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« Alan on the RJ Moeller Show | Main | Links Mentioned on the Show »

July 08, 2011

Comments

Wait, doesn’t “VBS” stand for “Village Bottle Shop”!?? Man, you’re getting them started early!

But seriously, aren’t you concerned that you are sending your kids to a place where they will be taught about evolution and biblical criticism by folks that have as much expertise on those issues as Kirk Cameron has on the big bang theory? Isn’t Summit Ministries just another place where conservative evangelicals enlist impressionable youth as foot-soldiers in a culture war where inerrancy and the special creation of humans are the damsels in distress and the general consensus of the scholarly community is the big bad dragon that Jesus wants us to slay?

Is this the signature tune of Summit Ministries?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V4MKR6O0EY

Malebranche, for the purpose of having meaningful conversations, I'm going to ask you to dial down the mockery.

Yeah, that was a bit snarky.

How about this:

Isn't there room for genuine concern about sending our children to places where they will be taught to be deeply suspicious of the results of some of our best theories? And is there not a sense in which organizations like Summit Ministries instill in the youth a "warrior mentality" according to which theories like evolution are our enemies and must be destroyed?

Just glanced at Summit Ministries' website.

Looks like Dave Nutting is a player at that institution. You can check him out here: http://www.discovercreation.org/events/NuttingTalksandTopics.htm

I wonder what he's getting at by these remarks:

How do dinosaurs fit with the Bible? Have people ever seen dinosaurs? What’s the evidence? Evolutionary interpretations lead children astray. Ancient artwork and artifacts from around the world depict creatures that look like dinosaurs. Did these ancient artists base their artwork on dinosaurs they had actually seen? Join "Dinosaur Dave" Nutting as he paints a new view of dinosaurs – one usually not taught in museums, schools, or books. Using vivid color visuals, Dave presents the evidence and a view of dinosaurs that is consistent with the Bible. Bring your skeptical friends!

What!? Are these folks teaching kids that humans and dinosaurs coexisted? Poor kids. That's a pretty rough way to get a start in one's intellectual life.

And then there's Kurt Patrick Wise, also a player at Summit Ministries. Kurt Wise has said that "the earth is young, and the universe is young, I would suggest that it’s less than ten thousand years in age." Apparently no amount of evidence could persuade him otherwise. He says,

...if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.

There's also some guy that they keep referring to as "Dr. David Noebel," but when you actually get to his credentials, it reads as follows:

Dr. Noebel has a B.A. from Hope College in Holland, a M.A. from the University of Tulsa, and was a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin.

PhD candidate? Well, did he or didn't he earn his PhD? Is he really "Dr. Noebel" or not?

From the looks of it, it appears that global warming, same-sex marriage, and the relationship between the Church and State are also issues they aim to weigh in on for the sake of our children having a "proper worldview."

Could you imagine being a teenager and being subjected to this (from David Noebel), which can be found here (http://www.summit.org/blogs/the-presidents-desk/atheism-and-the-survival-of-the-fittest/) at Summit Ministries’ website. Don’t forget that David Noebel is (or at least recently was) the director at Summit Ministries. The piece is called “Atheism and the Survival of the Fittest.” Here’s how the piece begins:

Even though Charles Darwin did not coin the phrase "survival of the fittest" (that honor goes to Herbert Spencer), he did acknowledge that it was more expressive than his own phrase "natural selection." The doctrine of "survival of the fittest" or "natural selection" has become a telling weapon in the hands of the militant atheists in their quest to subvert and ultimately destroy Christianity...Darwin's theory fueled Hitler's ovens and stoked Stalin's communist empire to the tune of millions dead and missing — quite a record for a simple theory of "survival" and "origin of species."

Oh_my_goodness. Hitler? Stalin? Millions dead and missing? The destruction of Christianity?!!? What is going on here? Is getting our children over-caffeinated on this sort of stuff the giant favor we can expect Summit Ministries to do for our children? What on Earth is this guy even getting at? Is this his attempt to formulate an objection to evolution?

