From Mark Copeland... "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT" Starting The Lord's Church In Your Home

                        "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"

                Starting The Lord's Church In Your Home


1. In our previous study, I offered suggestions on identifying the
   Lord's church today...
   a. The name of a congregation is a good place to begin
   b. Examine the gospel being preached
   c. Compare the practice with the New Testament pattern

2. Whenever possible, we should seek to join ourselves with an
   established congregation...
   a. There are benefits the Lord designed for us from such fellowship
   b. Especially when a congregation is completely and scripturally

3. But it is not always possible to find a congregation of the Lord...
   a. Where the authority of the apostles' doctrine is respected
   b. Where the worship is in Spirit and truth
   c. Where the church is engaged in the work the Lord intended

4. In such cases, it is possible to start the Lord's church in one's own home...
   a. Priscilla and Aquila had churches meet in their home - Ro 16:3-5; 1Co 16:19
   b. As well as other Christians in the first century - cf. Col 4:15;Phm 1:2
   c. My family met in their home for two years when we lived in Taiwan
   d. Indeed, many established churches today began with Christians
      meeting in a home

[If you deem it necessary to start a church in your home, perhaps these
suggestions may be helpful...]


      1. Remember, this is how Christ adds people to His church universal
         a. Through the gospel, He calls us - 2Th 2:14
         b. As we heed the gospel call, the Lord adds us to His body,
            the church - Ac 2:41,47
         c. That is why it is so important that the gospel not be
            perverted in any way - Ga 1:6-9
      2. If the gospel we have obeyed is different from that revealed in
         the Scriptures...
         a. By changing either the facts or commands of the gospel...
         b. ...then we have not been saved, and the Lord has not added
            us to His church!
      3. If the church in your home holds to a perverted gospel...
         a. You may be the nicest people, but you are still unregenerate people!
         b. You may profess the name of Christ, both as individuals and
            as a church, but you are not truly the people of God, nor a
            part of "The Church Jesus Built"!
      4. As you give consideration to the gospel, these studies may
         prove helpful...
         a. Conversions In The Book Of Acts
         b. Baptism - A Special Study
      -- These and others studies can be found at the EO website

      1. Why are you wanting to start a church in your home?
         a. Is it because you can't get along with people in another congregation?
         b. Is it because you have problems submitting to authority
            (e.g., elders)?
      2. The Lord knows your heart, and will bless your efforts only if
         proper motivated
         a. To serve the Lord faithfully according to His will
         b. To worship Him in Spirit and truth
         c. To be simply Christians, members of His body, the church
         d. To one day becoming scripturally organized as a church (with
            elders and deacons)
      -- Remember that unless the Lord builds the house, labor will be
         in vain - Ps 127:1

[Having obeyed the gospel of Christ in its purity and simplicity, armed
with the proper intention to serve the Lord in all things, you are ready
to begin.  As you meet in your home, be sure to...]


      1. The first day of the week, when the disciples came together
         - Ac 20:7
      2. The first day of the week, when the disciple laid by in store
         - 1Co 16:1-2
      -- One may worship other times, but the Lord's day is essential!

      1. Engage in prayer
         a. We have several examples of group prayer in the early church
            - Ac 4:23-24; 12:5,12
         b. Paul called for prayers to be offered in every place - 1 Ti 2:1,8; 3:15
      2. Engage in song
         a. Commands to sing can be found in Ep 5:19; Col 3:16; He 13:15
         b. Singing hymns praises God and edifies the brethren
      3. Engage in the Word
         a. Teaching or preaching was part of public worship in the
            early church - Ac 20:7
         b. If preachers or teachers are not present, then just read the Scriptures
         c. One might also listen to recorded sermons, or read Bible
            studies from the Internet or other sources
      4. Engage in the Lord's Supper
         a. Also called the "breaking of bread" and "communion" 
            - Ac 2:42; 20:7; 1Co 10:16
         b. A memorial feast instituted by Jesus Himself - 1Co 11:23-26
         c. The fruit of the vine can be simple grape juice (like Welch's)
         d. The bread should be unleavened (like Matzo)
      5. Engage in laying by in store
         a. Also called the "collection" and "contribution" - 1Co 16:1-2; Ro 15:26
         b. To provide for the needs of Christians, and to do the work
            of the church
      -- For more information, see earlier lessons related to the
         worship of the church

[Remember that  Jesus promised to be wherever even just two or three are
gathered in His name (Mt 18:20).  When offered in Spirit and truth,
worship can be just as meaningful in a home as in large building.
Finally, one more thought or two...]


      1. Make contact with Christians in other places
      2. Even though they may be too far away to assemble on a regular basis
      3. Communicate with them via the Internet or by other means
      4. Perhaps they can provide additional materials for your study and worship
      -- It is edifying to know you are not alone in serving Jesus
         simply as a Christian

      1. Seek to share the gospel of Christ with family, friends and neighbors
      2. Offer to have Bible studies with them in your home or theirs
      3. Invite them to your worship on the Lord's Day in your home
      -- Don't forget that we have a Great Commission given by our Lord
         - Mt 28:18-20

      1. As you grow, consider renting or building a meeting place other
         than your home
      2. Many people are hesitant to worship in a home; as you rent,
         then build, it develops credibility as a congregation in the
         eyes of the community
      3. Some communities have strict zoning laws regarding the use of a
         home for worship; as you grow, the need to rent or buy a
         central meeting place will become necessary
      -- Consider what will be expedient in your community in reaching
         out to the lost - cf. 1Pe 2:12


1. There are certainly benefits to starting a church in a home...
   a. It provides an opportunity for the Lord to bless those in the
      neighborhood and community through your presence
   b. It is easier to create a sense of family and closeness among the members
   c. The commute to services is nice if the church is meeting in your house 

