I sat myself through another Christian presentation today for some reason (boredom?), not having learned my lesson after Friday’s yawner. Today’s lunch hour event was titled “Reasons to Believe” and featured Every Nation International’s founding pastor Rice Broocks presenting his sermon.
I’ll jump to the end for you, the reasons were mostly emotional and despite the promise of a more dialogue-centred event, he ended up talking up until almost the end of the time we had (I had to run out at the end of this one to TA).
He’s “skeptical” of evolution, which mainly comes from his necessity to have an original sin, but he mentioned something about finding astronomical findings intriguing. I took him to be an Old-Earth Creationist (may be wrong). He did seem to think that evolution led to Hitler (touched on this very briefly) and that the information in one DNA molecule could fill books which would fill the Grand Canyon (the human genome is estimated at 750 MB in raw information which translates to roughly 100,000 pages or 200 copies of the Origin of Species, not quite a Grand Canyon full).
I did ask him if evolution was antithetical to his faith, to which he responded that while there are many Christians who accept evolution he thought the evidence was lacking for evolution (he expects every animal in history to have fossilized) and it seemed that evolution just didn’t jive right in his mind with Christianity.
The biggest stun I got out of him (there were only about 10 people there, 4-6 of whom seemed associated with his ministry already), was when he was talking about his encounter with a skeptic who he offered the deal that if after he responded to every one of the skeptic’s questions adequately (by the skeptic’s standards), if the skeptic would “serve God.” The skeptic replied that he wouldn’t serve God, so the Pastor didn’t spend his time arguing if the skeptic wouldn’t believe in the end. I challenged him and said that perhaps the skeptic would believe in God, but would refuse to serve.
It caught the otherwise well-spoken and thought out pastor for a second (he’s obviously spread the word a lot – and discussed his travels across the globe), and he finally decided that belief in the Bible means to serve, which is a bit of a cop-out. I don’t know if it’s ever crossed his mind that someone could read the Bible, believe what it says, but then still reject Jesus.
I’ve stated as much that if the Christian God were proved to me, I’d reject his authoritarianism over my soul.
Now, let’s look at where this creationist was coming from: Wikipedia informs me that the Every Nation ministry has 400 churches around the world, likes to focus on campuses, and is awkwardly associated with the Maranatha Cult of the late 1970s and 80s. While this cult didn’t “drink the Kool-Aid” (Broocks did make reference to what he called “Comet Cults” which would do that to land on the comet and then return), it was known for authoritarian ways and its pressure on campuses.
Of course this isn’t helped by the fact the key members who organized this event approached every single person who entered, gave a “hi, what’s your name” speech and generally exuded a slightly-over-zealous-but-not-quite-creepy quality.
Anyway, prior to this event, some of the SFU Skeptics and I were postering for tomorrow’s Evolution Day event on campus (a showing of Judgement Day, to which I won’t be making it due to TAing), which attracted the attention of several of the ministry people. Broocks did allude to the “Skeptics” on campus in his talk and I think his crew may be planning to crash the party tomorrow.
Update: A little more digging into Every Nation reveals quite a bit.