Noebel goes on to write,

With this in mind, have you ever wondered how atheists (who embrace Darwinian evolution) measure up to being happy and, therefore, fulfilling their part in the evolutionary scheme? Are atheists living up to their end of the bargain in propagating and improving the human species? And are atheists, with their doctrine of "no god," offering humanity more happiness than religious believers in God? Two recent studies confirm the fact that religious believers in God are happier than their atheistic "religious" counterparts who believe in "no god."

Ok, so Hitler was a jerk evolutionist and atheists (who believe in evolution!!!!) aren’t as happy as religious people. Therefore...? Thus...? It clearly follows that...? Hence...?

Great questions, Mal. It disturbs me how Kunkle, Koukl, and gang can express such concern about children's education while concurrently advocating they be taught by young earth Creationists

I don't know about you, but I want smarter Christian neighbors, not less Christian neighbors. Guys like Koukl will never understand they grease the apostasy machine by telling their kids the earth is 6000 years old and evolution doesn't occur. The end result is less Christians.

Well you certainly won't see me running to Koukl's defense often, but I do want to point out that Koukl is not a young earth creationist (thankfully!). He believes in an ancient universe. He has some pretty uninformed opinions about evolution and certainly has done nothing to help Christians with respect to that crucial issue, but he has not supported young earth creationism, as far as I know. I've consistently heard him deny young earth creationism.

Matt,

I do agree with you, though, that this kind of stuff is responsible for a lot of unbelief. Bringing up children in a world where faith in Christ is hooked up to discredited views about human origins and the Bible is certainly a very effective way of setting our children up for disaster.

Malebranche,

On what grounds would an atheist who believes in evolution object to Hitler's and Stalin's actions?

Okay guys
...are you trying to bring a good thing in the gutter or are you really voicing real concerns?
I just went to the entire curriculum part of Summit Ministries and found stuff like
>abortion, apologetics, the arts, biotechnology, critical thinking, cults, euthanasia, leadership, radical environmentalism, radical feminism, the problem of evil, religious pluralism, scriptural reliability ...<
... and ofcourse you can have your opinions about these subjects ....but I couldn't find A word about young earth creationism!
What is your problem?
I don't mind a critic. But being critical to be constructive/change things for the better or being critical for just being critical are two different things, or?
...one we call intellectually honest ...
....I let you name the other one yourself..

I provided the links for anyone who wanted to see the nonsense with their own eyes.

If there is enough money left after camp, maybe Lexi can go to college.

But of she does, will her camp 'training' protect her faith?

Maybe. To give her training the best chance she should...

1) Avoid the 'best' schools. The faculty and the curriculum are not so different. (Fortunately, calculus at community college is very like calculus at Yale.) But there is way too much chance at the elite places of meeting fellow students who are off the charts in some way. Such people are wild cards in life. Camp cannot possibly 'prepare' Lexi to meet them.

2) Avoid biology as a major. An intro course or two is fine. These are surveys for decimating the pre-med's with volume as opposed to depth. Dobzhansky.

3) Avoid physics combined with philosophy and avoid the philosophy of science. Under no circumstances should Lexi think too much about what science is.

4) Avoid too much education for its own sake. Even if it creates no problem during the college years, education for its own sake will become a habit and eventually come back to bite you.

A caller named Ian on the last show said Greg makes him sad. This post makes me sad in what I think must be a very similar way. I'd rather see Brett save his money for Lexi's college tuition.

RonH

I wonder how many kids will grow up to say something like this:

