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AiG speaker and researcher Dr. Terry Mortenson spoke at a meeting at Butler University in Indiana. Because of all the interesting interaction as a result of this meeting, I thought you would be interested in reading about what happens at such meetings. This will also help you pray for our speakers as they get into such stressful confrontational situations. Here is Terry's report:
About 90 people showed up at Butler. That was a pretty intense 4-hour meeting, and I'll try to give you a little flavor for the meeting. I have no idea how many were Christians, but almost all the questions in the Q&A time were from passionate evolutionists. One guy called me a name (something on par with the word "imbecile", I can't remember exactly) and said he rejected everything I said, but he didn't give any rebuttal to any specific point I made in my lecture. I responded that I was not going to attack him personally in return but simply challenge him to defend his belief in evolution and explain where the fossil evidence was for evolution and how evolution could explain the origin of genetic information. The formal Q&A time went for an hour and then a small number of people stayed after that, and we had a friendly but heated discussion at the front of the classroom for another two hours. During that time this guy came and apologized for calling me a name. He seemed genuinely sorry and I shook his hand and thanked him for apologizing.
During the formal Q&A time a Jewish professor was really irate. He too didn't refute a thing I said but instead asked if I ate pork. When I said I did sometimes, he said I was going against the Bible that I said I believed in. I explained that in the New Testament God changed the dietary laws for believers. The professor then tried to say that was a contradiction in the Bible. After some back and forth on that point he said something to me in a foreign language very quickly. I replied "I don't know modern Hebrew" (since I knew he was Jewish and was assuming that's the language he had just spoken). He screamed back that he was speaking Greek, quoting from the first beatitude in Matthew 5. And because I didn't know Greek audibly (though I would have easily been able to read that beatitude in the Greek New Testament), he implied that I therefore didn't know anything I was talking about with reference to Hebrew. I replied that although I couldn't speak those languages I could with the help of scholarly reference works read the Biblical text in those languages. But he stuck on his point even though he didn't challenge a single point I made about the Hebrew text in Genesis 1 & 2 in the lecture or Q&A time. It was extremely difficult reasoning with him, to say the least. Finally, in obvious extreme frustration, he shouted out "I can't believe this. We are back at the Scope's Evolution Trail in Dayton, TN, all over again!!!!" I replied something like this: "You're exactly right, sir, except that now it is the evolutionists who control the schools and refuse to allow any questioning of evolution by creationists in the public schools." He had no further comments.
A man who may have been a pastor or professor of theology tried to contend that Genesis 1 was poetry because of the parallelism of days 1-3 and days 4-6 (this is the "Framework Hypothesis" view increasingly popular among evangelical seminary professors) and the fact that light was made before the sun and plants before the sun. I responded to his last two points and then showed the contradictions in order between what he said Genesis 1 says and what it actually says, I also quickly explained the evidence that the days of creation were literal days. None of that seemed to move him. It is really amazing how people evade the text all the while claiming to follow what the Bible says. Sloppy observation leads to faulty interpretation.
Another person asked why I thought it mattered at all if Genesis is allegorical. That gave me a chance to explain a little about the foundational importance Genesis to the rest of the Bible and that Jesus and the apostles took Genesis as literal history. At that point the guy who called me a name said that he totally agreed with me that evolution destroys the Bible. Then the first guy asked why we couldn't believe that Adam evolved from an apeman. I was prepared with several slides dealing with Gen. 2:7 to refute that idea. Then a girl said she was kind of going through a crisis of faith and asked a question about the days of creation. Then the person who had called me a name earlier asked, "What about all those parts of our bodies that are left over from our evolutionary past, like my appendix which has no function?" I had a slide to refute that idea of "vestigial organs," pointing out that medical research over the past 100 years has shown that all of those organs do have a function.
After the formal Q&A time, a Butler biology professor and I had a spirited discussion for another two hours as others listened in. From time to time a man wearing a clerical collar chimed in with some comments. He said that he was an Episcopalian pastor. He obviously didn't believe the Bible is the inspired inerrant Word of God, and when I questioned him, he said that he did not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin or that he physically rose from the dead. With "Christian clergy" like that, who needs skeptics? No wonder people are confused about Christianity. Interestingly, although he was a thorough-going evolutionist, he seriously suggested to others around me at the end of our discussion that perhaps Butler should host a lecture like this every year! So, he must have thought it was a worthwhile discussion.On Sunday I spoke four times at Tri City Ministries Church in Kansas, Missouri—I speak on Monday to a pastor's luncheon, then two more sessions Monday evening at the church.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying