re proving yourself to be the King of the Intellectual Dogmatist Elite). Well, am I a musician? Formally trained musicians would likely say no. I have not a lick of schooling in this area, so certainly I am not a musician. And yet, by the grace and gifting of the Lord – and because of His calling on my life – here I am making music; writing it, producing it, performing it, making a living at it.

I could make a similar analogy with formal theological training. I have none, and yet I am the pastor of a growing, thriving church body. Is it only theologians who DO theology?

You say that you don’t parse your life up, and that I shouldn’t. But from my perspective, you do, and it looks like you want me to as well.

I've got more thoughts, but this is already obnoxiously long, so I'll quit.

Again, Dave, I’m confident that you and I just see the Kingdom differently. That’s not my trump card. But it is the only way I can explain or understand our disparate views on this.

I accept your piece and your peace, and I hope you’ll take mine as well. This has been fun and enlightening for me. I hope it has been for you as well. May we both find the Truth.


rk said...

Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, Dave/Art and I aren't having a heated, emotional agrument as far as I can tell. He came to me with a kind, well-intentioned spirit, and I've felt the same way as I've responded. Christians should be having kindhearted debate more often. It seems like we're always out on the extremes: either avoiding conflict in our dysfunctional passive-agressiveness, or yelling at/over each other. This isn't either of those things.

Dave, thanks again for speaking your mind. That's always welcome.

Dave said...

Well, for now we will just have to accept the idea that we have two different opinions here. I do want to clarify just one thing.

When I say "only scientists do science" it means that science is a process where one applies the current accepted definition of science (I will abbreviate that definition to "using the scientific method" for now). Scientist are those using this process. No more, no less.

Making marinara sauce, while no doubt a tasty dinner, does not make you a chemist. Analyzing the effect of a particular molecule in basil, and its interaction with another molecule in tomato, and then figuring out what effect that has on your taste buds is chemistry.

If the movie turns out to be real scientists doing reproducible research, then the rest of the scientific community should be listening. (reproducibility is another fundamental property of anything to be considered "science"). I have not seen the movie, but neither have I ever seen any serious, reproducible science refuting natural selection*

Oh, and of course you are a musician. Me too. Musicians make music. So you're not classically trained. Me neither. But it's still music.

We'll continue this if you ever make it to my living room.


* I understand that natural selection is only a small portion of Darwinism. I too object to the insistence of randomness by some scientists. An insistence that has no basis in science. You can't prove that something is random. I am a big fan of ID, but not as science, since it is a belief system.

Johnny! said...

Dave, do you say that what naturalist proponents of Darwinism hold is not a belief system?

Dave said...

I am probably using a more limited definition of belief system. How about this: science is supported by the scientific method and a belief system is something we take on faith. You may choose not to believe in science (good, reproducible, properly performed, science) but that doesn't change the conclusions. You may choose to have faith in something, (let's say the resurrection of Jesus) which is not supported by scientific evidence. That's what I'm calling a belief system.

Johnny! said...

Then what those scientists practice meets your definition of a belief system. The scientific method relies on a great deal of presuppositions which it cannot account for by its own methodology. I gave you an example already but here's another: the uniformity and predictability of nature and its laws.

Dave said...

OK, fine. I can accept science a belief system, but you can't call faith science.

Robert Conn said...

Allow me to interject some comments as one looking in on this whole thing.

1) I think one of the problems is that this film WILL be latched onto by Christians as if it were some kind of victory battle won. Why? Because that what we do. We find redemptive analogies in everything... movies, advertising, and even hits by Sting. We take anything we can get and use it as a tool in order to keep us from actually having to speak Truth ourselves... we simply point and say, "see, told you." In addition, I truly believe the makers of this film were not out to give Christians a boost (or even educated Darwinists a kick in the groin for that matter). They are merely saying, "Look, something does not add up folks, can we in good conscience continue the charade?" Call it Science, call it faulty Logic, or whatever. Why are we ok with someone exposing the truths behind greasy McDonald's French Fries or even our nations over-bloated Health Care System, but by God don't you dare touch our precious 'Science?'

2) I happen to think God is very much amused by the whole situation to begin with (not this string of comments but rather the age-old misdirection of interest). I mean, here we are debating theories and belief systems, is it the Age-Day or Ideal-Time Theory, all the while missing the point. What is the point you ask? Well maybe only the "Point Tellers" can tell us.

Dave said...