I don’t resent everything about the way I was taught, but there are certainly some things that I wish were different. I was taught to be serious about Christ and the Bible, and I will always be grateful for that. But I was also brought up in a culture where Christians were deeply suspicious of many aspects of academic culture. Not that we hated learning. We absolutely loved learning. But a lot of the reason we were so enthusiastic about learning is because we knew we had to prepare ourselves to do battle with the professionals. Make no mistake about it, we viewed evolution as an enemy and I was sent to seminars to learn about how evolution is inconsistent with proper Christianity and how to argue that it is false. Was I convinced by them? I certainly was at the time. I was a teenager for crying outloud. It all seemed right. And so I was recruited as part of the opposition to evolution. I remember going to school and rehearsing the arguments I learned at camp. I thought I was really standing up for God. I thought that if people thought I was being stupid, that was just me being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The gospel is offensive, right? It felt good to stand up for something. I thought that if I could discredit evolution, then people would be more inclined to take God seriously and might get saved. “Getting saved,” by the way, was a huge deal in the culture I grew up in. We were taught that most of humanity would go to hell forever, and that the culture needed to be taken captive for Jesus for the sake of people’s souls. It was all drenched in military language and metaphors. Even then, though, there were things that bothered me. I knew that there was good evidence that there was no global flood, and so I spent lots of time reading Norman Geisler and such folks who argued that the Bible doesn’t teach a global flood. But that all seemed a bit strained, and I was afraid that if I kept looking into it, I might conclude that the Bible has an error. That, by the way, would have been horrible for me at the time. Inerrancy was thoroughly fundamental in my mindset. That’s just the way I was brought up. So I stopped reading about Noah’s flood and kept reading intelligent design literature. The most humiliating thing that ever happened to me, though, happened in college. I took a biology class and was eager to raise one of the objections I had learned to rehearse at camp. I thought my objection would really throw the professor off. When the time came, I politely raised the objection, waiting to see what would happen. I was completely humiliated. Not because the professor was a jerk. She wasn’t. Rather, it was because she so thoroughly refuted me that I realized that I had spent my life putting stock in an objection that had no merit whatsoever. After class I went to her office and asked her about some of the other things I had been taught to ask. She didn’t have answers for all of the problems. She said there’s a lot they don’t know. But over the course of the semester she also taught me the evidence for evolution that I was never taught at those summer camps. She taught me about the facts about biogeography, especially oceanic islands. She taught me about atavisms and pseudogenes. She taught me about transitional forms and anatomical vestiges. After taking a philosophy course I was introduced to Bayes’ Theorem, something I was never taught. I was taught how important Bayes’ Theorem is in capturing the way we ought to reason about hypotheses. All of this came together in a moment of insight and I realized that I had been wrong my entire life, that my former teachers were completely out of their depth when they were dogmatizing on these matters, and that people don’t believe in evolution just because they are committed naturalists. It is very embarrassing for me to look back on all of that. Can you believe that some of the teachers at the camps I went to taught us that the earth was less than 10,000 years old? Thankfully I never believed that, but I’m still embarrassed by it all. I came to see that evolution is the best theory we have, and began to believe it is probably true. And do you know what? It was then that I realized that all of those years my parents spent sending me to camps where I would be “prepared” for college were actually the very mechanisms setting me up for disaster. I didn’t know how to include evolution in my faith. I was incredibly angry with the disservice I had been done by those so-called mentors that recruited me to do battle against evolution. They did more to set me up for apostasy than anyone I know. And they continue to do these things as though they are doing the kingdom a huge favor! Will they ever repent of these things? I doubt it. But lets not be too harsh on them. They do not do these things on purpose. They have good intentions, they are convinced God is pleased with them, and I hope I never forget that they were at least doing their best to try and help me. Thankfully actual experts like Francis Collins are helping people like me include the deliverances of science in our faith. I’ve spent the last few years learning to drop this combative faith that views evolution as my enemy and the culture as the territory I have to conquer for Jesus. It has been really liberating to give all of that up. My new struggle will be to come to terms with the results of biblical criticism, something I was also never prepared for. I don’t know how that will end up for me, but I’m tired of being afraid of things and getting defensive about things. I’m tired of having to read five billion books telling me “what I believe and why I believe it.” I’m tired of living my life thinking that liberals are my enemy, that biblical criticism is my enemy, that evolution is my enemy, etc. I just don’t have the energy any more.

And I wonder if Malebranche will ever get over the fact that he apparently failed his college classes in Logic miserably, or else spent that time doodling in the margins of his notebook, writing rambling, long-winded diatribes leading nowhere. To imply in your bloviated modern-day morality play that learning about biogeography and Bayes' Theorem somehow sets someone up for "apostasy" and "disaster," relegating them to some kind of exhausted anti-intellectual of any sort represents delusion of a high order.

