Saturday, December 28, 2013

A&E Caves to Pressure from Robinsons & Fans - Including Christians - But...

GLAAD and Other Gay Advocacy Groups Suffer Stunning Defeat ...
But This ISN'T a Win for Christians

 A&E has reversed itself after ten days of twisting slowly, slowly in the wind, and has publicly reinstated Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robinson to the show.  With a mealy-mouthed and convoluted statement, A&E claimed a victory (of sorts) even as it admitted defeat.  The statement was a poor attempt at PR damage control, but given the situation they'd put themselves in, it was probably the best they could do.

This reversal was a huge and stunning defeat for GLAAD and all the other narrow-focus, one-issue, PC-enfolded fascist-tactic advocacy groups.  However, this defeat was not a victory for Christians who'd rallied to Robertson's support.

Let me repeat that.

This was NOT a victory for all of the Christians who'd rallied, in the hundreds of thousands, to  Phil Robertson's support.

This "victory" for Phil was prompted more by career-fear among A&E's top brass executives.  With good reason, the A&E suits' feared that they would go away because they'd destroyed the network's most profitable-ever franchise.  Hollywood, the entertainment media and it's read-headed stepchild, the broadcast news media - it's all a brutal business, driven by ratings and  profits.  Executives are paid ridiculous amounts of money for delivering hugely-profitable programming - but the minute something crashes and burns, jobs go on the block. 

In this case, it looked like the best-performing program A&E had ever put on the air was going away, and if that happened, heads would roll.  Board members and investors and "bigger suits" at the parent companies would have insisted on firing people who'd blown a multi-million-dollar profit center for no better point than appeasing a pressure group.

It's a corporate play, and here's how the players line up.  A&E Television Network us a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation and Disney-ABC Television Group, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.  That's a lot of corporate executives and board members who back A&E only because there is a lot of money to be made.  Lose some of that money and once high-flying execs will be out of work, and stigmatized for their failure as well. Nobody with a mortgage and an alimony, child support and a couple of kids in college is going to willingly risk firing over support for s single-issue pressure group, no matter how loud that group yells.  This applies to GLAAD, but it also applies to the Christians who backed Robertson.

The reason why A&E blinked is because the Robertson family stood behind their patriarch, making it clear that without Phil, there would be no show, no viewers, no ad revenues, no merchandising profits ... and no suits at A&E who had anything to do with getting into a game of chicken with a bunch of multi-millionaire rednecks who also have strong family values and rock-ribbed Christian beliefs.

Please don't misunderstand - without the support of hundreds of thousands of Christians and millions of fanatically-loyal viewers, A&E might have stared down the Robertsons.  It's hard to walk away from $2.5 million or so each season (with two seasons per year), even if you own a $400 million dollar business.  But the huge outpouring of support made it clear that the Robertsons could walk - away from A&E and into a new TV deal.  CBN and Glenn Beck's The Blaze had already made offers, and more would have come quickly.

Still, the final decision was influenced more by career-fear at the top of A&E  than it was by the rallying of the troops.  That rallying of outraged Christians and other fans was enough for Cracker Barrel - they quickly realized they were on the wrong side of the issue from their vocal target audience - but despite the online petitions and blogs and all the rest, A&E had no such realization.  Even in the face of the Robertson's apparent staunch faith, and even in the face of an outpouring of strong Christian and fan outrage, the suits at A&E do not take Christians - or duck hunters (i.e., bible-thumping red-necks) seriously.  We are the worst of the denizens of flyover country, and they're not even sure we exist.

Instead, those execs responsible for putting the most profitable franchise in the network's history at risk realized that they'd made a mistake in going to the mats with the Robertsons, and as a  result, they were about to lose, and if they lost, their jobs were at risk. 

Frankly, they realized that they might be fired for caving in to the demands of a small, vocal and fascist minority (GLAAD).  That was what happened to the NPR honcho lost her job after firing Juan Williams, except that instead of rolling over for GLAAD, she caved in to CAIR, a strident one-issue Muslim anti-defamation group. 

But the principle was the same - cave in, screw up, lose job.

At the bottom line (and it was really just a bottom-line issue for A&E), Duck just means too much Bucks to A&E to let the franchise go just to appease a pressure group, even one as powerful in Hollywood as GLAAD.

WIth this powerful reversal and repudiation of pressure group tactics - especially when accompanied by Cracker Barrel's own swift turn-around - executives at other businesses and media groups will now feel empowered to ignore GLAAD and other one-issue advocacy groups.  This will be especially true for those execs whose lavish lifestyles make them people who really can't afford risking their jobs. 

In the future, GLAAD will still be able to elicit meaningless platitudes, one akin to A&E's lame and confusing statement issued Friday, but GLAAD will not be able to force action that mean anything,  A&E's cave in has made it clear that supporting groups like GLAAD or CAIR risks costing shareholders money ... and executives their jobs.

However, despite the high-fives and self-congratulatory comments from many Christians who pushed hard to get A&E to cave, this is NOT a triumph for either religion or morality. Despite all of our best efforts - and they were good, good enough to get Cracker Barrel to cave - the A&E decision is all about pure economic power politics.  The fans - and most important, the Robinson's - willingness to tank the program and walk away, that was decisive. We Christians who spoke out helped, but we were not decisive.

A&E's leadership is still the same pro-gay/anti-Christian group they've always been.  It was the Robinsons (and, most importantly, their willingness to walk away) was decisive in persuading the decision-makers that it wasn't worth their jobs and their fabulous incomes to support GLAAD.

Allow me to conclude with the immortal words of Han Solo, just after Luke Skywalker destroyed his first Imperial fighter ...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Noah Was The First Environmentalist? Does that Make God the FIrst Eco-Terrorist?

Paramount Is Positioning Noah As A Biopic About The First Environmentalist and the Great Flood As God's Revenge On Those Who Don't Respect the Environment ...  I can see the Marquee Now:

Noah: Environmentalist Wacko

You've Got To Be Kidding Me ...

Foolishly, I'd had high hopes for the upcoming movie, Noah, the first in a long line-up of in-production Hollywood films based on the Bible.  Just imagine - great special effects PLUS what had been billed as a biblically-sound project. 

Now, not so much ...

Forget about the made-up war that ravaged the earth (?) - forget the monstrous creatures that never existed (?) - forget the Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic landscape that God is intent on destroying ...

Noah?  Environmental Wacko?

You've got to be kidding me ... 

Here's what the UK Telegraph has to say ...

