Category Archives: Faith

Andrews Academy Students Chill out with God

Sixty-six students left school at about 1:30P.M. on January 19, for Bible camp at Camp Au Sable. The bus ride up was full of laughter, sleeping, card games, singing and anticipation of  the time at camp.

Once they arrived at camp, the girls dispersed  to their rooms under the auditorium, while the guys stowed their stuff in the lobby and cafe areas, awaiting their ride to the Fort.

Although Mrs. Butler gave a talk the first night about how precious we are to God, the main speaker for the weekend was Pastor Goetz. He talked about the Cross and the Road to Emmaus and used each stanza of the theme song “How Deep The Father’s Love for Us” as the topic of his talks.

After the guys and girls wished each other good night Thursday night, they soon realized that they were not actually going to bed, but they were in fact going to break out  sessions. The girls went into the auditorium and listened to a song called “I Stand in Awe of You,” followed by tea in the cafeteria. Breanna Wood said “What I enjoyed the most about camp was the connection you get with the people there.” While the girls were in the auditorium the guys went out to the fort and made fires and had snowball fights. Ben VanderWaal said, “Staying in the fort was some good male bonding.” John Henri Rorabeck said  that he “loved sleeping in the fort with everyone. Cavan gave us all cups of  joe.”

With guys and girls dedicated to specific tasks as part of the experience, the girls made communion bread, made boxes, and wrote cards of encouragement to the guys and to each other throughout their Friday afternoon. The guys, preferring an outdoor task, made a fire ring on the ice with seats made of snow (but due to the fact that the hole they dug in the ice never froze over, it was never used) and hosted a special breakfast for everyone on Sunday morning.

The highlight Friday night was communion in the auditorium.  The group followed the communion service with a walk to a little church in the woods, where they continued the worship experience with singing. When they returned to the auditorium, Pastor Glassford talked more about Passover and how it was celebrated during Jesus’ time. He then burned the leftover bread in the fire.

Sabbath School consisted of a drama, Bible study, and Bible trivia. Church was led by Pastor  Goetz who told of the Road to Emmaus. The campers took their own road to Emmaus with activities as simple as playing dead, identifying people by their hands, and then casting a rock with something they wanted to give to God into the lake. After lunch, the group walked  around the boardwalk.  At Heartwood Pines park, they explored Pioneer Chapel, a cabin in the woods that had a glass cross worked into the wall.  This is where they ended their Sabbath in song and praise.

Everyone participated in games and clean up during the weekend.  Pastor Glassford said, “I really like being out in the Northern part of Michigan and seeing the stars, geese, and even a fox.”  He also said that “this [bible camp] was a good vintage because it is full of the unexpected, and that’s what makes it so fun.” As for the clean up, he said “that this was the first year that co-ed work teams were tried and that this year it all just sort of fell into place.”

Bible Camp provided an opportunity to hang out with friends in the snow and spend a special weekend with God. Despite the cold weather, hearts were warmed towards God and each other.

 

Special Feature on World Views: Naturalism

Naturalism

Standing in opposition to the theistic worldview – the belief in a divine creator and a personal God – Naturalism (or Atheism) is often looked down upon by theists and rarely studied or given an attempt at understanding. The fundamental disagreement between theists and atheists is that the latter deny the existence of a creator.  What many theists fail to consider, however, is that Naturalism is a deep worldview that has been given great thought over the years and has been aided by scientific investigation.  James Sire’s The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog provides 6 essential ideas to explain Naturalism.

Carl Sagan, an astrophysicist and atheist, replaces God with science, suggesting that “the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”  His statement reveals two key points: first, “cosmos” – i.e., the scientific universe – is God; second, everything can be explained without God.  This quote is the clearest expression of the first idea of Naturalism: matter is all there is and is permanent. Whereas theists place the origin of nature in a creator, naturalists offer a different explanation: “Nothing comes from nothing. Something is. Therefore something was. But that something, say the naturalists, is not a transcendent Creator but the matter of the cosmos itself. In some form all the matter of the universe has always been.”

The second idea is that the universe cannot be changed in any way, shape or form. This idea asserts that there is no God who has any power to change or create the cosmos.

The third and fourth ideas are that humans are simply highly-evolved monkeys (animals), and that even though we are incredibly unique, Naturalists believe that humans are nothing more than matter and will die.  The only legacy that they have is their children.

Therefore, history goes in a straight line, which suggests that there is no essential meaning – human life is a succession of birth, life, and death, with no ultimate conclusion.  Hardly a satisfying proposition, especially to theists.

For theists, God is the foundation and origin of these values, but Naturalists’ logic for these morals are made from past mistakes and what is good for the society. Ethics, then, is dependent entirely upon a certain context.  That means it is subject to change as society changes.  Theists, by contrast, don’t have a system of ethics that shifts because it is rooted in Christianity, the example of Jesus, and the lessons in scripture.  Naturalists determine their ethical positions in response to shifting cultural values and expectations.