Somerset Maugham once wrote "To write simply is as difficult as to be good." Or were you not paying attention in that class either?

Malebranche,

It's just as you say.

The 'training' need not be right.

It need only answer to enough objections well enough.

The trainee builds confidence by confusing or humiliating anyone who forwards a bad argument. Think of the fetish concerning self-refutation so common around here.

This ill-gained confidence helps the trainee push past some of the better arguments.

Finally, if the trainee can avoid dangers like the ones I listed above, then her faith may survive college. She needs to steer clear of the biogeography, etc., that your student ran into. "Fortunately" the course you describe is more advanced.

RonH

RAD, for the purpose of having meaningful conversations, I'm going to ask you to dial down the mockery.

Malebranche, is that you personal story? In any case, it rings true and it mirrors my journey. As an English major, my adjustments in how I view the Bible are due more to textual criticism and hermaneutics, something I find sorely lacking in American Evangelical Protestant churches today. I have a casual interest in science, and have a retired physicist professor friend of whom I ask the tough questions. He is very polite and helpful and has helped me come out of my fear and "battle mode" viz-a-viz evolution.

I daresay there are many of us former fundamentalists who can relate to this narrative. Thank you.

I would describe my comment as reasoned inference, not mockery. But to state it more concisely:

The logic in Malebranche's tortuous soliloquy is as far removed from that of his verbal avatar as we are from the age in which he lived.

RAD, Malebranche is not the topic. Look at the top of the page.

Malebranche

Having been a science major myself at a secular university, I find I strange that you think there is so much evidence for macroevalution. Studying many different theories and listening to professors repeatedly say they just need more time to fill in all the gaps was anything but convincing for me. Also, just would like to know if you have ever been mistaken about anything. If so then I guess everything else you have to say is mistaken. Or are you exempt from your own view?

RonH, as I lack the ability to discern wither your comment is due to either genuine confusion or something else, let me clarify: my two comments thus far in this thread addressed the lack of logic in Malebranche's comment (at 6:09 a.m. on July 9), and thus are wholly on-topic.

I ask a second time, Malebranche,

On what grounds would an atheist who believes in evolution object to Hitler's and Stalin's actions?

@ Malebranche and RonH
With all due respect, and I mean that, but how is two weeks going to accumulate to all you have mentioned in a kids head? Two weeks? Also you and RonH both assume all of these kids are going to be science illiterate. Do you personally know that?

Our country is great when it comes to innovation. Other countries are great at stealing it from us. Like perhaps China's new stealth plane? With all their educational greatness, they still depend on us to create stuff for them to steal, then create cheap knock offs.

It's not religion that's about to triple the cost of going to college. It's not religion that caused the financial mess that almost destroyed the country. I would say thanks to religion we didn't have an epidemic of suicides that followed after the crash.

Malbran and RonH,

I almost always find myself "enjoying" your comments as they challenge me to question myself and others, and you, and then myself again; all of which leads to more truth.

Here, you are arguing against questioning by mocking questioners and questioning.

This can have no good outcome for our kids.


Teaching kids not to question well established theories is unscientific. To mock questioners is to kill questioning.

Sometimes we become the very thing we hate.

Damage done to us by Legalistic or Militant people tend to cause us to swing too far the other way.
"Don't question this!" done to us ends up producing in us the very same monster, only, as an adult, we become the same sort of monster but for the other team.

"Don't question" breeds a team mentality, rather than a scientific mentality.


Science questions everything by its nature, and it demands emperical evidence by its nature. You take issue with teaching kids to question EVERY view out there.

I have yet to read anything by either of you "mocking" those who teach kids to question ID/etc.

Not one word.

Something about that is simply too revealing, and cleary intellectually dishonest.

This is intentionally harsh: You have your side and "anyone who thinks differently is stupid" and that is useful in the sixth grade but fairly unsophisticated for college level discussions on serious science.

Perhaps, hence, your disdain for college level questioning.

That is harsh but I'm not sure how else to apply your words to what it is you are advocating.

Your words are actually advocating that we teach our kids "don't question". Or at least mock those who advocate that we teach our kids to question everything, and everyone.