2. But again, whenever possible we should seek to join ourselves with an
   established congregation...
   a. There are benefits and opportunities to be found in a larger group
   b. Especially when a congregation is completely and scripturally

3. What is important is that we are only seeking to be "The Church Jesus Built"...
   a. Not some man-made church or denomination
   b. Simply Christians, members of the body of Christ, His church

My prayer is that in some way this series may encourage others who love
Jesus to serve Him as His Word directs, to be nothing more than "The
Church Jesus Built"!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Founding Father Elias Boudinot on Islam by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Founding Father Elias Boudinot on Islam
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

American views of Islam going back to the origins of America have been generally consistent. With a Christian worldview intact at the beginning, Americans have naturally recognized Islam’s inherent hostility toward Christianity and its fundamental threat to the American way of life. For example, Elias Boudinot was a premiere Founding Father with a long and distinguished career. He served as a member of the Continental Congress, where he served as its president (1782-1783); he signed the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain; he was a member of the U.S. House where he helped frame the Bill of Rights; he served as the Director of Mint under presidents Washington and Adams; etc. In his masterful refutation of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, Boudinot labeled Muhammad an “impostor,” and insightfully observed that
Mahomet aimed to establish his pretensions to divine authority, by the power of the sword and the terrors of his government; while he carefully avoided any attempts at miracles in the presence of his followers, and all pretences to foretell things to come. His acknowledging the divine mission of Moses and Christ confirms their authority as far as his influence will go while their doctrines entirely destroy all his pretensions to the like authority…. And now, where is the comparison between the supposed prophet of Mecca, and the Son of God; or with what propriety ought they to be named together?...The difference between these characters is so great, that the facts need not be further applied (1801, pp. 36-39, emp. added).
This premiere Founder merely expressed the sentiments of the bulk of the Founders as well as the rank and file of American citizens. The political correctness that now characterizes western civilization has desensitized citizens and left the country vulnerable to the sinister infiltration of an ideology that is antithetical to the principles of the American Republic.


Bart Ehrman's Forged: Next Verse Same as the First by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.


Bart Ehrman's Forged: Next Verse Same as the First

by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

The past decade has seen anti-Christian books scale the peak of bestseller lists ranging everywhere from the New York Times to Amazon.com. It includes everything from the work of new atheists like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens to new age gurus like Eckhart Tolle. Even in a culture where Christianity has been the dominant faith of millions for over two centuries, it would appear that there is a ready market for works aggressively promoting alternatives to Christianity. 
One of the most curious success stories is that of Bart Ehrman. A professor at the highly respected University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ehrman took many people by surprise when his book, Misquoting Jesus, rocketed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. No one could have ever predicted that a book about textual criticism would have been so popular. After writing several bestselling books, appearing on talk shows, and receiving invitations to speak all across the United States, he could nearly be called an academic celebrity.
Ehrman’s style is popular-level and easy to read. It is also highly critical of the Bible. Those who have followed Ehrman’s career will note that he has grown increasingly strident in his criticism over time. In Misquoting Jesus he argues that the New Testament’s authors were guilty of inserting errors, often by mistake. In Jesus, Interrupted he muses that Christian scholars and ministers are somewhat dishonest about the “problem texts” of the Bible. Now he says that the New Testament authors were not just mistaken—they were liars. 
In Forged: Writing in the Name of God, Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, Ehrman contends that a number of New Testament books were forgeries created by others who had no connection to Jesus. His goal is to expose the alleged deception practiced by the early church, or at least those who wrote these supposedly fraudulent texts. Some of Ehrman’s assertions include: (1) Peter was illiterate and could not have written 1 and 2 Peter, (2) six of Paul’s epistles are forgeries, and (3) 1 Timothy is a forgery that has been used to oppress women. Throughout the book he claims repeatedly that he holds the same view to which the majority of scholars subscribe, although he rarely cites any authors who agree with him.


In Forged, Ehrman discusses the subject of pseudepigraphy—the writing of books under false names—in the first few centuries of the early church. Although he has addressed the issue in previous books, this is his most extended discussion of the topic. According to Ehrman, there were two different types of pseudepigraphical books included in the New Testament. First, some books were supposedly published anonymously but later had authors’ names attached, such as the Gospels (although this could not have been possible, since the early church was virtually unanimous on their authorship. If they had been published anonymously, there would be no end to the debate). Second, some were forged in the names of other authors, usually biblical figures of considerable significance. This practice abounded in the early centuries of the church. Examples include the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas, as well as numerous other gospels, apocalypses, and epistles. The second category is where Ehrman places six of Paul’s epistles.
Determining the authorship of any particular work is an oft-debated topic among scholars, given the fact that an author’s language may be influenced by a number of factors. While some scholars were incredibly skeptical of the Pauline authorship of several of the apostles’ letters a half century ago, scholarship has undergone some level of self-correction. Concerning Ehrman’s assertions that the majority of scholars deny the Pauline authorship of nearly half of Paul’s epistles, professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and St. Andrews University, Ben Witherington III states:
In fact the majority of English speaking commentators and specialists on documents such as 2 Thessalonians, Colossians and Ephesians think these documents also should be attributed to Paul, whatever scribes he may have used to produce them. I ought to know. I have researched and written commentaries on all these books. How many commentaries on books of the New Testament has Bart researched and written? None. Not one. And he should not be taken as a reliable guide on what the majority of commenting scholars think about these matters (2011).
In the case of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, as Witherington notes, scholars are becoming less dogmatic about the non-Pauline authorship of these letters. Donald Guthrie surveyed the Pauline authorship of these letters—as well as the difficulties in denying it—and concluded: “There has yet to be a satisfactory explanation of the composition of the Pastorals from the point of view of pseudonymous authorship” (Guthrie 1990, p. 62). Little has changed since Guthrie wrote those words. Ehrman does nothing to add to the discussion, doing little more than restating the same kinds of arguments that Guthrie and others since have found to be both tired and unsatisfactory.