"... this audience (i.e., Bible-believing Christians and Jews) is knowledgeable about the subject matter and Hollywood is wrestling with questions of dramatic license. One of next year’s epics has already run into controversy. Test screenings for Noah with a Christian audience in Arizona, and a Jewish audience in New York, reportedly produced troubling results. 

"It has been suggested that the film shows Noah as an early opponent of climate change. Its director, Darren Aronofsky, has called him the “first environmentalist”. 

"Brian Godawa, a screenwriter, claimed to have read an early version of the script and said it portrayed a scenario in which the Great Flood was caused by man’s “disrespect” for the environment."

No wonder this film, when played to Jews in New York and Christians in Arizona, produced "troubling results."  This is not only NOT what the Bible says, but this bizarre (but politically-correct) motivation for God's actions are entirely contrary to what God said when he created the earth, and what he later re-affirmed to Noah after the flood.

Hollywood thinks that it can rewrite the Bible and still attract the faithful.  They don't seem to understand that this is not a just new "take" on the origins of Superman or Batman, or the third re-casting and re-booting of the Incredible Hulk

This is taking the God-inspired and very clear words of Genesis 1 and Genesis 6  through 9 - along with the very clear intent of God Himself, as laid out in His own words - and completely throwing them out. 

In this movie, God's  actions and motivations are replaced with a totally extra-Biblical and even counter-Biblical story, based on God's anger at mankind for spoiling the environment that He'd given them dominion over.  This movie, using only those few parts of Genesis's brief story of Noah that are politically correct, replaced anything that might seem politically-incorrect or judgmental.  They especially removed the clear motivation of God - who destroyed the world as His way of punishing the wicked for sins of violence and corruption and total evil.

I guess Hollywood's far-left power-brokers decided that it was better to give God an entirely new motivation, rather than risk suggesting that God might actually judge the wicked, the sinners, the violent, the corrupt and the totally evil.  Why?  That description of the world of Noah - corrupt, wicked and evil - if you think about it, sounds like a pretty good description of Hollywood.  A story that told the truth about what Genesis says might cut too close to home.

No surprise there.  Hollywood is a hotbed of liberalism and political correctness, along with a total lack of personal responsibility for even the darkest sides of personal behavior.  So I guess I shouldn't really be surprised that they think they can get away with rewriting the Bible, just like their fellow liberals in Washington rewrite the constitution.

For anyone who's ever read Genesis 1 (the creation) and Genesis 6-9 (Noah's brief story), it becomes clear that the Bible has a somewhat different "take" on why God decided to destroy all life on earth. God's decision had nothing to do with the environment - in fact, God had so little concern for the environment that, in his effort to destroy mankind, He inundated the entire planet and destroyed all living things on earth - except, of course, for Noah and his family and the animals Noah took with him on the ark.  The cause of God's wrath is spelled out quite clearly in Genesis 6:5-7 (New Living Translation): 

5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”

 The Lord told Noah of his plans, and the reasons for those plans, in Genesis 6:11-13 - and once again, environmentalism had nothing at all to do with God's wrath:

11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. 13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!"

 This was no simple matter, wiping out every human - except for Noah's family - along with all the animals he'd created, except for the ones Noah would carry on the ark.  Rather than being concerned with the environment, the Lord intended to scour it clean, then start over.   Clearly, this is not the act of  a Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe who was particularly concerned about "disrespect for the environment," let alone about punishing those who'd shown "disrespect for the environment."  

God seemed more concerned with wickedness, consistent and total evil, and universal corruption and violence.

Rather than worry about the environment, God told Noah in Genesis 6:17:

17 Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die."

That's not exactly the actions of a Supreme Being who was worried about the environment, is it?  He is about to destroy all land-based life on earth, and to ravage the environment with a Great Flood that would devastate the entire world's environment.  

In Genesis 7, God lives up to His promise to Noah to push the reset button for the earth and start all over:

21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat.

Again, does that sound like a God who was overly troubled by a lack of respect for the environment He'd created?  Not so much, does it?

In fact, the only mention about mankind's use of the environment that the Lord God made came in Genesis 1:26-28 - when He said, during his creation of all things, that he wanted his new creation, mankind, to exploit the world for all that it was worth:

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.
27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Once again - not trying to beat a dead horse, which might be environmentally unfriendly - does that sound like a Supreme Being and Creator God who was worried about the environment?  He was telling mankind to fill the world and make use of all that He had created for their use.  Nothing there suggesting God was concerned with how man would use what He'd created. 

And lest there be any question, after God had destroyed everything, then set up Noah to start all over as the new Adam, the Lord gave Noah that same dominion over the world and all that is in it, as recorded in Genesis 9:1-3:

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables.

Giving man power over all living things - and promising that those living things will look on mankind with fear and terror, because they have been placed under mankind's power - does that sound a lot about an environmentally-sensitive God?

Sadly (or alarmingly), Noah isn't the only faith-based story to be given the full-frontal Hollywood treatment.  There's also a movie in the works re-telling the story of Moses.  As you read the quote from the Telegraph article below, please remember that in the bible, Moses wields a staff, and nothing else. Yet in this excerpt from the  Telegraph's article about the surge in films based on the bible (if only loosely), they have Batman star Christian Bales playing Moses as an action-hero wielding a bow and arrow.  

Also, please carefully note what the director of this "take" on Moses has to say about his film.

Noah will be followed by Sir Ridley Scott’s Exodus, in which Christian Bale, as Moses, will part the Red Sea. Scenes from ancient Egypt have been reconstructed in southern Spain, with Bale wielding a bow and arrow and Sigourney Weaver playing the Pharaoh’s wife. Scott has described the film, in a less than godly phrase, as “F------ huge”.

Perhaps most terrifying of all, Hollywood is creating a movie about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I shudder to think of what they'll come up with as they retell this story about a pregnant, unmarried teen-aged girl.

It looks like those of us who believe in the Bible - Jews as well as Christians, for Hollywood is playing with the Old Testament -  are in for a rough ride as Hollywood plays fast and loose with our holy scripture, the source of our belief.

Thank God that Spider-Man II is coming out in May - at least we can be sure they won't put him in a tutu and have him march in Gay Pride parade. At least I hope we can ...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Percent of Americans Claiming to Be Christian Down - Don't Worry - This is a Good Thing!

 God May Be Winnowing The Wheat From the Chaff
 It wasn't the Christmas present most believing Christians wanted to find under their tree, but if you read between the lines and analyze the statistics, you might find it's a wondrous gift indeed, for those who really believe.
The Harris Poll of more than 2,000 Americans is about as reliable as any poll you're likely to find.  They know what they're doing, and they have people on board skilled at asking questions which are honest - they don't lean toward a pre-ordained goal.  So when they issued their new national poll on faith and belief in America earlier today, I paid attention.