From a critical perspective, naturalism raises some challenging questions.  If humans arrived here by chance, then what is their ultimate purpose?  If organisms are constantly evolving, then why are there still genetic mutations, diseases, and other evils?  How come evolution has not happened in as significant a way since the evolution of humans?

Following are a series of questions posed to Dr. David VanDenburgh, an atheist until the age of twenty-one, after which he was converted to Christianity and became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, serving as a pastor for the next thirty-six years.  The interview with Dr. VanDenburgh provides a look at why atheists believe what they do.

Q: How could anyone live as an Atheist with the mindset that this world is the best thing that is offered? (For example: There are so many tragedies in this world and deaths within families).

A: Most (perhaps all) atheists think that believing in God doesn’t make any sense.  Some (perhaps many) wish they could believe, but they can’t.  A few (Richard Dawkins comes to mind) are proud of their atheism and think it proves they are better and smarter than believers (who are seen as scared, foolish, stupid or/and ignorant).  For those who wish they could believe but don’t see the logic in it, they do the best they can to live life according to their own principles (which may be quite high-minded) and believe that suffering is just something that happens and they have to do the best they can.  They hope that their life has made the world a bit better for those who share the planet and for those who come after.  For those who are proud of their atheism and militant proponents of atheism, their atheism becomes a reason for living (and kind of religion) and they pride themselves that they are so strong and smart and brave that they don’t need the crutch of religion to make it through life.

Q: How did you make decisions about what was right and what was wrong? Just how did you and other Atheists draw that line?

A: When I was an atheist (up until I was about 21), I prided myself on my high-mindedness and advocated the principle that we should do whatever we want as long as doing so doesn’t hurt anyone else.  I was the independent judge of that and I see – now – that my judgment was very flawed.  When I assessed whether what I wanted to do would hurt someone else, I thought only in very direct and immediate terms, not thinking that my actions were like a stone thrown into a pond, with ripples spreading far away from the point of action.  So, for example, I believed I could smoke dope if I wanted, since it didn’t hurt anyone else, but I didn’t think about the deputy sheriff who got shot trying to stop drug smugglers at the border, or the Mexicans who were brutalized by drug lords who made a fortune off of American college students who smoked dope.  As an atheist, I didn’t acknowledge any rules as legitimate except the ones that met my criterion of “don’t hurt anybody” (according to my limited perceptions).  If I needed a book and couldn’t afford it, I stole it from the bookstore, on the grounds that it didn’t hurt anybody.  Only when I became a Christian did I understand that I had an obligation to do right whether I agreed with it or not, and that “right” was defined by the God who made me, not by me.

Q: Suppose that you are walking along a pier in the winter. Then suddenly, you hear shouts for help coming from the icy water below. A little girl has fallen in the water and will die in minutes unless you jump in. There is no one else around to save her. You can swim. But there is a 50/50 chance that you will both die if you try to save her. Do you try? And how does self- sacrifice play in your old- worldview with no hope after death?

A: As an atheist, I was committed to the idea that we should do good to others because we are all in this mess together and we have to help each other out, and I found that I did feel good when I did something self-sacrificing.  (An evidence that we are made in the image of God whether we know it or not?)  Atheists are not usually monsters; they are usually nice people.  The problem is that neither you nor they can come up with any good reasons why they are or why they should be.  The easiest answer is that doing good to others somehow does you good (perhaps by making the world a little better place), which isn’t far off the reason many Christians give for doing good: “Because God will reward me with heaven.”  Pretty selfish, isn’t it?  Mature Christians are committed to doing good even if doing so does them harm, like it did to Jesus who got himself crucified for doing good, because God wants them to do good, regardless of the consequences.  All human beings want their lives to have meaning and value and purpose, just so they can feel good about having lived, if for no other reason.  Atheists seek meaning, too.  What gives the atheist’s life meaning?  Most often, contributing something to the general happiness of the world.  Why?  I know (now), but the atheist doesn’t.  He thinks he is just a really smart animal.  I know that he is a child of God, made in God’s image, so what makes him happy is different than what makes other animals happy – he seeks a meaning that is spiritual, which comes from God.

Q: Do you and/or do most atheists believe that we were just a random accident, with no purpose or belonging? Did you believe that you had a purpose in life?

A: I think most atheists believe that their existence on the planet is an accident.  They don’t acknowledge the reality of God in any personal sense, so they can’t believe that any intelligence planned for them to be here or made it happen somehow.  Life is the result of chance working in (lots of) time.  They are the result of evolutionary processes that can be understood scientifically (which they pride themselves on), not the purposeful act of some powerful being.  For me, this was the core issue and when I realized that it required more faith to believe that my existence was accidental than it did to believe it was intentional, I switched.  Since the atheist believes that his existence is accidental, he should believe that everything else about him is accidental too: his thoughts, his intentions, and his possessions.  But atheists aren’t usually this consistent.  They take credit for who they are and what they accomplish.  They even take credit for their thinking, which, if they were consistent, is as accidental as their existence.  But – again – human beings are not known for their consistency.

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