I was peripherally involved in an event that took place in Fresno on Friday and Saturday sponsored by New Covenant Community Church, and a little history seems in order so that folk can know the context of my involvement.

I visited 'New Cov' about two years ago when I got wind of the fact that they were having a Discovery Institute-affiliated satellite program in which Lee Strobel presented the claims of ID (intelligent design) advocates and fenced with Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine. After the presentation, I made it my business to wander over to the table where the pastor (Jan Van Oosten) was seated and I engaged his group.

My point? That there are Christians who accept and enthusiastically teach the theory of evolution (like me), and who understand why ID isn't science (at least, not yet) and why it doesn't belong in the public schools. There was some heat from some ID supporters at the table, but others there appeared genuinely interested in my point of view, even conciliatory, and this included Pastor Jan. After this encounter, we had a private chat and Pastor Jan indicated that 'New Cov' was considering sponsoring symposiums or such and bring in some intellectual heavyweights to stimulate higher-level discussion between believers and non-believers.

You never know when you hear a message in that setting whether the person you've just met is sincere, or whether they are just telling you something you'd like to hear in order to attract you to their church. So I didn't think too much of it. But, lo and behold, about three months ago it became clear that such an event would take place, as I posted about earlier.

I won't go into all the details, but essentially I came away very impressed. Pastor Jan and the rest of the 'New Cov' leadership deserve credit for following through, making the main event free to the community, and being scrupulous to involve folk outside of their church 'on the other side'. So it was that CVASS and its membership had an informational table at the event, and the co-founders of CVASS participated in a panel discussion the next day which I moderated. The dialogue was authentic, the discussion occurred at a high level and was intellectually and spiritually challenging, I think, for all involved. Here's a shot of the Fantastic Four of whom I was lucky enough to share this encounter:

Well done, gentlemen. Well done.

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