Scopes Monkey Trial 2: Intelligent Design on Trial

The New York Times reports today about an upcoming court case in Pennsylvania.

“Advocates on both sides of the issue have lined up behind the case, often calling it Scopes II, in reference to the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial that was the last century’s great face-off over evolution.

“On the evolutionists’ side is a legal team put together by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. These groups want to put intelligent design itself on trial and discredit it so thoroughly that no other school board would dare authorize teaching it.

“Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the A.C.L.U. of Pennsylvania, said the plaintiffs would call six experts in history, theology, philosophy of science and science to show that no matter the perspective, ‘intelligent design is not science because it does not meet the ground rules of science, is not based on natural explanations, is not testable’” (source).

The report also says that Michael Behe will be the star witness for the defense.

I say, let the debate begin in earnest. I think the evolutionists are going to be surprised at the sophistication of the opposing arguments—arguments that they were hoping they and the public could ignore.

“A Web of Faith, Law and Science in Evolution Suit,” by Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, September 26, 2005

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L.B.J. and Senator Russell Long after Hurricane Betsy

Lyndon Johnson and Senator Russell Long of Louisiana peer out of Air Force One in 1965 to survey the damage done by Hurricane Betsy. – Yoichi R. Okamoto / Lyndon Baines Johnson Library

NBC News Anchorman Brian Williams provides a glimpse into how Lyndon Johnson used a trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Betsy in 1965 for political advantage. This is a gem of an Op-Ed. Go check it out. It’s titled “L.B.J.’s Political Hurricane.”

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Hometown Update

I heard from my folks at about 2pm this afternoon. They are alright and are thanking God for keeping them safe and for keeping their house intact.

The electric company is saying that DeRidder could be without power for up to two weeks. The people there have some hard days ahead to get the town cleaned up and back on its feet. But they weren’t hit nearly as badly as Lake Charles, which is just 45 miles southward.

There is much to be thankful for as we pray for those who were hit the hardest.

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Status in My Hometown: DeRidder, Louisiana


The Old “Hanging Jail” in DeRidder, Louisiana

For those readers who are praying for our family in DeRidder, I have a little bit of information. I talked to the Police and the Sheriff’s office in DeRidder, and as of 11:00am this morning they said that they have not let any of their personnel out into the city yet. The wind is still blowing too hard for anyone to navigate the roads safely. In addition, there are downed power lines, uprooted trees, scattered debris, and gas leaks across town, so city officials are keeping the roads closed for now.

I stayed up most of the night and kept in touch with my parents into the early morning hours. The last contact I had with them was at about 5:56am this morning. Since then, I have not been able to get a call through. However, I have gotten calls through to other friends of the family who live in town. So it’s likely that there is a phone line down in the vicinity of my parents’ neighborhood.

If there are any readers in DeRidder or its environs who have any updates on the status of DeRidder or if any want to start a forum of communication, feel free to update and/or start a forum here in my “Comments” section.

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A Song for Family & Friends Waiting for Rita

“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
By William Cowper (1731-1800)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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Watching, Waiting, Praying


Hurricane Rita

I was scheduled to preach at First Baptist Church DeRidder, LA Sunday morning. But as of this morning, those plans have been cancelled because of Hurricane Rita.

DeRidder is my hometown. I spoke with my parents this morning, and they are going to stay there until the storm is over. My dad is the principle of Singer High School, and FEMA has just made his school into a shelter for those fleeing to the north from south Louisiana. So he has to stay in any case to supervise that facility.

DeRidder is far enough inland that it should not get the destructive winds and flooding that will hammer the coastal parishes. Nevertheless, the outer bands of these kinds of Hurricanes are highly tornadic, and the folks in DeRidder and the rest of southwest Louisiana are taking this storm very seriously. Add to that the fact that evacuees are streaming through, and you can see that the situation is serious indeed.

They and I would appreciate your prayers.

God is good all the time. Everything that He does is wise, right, and good. We will be looking to Him as our strength and help.

Psalm 107
23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters;
24 They have seen the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
Which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in their misery.
27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
29 He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad because they were quiet;
So He guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

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What Do They Know That We Don’t? (Part 2)

Scene from John Roberts’ Confirmation Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Recent discussions of Judge John Roberts reveal that he is not an altogether satisfying choice for those who occupy places at both ends of the political spectrum. Liberals have been in a tizzy since his nomination, fearing that he will perhaps be in a majority that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Even some conservatives have had persistent questions as to Roberts’ conservative bona fide’s (which I wrote about two months ago here).

In particular, conservatives have been questioning what kind of a conservative justice Roberts will prove to be. Is Roberts the kind of conservative who will conserve the judicial status quo (in deference to the legal principle stare decisis), or is he one who will conserve the Constitution according to the framers original intent even if it means overturning long-standing precedent?

It is clear that the conservative base that re-elected George W. Bush expects conservative justices according to the latter definition. Thus a bevy of well-known religious conservatives have lauded John Roberts’ (see article in CT) as an originalist. For example, both James Dobson and Tony Perkins have expressed their approval of John Roberts.

Nevertheless, a handful of conservatives such as Fred Barnes and Ann Coulter have suggested that Roberts may be so beholden to precedent that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade. The ambiguous responses that he gave to questions during his confirmation hearing have only reinforced such suspicions.

Edward Whelan has written an interesting piece for National Review Online titled “Abortion & Precedent: What John Roberts Really Said.” Whelan argues that Coulter and friends have misunderstood Robert’s intentional ambiguity on the Roe v. Wade precedent.

