Americans are at war, but this conflict has nothing to do with the deserts of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan. Rather, these battlefields are found in the halls of academia and the corridors of science.
This was the message of a recent presentation given by Nancy Pearcey at Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Pearcey, author of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity and professor of worldview studies at Philadelphia Biblical University, alerted a crowd of some 800 people to the growing pervasiveness of Darwinian and naturalistic thinking in virtually every area of society.
“Darwinism is not just a scientific theory,” said Pearcey. “It has worldview implications, just as intelligent design has worldview implications, and that’s why it’s important to bring this discussion into a larger cultural conversation.”
While the most popular arguments center around evolution and its counterpoints, intelligent design and creationism, Pearcey believes the ramifications of Darwinist worldviews are being felt in other realms of science, as well as morality and ethics, politics, health and medicine, law, commerce, literature and art, and even sexuality.
But Pearcey’s intent was not to debunk proponents of evolution and its derivative theories, but to call for a fair exchange of ideas. “So often today, public education actually discourages critical thinking,” Pearcey observed. “If secular views are taught uncritically, without taking opposing religious views seriously, it becomes a kind of totalitarianism.”
That is exactly the message of the controversial documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, created and narrated by lawyer, journalist, humorist, and entertainer Ben Stein. Hailed in some quarters and assailed in many others, the film seeks to expose oppressive treatment in academia and the scientific community toward anyone who challenges Darwinist thinking as established fact.
“The battle over evolution is only one skirmish in a much larger war,” Stein declares in the film, pointing out the imminent threats to such constitutional pillars as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom from fear. Interspersed in the film are images of Nazi Germany and Soviet totalitarianism, along with footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall—the symbolic end of totalitarian communism.
Because Westminster PCA’s worldview conference coincided with the release of the film Expelled, church organizers coordinated with the film’s producers to piggyback on publicity about the documentary. They called Pearcey’s presentation, “Beyond Expelled.”
One problem was the short timeframe required to pull the event together—about six weeks from the time of Pearcey’s acceptance of the invitation. With less than 200 members, Westminster was hardly equipped to man a vast marketing machine, but Gordon Eldridge, teaching elder at Westminster, heads a wing of a large defense contractor in the area and pulled together a team of 40 volunteers to solicit media coverage, purchase advertising, produce brochures and flyers, and contact area churches by phone and email.
In an effort to offer the presentation as an outreach to the community, Pearcey’s main talk was held at nearby Okaloosa-Walton College, free of charge. The following evening she spoke at an invitation-only event to area church and Christian education leaders.
Westminster’s church leaders were pleased with the outcome. Coverage in the Northwest Florida Daily News seemed balanced, they said, and community response has been strong.
“We had no clue as to what to expect, especially since we had initially planned to have this event next year instead of this year,” said Bill Tyson, senior pastor of Westminster PCA. “At least 20-25 churches were represented, and I know many of the churches were exposed to the worldview concept for the first time.”
Eldridge hopes that “Beyond Expelled” will serve as a catalyst for a variety of follow-up activities, including use of “The Truth Project,” a DVD series produced by Focus on the Family, which addresses similar worldview issues. Other activities include encouraging the church’s teens to participate in a regional Worldview Academy and perhaps holding a larger, more diversified worldview conference in 2009. Free resource DVDs also were produced to assist churches in other parts of the country that might want to consider sponsoring similar events.
“We do not want ‘Beyond Expelled’ to be just a one-time function where participants would hear a presentation and leave just feeling informed,” Eldridge said. “Our vision was to give the attendees helpful resources they could use in the worldview battles they encounter.”
It is not likely these battles will diminish. In fact, two anniversaries may soon converge to bring Charles Darwin and his thinking to greater prominence than ever.
The year 2009 will mark both the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publishing of his landmark book, The Origin of the Species. No doubt his adherents will use those occasions to shine an even brighter spotlight on the relative merits of Darwinism and naturalism.
It will be interesting to see how this debate “evolves.”
Robert J. Tamasy, a member of North Shore Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tenn., is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., an Atlanta-based ministry to business and professional leaders; author of Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace, and co-author of The Heart of Mentoring with David A. Stoddard.