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Monday, February 24, 2014

Never Wear White Before Easter

~ another in a series of posts for my favorite Southern girls, my daughters ~

In the south, etiquette is almost a religion. We believe in decorum. That’s an old-fashioned word that means we have certain ways of doing things. And ladies are the guardians of etiquette.

The reason behind the iconic image of the old South was largely due to the southern woman who passed from one generation to the next those unwritten rules by which every well-bred girl conducted her life.

You’ll hear some today disparage such guidelines. Unnecessary, they may say, too strict. And with today’s casual approach to living, it seems they are right. Nevertheless, our fascination with the courtliness of that long ago time is largely due to that code of conduct which governed everyday life and which makes that era unforgettable. If you would make such an impression on your circle of acquaintances, then adopt some practices which set you apart. Go beyond “please” and “thank you.” Keep a few rules of etiquette that are just for nicety’s sake.

For instance, every well-bred southern girl knows that white is only appropriate after Easter and before Labor Day. Unless you’re wearing a wedding dress, keep to ivory and off-white in other seasons. Now, it’s true that we don’t have much snow in the South, so it’s more the principle of the thing than a clashing of color.

But, that’s okay. Having a principle behind an action is a very good idea. After all, chivalry and etiquette are often token actions that mean little without the principle behind them.  It’s having a reason and being disciplined enough to stick to it that makes etiquette a big deal anyway. Why else would it matter to fold your napkin or wait for the hostess before taking the first bite? They’re very small actions after all, but they’re big in impact.


Some matters of etiquette we perform out of consideration for others; some we carry out as a means of schooling our conduct. Both depend on and develop self-discipline. And without that trait, no girl can claim to be a southern lady. And that’s a fact.        --  VQ

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Mr. Nye Can't Deny

Unreasonable.
Irrational.
Illogical.
Dangerous.

While not necessarily expressed verbally, these are some of the descriptive terms many evolutionary scientists believe apply to creationists. Regardless of intelligence, education, integrity and body of work, anyone who embraces the belief that there is a Creator is suspect in our culture.

Last night with my family, I watched the live debate from the Creation Museum between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, the Science Guy. It was, for me, an unforgettable and invaluable experience. First of all, I love debate; second, I love to champion truth; thirdly, I love information, and fourthly; I love the God of the Bible. All of these were compelling reasons to keep me glued to the interaction between Ham and Nye.

As many others I'm sure, I had my own commentary going on in my head while I listened to the two men speak. Like you, I wanted to inject a "but, what about. . . ." and "hey, you just said . . .  " etc. There were several discussion points on which I'd like to have heard more, but time constraints didn't allow for it.

In the end, what we already knew really was the main issue in the debate- worldview is everything. The foundation one starts with when discussing origins is central; every other block depends on it. So this debate turned out to be about faith - either faith in the Creator or faith in random process.

Mr. Nye was well-prepared, articulate and even engaging at points. He obviously was well-schooled in modern scientific method and evolutionary talking points. He is seemingly committed to the philosophies on which he based his presentation and not bothered by questions he couldn't answer (at least visibly). His strongest pull was, it seemed to me, to students and voters and taxpayers, all of whom he urged to consider science as a career and as a worthy cause to support. On them, he placed the burden for the answers he didn't have - the explanation for the material which caused the "big bang" ("This is the great mystery" he said) and questions about consciousness and the role of humans in the universe.  But there were other disturbing statements or allusions made by Mr. Nye:

1. His desperation for discovery.  He said he was "driven" to discovery; wanted to know "if what's out there is any part of me." While God made man naturally inquisitive and I believe in his perfect state, a lover of knowledge, the unbeliever feels the panic of not knowing for what and for Whom he exists. As much as anything, this illustrates to me the unease of those who do not acknowledge God. Mr. Nye appealed to his young listeners to study and research and discover the answers he didn't have. He said that his quest for understanding is what gets him up in the morning, so to speak. Followers of Christ, on the other hand, rejoice in growing knowledge and embrace new truth, but the search for meaning has been answered. In the person of Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him, there is significance and purpose and a grounding for life. "For in Him we live and move and have our being. . . . "  Acts 17:28

2. His appeal to human reason. Several times, I particularly noticed Mr. Nye's comments about reasonable people or something not being reasonable to him. This is a particularly unsettling argument because it pits man against God, human intellect against divine. Of course, if one does not acknowledge God, he becomes deceived and God actually gives him over to his delusion; it then seems like truth. "  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. . . . "(Romans 1:21-22, 28a) Believers in Christ affirm that there is no understanding of the universe without first acknowledging the One who designed it. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments."  (Psalm 111:10)