One of Ehrman’s constant problems is his refusal to admit that opposing opinions could be true. Rather than engaging in the kind of diplomatic language that is common among scholars, he dogmatically asserts his view as correct. There is virtually no interaction with opposing views. On the rare occasion when he might mention another viewpoint, it is dismissed quickly. He illustrates this approach in Jesus, Interrupted when he says that some of his conservative “students refuse to listen—it is almost as if they cover their ears and hum loudly so they don’t have to hear anything that might cause them to doubt their cherished beliefs about the Bible” (2009, p. 14). It does not appear to occur to him that his students may be intelligent in their own right and have investigated the issue for themselves. Apparently, conservative believers aren’t the only ones who allegedly engage in this practice. Those who write books critical of the Bible appear to be equally guilty.
Witherington has long been critical of Ehrman’s refusal to interact with scholars with whom he disagrees. This is especially true in the case of scholarly treatments of who scribes were and how they went about practicing their craft. Forged includes a discussion of the production of ancient documents, but Witherington notes that Ehrman seems to have given little thought to the role and duties of scribes in the ancient world. In other words, he is concerned with texts, but not with how they were produced or by whom. He explains:
I need to say from the outset and on first glance that there appears to be a rather largelacunae in the argument of this book, namely the failure to do this study after having studied in depth ancient scribal practices and the roles of scribes in producing ancient documents in ancient Israel.  For example, I see no interaction whatsoever in this book with the landmark study of Karel Van der Toorn, Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible, in which it is demonstrated at length that scribes played a huge role in collecting, editing, and producing ancient documents, and that it was indeed a regular practice to name a scroll after either the originator of the tradition, or the first or a major contributor to the tradition (2011, italics and underline in orig.).
As in nearly all of his other popular-level books, Ehrman explains some of the things he considers to be contradictions. But the manner in which Ehrman describes these difficulties leaves the reader with the impression that in the last 2,000 years of biblical studies no one has ever thought through the difficult texts of the New Testament. To be sure, some of these problems are challenging (though none is without an adequate answer), but Ehrman leaves the impression that the only people who believe these supposed contradictions can be solved are those with a pre-commitment to biblical inerrancy. It is yet another example of Ehrman’s failure to interact with other viewpoints. Critics can accept the supposed reality of contradictions all too quickly, and Ehrman proves himself no exception. In an interview on the “Kirkus Reviews” Web site, Ehrman says:
The only people who take offense so far as I can tell are those for whom this kind of historical scholarship is blasphemy. My response to such people is that they need to look not only at the results of scholarship [as I lay them out in my books] but also at theevidence that makes these results convincing to scholars of all sorts of persuasions, Christian and non-Christian alike. The evidence that supports my claims in Forged is extremely compelling to most people who examine it (Pike, 2011, emp. in orig.).
As always, Ehrman presents his findings as the “result of scholarship,” implying that real scholarship—whoever or whatever that might be—agrees with him. In reality, numerous scholars disagree with him—not to mention the fact that the majority of his conclusions are simply false, regardless of the opinions of scholars. He consistently claims that his view is that of the majority, although he provides no defense of this assertion, nor does he point to other scholars who share his views. Instead, he engages in the curious habit of referring back to his own work rather than that of the mass of unnamed experts who allegedly agree with him.
In an article on the Huffington Post’s Web site, Ehrman insists:
Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors—a faulty creation story here, a historical mistake there, a contradiction or two in some other place. But is it possible that the problem is worse than that—that the Bible actually contains lies?
Most people wouldn’t put it that way, since the Bible is, after all, sacred Scripture for millions on our planet. But good Christian scholars of the Bible, including the top Protestant and Catholic scholars of America, will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term. And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle—Peter, Paul or James—knowing full well they were someone else. In modern parlance, that is a lie, and a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery (2011b).
Why is this alleged consensus of scholarship not forthcoming about the “truth” of these lies, mistakes, and contradictions? According to Ehrman, many scholars are ministers and professors who have to serve the needs of their clientele (see Ehrman, 2009, pp. 13-14). Ministers don’t want to be honest because either it conflicts with their personal faith, or they fear being fired by their elderships. Professors really do know the truth, Ehrman claims, but they cannot be honest about it, because they largely teach in colleges, seminaries, and divinity schools. They cannot denigrate the very texts they are teaching to Christian students without suffering repercussions from their constituency. Simply put, Ehrman implies Christian scholars are dishonest, if not duplicitous, and have engineered a conspiracy to keep the populace from learning the “truth.” Conspiracy theories like this have no place in any serious discussion of these issues.