This new Harris poll shows several significant and downward trends in levels of belief among Americans.  Many Christians will view this with alarm, but I think this has something positive for us.  In the past, many Americans have claimed Christianity as their faith, but they are what my friend, Pastor David Rogers, calls "cultural Christians," people who go through the motions without ever taking a leap of faith and making Christ a part of their lives in any meaningful way.  
Now, with the rise in secularism in America, I think that the number of fair-weather Christians - what I'd like to call CINOs – Christians In Name Only - is declining.   
This could mean that we’re in a time of winnowing, a time where God is separating the wheat from the chaff.  Those looking for the Second Coming may see this as a sign (one among many) of the coming End Times, but I'm not expert enough in that area to even offer an opinion.  However, it seems clear that the ability of Christianity to exert secular influence is declining.  Sure, an activist group of believing Christians just got Cracker Barrel to reverse its stance on Duck Dynasty - it takes far fewer than a majority to be effective at influencing specific groups around specific issues, as GLAAD does all the time - but that's not the same thing as having a faith in God and Christ permeating our society or our government's decision-making.
It is obvious that the government of today is making decisions that would have been anathema to the Bible-believing Founding Fathers, who saw faith (not an "established church," but real faith) as essential in society, and a guiding influence for government.  Today, it's all but a secular sin to admit to having a committed faith, and official oppression of Christians (see some of the "rules" in Obamacare) has become the norm. 

To me, it seems that Christianity has always been strongest when there was a price to pay – only the strongest in their faith would hang tough when it wasn’t as easy and natural as Church on Sunday.  I’m not saying I want to pay a price for my faith, but as Christianity’s strength in America wanes (if the trends continue, and I believe they will), we will live in an increasingly secular society, one where the GLAADs and A&Es of the world will feel ever more justified (and safer) in attacking Christianity.  

That’s when we’ll see the sunshine Christians step aside.  That may be happening now.

The Poll itself shows some interesting numbers, statistics that demonstrate that many of those who profess to be Christians aren't really Christians after all - if I'm right, there's more winnowing to come.  Take a peak.

Three quarters of U.S. adults say they believe in God (down from 82 percent four years ago).  However, only 57 percent believe in the virgin birth, and 72 percent believe in miracles (down from 79 percent).  Only 68 percent believe in Heaven (down from 72 percent) - but amazingly, only 64 percent believe in the survival of the soul after death. That got me wondering - if you don't believe in the survival of the soul after death, what's the point in heaven?  

More numbers. While 75 percent say they believe in God, only 68 percent believe Jesus is God or the Son of God, and only 65 percent believe in the resurrection of Jesus.  Again, without belief in His divinity or resurrection, what is it that you DO believe?  I know Satan must be thrilled, though, because only 58 percent believe in him.
So who are these people? If you say you "believe," but don't believe in the Immaculate Conception (which means you don't believe Jesus was the Son of God), and don't believe in the resurrection (which means you don't believe there's salvation), what do you believe?  If you don't believe in these core tenets of the faith, are you really a Christian?
The decline in practicing "cultural Christians" - people who go through the motions without committing their soul to real believe in Christ - will hurt some churches.  Pews will be emptier and collection baskets will be thinner.  However, those churches have been the ones to "put on a show" for people, without actively engaging them and challenging them to walk in the shoes of Christ and his disciples.  
Other churches and faith-based movements, ones who can motivate their congregations and "convict" their members with an abiding belief in sin and redemption - those churches will prosper.  As our total numbers thin through this cultural winnowing process, those who remain (still, a hundred million or more, but way down from what it used to be) will want to come together, to share their faith and to be inspired by fellow believers.  This bodes well for the increase of planted churches and house churches, as well as for an increasingly active role, by Christians, in society.

I could be engaging in wishful thinking, but I believe what I'm saying to be largely true.  As the fairweather Christians fall by the wayside, it will be up to the rest of us to "take up the slack" in an increasingly secular and hostile world.   
I welcome your insights.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Why do the Heathen Rage? Why do the Aetheists and Secular Humanists Even Care?

Why Do Atheists Who Passionately Believe That There Is Nothing At All To Believe In Seem To Find Their Faith In Having Nothing To Have Faith In So All-Consuming

Ned Barnett

The passionate and public Atheists go to court to try to chance society to conform to their belief that there's nothing to believe in.  They hold rallies to make their non-belief.  They buy ads to trumpet their non-belief in the face of believers.  They stage protests to denounce anyone of faith who speaks out in favor of faith in something - not faith in nothing. 

But at the end of the day, it's all nothing but mock outrage.  If they were honest in their non-belief, they'd have nothing to rage at, nothing to lobby against, nothing spiritual to care about.

Atheists.  Be honest.  If you really do believe that there is nothing beyond what you can see, feel, touch, taste or smell - and certainly no God or Satan, no Heaven or Hell - then you really don't care what Christians believe and think.  And why should you? 

As a passionate and activist Atheist, you very publicly believe, and believe passionately, that there is no God, and certainly not the Christian Godhead of the Lord, Christ and the Spirit.  You go further and believe with all the soul (the one you don't have) that there is nothing to believe in, nothing at all - except, of course, for your passionate belief in nothing.  And a belief in nothing is nothing to get excited about, is it?

Let's suppose that you're right, that there is no God, that the Universe is a cosmic accident with no meaning.  OK, then why on earth would you even consider worrying about - not to mention actually caring about - what Christians believe and think?  If the whole idea of sin is this made-up, crazy, wacko Christian thing, why worry about it at all?   After all, you already believe that it doesn't exist?

If you're a homosexual Atheist, and a Christian with a fantasy obsession says you're a sinner doomed to hell, why should you care?  You know there's no God, no sin and no Hell. 

If you're a pedophile or a rapist, a prostitute or a  kidnapper - and you're an Atheist - you may have to worry about cops and juries and judges, but you don't have to worry about divine retribution. As an Atheist, you know there's no penalty for whatever you do, as long as you don't get caught - then, if you are caught, the only penalty is imposed by other men in the here-and-now.

If a Christian who believes in a God who you KNOW doesn't exist says that this non-existent God will condemn you, after death, for your lifestyle choices, why should you care?  You already know there's no afterlife. You already KNOW that the Christian's God doesn't exist, and you know that that without a god to condemn it, sin doesn't exist.  You already know that this Christian who's judging you must be bat-guano crazy. 

