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Calvary Chapel Pastor Plans Series to Teach His Congregation About Creationism

By Patrick Dunn
For the Journal
    Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
    This may be a question for everyone from philosophers to grade schoolers, but to Pastor Robert Hall of Calvary Rio Rancho, the real issue is where the chicken and the egg came from.
    He is presenting his answer from a Christian worldview perspective with an eight-week series on creation.
    The creationism-evolution controversy has been a polarizing issue nationally.
    "The debate for intelligent design is raging across our country," Hall said.
    The controversy recently hit home with the Rio Rancho school board's adoption of a policy that would allow for the discussion of alternative ideas to evolution in science class. Eventually, controversial language was removed from the policy. The amended policy restates the state standard— that students be allowed to discuss alternative ideas to evolutionary theory.
    Opponents of the controversial policy, many of them teachers at Rio Rancho High School, claimed the policy was a guise to force instructors to teach intelligent design.
    Intelligent design is the concept that life forms are too complex to be explained by Darwinian evolutionary theory. It points to an intelligent designer, presumably divine.
    Hall said the local controversy prompted him to address the topic— one he already had a passion for.
    Hall believes a bias exists within school systems that protects the teaching of evolution while discrediting creationism by calling it "religion in schools."
    "It's not a creationist or Christian movement, it's a scientific movement," Hall said. "But there is a chokehold on the educational system and certain scientific outlets by evolutionists."
    Hall said the goal for teaching the series is to educate his congregation, and help them to fight what he sees as a cultural war.
    "If creationism is taught openly, people will see the falsehood of evolution and consider the account in the Bible," Hall said.
'The Bible is first'
    Guest speaker Dr. John Doughty kicks the series off. Among a list of degrees and accomplishments, Doughty is an engineer, lecturer and researcher, and also holds an adjunct professorship in scientific apologetics at Trinity Theological Seminary in Albuquerque. He is doing research in carbon dating CO2 deposits in New Mexico.
    "I was trained in evolution but it bothered me," he said. "I found out there was another model that made a whole lot more sense— and that was the creation model."
    As a mechanical engineer, Doughty said creationism fit within the thermodynamic laws, and the more he explored it, the more his conviction was shaped.
    "The Bible is first and science is second," he said. "The Bible stood on its own merit for centuries before science arrived on the scene."
    The Bible and its relation to science is one major area Hall plans to explore in his series.
    "It really makes good sense to believe what the Bible says," Hall said. "It's not a science book, but where it speaks to science it is true."
    He also plans to touch on major themes including what the Bible says about creation, and an explanation of what he calls "good science."
    "Evolution is not good science," Hall said. "It doesn't hold up to secularly recognized laws of science— it is an unproven hypothesis."
    Hall knows discussions about science on a Sunday morning may raise a few eyebrows and be difficult to digest, but after addressing the same topic three years ago and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback, he felt his congregation could handle it.
    "It was tough sometimes," he said. "I'd had to tell them on a couple of Sundays, 'Just think of yourself as being in science class.' ''
    Besides, for Hall, his motivation to devote eight weeks to creation goes much deeper than academic discussions and the content of textbooks.
    "The book of Genesis says God created the earth in six literal days. If the book of Genesis was a myth, then there was no Adam, no original sin and no need for a savior," he said. "Evolution and the arguments for it undermine our faith."
God as creator
    Hall also believes the series will strengthen the faith of his church members and help them stand up to other belief systems. He believes there are two major doctrines in the Bible— one that describes God as savior and the other as creator— and that Christians have forgotten the latter.
    "I want this to train our kids. Schools will try to bombard them with 'there is no God,' and that they descended from monkeys," he said. "They have to stand for what they believe and hold onto their faith."
    Doughty believes the topic has relevance from an additional angle.
    "It enhances the Christian's appreciation for the majesty and power of God," he said.
    The series includes an additional guest speaker, Dr. Terry Mortenson, from Answers in Genesis, a Christian-defending ministry that focuses on creation. A statement on the organization's Web site states, "We seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas" and "There aren't separate sets of 'evidences' for evolution and creation— we all deal with the same evidence— the difference is how we interpret what we study."
    Mortenson has been studying and speaking on the creation-evolution controversy internationally since the late 1970s, and holds multiple degrees, including a doctorate in the history of geology from the University of Coventry in England.
    Hall knows Mortenson's message along with the rest of the series may potentially add fuel to the fire of the creation-evolution debate, but he is firm in his stance and his conviction.
    "If I'm not making waves, then I'm not doing my job," he said.
If you go
    WHAT: Sermon Series on Creation
    WHEN: Sundays, from this Sunday-Aug. 20. Services at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
    WHERE: Calvary Chapel Rio Rancho, 138 Frontage Rd.
    INFORMATION: 896-2990