On-line reviews of Ehrman’s work seem to fall into one of two main categories: (1) New Testament scholars who have critiqued Ehrman’s work and point out his tendency to sensationalize the issues, make unsubstantiated assertions, and downplay or ignore evidence that does not agree with his position, and (2) skeptics with an obvious lack of biblical knowledge who lament that the “fundamentalists” are too mired in their faith positions to take Ehrman seriously. That the latter group demonstrates little discernable awareness of the former is somewhat ironic.
In an interview on Salon.com, Gary Kamiya begins with the words, “Bart Ehrman’s career is testament to the fact that no one can slice and dice a belief system more surgically than someone who grew up inside it” (2009). Even so, those on the outside with little knowledge of the subject often make critical errors in their assessment of the situation. Like many other reviewers, Mr. Kamiya seems to be unfamiliar with the literature produced by scholars that answers Ehrman’s claims, points out his errors, and calls attention to the deficiencies in his work.
Though he is respected in academia for his work in textual criticism, Ehrman consistently proves he is no theologian. He continues to trot out some very strange arguments, such as the idea that the New Testament teaches women can only be saved by having children (2011a, pp. 94,100,103; see also 2006, p. 237). There is no question that 1 Timothy 2:15 is a difficult verse (Miller, 2005), but to think that Paul is actually saying that women can only be saved by bearing children borders on, if not crosses over into, the ridiculous. For Paul, salvation is not works-based (Ephesians 2:9). Surely Ehrman knows better than this, since he repeatedly touts his training at conservative denominational schools like Moody Bible College and Wheaton College. If he was as serious a student as he claims in his books, then he should know that this interpretation is both unbiblical and unsustainable.
Ehrman gives the impression that he is like other critics of the Bible who are interested in criticism rather than truth. While he claims to be a “happy agnostic” and repeatedly affirms that he is not a Christian, it seems that he has retained all the passion and zeal of an evangelist, if not an apologist. Indeed, a few have gone even farther and called him a “reverse fundamentalist.” This is not too far off the mark, as his tone over the course of the last couple of decades seems to have gotten much more combative. His earlier books had a softer approach, discussing the issue of unintentional “mistakes” and “errors” in the Bible. Forged straightforwardly and repeatedly labels the biblical authors as liars. One wonders if he has not taken a few steps down the same path as the new atheists, whose book sales are roughly proportionate to the amount of vitriol they contain. For example, as of July 2007, Richard Dawkins’ caustic The God Delusion vastly outperformed Daniel Dennett’s softer Breaking the Spell, selling 500,000 copies to Dennett’s paltry 64,000 at a rate of 9:1. If this is any indicator, then Ehrman’s new book should do well. This also brings up questions concerning Ehrman’s motivation for increasing public awareness about the “truth” of the Bible. In earlier works like Misquoting Jesus andJesus, Interrupted he presents himself as a simple informer seeking greater levels of biblical awareness for the general public. Now he seems to be a crusader, or worse, a profiteer.
Ehrman is a highly entertaining storyteller. He has a vast knowledge of extrabiblical works full of fanciful miracle stories. He clearly believes that the Bible is not too different than these outrageous books, but his skill in pointing out their absurdities makes his own position more difficult to maintain. It is apparent that extrabiblical books were not inspired. Recounting their preposterous fictions only highlights their differences from the New Testament. The biblical authors did not include material featuring talking crosses, levitating virgins, bizarre miracles, and divine mischief. They concerned themselves with reporting historical facts. The uninspired authors seemed much more interested in telling weird stories.
Ehrman promises much but delivers little. Like his other published works, Forged makes grand claims supported with surprisingly little evidence, shows almost no interaction with other viewpoints, and, perhaps most importantly, continues to trot out the same tired arguments even though they have been answered by New Testament scholars in sources ranging from published books and articles to blogs and Web sites on the Internet. One of the strong points of Ehrman’s work is that he is a fine storyteller. For a respected academic, it is too bad that he has sullied his own reputation by offering materials that look less like the truth and more like tall tales.


Ehrman, Bart D. (2006), Peter, Paul, and Mary: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend(Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Ehrman, Bart D. (2009), Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York: HarperOne).
Ehrman, Bart D. (2011a), Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (New York: HarperOne).
Ehrman, Bart D. (2011b), “Who Wrote the Bible and Why it Matters,” March 25,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/the-bible-telling-lies-to_b_840301.html.
Guthrie, Donald (1990), The Pastoral Epistles (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Kamiya, Gary (2009), “Jesus is Just Alright With Him,” April 3, http://www.salon.com/news/environment/atoms_eden/2009/04/03/jesus_interrupted.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Female Leadership and the Church,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/1407.
Pike, William E. (2011), “‘Forged’: Bart Ehrman on the Bible’s True Authors,” March 23, http://www.kirkusreviews.com/blog/question-and-answer/forged-bart-ehrman-bibles-true-authors/.
Witherington, Ben (2011), “Forged—Bart Ehrman’s New Salvo—The Introduction,” March 30, http://www.patheos.com/community/bibleandculture/2011/03/30/forged-bart-ehrmans-new-salvo-the-introduction/.

A Review of the PBS NOVA Television Documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D. Michael G. Houts, Ph.D.


A Review of the PBS NOVA Television Documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.
Michael G. Houts, Ph.D.

[EDITORS NOTE: The following article was written by two A.P. staff scientists: Dr. Houts holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and serves as the Nuclear Research Manager for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; Dr. Fausz holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech and serves as Engineering Project Manager in the Space Systems Development Division of a subsidiary of SAIC.]
On September 26, 2005, a trial began in the federal court of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in which 11 parents charged the Dover Area School District with violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, thus infringing on their civil rights. Partly at issue was a resolution, passed by the Dover Area School board by a 6-3 vote, that stated:
Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught (Jones, 2005, p. 1).
The board passed this resolution on October 18, 2004. Also mentioned in the suit was the board’s vote on November 19, 2004, to require that the following statement be read to all 9th-grade students in the Dover Area School District, beginning in January, 2005:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments (Jones, 2005, pp. 1-2).
On December 20, 2005, United States District Judge John E. Jones III delivered a 139-page ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. Not only did the judge give the plaintiffs the declarative relief (stating that the establishment clause of the First Amendment was violated) and injunctive relief (forbidding the Dover Area School District from maintaining their ID [Intelligent Design] policy) that they asked for, he also stated in his ruling the monumental conclusion that Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory.
Almost two years after the conclusion of these federal proceedings, the PBS science series NOVA devoted an episode to a discussion of this landmark case, originally broadcast on November 13, 2007. The program may occasionally be re-run on PBS and other networks, but is also viewable in its entirety on the NOVA Web site (NOVA, 2007b). This article will examine the reasons given by the NOVA executive producer as to why she saw fit to draw attention to this anecdote in U.S. history, discuss the impact of the Dover decision on society and education, as related in the NOVA episode, and critique the substance of the program, which NOVA has titled Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.