Given all of that, what does the opinion of a guy with bat droppings rattling around inside his skull, a guy who believes in the questionable translation of a ragged collection of 66 seemingly-contradictory books written two millenniums ago by some dusty nomads even matter to you?

Why do you care about that Christian or  his non-existent God?

Why do you care about Phil Robinson, the Duck Dynasty "Patriarch" who has become the latest cause for Atheist angst?

The guy believes in God.  He believes in that ancient text (with translations even believing Christians can't agree on) that condemns you.  He believes in virgin birth, resurrection of the dead, eternal life in a spirit world, and a loving, all-knowing God who nonetheless allowed some local yokels to whip him to the point of death before crucifying him - a particularly horrible way to die.

Is this someone you should care about?

If you're walking down the street and encounter a zombie'd out homeless wreck of a man who's busy talking to himself and shouting at everyone else, and he told you to sell GM short, would you do it?  No.  He's obviously crazy, and what does he know about the Stock Market?  Nothing.

If you're walking down the street and you encounter someone with a shaggy main of hair, a beard that ZZ Top would envy, and a camo suit straight out of The Nam, a shaggy redneck with a bible clutched in one hand as he's  saying, "you, homosexual, you're a sinner - give it up, find Jesus, repent and be saved," would you do it?  Or would you write him off as someone who ought to be in the same lock-down unit with that homeless guy.  He's obviously a passionate nutcase.  So why does his opinion matter?

Yet it seems to matter a great deal to Activist Atheists - and to Activist Gays, who tend to also disbelieve anyone's God because all the major God-figures in human religion condemn homosexuals and homosexuality.  Its a fact that it matters, but the real question is "why?"  Why do the Activist Atheists and Gays care so much about the opinions and beliefs of people they consider irrational, and the faux-condemnations those whack-jobs heap on them, based on some 2,000 to 3,000 year old collection of poorly-copied and poorly-translated papyrus scrolls.

Why would any card-carrying Atheist - a man or woman who knows for a "fact" that there's no God, and no sin - get the least bit worried about what some redneck cracker from way down deep in the bayou thinks about sin and homosexuality, let alone about your preference for anuses over vaginas?  Why would you care what condemnations of your lifestyle are written in his fairy-tale bible? After all, you believe his bible is complete fiction, a fairy-tale made up about the antics of some ancient desert tribal god-figure who - if he'd really existed, but of course he didn't - had obviously been a moral prude and a real buzz-kill.

Why does any of that bother you, a card-carrying Atheist, especially since you already know - KNOW, mind you, with a belief born of intellectual superiority and a rigidly rational mind-set - that what Robertson believes isn't even real?  Why in the world would a bright, intelligent, rational mind like yours get so upset about this Christian Myth?   I mean, c'mon, you know that there isn't any God - and, without God, there isn't any sin.

Morality and judgment, sin and punishment and redemption, all of those are figments of the easily-led, flyover-country Christ-believer's false set of beliefs, beliefs centered around that dusty desert tribal god YHWH.  That singular God, YHWH (known to his friends as Yahweh or Jehovah) is actually a "god" who is no more real than Ishtar or Ra, Zeus or Jupiter - so why worry about what HE says, anyway?

Why indeed.  The answer is simple.  Because - as you Activist Atheists know - there is no god. Because there's no god, then it stands to reason that there's no morality, no sin, no judgment, and best of all, no cosmic rules that arbitrarily apply to you.  Knowing this, knowing that Christians who denounce you or challenge you are both deluded and intellectually weak sheep intent on following an ancient myth, then why all the fuss? 

Why do you care if you're called a sinner by some backwoods hick on a duck show?

Why do you care if you're condemned to a non-existent Hell by some puffed up buffoon with a duck's tail and a microphone?

Hey, you know it's all BS - so why do you care? 

Because Atheism is a great gig, and you don't want to lose it.  With no god, there's no accountability for the way you live.  If  there's no god, then everything in your life is cool. 

But since the nearest "god" you can find is the statue of Prometheus in the sunken garden at the Rockefeller Center on Manhattan, then what's the problem?  The real  problem?

I'm no psychologist, but from decades of observation, I maintain that if someone spends an inordinate amount of time and energy - and even wealth - in denial of the existence of something, that person is generally trying to mask over a belief that he doesn't want.  There are exceptions, of course, but psychologists agree that there is always "something" behind any obsession.

For example ...

"Latent" homosexuals are usually those guys who spend a great deal of time denying their gender confusion - they do this by attacking those who are openly gay. 

Atheists - not those who just don't care, but those who spend all their time passionately fighting against a God they say they know doesn't exist - must actually believe something.  Deep down, they believe in something that either frightens the pure-cane (ahem) out of them, or they're afraid of something that challenges the very core of their precious self-image. 

I think that most of the passionate and outspokenly-public Atheists are really just whistling past the graveyard - they desperately hope there is no God or Hell, no sin or judgment.  Scared out of their wits at the consequences if they're wrong, but afraid or unable to embrace God and the Grace of forgiveness, these Atheists battle the image of an afterlife judged by God by creating a fantasy world in which there is no God, and where there are no consequences, no sins and no retribution.

That is why the Heathen Rage ...

BTW: I think any real Atheist would - because he believes that there's nothing there in the universe in which to believe or disbelieve -  have no reason to argue, deny, attack or defend.  He'd just move on to something he does believe in. Or have another double espresso at Starbucks.


With a tip of my hat to Rush Limbaugh - I saw his brief comment on a website and realized he'd framed an issue that's been troubling me for a long time.  He's the inspiration for what's here, but the mistakes are my own.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Dynasty Dropped Over Freedom of Religious Expression Issue

  A&E Shoots Self in Foot - Having First Put Foot in Mouth ...

Ned Barnett

First, a disclaimer.  From 1973 until his death earlier this year, my oldest and closest friend was Gay, and while he didn't advertise this, he made no secret of it.  He was also a member of a Christian Church, and prayed that God's infinite grace would save him.  I share that prayer, for he was a good man - and though his sin lists high among many conservative Christians, we are all sinful, and all need God's Grace.  It's impossible for an honest man to have a Gay man who was, for 40 years,  my very closest friend, my frequent business partner and my co-worker and also harbor ill-will toward Gays.  I hold no such animosity.

