Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Quick Review of John MacArthur's Appearance on Larry King Live 8/23/05

I meant to post on this LKL episode the week it aired, but I didn't get to see the recording until a few days later. We don't have cable in the Butler family home. We have a big TV, but no cable. Television is a major time sucker and the regular programs have generally become more and more insipid over the 5 years I have been without cable. In short, I don't miss it. However, I am behind a few days on commenting upon important events like my pastor being on Larry King Live.

For some reason, John has endeared himself to Larry King. He has made a handful of appearance since his first time way back in September 2001 right after the terrorist attacks in New York. Some suggest it may be due in part to some likeminded Christians on the production staff for Larry's show who listen to John's radio ministry. What ever the case, when there is a need for a token right wing Fundamentalist, Larry turns to John to fill the spot. Thankfully, John is sound of mind and not only a Fundamentalist, but a clear thinking, gracious and articulate Fundamentalist.

His most recent excursion onto the Larry King Show was to address the creation and evolution debate, specifically the Intelligent Design movement among many of the top academics in American universities. The issue of teaching ID along with criticism of Darwinian Evolution in public schools has reached the federal level at the House of Representatives. That sort of publicity panics materialistic atheists, because their primary religious faith is being challenged. Hence, the fine folks at Larry King Live believed this discussion would make for some tremendous on-air debate.

Tony Capoccia of the Bible Bulletin Board has a transcript of the program in big readable font for those who missed the airing. It can be read here. I won't give a point by point review, but just note some highlights from the program.

First, let's meet the cast of characters. John was on with five other participants:

Dr. Barbara Forrest who is the co-author of an anti-God book, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design. She was sort of a hoot to watch. She had the condescending bobble-head shaking going on in response to the other participants and the shrill, nasally voice, reminiscent of Lilly Thomlison's telephone operator character was an extra bonus. I kept expecting her to say "one ringy dingy; two ringy dingies." She also maintained a tight, wrinkled face through out the entire program, as if there was a flatulent Great Dane sitting at her feet.

Right at the outset, there are two black marks against her as being a credible critic of the ID movement. First, she is professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. Note the title, Professor of Philosophy. Why is a philosophy professor being asked to comment upon something the world considers to be a scientific debate? Granted, I do believe the heart of the debate boils down to philosophical worldviews and how those worldviews interpret scientific evidence. The problem with Dr. Barbara is her appeals to science, when in point of fact, she is not an expert in any scientific field and she is making just as many "faith" commitment as those she attacks.

Second is what she does as a hobby. In addition to being a professor of philosophy, she is on the National Advisory Council of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. They're one of the worse anti-religious organizations making the public rounds in these sorts of debates. Moreover, it is interesting to note that Dr. Barbara is a contributor for Infidels.com, an atheistic website. So, for her to even question the motives and intentions of ID proponents as she does constantly during the program is flat out hypocritical and disingenuous on her part. She is driven by her own motives, as well.

Senator Sam Brownback a Republican from Kansas. He came across as a sound and reasonable supporter from Intelligent Design to be taught along side of Darwinian evolution. I was grateful for his overall demeanor, because usually, programs like LKL find some Foghorn Leghorn sounding backwoods bumpkin Republican from Mississippi explain why "evaluchon ain't cyence." Senator Sam was a good guy. I would request, however, that he expunge the word "robust" from his vocabulary. I think he used it at least a dozen times to describe the nature of the debate.

Congressman Chris Shays, Republican from Connecticut. First off, what was up with the powder blue backdrop behind this guy? He looked as though he was sitting for his 5th grade yearbook photo. Whoever it was on his staff who set up this interview location needs to be slapped about the head. The congressman was one of the adversarial Republicans who thinks this issue should not be addressed by the federal government and the president was wrong to even bring it up in a recent speech. One one hand, I can understand his point: why is it necessary for the federal government to tell local and state schools what sort of curriculum to teach. However, on the other hand, he struggles with a self-imposed myopia to the much larger issue of academic freedom for high school teachers to even present opposing argumentation that may be both critical of traditional Darwinian evolutionary philosophy and supportive of ID theory.

Dr. Jay Richards, vice president of the Discovery Institute. Dr. Richards reminds me of a young Ed Begley Jr. before he transformed into the freakish eco-pantheist that he now is. He had a lot of good things to say; more so than what I expected.

Deepak Chopra. Woah! take it down a notch, Hadji. Just like John is the token Fundamentalist, Deepak is the token horses's rear. Anyone who watched the program understands the reason for my snide remark. Every time Deepak is on with John, he must believe it is his mission to challenge everything John says. He contradicts, rudely talks over, and speaks of John in the third person, even though he is sitting right next to him in the studio. His churlish behavior only demonstrates how fake his hearts and flowers, cosmic group hug and tolerant collective conscience nonsense really is. Everyone is included in Deepak's world, except Christians who believe Jesus is the only way.

I personally do not understood why he was even asked to be on to address this subject seeing that he was utterly unprepared to discuss intelligently any of the key issues underlying the debate. Bob "Gilligan" Denver, America's favorite castaway, could had brought better understanding to the debate. I am beginning to believe the only reason he is scheduled is because John was going to be on. I guess King's people believes it makes for better ratings to have a self-appointed guru attacking a pastor.