Thanks Robert. I totally agree with #1, which is really related to what got me going on this rant in the first place. I don't disagree with #2, but I'm just not sure what to make of it without more thought. (Should I be insulted? ;-)


Johnny! said...

Hey, my comment went away!

Dave, I'd never call faith science, but I do call the position materialist scientists defend a competing faith, and examine and critique it as such. The value of Stein's movie here is that it is apologetically useful even though he also is a follower of a false religion. It highlights the internal inconsistency of the materialist Darwinian system.

Again you're fortunate as a Christian to have what those kinds of scientists do not have. Your use of the scientific method doesn't contradict your starting point.

rk said...

sci·ence /ˈsaɪəns/
a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
4. systematized knowledge in general.
5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
6. a particular branch of knowledge.
7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.

I'm done with this debate, and I'm fine with all that's gone on here. I appreciate your spirit and your thoughts throughout.

But the Random House Unabridged Dictionary (above definition) neglects to even mention the Scientific Method in telling me 7 different definitions of "science." I suppse it could be inferred from one or two of those points, but your repeated mentioning of it -- regarding it as the lynchpin of all things scientific -- led me to believe that I'd find it at "the top of the page," so to speak.

I find that odd, again, considering your insistence that only The Scientific Method makes for real science and real scientists. Dictionaries can be wrong, I suppose, but you have to admit that it makes it hard for the rest of us to get a grasp on your rather strict criticisms of the movie, it's value, and it's intentions.

What I mean is, your whole perspective only works if we reject the above definitions in favor of yours.

I sort of feel like a broken record here.

Like I've been saying all along, we just see the Kingdom (and I'm sure many other things) from differing perspectives. Again, I'm perfectly fine with that. I've spent much of my life learning from people who approached life (and Life) from differing perspectives. But I did think it was important to point out that your definition of science appears to be, well, a little bit "intellectual dogmatist elite."

Either that, or the Random House folks neglected to ask any scientists when they were figuring out what science was.

Thanks everybody who jumped in on this one. Good discussion. This has been very fun, very enlightening, and very challeging to me.

I'm now speaking in the past tense because, although this thread isn't necessarily done, I think I'm probably done with it. Real life and all...

Who knew Ben Stein would get me so many comments? Anyone?

rk said...

Maybe I shouldn't have started that comment by saying "i'm done with this debate." I guess I meant, "i'm about to be done." Sorry if that sounded a little superior and/or schizophrenic. I am both, at times.

Lauri Hahn said...

Either someone at RK HQ has their finger on the button or cyberspace sucked up my comment in a very scientific, unceremonious way.

Scientists (the good ones) have those driven, linear minds that seek & ask & dig. Christians with scientific minds pour thru concordances, Hebrew/Greek texts, etc.

I'm not saying something as boring as, "ya'll are all right in one way or another."

What I'm saying is some people feel alive when they break down & analyze everything. They can appreciate things more when they "get it." That's the way God made them & He uses that. Other people just like to wax poetic about everything & expound on lofty analogies. He can use that, too.

That's why we're the Body. You marvel at His creation by looking thru a microscope, I'll marvel at it by taking a deep breath overlooking a canyon. We can TRY to understand Him & each other & that's great. We can analyze & figure out & write songs & paint pictures & blog. But we'll never get the whole picture this side of heaven.

The secret things belong to the Lord. But those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever & ever... (Deut 29:29)

rk said...

not sure why people's comments are disappearing. I don't do "moderation" or whatever, so don't blame me. If I were guessing, i'd say it has something to do with the fact that blogger is absolutely free.

or maybe it's God trying to get us to quit talking about this...

Dave said...

OK, my very last comment. At least the very last one I will type this morning...

Random house #3-7 are based on the first two:
"#1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences."

"#2 systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation."

Compare these to Merriam-Webster on the scientific method
"principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses"

Me again: It's all about a systematic process. Systematic processes are repeatable, and often mathematically predictable. I'm sorry that Random House doesn't use my specific phrase, but I'm standing by this as a fundamental requirement of science.

I'd love to say I will watch the movie and continue this discussion. I will see the movie, but I'm guessing it will take a whole lot of fact checking afterwards to make any substantive statements about its conclusions. I have no doubt Ben Stein will put a very compelling case together, but just like Micheal Moore and Al Gore, the success of the movie is in its controversy. Who knows. I like Ben Stein a lot, but a fair and balanced approach just doesn't sell movies these days.

Thanks everyone for tolerating this Jesus-loving academic for a good bit of stimulating conversation.