But, like hundreds of millions of other Americans, I also believe in the bible - and I have a good idea of what the bible says about sin in general, and that one particular sin (among all the particular sins).  Finally, I know that all people (including me) sin.  So anything you read here that you "think" is anti-Gay is either your mistaken impression or, more likely, my own poor choice of words.

Now, another (the last) disclaimer.  I have never watched Duck Dynasty - from what I've seen, I don't much care for reality TV, but beyond that, I'm not a hunter.  By choice, I don't tend to watch shows about hunting. I prefer target shooting.   I'm not anti-hunter, either - my son's a bow-hunter, and I'm proud of his skill - but hunting is just not my "thing." 

However, I am passionate about the First Amendment (I make my living as a writer and communicator).  In one sense, I do not see this as a First Amendment issue - a private company can fire or hire whom they please, and only government censorship is prevented by the First Amendment.

The idea that a man should be punished, publicly and financially, for expressing his own deeply-held religious beliefs, that is anathema in a country protected by the First Amendment's "free exercise" of religion clause.  In addition, that this man was punished for sharing his mainstream Christian beliefs that are spelled out repeatedly in the bible - in a country with a nominal majority of Christians - well, that says something deeply serious about the culture war against those persons of faith in America.  That's my other disclaimer, or caveat.

On with the show (so to speak).  Those two disclaimers aside, and more to the point, since 1975, I have routinely been called in by clients and employers to resolve self-generated crises, and this is a great example of just such a self-inflicted business and PR disaster.  A&E was pressured to take action when one of its stars honestly spoke of his honest religious beliefs - which is odd since he was hired because of those beliefs and because of the way he expresses them.  A&E, in promoting Duck Dynasty, called this employee a "bible-thumper" in their show promotion.

But they were pressured by well-organized advocates who speak for a minority of Americans, as is their right.  They have the same First Amendment freedoms as does Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, to say what they believe in the public marketplace of ideas.  However, unlike Phil Robertson, who asked for no censure or punishment for those who violate God's laws, leaving that up to God Himself, GLAAD insisted that any public figure who disagrees with them must be punished - including being deprived of their income.

The irony here is rich.  By asserting the right to demand that others be punished for disagreeing with them, GLAAD, by necessity, must grant the right for others to demand that GLAAD and its constituents by punished for speaking out their own views.  Either that or they're saying that only one set of views (GLAAD's) is legitimate of public protection, and that view can be found nowhere in the Constitution or in statutory law.

A&E, which is in business to make money, not to advocate for fairness or constitutional principles, felt the pressure from GLAAD, and decided to act.  However, they didn't have to boot Robertson off his own show - they could have just decried his position and moved on.  But they did choose to punish Robertson, and now, millions of their viewers will make sure that A&E pays the consequences for their one-sided and anti-religious stance.

The Problem

A&E essentially fired key program cast member Phil Robertson for something he said. Worse, they didn't fire him for anything he said on the show, but for something he said to a reporter from GQ, a magazine interviewing him.  Further, they fired him for speaking out about a topic that had nothing to do with the show.  What Robertson said was a bit crass, but I take it that "crass" is part of his style, part of what makes the show a financial and ratings success for A&E.

I have read the comments, which offer his perspective on what the bible says about all the varieties of sex a person can have that is outside of marriage.  Basically, the bible says that any extra-marital sex is bad, and lists a number of examples, from infidelity to bestiality to homosexuality to male prostitution. 

Here's the rub.  A&E has promoted Robertson and his show for their bible-thumping religiously-conservative and very outspoken views.  They attracted 11.8 million fanatic followers to the premiere episode of their current 4th season - a landmark viewer record for any cable program - and for A&E, that's a gold mine.  According to some sources, episodes of Duck Dynasty have been all five of the top-five A&E shows of all time.

In creating and promoting the show, A&E executives have all but egged Robertson on to become an outspoken redneck "character," and to do that for all for the almighty dollar.  Now, when Robertson does nothing more than express his belief in the bible - which very definitely speaks out against all manner of out-of-wedlock sex, including infidelity, bestiality, homosexuality, the temptations of lewd women (the book of Proverbs is filled with that) and male prostitution.  In this, he was acting in character as a bible-believing saved-by-Christ "bible thumper," exactly the character A&E bought and paid for - exactly the character who helped create the most profitable program in A&E history.

Had any member of the A&E leadership team bothered to check their cash cow, they'd have known that:

a.  He believes what the bible says; and
b.  The bible says that homosexuality is a forbidden sin

If anyone should have been punished (and nobody should) it should be the A&E executive who didn't bother to read his bible before unleashing the Robertson clan on America.  Phil was just doing what he's always done - and what A&E had been paying him handsomely for.  He was telling the truth as he saw it, citing the bible as his source of truth.

Apparently, speaking the truth about belief and about what's in the bible has become - if not against the law - then punishable here in the United States, which was once a bastion of religious freedom.

The Solution

Predictably, the Gay defense groups such as GLAAD immediately denounced Robertson for exercising his First Amendment rights of free practice of religion and free speech.  In their eyes, free speech of course applies to anyone who will speak out in favor of homosexuality - as it should, because advocating for rights and respect for homosexuals is absolutely protected speech.  However, in their eyes, that freedom only works one way.  You're free to support them, but if you oppose what they stand for, you should be pilloried, fired, banished, castigated and mocked in public.  That's their position, and they're entitled to it, but it does tend to make them look like hypocrites, and does make it harder for non-members to support their extreme and one-sided position.

GLAAD also showed themselves to be clueless about Christianity.  GLAAD's spokesman Wilson Cruz told the public that "Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe."

"What true Christians believe?"

If GLADD's spokesmen and leaders had just read the bible, they'd know that Phil Robertson didn't lie about what the bible says.  The bible takes a harsh view on any kind of sexual activity outside the man-woman marriage bed, including homosexuality - but the bible doesn't single that out as an especially damnable sin.  The bible - and bible-believing Christians - take it as an article of faith that all sexual activity outside the marriage bed shared by a husband and wife is on God's sin list.

This isn't "hate" - as far as the bible goes, it's "fact." 

From a purely PR point of view, GLAAD could have decried Phil's views without trying to "out-Christian" a man known primarily for his Christian beliefs.  It's just foolish to appear both more knowledgeable about a belief than it's believer, and to also appear so ignorant in public, especially when there are other options.

But that was GLAAD.  Their default message for those it opposes is a commercial "off with his head."  No surprises there.  But what about A&E?

A&E, which had many options, decided that it's solution was to suspend Robertson indefinitely.  They had other options.  Take a look at their public statement:

"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty," A&E said in a statement. "His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community ... "

If A&E had stopped there, they would have expressed their displeasure at Robertson's statement - and his beliefs - and distanced the network from its largest-ever and most profitable star.  End of story.