On the same Web site where Judgment Day can be viewed (in 12 parts), there is a “Q&A” mock interview with Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer of NOVA. This Q&A provides a fortuitous opportunity, before viewing the program, to understand what motivated its production. The first question to which Ms. Apsell responded was, “This program tackles a contentious issue for many people, particularly for many devout Christians. Why did NOVA and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions, your coproducer, take it on?” Ms. Apsell stated:
I think the real reason that we made that decision is because evolution is the foundation of the biological sciences. As Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the great biologists of the 20thcentury, once said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (NOVA, 2007a).
Ms. Apsell also responded to the question, “Why is this topic—and the teaching of evolution—so important?” Her full response to this question was:
Recent polls tells us that 48 percent—almost half of all Americans—still question evolution and still believe that some kind of alternative should be taught in the public schools. What happens when half of the population doesn’t accept one of the most fundamental underpinnings of the sciences? Evolution is the absolute bedrock of the biological sciences. It’s essential to medical science, agriculture, biotechnology. And it’s critical to understanding the natural world around us.
We’re a country built on our command of the sciences and technology. But we now face a crisis in science literacy that could threaten our progress in these areas and ultimately threaten our quality of life. So, at NOVA and at Vulcan, we feel that understanding the importance of evolution, and enhancing science literacy in general, are more crucial than ever (2007a).
Understanding what motivates someone to exercise their creative energy can be very useful in deciphering elements of their product that may be otherwise difficult to analyze. This is especially true when considering a controversial subject like ID. Ms. Apsell’s comments indicate a strong bias towards evolution (i.e., against ID), which will prompt us to look for that bias in the program content. Correspondingly, this review will be equally blatant in responding to both the motivation and content of the NOVA program.
For example, Ms. Apsell quotes one of Theodore Dobzhansky’s statements, which is actually the title of one of his papers (Dobzhansky, 1973). The quote does faithfully represent Dobzhansky’s view, as evidenced by the following excerpt from that paper:
The organic diversity becomes, however, reasonable and understandable if the Creator has created the living world not by caprice but by evolution propelled by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God’s, or Nature’s method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way (3:127).
In the first place, the idea that creation was either by “caprice” or by evolution is a textbook example of the logical fallacy of a “bifurcation” or “binary argument.” By creating the image of a capricious God as the only alternative to evolution, Dobzhansky thereby makes the godless theory of evolution appear more attractive. The idea that God would have created the Universe impulsively and without purpose (as implied by “caprice”) is completely foreign to the minds of most creationists, who believe that He created deliberately and with full design intent (purpose)—a third option Dobzhansky ignored. In addition, Dobzhansky does not appear to be sure whether evolution is God’s method, or “Nature’s.” Should we conclude from his statement that nature is, in fact, Dobzhansky’s god? One paragraph prior to this quote, he also states: “Only a creative but blind process could produce...the tremendous biologic success that is the human species....” On the one hand, he infers purpose and direction, calling evolution a “method” of God (or nature?); then, on the other hand, he states that it could only be a “blind” process. These statements suggest that Dobzhansky may have been highly confused, indeed.
Dobzhansky’s mental confusion notwithstanding, there are many who we believe would take great issue with Dobzhansky’s philosophy, as well as Ms. Apsell’s proclamation that “evolution is the foundation of the biological sciences.” For one, Louis Pasteur would certainly disagree. Pasteur formulated and thoroughly tested the germ theory of disease, invented inoculations, as well as the cure for rabies, and developed the process of pasteurization. Did Pasteur give credit to “the light of evolution” for his overwhelming scientific contributions to the welfare of mankind, as Dobzhansky implies that he must? On the contrary, Pasteur stated, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator” (as quoted in Tiner, 1990, p. 75).
Pasteur also empirically established, to the dismay of naturalists, the Law of Biogenesis, which states that life in the natural world only comes from life. With regard to this accomplishment, Pasteur stated: “Never again shall the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow that this one simple experiment has dealt it” (1864), and it has not “recovered” to this day. Pasteur further confounded the spontaneous generation crowd, now called chemical evolutionists, with a discovery involving the phenomenon of chirality. This is the observation that certain organic molecules exhibit asymmetry, dubbed right- and left-handedness, and are mirror images of each other. With respect to this asymmetry, Pasteur discovered that all molecules associated with living things are single-handed, instead of a 50/50 mix of both types, as with most substances. Pasteur identified this as a defining characteristic of life, a characteristic that remains an enigma to scientists (evolutionary scientists, anyway). This discovery rendered the idea of life emerging from non-life, as hypothesized by the chemical evolutionists, statistically impossible.
It is also interesting that Ms. Apsell equates a lack of belief in evolution with “a crisis in science literacy that could threaten our progress in these areas and ultimately threaten our quality of life.” We have already mentioned Louis Pasteur, a “science illiterate” by Ms. Apsell’s definition, who has contributed overwhelmingly to “our quality of life.” Other “science illiterates” (a.k.a. creationists) who have significantly benefited mankind in their work include Francis Bacon, who first postulated the scientific method utilized by all scientists today, Carolus Linnaeus, developer of the classification system used by all biologists today, Johannes Kepler, who formulated the laws of planetary motion and confirmed the heliocentrism of our solar system, James Clerk Maxwell, father of the modern science of electrodynamics, and Isaac Newton, who formulated the law of universal gravity and formalized the field of dynamics with his laws of motion. The list of “science illiterates” who have contributed substantially to “our quality of life” is neither short, nor cloaked in obscurity. Thus, the motivation behind this NOVA production reveals either the naiveté or deceitfulness of those who blindly accept the philosophical premises of evolution, and eagerly embrace the movement to establish Darwinian evolution as the dogma of science education.