Check out Whelan’s article. I hope he is right.

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Let’s Hope He’s Wrong

Charles Krauthammer predicts that as Chief Justice John Roberts would vote to uphold the infamous Roe v. Wade precedent. Krauthammer also makes the unintelligible claim that Roberts will be a “traditional conservative” who will move the court to the “left.”

If Krauthammer’s definition of “traditional conservatism” includes upholding Roe and moving the Supreme Court to the left, then I’m afraid Krauthammer is losing touch with what conservatism is.

“Roe v. Roberts” – by Charles Krauthammer

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Lawlessness and Terror at the Convention Center

We passed this police car which was abandoned right in front of the Convention Center. It’s dilapidated condition stands a symbolic reminder of the inadequacy of the force that was left to guard the Convention Center when nearly 20,000 people were stranded there.

As I wrote in my previous post, I spent the majority of my time in New Orleans working at the Convention Center. The rubble left behind there that I witnessed told a terrible and tragic story.

The thousands of people who were turned away from the shelter at the Superdome were directed to the Convention Center just ten blocks away. The place descended into a dark hole of misery and lawlessness. The Washington Post has done a fine bit of reporting on what actually happened there. The piece is titled, “It Was as if All of Us Were Already Pronounced Dead.”

The military police that I talked to confirmed what the Post reports in this article. When they went inside the convention center they found bodies that had been brutalized and murdered.

No doubt, we have only begun to hear the terrible tales that will surely be told about the infamous Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

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Criswell College Students Go into the Aftermath of Katrina


Preparing food for the Salvation Army Mobile Canteens at 3:30am.
Photo by Josh Ramsey.

We parked our Canteen truck right next to the tents where military vehicles were dropping off and processing evacuees in front of the now infamous Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This was the site that saw thousands of New Orleans residents stranded without food and bathrooms for days after the levees broke. It became a den of misery and lawlessness.

A Military Policeman informed me that when the army arrived, they found dead bodies inside the Convention Center—bodies that had been brutalized, some apparently mugged and others raped. It is places like these where the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) has been providing disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The work I was doing was part of the SBTC’s partnership with the Salvation Army. The SBTC and the Salvation Army have set up a staging area in Baton Rouge, LA that is providing disaster relief to those who are in the wake of devastation caused by the Hurrican. A group of Criswell College students (led by me) recently joined in that effort.

The SBTC partnership with the Salvation Army in Baton Rouge requires SBC volunteers to load and to man Salvation Army Mobile Canteens. Canteens are trucks outfitted to transport, to prepare, and to distribute food to victims of disaster. The SBTC staging area in Baton Rouge prepares approximately 20,000 to 35,000 meals per day to be distributed by disaster relief volunteers. On Saturday alone, the so-called “bologna brigade” made 20,000 bologna sandwiches to be distributed to victims.

I helped to man a Canteen that provided relief inside the city of New Orleans itself. I found that the catastrophic impact of Katrina was not adequately depicted by the pictures I had seen on the television. Rancid flood waters covered huge swaths of the city, and innumerable buildings lay in ruins. An on-the-ground view of the landscape revealed the sheer scope of the disaster, and it was indeed devastating.

My partner, Mark Bjornholm, and I spent the majority of our time in New Orleans feeding evacuees and rescue workers who were holed up at the Convention Center. A week ago, there were tens of thousands waiting in line to be evacuated. When we served, they were arriving sporadically, and there was no line for them to wait in. The ones who came to our truck were the last hold-outs. One military man told me that these were the ones who would have stayed even longer, but their food, provisions, and will to continue had finally given out.

All the evacuees who arrived at our station looked bedraggled and depressed. And who could blame them? They had lost everything, and now they were leaving home behind. We gave them a meal and a word of condolence for their lost city. And we prayed for them.

We fed a bus driver named Terrence and his family at the evacuation site. Terrence was able to hold on to his job after losing his home and all his belongings in the hurricane. Now he, his wife Raquel, and his three children (Caitlyn, 11yrs; Corey, 11yrs; and Cayla, 7yrs.) have made Terrence’s bus their new home.

Other Criswell College students who manned Canteen trucks made it outside of New Orleans proper and into some of the suburbs that were ravaged by Katrina. Johnny Guthrie and John Ailie went into Kenner, LA where residents were still living with standing water and without power. All of the residents, afraid to come out of their homes for fear of a forced evacuation, were relieved to see the Canteen come rolling into their neighborhood. Guthrie and Ailie reported that the people they served said that the SBTC/Salvation Army truck was the first disaster relief team that they had seen, and this nearly two weeks after the storm. Ailie told each person that he fed, “We’re here to serve you and to serve Jesus Christ.”

Even though the Criswell College students’ primary task was to distribute food, they also found time to distribute the Gospel. In just two days, students estimated that they had made 67 Gospel presentations, given out 119 Bibles, and handed out 1,126 tracts.

Bill Davenport, the director of SBTC disaster relief and leader of the staging area in Baton Rouge, said that his biggest concern is that after the media-hype of Hurricane Katrina dies down he will be left with all the food, equipment, and provisions for relief, but no help.

Needless to say, there is much left to do in New Orleans and in the outlying areas that are sheltering evacuees. And there remains a huge question as to what the impact will be when Hurricane Rita reaches the Gulf Coast this weekend. My hope is that whatever the disaster, God will send more workers out to embody the Gospel in disaster relief efforts.

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