Except ... they added one more sentence.  They took a reasonable statement and pushed it into the realm of trying to destroy someone financially for the sin of  sharing his heart-felt religious beliefs, beliefs backed by the bible (the best-selling and most-read book in history).  A&E added:  "The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely," and immediately all hell broke loose.

Already, the Robertson family has rallied around Phil.  They have said publicly:  "While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Phil would never incite or encourage hate."

Much more important, however, the family is fighting back, with the only weapon they have - threatening to walk, calling into question the very future of the show that is the top-rated cable program of all time, and A&E's biggest cash cow.  
"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.
Along with that ringing but not unexpected rebuke, CNN reports that more than 350,000 people have already signed online petitions or in some other way "voted" against A&E.  Those who are serious won't just boycott this one A&E program - they will vote with their eyeballs and their wallets and take their viewing elsewhere.  With 500-plus cable channels, plus Netflix and Hulu and Red Box, those viewers won't be starved for entertainment - but A&E will be starved for the revenue they'll lose because of the way they caved in to a special interest group.

There's real iron here -  is A&E's suspension of Robertson is a kind of hollow suspension. It doesn't include next season's shows (which include Robertson in all of them) because they have already been filmed, and to throw them away to enforce the suspension would cost A&E money.  The suspension, if it actually happens, will apply to next season (2015), but only if the show's renewed, and only if anybody still remembers this kerfuffle in 12 or 13 months.

To me, this is a lose-lose situation, and for a couple of reasons.

First, this action has already begun to polarize Duck Dynasty viewers who share a strong Christian faith with its star - and it's a fair bet that few of GLAAD's members are avid Duck Dynasty viewers.  Beginning now, A&E is losing business, and it will only continue as the controversy roars on.

Second, this is a "lose" for GLAAD because it exposes the group's intolerance to a wider public than ever before - and as Christians begin to see GLAAD as an oppressor actively stifling public expressions of faith and belief, they will see a backlash from those who neither want to victimize Gays nor to be victimized by Gays.

Finally he big losers are A&E's shareholders, most of whom (statistically) are more likely to be at least nominal Christians than they are to be Gay, or passionate supporters of Gay advocate groups.  Were I a stockholder, I'd already be asking the executives why they'd taken actions sure to "tank" the value of the stock.  Wall Street doesn't give a tinker's dam about "causes."  They care about profits, and when they see A&E losing viewers, stock prices will inevitably fall.

I would not want to be an A&E shareholder today, nor would I want to be an A&E executive.  Stocks will fall and heads will roll.

But this should also concern any foresighted GLAAD leader, because as networks see the financial cost of supporting a single-issue advocacy group that has nothing to do with their (the network's) business, those networks will re-think blindly caving to GLAAD in the future.

In the long run, the big loser is A&E - a bigger loser will be GLAAD (once for-profit businesses see the dollar-and-sense cost of blindly caving to their high-pressure demands).

But the big winner may be bible-believing Christians, who come to realize that their beliefs are under attack, but that they are also not alone

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Science vs. God vs. The Church - Part One ...