With their agenda firmly set, the makers of Judgment Day proceeded to cast the judicial proceedings that culminated in Judge Jones’ December 2005 decision as a conflict between the gallant forces of (scientific) truth and the wily imposter of creationism, deceitfully clothed in the disguise of “Intelligent Design.”
Chapter 1 of the on-line version of Judgment Day begins with the narrator stating: “In October 2004, a war broke out in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania” (NOVA, 2007d). Following a few innocuous statements by ID proponents, the narrator further states:
But many Dover residents and an overwhelming number of scientists throughout the country were outraged. They say intelligent design is nothing but religion in disguise, the latest front in the war on evolution (2007d).
Shortly thereafter, Judge Jones appears, stating, “It was like a civil war within the community, there’s no question.” The word “war” is used three times within the first 10 minutes of the program. In addition, the word “battle” is used four times in this same segment.
Not unexpectedly, the producers of the program do not leave us in the dark as to who they think the “good guys” are in this “war.” Consider the following sequence of statements from the program transcript, also posted on the NOVA Web site:
BILL BUCKINGHAM (Dover School Board Member): To just talk about Darwin to the exclusion of anything else perpetrates a fraud.
NARRATOR: But many say intelligent design is the fraud.
KENNETH R. MILLER (Brown University): Intelligent design is a science stopper.
KEVIN PADIAN (University of California, Berkeley): It makes people stupid.
NARRATOR: Eleven Dover residents sued their school board to keep intelligent design out of the classroom. And almost overnight, Dover was catapulted to the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and the front lines in the war on evolution (NOVA, 2007c).
Note that the statement of Bill Buckingham, one of the Dover School Board members in favor of ID, is countered by three statements, including one by the narrator himself, while the outrageous statement, “It [ID] makes people stupid,” is not even challenged. In fact, every statement by an ID proponent in the introductory segment is countered, while statements by evolutionists are more numerous and simply left to stand at face value. Though in her Q&A, Ms. Apsell insists that “it [ID] gets a fair shake in this program,” the introductory segment alone casts significant doubt on the veracity of this claim.
The characterization of ID as an enemy in the “war on evolution” worsens, however. Chapter 3 of the on-line version of the program, titled “Introduction to Intelligent Design,” begins with the story of Lauri Lebo, a journalist covering the trial:
NARRATOR: Lebo began reporting on the controversy. But her interest in the issue was not just professional, it was also personal. Lauri’s father had been the owner of a local radio station, but the oldies format wasn’t paying the bills, and the electric company was about to put him off the air.
LAURI LEBO: The next day a gentleman came in who belonged to a local church...wanted to lease programming on the radio station and offered to pay a decent sum of money. And overnight the radio station became a Christian radio station. My father became born again (NOVA, 2007f).
Later in the program, this story is revisited with the following:
NARRATOR: As the legal teams battled it out in court, the clash between intelligent design and evolution was taking a toll on Dover.
Local newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo sat through every day of testimony, and the conflict began to drive a wedge between Lauri and her father.
LAURI LEBO: He believed that God really should be in science class. He did not believe in science, and he was all worried about me and...because I believed in evolution. And he said, you know, “Well, do you really believe that we came from monkeys?” At that point, I was pretty burned out from the trial, and I didn’t really have the patience that I probably should have had with him, and I just said yeah, I mean, you know? “Yeah, I do believe in evolution, Dad,” you know? And so we’d fight every morning.
If you believe in heaven and hell, and you believe you have to be saved, nothing else could possibly matter. Not the First Amendment, not science, not rational debate. All that matters is that you’re going to be rejoined with the people you love most on this Earth (NOVA, 2007i).
The narrator’s leading statement that the “clash” was “taking its toll on Dover” makes the reason for including this anecdote more than clear. Not only ID, but Christianity as well, was portrayed as a subversive element—a plague spreading through Dover, driving “a wedge” in Lauri Lebo’s family and in the Dover School Board. According to the program producers, the enemy in the “war on evolution” is apparently not just ID, but also the Christian faith that drives it. It should come as no surprise that one of the final comments in the program, made by ACLU lawyer Witold “Vic” Walczak, is: “The issue is certainly not over. One of the things that we’ve learned is that the opponents of evolution are persistent and resilient. And they’re still out there” (NOVA, 2007j). Ominous words, indeed!