That is damaging to kids. Damaging to humanity. And damaging to the discovery of truth.

The only reason places like that college exist is because of the "Don't dare question this!" monsters of Naturalism / professors of that sort.

Think about that.

And think about your own obvious stance towards those who are questioning views you believe to be true.

Are you the equivalent of those professors you are mocking?

Sometimes we become the very thing we hate.

Questioning everything is a valid stance. We teach our kids to question even us. "Question what I teach you; read, and read more, and read books I myself disagree with, and find out for yourself what you believe."

That is science at its best, or at least the posture where good science starts.

Yet you cannot take seriously a Question raised about your view, even if grounded in what appears to be serious philosophical inconsistencies in this or that piece of your view.

Sometimes we become the very thing we hate.

The "Don't dare question this" monsters of Naturalism's professors of that sort and the "If anyone does question it then they are somehow sick!" monsters of Naturalism's professors of that sort have no moral ground to stand on should they charge Militant Christians of the same crime.

It is like the thief complaining about those who steal. If Malbran and Ron were to stop such obvious stealing then we may be inclined to take them seriously. But steal they do. Constantly.


You clearly do not know what science is, as it is unscientific to insist that mankind not question EVERY-thing.

I base this description of your stance toward our children on your own, unmistakable, comments.

Christ tells us to seek Truth, as knowing, and applying, Truth will liberate us from the tyranny of darkness, and of that evil One who would keep us in the dark.

Mocking a teen for questioning, and mocking those who encourage that he question, will only serve to keep that teen in the dark.

The damage done to you by militant Christians in your past has now produced in you the very same monster: "Don't question it!!". And always tied to that, "If anyone questions this they are somehow sick!"

Do you realize that? Or what you have, perhaps, become?

In Christ there is Truth. And in Truth there is Freedom from all of that.


I have my own damage and my own fatigue from that damage to deal with as well. It isn't easy. Conquer evil with good. Ultimately, Truth bleeds into Love, and, over there somewhere, inside of Love Himself, Truth Manifests, and Love, therein, conquers.

I studied history and journalism at a secular university. In both fields, I was taught to look at all the information I could gather, all points of view from all camps, and then assess them intelligently to arrive at the truth.

Kids will get the secular viewpoint at public schools, the media, etc. What's wrong with introducing them to the OTHER side of the argument at a camp like Summit? A truly educated person will look at all perspectives, the ones they agree with as well as the ones they don't.

There's a reason God tells us to love him with our minds as well as our spirits. He expects us to exercise our brains and no one, atheist or Christian, should be afraid to have both sides of the picture presented. I don't know why some atheists assume that all discussion of worldviews from a Christian perspective amounts to brainwashing. That kind of stereotyping has no place in a reasonable discussion.

To Malebranche: I reiterate Jesse's question: On what grounds does an atheist object to the actions of Stalin or Hitler? If we are mere accidents of nature, arrived at randomly, what makes one person's actions right while another person's actions are wrong? Even Dawkins recognizes that evolution results in things that just are, without any right or wrong to them.

And that applies to your hatred for this camp as well. Again, if our abilities to think are arrived at by chance through evolution, what makes your thoughts on the camp right while everyone else's are wrong? There is no basis for believing in anyone's ability to reason when it comes to Darwinian evolution.

Perry,

Glad you enjoyed it.

No, that's not the straight truth concerning myself. That's simply an attempt to illustrate the sorts of concerns that I know people have about the apologetics subculture and the way it harms Christians.

Ron H.

Nonsense. Just nonsense.

I have a degree in Biology. I studied philosophy of science. I've been a lifelong learner, reading a broad range of authors with differing perspectives.

I am also, despite Brad B.'s rantings, a Bible believing Christian, although I thoroughly reject the poison of Calvinism.

Dobzhansky is a crank. Biology makes plenty of sense when the meta narrative of evolution is completely ignored. Don't need the big E to study how the machine works, Ron.

Lexi is, no doubt, smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Dearest Malebranche,
Look at yourself and think about what you are becoming.