Originally Published on Facebook (Ned Barnett):  Science vs. God - Part One ...
INTRODUCTION: This essay was originally published on Facebook.  My goal then and now was to demonstrate that Science cannot disprove God - rather, that Science defines a possible way by which God  worked and works his miracles, and provides continuing Godly oversight to the human race.  God and Science are not incompatible - rather, God created the Laws of Science, and He then uses them, modifies them or miraculously steps beyond them - but always in the context that He created those Laws, and that He alone has the power to control those Laws.  That is still my point  here in this longer and more complete essay.
The initial series of opposing-view comments all seemed to come from people who confuse God with the Church ... for instance, they cite Galileo vs. the Pope as a reason for saying belief in God is incompatible with a search for scientific truth. They do so, apparently not realizing that the Catholic Church (not to mention one very fallible Pope), those two forces that blocked and punished Galileo, are not the same as God. They make the same mistake the Pope did, conflating their views with God's views.
 So, before I put forth the first in my series of perspectives on God and Science, allow me to offer a few thoughts on God vs. Church vs. Science.
 CHURCH vs. SCIENCE:  In most cases, when a Church stands in opposition to the pure discoveries of Science, this opposition is due more to a man-driven desire by those in the Church to retain or exert power than to any G0d-based theology.  In some cases, however, this faith-based opposition is due to a man-driven desire to encourage or force society to follow God's law ... as they personally understand and interpret God's Law.  However, most of the time, this situation of the Church or "men of faith" opposing science comes about because of a complete misunderstanding on everyone's part.  
Those of faith mistake their perception of God and His Law for the reality of God and his Law. They don't "get it" that their fallible human perception of God can never the same as the reality of God Himself, because the reality of God is infinitely beyond human ken.  That's why man's relationship with God is built on faith in the majesty of the Infinite God, rather than on provable knowledge about the totality of a well-understood and easily-categorized God.
An example of this misunderstanding can be found in the debates over the teaching of Charles Darwin, father of the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection.  Those who avidly support Darwin's Theory want to present this Theory (perhaps I should say, "insist on presenting it") as a secular version of Divine Law: absolute, true, infallible and beyond question.  They ignore the fact that scientists themselves insist on calling Darwin's postulate a "theory," and they do so for a very good reason. Darwin's Theory of Evolution has not been proven, and despite how well it seems to explain some observable phenomena, Darwin's Theory may never be proven.  
For all its scientific and lay acceptance since Darwin first published his Theory in 1859, Darwin's vision of Evolution remains just a working hypothesis. It is an hypothesis that seems to explain many or most of the known facts regarding Evolution that the scientific community has been able to come up since 1859 - but because it's a "theory," what Darwin postulated will stand only until the next (and better) scientific hypothesis comes along, probably some time in the very near future.  Breakthroughs in DNA and molecular biology challenge Darwin at a core that he didn't even know existed - life at the sub-molecular level.
Even Darwin himself noted that his theory had many troubling problems to overcome. In his landmark Origin of Species (P.159), Darwin wrote:  "To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
Will Darwin's Theory ultimately be replaced?  Almost certainly.  After all, one Harvard scientist and advocate of Evolution has essentially disproved it (but in his loyalty to Darwin, he merely suggest that his new theory modifies or explains Darwin better than Darwin did) with ideas such as Punctuated Equilibrium.  This theory was created by Harvard faculty member Stephen Jay Gould to refine (his words) Darwin's theory.  I was for all of my adult life until his passing in 2002 a major fan of Professor Gould's - I read his collected columns from Natural History, as well as all of his other books, and generally read them more than once.  Genius is not too small a world to describe Professor Gould - nor was "defender of the (Darwinian) faith" too strong an accolade.  Yet it was his own work that ultimately disproved a major and significant part of Darwin, and it was only his willingness to engage in intellectual gymnastics that kept his toppling of Darwin's steady-state natural selection theory from being more widely known.
More recently than Gould's punctuated equilibrium, the science of microbiology has put up perhaps an insuperable barrier between our current Darwin's "Theory" and any future Darwin's "Law."  The same kind of replacement-through-science happened to Newton (more below), but when the dust settles, I believe that unlike Newton's continued utility in the world beyond the Quantum, there will be a completely new and different Theory to replace Darwin's Evolution ... however, I also believe that Christians who are so inclined will still oppose this new theorem, and that evolutionary scientists will, in a total absence of irony, still insist that, like Darwin's Theory before it, the new evolutionary "theory" should be - no, must be - treated as provable fact.
The sciences that are attacking Darwin icnlude molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics.  Over the past fifty years, mirobiologists and genetic scientists have come to know that there are in fact tens of thousands of irreducibly complex systems operating on the cellular level, all of which must be included in any "evolutionary" change. Molecular biologist Michael Denton wrote in his book, Evolution in Crisis, P.250, "Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10-12 grams, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machinery built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world." 
The challenge against Darwin is found in the electron microscope, not the anthropolgical digs on the Serengeti Plain.  Darwin's Theory presupposed that gross anatomical changes in a species will evolve through natural selection, and that this will occur in order to better assist a species to survive in its current environment.  Over time, these changes add up until speciation - the creation of a wholly new species - ultimately ocurrs.  However, the connection between microscopic cellular changes and gross anatomical changes is so tenuous, and the rift between Darwin's presumed cause-and-effect is so immense, that his theory - as written - shatters and crumples.  
From a purely scientific perspective, I won't be surprised if at least a few of the underlying theses of Darwin's Theory survive into a new, as-yet not-written evolutionary theory.  Darwin was, after all, a genius, and his Theory does seem to define and explain at least some scientifically observable facts.  However, on the global level, Darwin and DNA are just not compatible.  I predict that some already-born future scientist is already on his or her way toward coming up with a challenge that brings down Darwin, even as it brings something at least remotely akin Darwin into the 21st Century.  When that happens, the Darwin that scientists and secularists have insisted be treated as FACT for more than 100 years will be proven false.
Don't think Darwin can be overturned? Then consider Newton.
For centuries, Sir Isaac Newton's three LAWS were considered sacrosanct, beyond question - right up until the moment that Quantum Physics came along.  Quantum Physics demonstrated that Newton's Laws, while still completely viable at the gross physical 3-dimensional level, are completely wrong at the sub-at0mic Quantum level.  Newton identified three laws - each of them repeatedly provable, yet he was overturned at the micro-level.  Darwin, on the other hand offers only a theory which, while it seems to explain some of the observed phenomenon (though not at the molecular or sub-molecular levels - think of those to biology as quantum is to physics), has yet to be proven.  To prove Darwin would require a time-frame for observable evolutionary change that is measured in terms of millenniums, eons and epochs, rather than in years, decades or even lifetimes.
Yet some who "believe" in science, and who presumably know the difference between a "theory" and a "law," nonetheless insist on Darwin being presented and treated as fact. On the other side of the debate, some of faith insist that Darwin's all hokum - but they do so while forgetting that God can exert change by any means He deems appropriate.  
Who's to say that God can't use Darwin's theory to accomplish His timeless aims?
Not me.  And not, I suggest, my fellow believers, or my fellow followers of science.  As the English poet wrote, indeed, "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform." More important He's not answerable to us ... not to believers, and not to scientists.  He does what He wants, in His way and on His timetable, and any human who says otherwise, be he a believer or a scientist, just doesn't 'get it' about who and what God is - God is the Creator of All Things - including Newton's Laws and their Quantum Corollaries.  God also created the truth behind Darwin's Theory and the truth behind what is now being developed to replace Darwin with a 21st-Century microbiologically-sound alternative to Natural Selection.  
God created it, and God can use it to work his wonders.
CHURCH vs. GOD:  Church is the organized effort by believing humans to codify and act on their beliefs in God - and what those beliefs mean (or should mean) in the lives of humans.  Church is not God, and Church is not God's presence on earth.  Church is man-made.   Because men can't agree, not even on their shared beliefs, within every major religion there are many branches of that religion - denominations, they are called to Christians (I don't know what the Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos call their inner divisions, but I do know they have them).  Church is a human construct and has no "authority" to speak for God. This fact means that whatever Churches or Church leaders say on a given subject only refer to what they, themselves, believe is accurate.  The Church's pronouncement is not the Word of God - it's the Word of Man.  
When a Church (or group of believers who share a common belief) speak out on anything to do with Science - and when they speak out AS believers - whatever they say, no matter how logical sounding, is not God's Word ... it is, at best, their honest interpretation of God's Word. At worst, it is something else.  Therefore, it goes without saying that what I present here in this essay is my view, my honest interpretetation of God vs. Science vs. Church, and not God's word.
SCIENCE vs. GOD:  Those who worship "science" (though they call this belief something else, it is obvious that "science" is their "god"), and those among science's worshippers who claim that - while science is pure and noble - churches are at least potentially wrong and maybe even corrupt have a point.  However, they are, at best, only half-right.  All Churches are potentially wrong, and every denomination has, at some point, toyed with corruption, starting with Cain for the Jews and Judas for the Christians.  
On the other hand, however, we need look no further than the "climate-gate" email scandal of a couple of years ago to know that "science" (the belief in it, and the active practice of it by fallible human beings) is just as potentially wrong, and just as potentially prone to corruption.
However, at its essence, "Science" is pure, in that it deals with provable facts, and with theories which  may or may not be provable at some future point.  Just as true, at His essence, "God" is pure, the ultimate source of creation and the one infallible element of creation.  You can believe that or disbelieve that, but it doesn't matter. Regardless of your beliefs (or mine), "Science" is pure at its essence, and so is God.  Neither require your belief, nor mine, for that to be a fact.
 God, in His infallible essence, created the universe. In this process, He created the scientific laws that man continues to try to uncover, and to understand.  At its core, Science is merely a way by which man can try to understand how God works - how He created all of creation, and how he acts within and around and above that Creation in order to express his will for all to see, and to intervene in the world when He deems it appropriate.
A Brief Side Journey - Does God Intervene?  A side point on that whole "God intervenes" thing.  There are perishingly few scholars of the American Revolution and the subsequent birth of our nation who consider George Washington anything but the truly essential man, the man without whom we'd still be British Subjects.  During the battle at Fort Duquense, part of the French and Indian War, during a massive defeat of the British, Washington had two horses shot out from under him.  His coat was pierced with bullets that didn't touch him.  By some counts, 86 holes were shot or stabbed into his clothing - yet he was unscathed.  Perhaps God didn't intervene, but he survived where most others fell, and he didso without a scratch.  He then went on to lead the Continental Army, defeat a superior British force, lead the Constitutional Convention, set an unimpeachable role for future Presidents to follow, and - in the process - proved to be the one key man without whom our nation would not have existed.
Did God intervene?  I choose to believe so, but that's an article of faith.  What is beyond an article of faith are the many prayers that are answered - some in my life, but many in others' lives.  Believe in God or not - that doesn't change this truth.
Science vs. God Part II:  Many "scientists" think (actually, it's not so much a "thought" as it is a "belief," but if I were to call it a "belief," some might choose to be insulted by this, no matter how accurate the description) that if science can prove something, then the fact of that proof must also somehow disprove God. However, this belief (or thought) is based on the unproven and unprovable (and arguably false) assumption - and as scientists, in the realm of science, they would routinely reject any unproven and unprovable assumption.  
They assume, without fact, proof or even logic, that God can only work outside the provable physical realm as defined by scientists. This unproven assumption ignores the provable fact that they are trying to narrowly define a universe-creating God. They are trying to limit a God who is without limits, a God who, in the process of creating the Universe, also created the physics, and the physical laws, that these scientists try to use to discredit their Creator.
He created the universe, and as a universal creator, He is free to choose to work inside those physical laws, or to bend those physical laws to His will.