A core issue in this conflict, as well as in the trial itself, is the question of what constitutes “science.” Clearly, evolution is portrayed as being scientific, while ID is not, according to the program producers and Judge Jones’ decision. The judge’s ruling explicitly stated that ID is not a scientific theory; but is that really the issue? Since Darwinian evolution holds a monopoly with regard to the study of the origins of life within most of our classrooms, perhaps the more relevant question is whether evolution is truly science, or, as Judge Jones described ID, religion in disguise.
For example, a fundamental premise of evolution is that life spontaneously arose from non-life. This premise goes against every related fact we know about biology, especially the Law of Biogenesis, empirically and brilliantly established by Louis Pasteur. This point and others demonstrate that evolution, far from being “one of the fundamental underpinnings of the sciences,”is, in fact, a complete affront to science. Unfortunately, our society has become so willing to sacrifice anything (including science) on the altar of atheism that we now teach as scientific “fact” an atheistic theory that we knowdoes not fit the facts.
The simplest life is far more complex than anything man has ever created. Would we allow our schools to teach as scientific “fact” that space shuttles randomly assemble and launch themselves? As absurd as that may sound, it would be more logical than teaching as scientific “fact” that life spontaneously arose from non-life. With great effort and expense, people assemble and launch space shuttles. However, with even greater effort and expense people have been unable to create anything close to what is considered “simple” life.
Ironically, NOVA and other pro-evolution organizations that claim to be “scientific” typically do not even mention this obvious problem. This fact is glaring when Judgment Day features three different segments designed to overwhelm us with the alleged evidence in favor of Darwinism: Chapter 2, “What is Evolution?” (2007e), Chapter 5, “The Fossil Record” (2007g), and Chapter 6, “A Very Successful Theory” (2007h). Yet, not one of these chapters mentions the fact that Darwinism requires spontaneous generation, nor discusses how it could have happened in spite of infinitely impossible odds. Evolutionists’ strong desire to suppress evidence and discussion, evident in their vigorous opposition to the decisions of the Dover School Board, is yet another indicator that their belief system has little to do with science, and is merely another false religion.
When dealing with evolutionists, it may be more useful to point out that the theory of evolution is notscientific, rather than trying to convince them that biblical Creationism is scientific. No theory of origins is observable, testable, and repeatable, which places the theories outside the realm of operational science, as the NOVA program and Judge Jones claim regarding Intelligent Design. Even though the evidence strongly favors biblical Creationism, as defined, we cannot claim that it is operational science.
It is also interesting to note that most of the arguments currently put forth by evolutionists and the media are completely irrelevant to the debate. The most prevalent example is the use of natural selection as supposed evidence for molecules-to-man evolution. Both biblical Creationists and evolutionists rely on natural selection, so the process is not a discriminator between the two worldviews.


The crux of the legal case in the Dover trial was the accusation that the Dover School Board had violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—at least, the recent “separation of church and state” interpretation of that clause. It is outside the scope of this review to delve deeply into questions of constitutional interpretation (see Miller, 2006; Miller, 2008). Nevertheless, the Framers of our Constitution never intended for this amendment to impact the decisions of popular government at the Dover, PA (state or city) level. In any case, we will consider the issue of violation of the establishment clause within the context of the liberal First Amendment interpretation that is prevalent today.
The most remarkable statement in the NOVA program was in Judge Jones’ ruling:
Both defendants and many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general (NOVA, 2007j).
It may be within the scope of the judge’s authority to make a determination that ID is not science, and that the Dover School Board members who introduced the issue were motivated by religious purpose, but to make a statement regarding fundamental religious and theistic belief goes far beyond any semblance of judicial prudence. It is crucial for every American to understand the full implications of this statement. According to the judge’s statement, now law, the idea that evolution could be considered antithetical (an opposing theory) to religion “in general” is “a bedrock assumption which is utterly false.” This is absolutely stunning—and frightening.
The Founders of our nation believed that religion is essential to the survival of popular government (see Miller, 2008). The recent liberal interpretation of the First Amendment seeks to remove this influence from government—to the detriment of our society. Judge Jones takes this one step further, however, asserting that the authority of judicial review (government) should have influence over religious thought in telling literal Genesis creationists, who reject evolution, that the bedrock foundation of their religious belief is false. Realizing that religion has been made impotent to challenge liberal constitutional interpretation, the legal ramifications of the ruling are positively alarming, as the ruling turns the intent of the Founders regarding freedom of religion on its head. It is no wonder that Judge Jones predicted that he would probably be labeled an activist judge because of the ruling.
Shortly after reading the statement above, Judge Jones made another statement in the program:
In an era where we’re trying to cure cancer, where we’re trying to prevent pandemics, where were [sic] trying to keep science and math education on the cutting edge in the United States, to introduce and teach bad science to ninth-grade students makes very little sense to me. You know, garbage in garbage out. And it doesn’t benefit any of us who benefit daily from scientific discoveries (NOVA, 2007j).
Clearly, Judge Jones has strong feelings that impacted the scope and language of his ruling, and may have even influenced the decision itself. Richard Thompson, a Thomas Moore Law Center attorney and representative of the Dover School Board in the case, commented:
I think, first of all, you have to say we had a fair trial. I’m just disturbed about the extent of his opinion, that it went way beyond what, what [sic] he should have gone into deciding matters of science (NOVA, 2007j).
This observation is an understatement. And we should not be less concerned about the extent of the ruling regarding matters of science, than we are about its precedent for judicial interference in matters of religion. Judge Jones stated in his ruling, “Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge” (2005, p. 137). We mark it as such because the facts presented above justify that claim.