To quote Malebranche:

I’ve spent the last few years learning to drop this combative faith

Now we know there is no autobiography in that post.
Keep up the good heretic hunt.

Don't bee too harsh with Mal. Mal has brought up some good points:

1) Kunkle represents STR, which is Greg's organization.

2) Kunkle recommended summe educational programs run by Summit Ministries.

3) Summit Ministries says the universe is very young.

4) Greg strongly disagrees with a young earth view (presumably because the evidence for an ancient universe is insurmountable).

If Greg, the boss of STR, thinks good clear thinking Christianity entails sound epistemology on the general revelation, then what the heck is his employee doing promoting a ministry that teaches kids bad science about the age of earth? That kind of miscommunication indicates something's amiss with STR's approach.

Hi Jeff,

I said...

To give her training the best chance she should...

I didn't say...

Her training is surely a waste of time unless...

Your experience is not in conflict with what I said.

RonH

Jesse,

What do you mean by 'object to'?

BTW, Heard of Godwin's Law?

RonH

Matt,

You would have Greg promote Isolationism instead?

Do you want your cake AND to eat it too?

RonH, Jesse,

Jesse I think Ron is saying "is" depends on what the word "is" means. Ron, there are online dictionaries for such simple words. Are you really going to sink to that kind of word game when you know full well the issue of Moral Grounding?

Jesse,

OnlyMyViewsWillBePromotedHere is right: I know where you are headed.

For now, I will skip my reasons for asking my question and answer yours although it does seem a bit off topic. Fair enough?

I object because it's my nature to object; I am built to object by my genes.

My genes were well and naturally selected to get me to protect them and see them propagated. This means I protect myself - since I contain a copies of my genes.

It also means I protect other humans because the genes carried by humans are nearly identical to the genes I carry.

RonH

Many genes don't lead many to protect other humans. They lead them to kill them. They enjoy it even.

You are "morally equal" to them as your "protect" and as they "kill". There is no Moral or Immoral, only amoral.

Funny; when I've seed murder I've pretty much decided that it is immoral, and is not equal to protection on any level. I must be schizophrenic or something. My brain must be processing my enviromental stimuli in some messed up fashion.

Poor, poor, stupid me.

Interesting, RonH.

Your satirical post was pretty clear, I thought. My experience is in direct contradiction to what you were trying to say.

I largely agree with what I know of David Noble's beliefs, although I am an old earth creationist.

Yet somehow I have done all the things you sarcastically counseled Lexi to avoid for here camp training to "stick".

You are so mistaken, Ron.

Ron H. says, "It also means I protect other humans because the genes carried by humans are nearly identical to the genes I carry."

Uh, no, Ron. Go back to your evolution textbooks.

According to evolutionary theory, if it gives you a reproductive advantage, your genes would gladly exterminate most of the human race.

Jeff,

Please tell me which books you mean.

Even better, please show us an online description of the theory that says this or implies it.

RonH


Malbranche writes: "And is there not a sense in which organizations like Summit Ministries instill in the youth a "warrior mentality" according to which theories like evolution are our enemies and must be destroyed?"

What you're looking for in this regard is the Women Studies Department at any major state university.

Jeff,

...if it gives you a reproductive advantage, your genes would gladly exterminate most of the human race.

The theory just doesn't say or imply this.

My genes were naturally selected to be interested my reproductive advantage because it serves theirs. They built me to reproduce them.

Since you and I are nearly identical genetically, my genes are nearly as well served by you reproducing as by me reproducing. So my genes built me to usually be glad to have you survive and reproduce - not to gladly exterminate you.

Even if your reproductive prospects come into direct conflict with mine I'm unlikely to kill you - let alone exterminate most of the human race. My genes have built me to tend strongly to avoid destroying in you because you are a very good copy of them.

I've gotten the impression that even in most species where combat is part of the mating season, the loser usually survives. For sure: all the rest of the species does survive it.

The take away: It's natural to take others into account.

Hmm... isn't there a word for 'taking others into account'?