For instance, there's no reason at all that God could not have decided, from the moment of Creation, to use what Darwin came to call evolution in order to create man, and the beasts, and the plants, and the microbes. 
The only part of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection (and Darwin himself called it a theory, not a proven fact) that stands against the idea of God using evolution to create Man is that part of Darwin's theory that calls for random selection. God takes the random out of the selection process, but remember, Darwin called his whole story "a theory" and random selection was just one small part of that.  In his first edition of Origin of Species, P. 6, Darwin admitted as much:  "I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main, but not exclusive means of modification."
Another:  There is a mounting set of still-disputed scientific evidence that a catastrophic breech in a barrier wall keeping the ocean-level Mediterranean Sea apart from the 330-foot-below-sea-level "Black Lake" caused a  raging flood that lasted for a full year.  "Disputed" because scientists with various personal axes to grind seem to be able to find different answers to the same evidence - however, the find of a populated shoreline 330 feet below current sea level is beyond dispute. 
This deluge occurred at the very dawn of civilization, when man first discovered agriculture, created communities and instituted animal husbandry. Indisputable archaeological evidence of towns surrounding the fresh water lake have been found by reputable undersea archaeologists at the old lake-level shoreline. This great flood, while devastating, tended to advance along the shoreline at a rate of a mile per day. People living around the once-freshwater lake, now a churning and silt-laden dead saltwater sea (the survivors) were scattered to the four winds. In this diaspora, they were no longer connected by navigable waters or trade routes. 
Some survivors went to India. Some followed the Danube into the Balkans, where settlements and technology reflecting that lake-sure culture have been found. Some refugees went to Russia. Some survivors went to Turkey, or Assyria (Iraq), or even Palestine and Egypt.  Everywhere they went, they brought their knowledge, even as they intermarried and blended into aboriginal populations. Over time, their common or connected launguage, known as PIE - or Proto-Indo-European - faded, but remnants of that common tongue remain even today in the various surviving "Indo-European" languages. This language dispersion process happened naturally, but it also happened at exactly the right time for spreading the bedrock of civilization from a single location, while at the same time cutting off those first-to-become-civilized people, one from another.

Who can say with any scientific certainty that God did not speak to a man, Noah, and tell him how to survive the coming great deluge, along with his family and his flocks? Certainly any God who can create worlds can breach a rock barrier wall, when and how he chooses, and give a head's up to people He's chosen to save.  those who debunk the notion of Noah assume a certain kind of "straw man" Great Flood, one that they can then be knocked down.  But even they cannot prove that the largest flood scientifically known to have afflicted Mankind could not have been the means and basis of Noah's salvation.

Beyond that, this flood-diaspora story rings very true with the core elements of the Tower of Babel.  Here around the Black Lake was, for the first time in human history, the most advanced culture on earth. It was there, presumably, because of their proximity, they shared a language in common - a key element in the Babel story.  And, because they were at the very  forefront of humanity's transition from hunger-gatherer to agriculturist/merchant, these first-to-be-civilized humans could have conceivably had a good deal of hubris. 
Can anyone factually and with scientific rigor say that God didn't destroy the Black Lake and send its shore-residents scattering?  The fact of the deluge are there, lacking only a cause for it occurring at this very fragile time in humanity's road to civilization. And who can say for a scientific fact that this great deluge isn't enshrined in the stories of Noah and Babel?
I am not saying that God used these scientifically provable events to save Noah and disperse humanity.  I am saying that there is nothing in Science to disprove this.  Which leads me to my core hypothesis - when people claim that because Science proves something as a fact, then that also proves that God had no hand in the event, or its aftermath.  But that is an unprovable assumption far harder to prove than Darwin on the sub-molecular level.  It can't be done.

There are many other examples where an open mind could see how God both created and used natural events he created to fulfill the stories he was also creating. Some in science claim that the volcanic eruption at Santorini was the proximal  cause of the Red (or Reed) Sea pulling back, just in time to allow Moses to save his people during their Exodus. But why, then, did that super-volcano blow up in just the right way, and at exactly the right time, in order to save the Children of Israel? The Creator of the Universe - determined to save his Chosen People - had many options open to him.  Who's to say that He may have chosen to create a "natural event" in order to save His People.  If not, why not?  After all, He created everything anyway?

I'll reflect on this more from time to time, but with the holiday closing in, I thought I'd use a bit of time off to raise this issue. 
If a creator God exists, then that God created the root cause of science - which means, logically, that God can use science to manifest his Will, his Power, or any Message he cares to share.