Judge Jones not only believes that evolutionary theory is consistent with belief in God and “religion in general,” but also sees no problem with establishing his belief via the federal judiciary. How did we get so turned around in our society that religion is not allowed to have any influence on government, or public life for that matter, but a judge can dictate what creationists should believe (or not believe)? Consider the following statement from the Q&A with Ms. Apsell (NOVA, 2007a):
Q: Is evolution inherently anti-religious?
Apsell: Not at all. The view that evolution is inherently anti-religious is simply false. Evolution tells us that the diversity of life on this planet could have arisen by natural processes. But for many people of various faiths, this is perfectly compatible with their belief in God as the creator of all nature. I personally believe that the beauty of evolution can enhance your belief in a creator and God.
By definition science cannot address the realm of the divine or supernatural. This doesn’t mean that science is anti-religious.
And our program, Judgment Day, doesn’t promote either a religious or an anti-religious viewpoint. It accurately covers a trial. And the trial itself did not have an anti-religious viewpoint. I think it’s worth noting that both the judge and the majority of witnesses—including scientists on the plaintiff side—are people of faith (NOVA, 2007a).
Notice that Ms. Apsell does not claim any personal religious belief. In fact, when she says, “this is perfectly compatible with their belief in God,” and “I personally believe that the beauty of evolution can enhance your belief in a creator and God” (emp. added), she leaves the impression that she shares neither of those beliefs. Notwithstanding, she feels perfectly justified in prescribing religious belief to others: “The view that evolution is inherently anti-religious is simply false.” And with respect to the program not promoting “an anti-religious viewpoint,” significant evidence to the contrary has been given above.
Now consider the following excerpt from the first chapter of the on-line version of the program:
ALAN BONSELL: I personally don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. I’m a creationist. I make no bones about that.
NARRATOR: Creationists like Bonsell reject much of modern science in favor [of] a literal reading of the Bible. They believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that God created everything fully-formed, including humans, in just six days.
Although most mainstream religions made peace with evolution decades ago, many creationists still see evolution as incompatible with their faith (NOVA, 2007d).
Notice how the narrator claims that “Creationists...reject much of modern science” (emp. added) and “most mainstream religions made peace with evolution decades ago.” Unjustifiable, unsubstantiated generalizations such as these are often used to marginalize specific groups—in this instance, Bible-believing creationists. We are told that we are outside the “mainstream” and that we reject “much of modern science.”
No doubt, some religious evolutionists truly believe that there is no conflict between creationism and evolution. Perhaps though, there are some who hold no religious views, yet see no conflict between evolution and creation, because they desire a non-confrontational, subtle method of subjugating religious belief to modern scientific thought. Judgment Day wraps this viewpoint in a blanket of anti-Christian sentiment.
Those who first compromised biblical creationism with evolution have, without a doubt, opened a Pandora’s box of anti-religious abuse. Indeed, they have catalyzed the very process that has flipped our society on its head, giving place to scientists, judges, TV producers, and even atheists, who desire to dictate to devout people what their view of creation ought to be. We are paying a severe price for their compromise of the simple truths of God’s Word. And what we have witnessed until now is certainly only the beginning.


The conflict between evolution and creation is a very real clash of worldviews that has highly tangible implications for society, the church, and the very survival of our form of government. The NOVAprogram Judgment Day explores this conflict from the perspective of an evolutionist worldview. This fact is clear from the statements of Paula Apsell in the Q&A segment on the NOVA Web site. In light of her bias, we should not expect the program to be fair to Intelligent Design, much less to a creationist worldview, even though it alleges objectivity. The program’s lack of fairness to ID, creationism, and even Christianity, has been documented in this article by examples from the program’s own transcripts.
This leads to the conclusion that the purpose behind the making of Judgment Day was to build on the momentum of the Dover Trial to gain further ground in promoting Darwinian evolution in opposition to biblical creationism. This intent is evident in Ms. Apsell’s lament that so many people still reject Darwinian evolution in spite of its domination of public education for decades. In the spirit of true Orwellian doublespeak, she refers to this rejection of evolution as “scientific illiteracy.”
In support of its purpose, Judgment Day goes to great lengths to marginalize those who dare to question Darwinian evolution and those who choose to believe in biblical creation. Momentum for this purpose is derived from the presiding judge of the Dover Trial, Judge Jones, who stated that the creationist views of the Dover School Board members who supported ID were “utterly false” because those beliefs are based on the “assumption” that evolution is “antithetical” to a belief in a supreme being, or religion itself. By establishing a judicial view of “religion” as defined by that which is not antithetical to evolution (“establishment” in First-Amendment verbiage), NOVA is empowered in their pursuit to further marginalize those who disagree with them by the full authority of the U.S.government.
It cannot be overstated that a major contributing factor in the ability of evolutionists to marginalize creationists is that many creationists have marginalized themselves by accepting evolutionist views, in spite of empirical and biblical evidence to the contrary. NOVA capitalizes on these compromises as primary means to promote its agenda through the Judgment Day program. The most important thing Christian creationists can do, while engaged in this clash of worldviews, is accept God at His word, and esteem His Word above “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20)—and to encourage others to do the same.


Dobzhansky, Theodore (1973), “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,”The American Biology Teacher, 3:125-129, March.
Jones, III, John E. (2005), “Tammy Kitzmiller, et al., v. Dover Area School District: Memorandum Opinion,” [On-line], URL: http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf.
Miller, Dave (2006), “America, Christianity, and the Culture War (Part I),” Reason & Revelation, 26[6]41-47, June, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2942.
Miller, Dave (2008), “Christianity is in the Constitution,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3800..
NOVA (2007a), “Intelligent Design on Trial/Senior Executive Producer’s Story,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/ID/apsell.html.
NOVA (2007b), “Intelligent Design on Trial/Watch the Program,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/ID/program.html.
NOVA (2007c), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID.html.
NOVA (2007d), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 1,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_01.html.
NOVA (2007e), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 2,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_02.html.
NOVA (2007f), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 3,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_03.html.
NOVA (2007g), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 5,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_05.html.
NOVA (2007h), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 6,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_06.html.
NOVA (2007i), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 9,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_09.html.
NOVA (2007j), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 12,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_12.html.
Pasteur, Louis (1864), “An address delivered by Louis Pasteur at the ‘Sobonne Scientific Soiree’ of April 7, 1864,” [On-line], URL: http://shell.cas.usf.edu/~alevine/pasteur.pdf.
Tiner, J. H. (1990), Louis Pasteur—Founder of Modern Medicine (Milford, MI: Mott Media).