RonH

Dear Malebranche:

I have been lecturing at Summit for 16 years, and will be back two more times this summer. I am a Catholic, who has never given a rip about creationism and its Christian discontents throughout my entire career. In fact, my work on intelligent design only touched on the legal aspect of teaching in public schools. For me, whether it "worked" or not was not relevant. What intrigued were its implications for church-state jurisprudence and the way we generally think about claims that are tied to theological traditions. I have actually been critical of ID as a theory, since I believe that its practioners way of doing philosophy is not sound. See, for example, my recent essay in Philosophia Christi on Ed Feser's book on Aquinas, “Guidance for Doting and Peeping Thomists: A Review Essay of Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide.” (For more, click my name and you will arrive at my blog post in which I include links to my personal pilgrimage with ID and why my doubts about it have grown exponentially over the years).

As far as I am concerned, theistic evolution, old-creationism, young-earth creatonism, etc. are all positions that Christians may hold as long as they believe that God is creator and mind is fundamental to reality and matter is not (and in this regard I follow Pope Benedict XVI).

When kids at Summit ask me about my views, I tell them. I've never been told to quiet down or say something different. In fact, one of the great things about Summit is that students are exposed to a wide range of views within the confines of creedal Christianity. My friend, Mike Bauman (another lecturer at Summit and professor at Hillsdale College) disagree on the role of philosophy in the development of Christian doctrine. We sometimes share an open forum together and literally disagree in front of the Summit students, and have a fun time of it. Me, the Thomist, and Mike, the anti-Thomist, going head to head and modeling in front of the students how to disagree agreeably.

And there is no snarkiness, no animus, and no hard feelings, just love and respect. You may want to try them sometime, along with faith and hope, though the greatest of these is love.

Matt writes:

"If Greg, the boss of STR, thinks good clear thinking Christianity entails sound epistemology on the general revelation, then what the heck is his employee doing promoting a ministry that teaches kids bad science about the age of earth? That kind of miscommunication indicates something's amiss with STR's approach."

First, you're wrong about about what Summit "teaches." As I have already noted, speakers at Summit hold a range of views. Second, one can certainly promote a writer, ministry, or school while thinking that it is wrong about something. Take, for example, Greg Koukl. We disagree on the nature of Catholicism, and yet, I have no problem recommending str.org to my Catholic friends, since I think that much of what Greg writes, especially on matters of public controversy, are wise and informative. The same goes for Dennis Praeger, a Jewish gentleman. My wife and I listen to his "happiness hour" and have recommended it to many of our friends. And yet, Dennis and I disagree on the personhood of the early embryo, the rightness of divorce, and the biggest of all, whether Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

Part of being a thoughtful person is to be able to make distinctions, even while assessing the views of our friends. To think that kids should be coddled to the point where they can't make those distinctions is to harm them. Yes, some kids at Summit are clearly disturbed when they find out I'm Catholic, as some are troubled when Greg tells them that he's an old-earther. Well, better they learn how to deal with disagreement among friends within the confines of a loving Christian environment.

Dr. Beckwith,

You write,

In fact, one of the great things about Summit is that students are exposed to a wide range of views within the confines of creedal Christianity.

I guess I'm not too sure what "wide range of views" you have in mind.

Is the claim that in addition to soteriological exclusivism, the folks at Summit make sure to let the kids know that soteriological inclusivism is an option? Is the claim that in addition to the traditional doctrine of hell, the folks at Summit make sure to let the kids know that there are other options available to the Christian? Is the claim that in addition to the panoply of harmonizations that inerrantists write encyclopedia’s about, the folks at Summit also make sure to present the results of biblical criticism and let the kids know that a Christian can responsibly reject inerrancy? Is the claim that in addition to the anti-evolutionist drivel that folks like David Noebel and Kurt Wise disseminate, the folks at Summit make sure to present the case for evolution in its strongest form and make sure that the kids know how to enthusiastically integrate evolution with their faith? Is the claim that in addition to right wing politics about global warming and same-sex marriage, the folks at Summit also make sure to let the kids know that a Christian can reasonably hold a more leftist position?

Malebranche:

The curriculum at Summit is at a high level of generalization. But it does believe that Christianity has content. Just as one would not expect a feminist camp to allow the "virtues of wife beating" within the wide range of views permissible within that point of view, Summit is within an identifiable tradition.