Generally, the program went well. All three defenders of Intelligent Design, John, Dr. Richards, and Senator Brownback, did a fine job focusing the discussion around the important, key elements. That being:

0 The need for ID to be allowed a place in the class room for discussion, rather than censorship.

0 Academic freedom for high school teachers to present ID in class without fear of reprisal.

0 The debate centers around two philosophical methods of interpreting evidence.

0 ID theory only detects the existence of intelligence.

0 And John reminded everyone that ID does not explain the intelligence, only religion does.

Some highlights from John's overall comments:

MACARTHUR: Well, I think intelligent design is the only possible scientific position to hold, because we have intelligence in the universe. It has to come from intelligence, because we have complexity, it has to come from complexity. The silver bullet, Larry, is DNA. Before our understanding of DNA, there was a lot of confusion and a lot of belief in evolution. It was like the emperor's new clothes. It was really naked but thought it was dressed up. DNA has, I think, spelled the end of traditional naturalistic evolution, which essentially says complexity comes out of simplicity. It can't happen. The silver bullet is not a single example of reproduction leading to an increased amount of genetic material necessary to produce a more complex organism has ever happened.

MACARTHUR: I accept the Bible as the source, the authoritative source that tells me it was God, and something or someone has to be eternal, and the Bible says it is God who is the eternal one.

MACARTHUR: I don't particularly care whether Adam and Eve is taught in a public school, because I'm not sure that the person teaching it or mandated to teach it would be able to teach it correctly or with conviction ... When it comes to origin, nobody was there. We can't reproduce it. It's not repeatable. So it's a faith base, even an evolutionist is putting faith in the eternality of matter or some natural element. It's all faith at that particular point. We choose to believe in the God who has revealed himself in scripture and his account of creation.

Then, there was an interesting interchange with John and congressman Shays on the authority of Genesis:

MACARTHUR: I would just like to encourage the congressman, because at the beginning he said that, in his faith, he believes in the "Genesis" account, and I think...

SHAYS: First Chapter.

MACARTHUR: First Chapter, sure, I'll stick with that first chapter, six days of creation and God rested. That's what the scripture says.

SHAYS: And made -- and made everything perfect.

MACARTHUR: That's right. And then the fall, you've got to get to Chapter Three sooner or later.

SHAYS: Well, I don't want to get to Chapter Three.

MACARTHUR: Well, you have to. I mean, you are trying to...

SHAYS: You think I have to. See, that's the problem, and that's my point. That's my point.

MACARTHUR: I want to know why he's a congressman if he isn't in there trying to help -- reduce the effects of what happened in Chapter Three, which is the story of the fall?

SHAYS: No, but see, this is, Larry, this is the key point. I believe in God deeply, and already now I'm being questioned, and that's the danger, because the gentleman who just spoke has his religious view and questions mine. You are going to raise such a huge challenge if we start getting into this debate, because it's intolerant, and I think that's what this discussion is leading to.

MACARTHUR: I just need to defend myself. I certainly didn't intend that. You said you believed in Genesis I. ... and I just said you should stick with the conviction about Genesis I, and you have the creation account right there.

I certainly appreciated the gracious manner in which John handled himself with the congressman in light of his weird response. Doesn't want to get to chapter 3? What was that all about? But, in all honesty, I cannot believe Congressman Shays started bawl-babying about having his beliefs challenged. I think that only shows he is ignorant of what he believes, or if anything, he has an extremely superficial and shallow understanding of the Bible and what he should believe as a professed Christian.

Some of the non-sequitur, hand scratching questions asked by Larry King:

"So all this other proof of millions of years, cavemen, don't mean anything?"

"Dr. Forrest, your concept of how can you out-and-out turn down creationism, since if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?"

"Dr. Richards, if there's intelligent design, who designed the intelligent designer?"

"Who created the creator?"

Related Hip and Thigh articles on ID, Creationism and God:

Does ID = Creationism

On Evidence and Anthony Flew

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Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

I am surprised you refer to John as a Fundamentalist. I would consider him more Evangelical than Fundamentalist.

3:49 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

You are probably right about that. I am thinking of fundamentalist in the more historic definition of the word: one who believes the Bible is the only authoritative revelation from God and is willing to talk about it as such. Granted, there is much baggage attached to the name "fundamentalist," but I am not sure John would necessarily shy away from being described as one. I could be wrong about that, though.


6:10 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

I guess it depends on what one is looking at with John.

Last I knew, he was a member of the IFCA. But the Fundamentalists I know are like the ones James Spurgeon writes about in his Tales from the Temple--and those "Fundamentalists" do not like John at all.

Yeesh--maranatha and lets be done with all this...

8:26 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger centuri0n said...

"who created the Creator" is a compelling question -- for High School Freshmen. If Evolution is true, that exact same question (framed inside the premsies of the system) leaves the advocate in the exact same position it leaves the Bible-reader: the creator was not created, but eternally pre-existed.

9:51 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Genealogy Lookups said...

Thanks for the highlights. I find myself watching Larry King only when John is a guest and that's often.

Looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

11:26 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Ransom said...

Every time Deepak is one with John

I didn't realize we did pantheism here. :)

6:45 PM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

What an idiot

Thanks for the typo alert.


5:44 AM, September 02, 2005  

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