3. His need for new discovery. Repeatedly, Mr. Nye asked Mr. Ham to show him an instance where he predicted an outcome and proved it by observable means. By this, I am sure he meant using the scientific method. Of course, Mr. Ham did so with biblical illustrations, but Mr. Nye insisted on something else.The problem with this is that it makes physical evidence the bottom line of worldview and negates faith. And that, of course, changes the very starting point. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."  (Hebrews 11:3)

4. His misrepresentation of the scientific community and culture at large.  "If a scientist, if anybody, makes a discovery that changes the way people view natural law,scientists embrace him or her." This statement, I believe, shows a misunderstanding both of history and present thought. Many of the intelligent thinkers of the past were not "embraced" when they presented their discoveries. Great minds like Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Edison and the Wright brothers faced skepticism and sometimes ridicule. Today, however, they are hailed as discoverers and innovators, and the truths they uncovered affect our lives in huge ways.

5. His discounting of divine intervention, i.e. supernatural workings. Of course, as an evolutionist, he could not allow for anything supernatural for that would presuppose a higher Being, an Intelligence behind it all. And so he mocked Noah's ability to build the Ark. He scoffed at the idea of a global flood which could create catastrophic evidence in the fossil layer at a rapid rate. He ridiculed the possibility that the universe could be 6,000 years old or that stars could be formed in less than millions of years. His model of origins allows for nothing divine and of course that is the crux of the matter anyway. Evidently, he prefers to believe that his senses provide the best foundation on which to explain origin, and when one avoids the pricks of his conscience, the soul is without the natural compass pointing to real Truth. "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old . . . " 2 Peter 3:5

6. His references to "religion" in terms of comfort and community. Several times Mr. Nye spoke of those who were "Christians" and what they derived from their beliefs - "comfort, community, nurture and support." He did not speak of salvation or purpose or hope or eternal life, but only of what he believes religion does for men and women on this earth. And this should not be surprising given that he does not affirm the existence of God. Religion to him would therefore have to be, as Karl Marx theorized, the "opiate of the masses" - a helpful placebo for dealing with trauma and grief and difficulty, but limited to this world. God-followers know that a relationship with Christ, not religion, gives meaning to daily life and to the hereafter. It answers the big questions man has and promises fuller understanding in the future. God, not religion, is the Source of hope and life and provides the ultimate joy of discovery.

7 His dismissal of Scripture. This was probably the most disturbing to me. His references to the Bible as " a book written thousands of years ago as translated into American English" were meant to discredit it as a Source and disparage anyone who trusts it. He scoffed at the idea that such a book could be "more compelling for you [creationists] than everything that I can observe in the world around me." He cannot understand how anyone could be "satisfied" with the biblical account (i.e. that God made the stars "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Psalm 33:6) As I listened to his desecration of God's Word, I wondered at his audacity at coming so close to a holy flame. As one of my children put it, he was speaking against the very God who gave him breath to deny His existence.

Here is what Mr. Nye should know:
  • One day, the absolute validity and authority of the Bible will be known. (Psalm 119:89, Psalm 119:160)
  • One day, the Lordship of Jesus Christ (who created all things- John 1:3 ) will be universally acknowledged. Every knee will bow. (Philippians 2:10) 
  • One day, the mysteries of the earth will be eclipsed by the revelation of God not only as the Creator but also as the great Judge. (Revelation 20:11)
  • One day, the great Deceiver will be chained and muzzled forever and Truth will light eternity. (Revelation 20:10)
But all of these things he can deny and disparage and discredit - because he does not include faith. However, there is one thing Mr. Nye cannot deny, and that is the workings of God as experienced and testified to by His followers. While he may cast aspersions on the existence of a Divine Being and deny Jesus as the Son of God and say that natural processes are the reason mankind is present today, he cannot prove that what I have experienced in my relationship with God is untrue. He cannot account for testimonies of untold multitudes who have claimed Him and lived for Him and died for Him. He may doubt my word, but he cannot prove me wrong.

And that is why I think Jesus said we would witness to the world, not primarily by our words, but by our lives. The culture cannot explain Christian behavior and conduct. Mr. Nye cannot sweep away Christian forgiveness and forbearance and refusal to avenge a wrong, why Corrie ten Boom could forgive her Nazi tormentors or why Jim Elliot and his friends refused to use the guns in their possession on their killers. When Christians respond in ways that defy human nature, there has to be a reason. Christians pray for their enemies, go the extra mile for their mockers and forgive their captors . . . because it is Christ's power in us.

So, those who prayed so diligently for this debate should now pray for Mr. Nye - that God would open his eyes to the living-color visuals,the real-live Christians who demonstrate the irrefutable fact that Christ in us makes a difference that is observable. To a skeptical world, let the testimony of our lives show that He is real, that He is love and that He reaches out - even to the deniers.

Watch the debate here.
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