Intelligent Design, Companion and Conduit of the Gospel
Because we became members of the same winning team through your prayers and generosity, we want to update you on what your prayers and gifts have recently accomplished.
Expanding the Outreach
FTE's books are selling better than ever. Sales of the newly released 2011 edition of Never Before in History are outstripping all past years. In our August Newsletter we announced the 6,000th sale of The Design of Life, and since then, sales have been climbing steadily toward 7,000. This fall, 3 universities placed orders for copies. So, though the excitement of its release is naturally wearing off, the assets of its content, influence, and reputation are building.
Intelligent Design Tested a Hemisphere Away
In late September, three days before departing with his team for the Asian Christian Academy (ACA) of Bangalore, India, our pastor, Neil Tomba, (senior pastor of Northwest Bible Church in Dallas), called to ask if I could meet him right away with copies of the DVDs, Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet, (both from Illustra Media) and any supporting materials I had to help explain them. Neil had just received an email informing him that he and his team would be making a side trip to the Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kerala, India (see picture), and that, following a screening of The Privileged Planet, "you're going to get up and make a presentation to these engineering students." "Oooooooo-kay!" Neil thought as he dialed my number. We met, and I gave him The Privileged Planet book and DVD. Later, on his return to Dallas, Neil reported to our congregation, "This was the best trip I've ever taken." And what a story he told!
Just the week before their arrival, a foreigner had made a presentation at Cochin University and was arrested. So it was "with weakness, fear, and much trembling" that the Northwest/ACA team entered the university meeting room. Though only ten students were present when the team arrived, by the time the video began, over a hundred and twenty had crowded into the room. As the lights came back on, Neil was still uncertain of what he should say. Sending up a quick prayer, he introduced himself, showed the audience a picture of his family on his iPad, then said, "Okay, tell me something that you learned from this video that you didn't know." Immediately a young man stood up in the middle of the room and said, "Well, I don't know if there's a God or not, but if what that video said is true, I think I need to investigate it!" Another student stood up and made a similar comment. And then another, and another. For about an hour, people shared their thoughts and questions. As Neil reported this remarkable experience to our congregation, he showed a slide of a student he called V.J., with whom he had spent another hour. Motioning with his hands, Neil said, "V.J. is this close to coming to Christ."
Neil's experience dramatically illustrates the penetrating truth of Romans 1: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made" (verse 20). Zealous opponents of design say, in the words of the famous Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." That is, Darwinists credit Darwin with providing an alternative explanation for the design so clearly evident in living things and insist, against all reason and mounting evidence, that what looks like design is really only "apparent design."
But here is the bad news for the militant Darwinist. At best, Darwin's theory can apply only to the biosphere, to living things. It cannot explain any design off the Earth, such as the fine-tuned factors that make the Earth so suitable for intelligent life and for scientific discovery, factors like its large moon, its planetary neighbors, oxygen-rich atmosphere, the angle of its axis of rotation, and its precise location within the solar system and the Milky Way galaxy, all part of the amazing design so beautifully delineated in The Privileged Planet. No, Darwin has no seat at the table of cosmology or astronomy!
Intelligent Design Debated: Dembski vs. Hitchens
Friends, why does FTE exist? Why do you invest in our work? Because you are convinced with us that issues of worldview matter and are of eternal consequence. God's calling on our individual lives and on this work includes laboring diligently to ensure that our young people are not only exposed to the Judeo-Christian worldview but also given opportunities to recognize for themselves that this worldview — this truth — can and does stand up to rigorous debate, even assault. Thus, we were thrilled when a local Christian school (Prestonwood Christian Academy) invited scores of other Christian schools to join their middle and high school students in an audience estimated at 3,500 on November 18 to hear Dr. William Dembski, co-author of The Design of Life, debate Christopher Hitchens, world-renowned atheist and author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Their debate question was "Does a Good God Exist?"
Writing for the Dallas Morning News ["Atheist holds firm to his beliefs in debate at church," 11/19/10, 3B], Tom Benning reported that the host school organized the event in order "to prepare [students] for the differing viewpoints they will inevitably face some day." Mission accomplished! As Benning noted: "[Hitchens] made a point of addressing the students directly, telling them they don't need to accept an absolute authority. 'Don't think of that as a gift. Think of it as a poison chalice. Push it aside, however tempting it is.'" Concluding his report of the debate, Benning writes: "Dembski, a leading proponent of the intelligent design theory of creation, was equally aggressive in defending God and attacking Hitchens' beliefs. He set about 'deconstructing' evolution and listed scientific evidence that he said pointed to a designer behind the universe . . . . Dembski also tackled head-on Hitchens' oft-repeated assertion that Christianity has caused countless episodes of destruction and death. Dembski readily acknowledged that religion can be a problem. But he said Hitchens and others fail to acknowledge all the good it has accomplished. 'We are sick, yes, but I'd say not incurably so,' he said. 'In fact, the cure is there.'"
These stories underscore the importance of getting the message of intelligent design to students. To date, there are more than 170,000 of FTE's books in print. We are now in the midst of revising and reloading our entire publishing program. Our current revisions include the recently published new edition of Never Before in History: America's Inspired Birth.
Although intelligent design books are prominent among our titles, FTE's publishing mandate is to address key tension points between a Judeo-Christian worldview and a secular progressive worldview. In FTE's books, we have a valuable cache for the youth of any day, for the textbooks and trade books of FTE are timeless treasures. Timeless? Yes, timeless, because today their vital truths are dismissed or omitted in public school curriculum. Thus, there will always be a need for them, a need perceived by many parents and educators. If being forewarned is being forearmed, then FTE's books are literally lifeline information for young people.
So we must do everything that a well-established, wealthy, major textbook publisher would do, to the utmost of our ability. We must revise and maintain what is strategic and excellent, updating not only our books and their copyright dates, but the teacher's guides and ancillaries as well. And we must discover and reach new markets to place them in the hands of ever greater numbers of students.
Obviously, we can do none of this without your help
As the world gets crazier and crazier, the need of young people to be centered and grounded — including our own children and grandchildren — is much greater and more pressing than ever. Shouldn't we endeavor to be increasingly responsible stewards of the next generation? Yes, of course. Because these books truly are a lifeline for the young, we ask you to focus on the next generation, and work side by side with us for their future wellbeing and the worldview that will help to secure it.
Giving to FTE has declined with the economy. We hope you will do what you can to strengthen and expand our outreach. Thank you so much!
Because He lives,
P.S. Be watching for the next newsletter and its breathtaking story about the role intelligent design played in preventing a calamitous breach of America's national security in the mid-20th century. It will arrive just days after Christmas.
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