The session is only for two weeks, and you certainly can not cover everything, especially in depth.

You seem to want Summit to fit your understanding of acceptable teachings, just as I am sure that some anti-feminists would hope that Women's Studies department allow for contrary points of view to be represented. But no tradition can be endlessly elastic and remain itself. Thus, what you are suggesting is that the only way that Summit can remain legitimate is that it ceased to be Summit.

Dr. Beckwith,

Well at first I thought you were going to let us know a bit more about the wide range of views Summit makes sure to let the kids know about. But now it seems that the suggestion is that there just is not enough time to expose the students to an actual wide range of views, and that to help the students enthusiastically embrace our best biological theories would be analogous to extolling the virtues of wife beating at a feminist seminar. Or maybe it wasn't evolution you had in mind when you drew that analogy (maybe hell? or rejecting inerrancy?)

Malbranche,

You are still arguing against Questioning EVERY-thing and the "process" of teaching kids to do so.

Summit (I've never been) seems to in part reproduce the best model for kids to learn this: Disagree right in front of them. In other words, "Don't take my word for it."

There is no second best to this "process". Even if the content is feminism, or atheism, or creation, or whatever: two weeks of seeing that process is what our kids need to learn as it allows them to rise above the "Don't dare question this" tyranny found in the practice of all things human, whether Atheists or Theists or whoever.


You are actually arguing against two weeks of exposure to this mental process.

You would not do this if the content were of your liking. But when the CONTENT is something you don't like, you STILL go after the PROCESS to destroy or discredit any institution who disagrees with you.

Sometimes we become the very sort of monster we hate.

The overall process is what this is all about and any forum which promotes a culture of "Challenge me" by giving a view, and then giving the floor to one who disagrees with you is a healthy process for kids to witness.

Two weeks can't cover every topic. And a feminist school need not include a lecture on wife beating, just as, a religous school need not include a lecture on the benefits of burning bibles. You know this, and you know it's reasonable, and yet you won't let it go.

Because you have become the very thing you hate.

Your words are actually advocating that we teach our kids "don't question".

That is damaging to kids. Damaging to humanity. And damaging to the discovery of truth.

It beats the myriad "Don't question this! and if you do you are somehow sick!" monsters that are out there. I've received it from atheists, and there are plenty of atheists who have received it from Christians. Both are tyrannical if they encourage that sort of intellectual isolation.

Think about that.

And think about your own obvious stance towards those who are questioning views you believe to be true.

Are you the equivalent of those professors you hate?

Sometimes we become the very thing we hate.

Questioning everything is a valid stance.

That is the posture where good science starts.

Yet you cannot take seriously a Question raised about your own views, even if grounded in what appears to be serious philosophical inconsistencies in this or that piece of your view.

Sometimes we become the very thing we hate.

The "Don't dare question this" monsters of Naturalism's professors of that sort and the "If anyone does question it then they are somehow sick!" monsters of Naturalism's professors of that sort have no moral ground to stand on should they charge anyone else of the same crime.

It is like the thief complaining about those who they think are stealing. If Malebranche were to stop such obvious stealing then we may be inclined to take him seriously. But "steal" he does. Constantly.

His practice online is the very practice he claims to be fighting against.


I repeat Beckwith:

".....going head to head and modeling in front of the students how to disagree agreeably..... And there is no snarkiness, no animus, and no hard feelings, just love and respect. You may want to try them sometime, along with faith and hope, though the greatest of these is love."

Hmmm....okay I'll repeat too:

"You would not do this if the content were of your liking. But when the CONTENT is something you don't like, you STILL go after the PROCESS to destroy or discredit any institution who disagrees with you.

Sometimes we become the very sort of monster we hate."

And,

"Two weeks can't cover every topic. And a feminist school need not include a lecture on wife beating, just as, a religous school need not include a lecture on the benefits of burning bibles. You know this, and you know it's reasonable, and yet you won't let it go.

Because you have become the very thing you hate."

Malebranche,

The mis-spell of your name in my post was not intentional. Sorry about that ~~~~

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