Summer in the enemy’s camp
An atheist lecturer at a summer camp. (Photo by Craig Borck, Pioneer Press)
Again and again, I am amazed at the number of people I meet—many of whom are church leaders, teachers, missionaries—who tell me that they first ‘committed their life to the Lord’ at a children’s/youth ‘summer camp’.
Such far-reaching influence has not gone unnoticed by atheists. In the United States and Canada, they’ve started running atheistic summer camps for children aged 8–17 years.1
Now you might think such camps would have all the ‘fun’ aspects of a Christian camp (outdoor activities, games, etc.) minus Bible Study sessions, prayer before meals, and speakers who exhort campers to live a Christ-centred life. But in fact, the atheist-run camps have not simply removed Christian teaching, but replaced it with teaching specifically designed to counter Christianity.
You might expect that camp lecturers would spend their time ‘proving’ that Jesus could not have risen from the dead, or denying His deity (or even His existence), or advocating secular ‘values’ such as ‘sexual liberation’ and ‘pro-choice’ (abortion). However, the core emphasis of this anti-God camp teaching is strategically far more potent. They simply teach evolution.2
In the beginning … Bang!
The above photograph3 of an evolution-class teacher at an atheist-run camp shows him reinforcing the classic imagined evolutionary progression over millions of years, from ‘big bang’ through to spontaneous assembly of life’s building blocks (‘Miller 1953’) to ‘walking fish’ to dinosaurs, primates, humans.
And it’s not just in ‘evolution class’ that campers are taught that everything can be explained without God. The emphasis on ‘scientific and secular understanding of the natural world’ is maintained throughout other camp activities too, e.g. nature hikes and field trips to wetland areas.4 And teaching about alien life5 presupposes that life evolved, not only here, but elsewhere.
A powerful deception
By teaching evolution at these camps, not only are the secular humanists giving kids an explanation of origins that removes the need for a Creator, but they are also providing a foundational framework that justifies a secular ‘anything goes’ mentality.
I can speak from experience just how powerful this strategy is. I remember clearly my excitement and relief to be taught (at university) that everything just evolved. Thus armed with that worldview, I could, for example, blithely ignore charity volunteers collecting donations for the poor—better to let dog-eat-dog natural selection take care of (i.e. cull) the down-and-outs quickly, rather than prolonging their misery, I reasoned. (I now know that it’s no coincidence that charitable organisations have by-and-large been established and funded by committed Christians—it’s a logical outcome of a biblical worldview [Galatians 2:10].)
What’s more, the idea that everything can be explained by naturalistic causes effectively ‘vaccinated’ me against multiple witnessing attempts by Christians for many years. Jesus’ words (John 5:47) certainly ring true: ‘But since you do not believe what he [Moses] wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?’
The required response of Christians today should be obvious: demolish evolution! (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5) While many are indeed doing that, other Christians are muted. Others seem to have capitulated altogether—earlier this year several hundred US churches publicly proclaimed evolution from their pulpits on the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday, dubbed ‘Evolution Sunday’.6
However, there’s no reason to be fearful of, or submit to, the ‘enemy camp’. For example, Stanley Miller’s famous 1953 experiments are anything but evidence for that life could arise by non-living chemicals by chemical evolution (p. 50); ‘walking’ fish (like the handfish, p. 28) are not transitional forms but living testimony of creation; and the Manx cat (p. 56) is a classic demonstration of the creation going downhill—the exact opposite of what molecules-to-man evolution requires, but perfectly in line with the Bible (Romans 8:19–22).
Sharing such information—in or out of camps—changes lives (p. 48), whatever the ‘season’ (2 Timothy 4:2).
References and notes
- Camp quest—it’s beyond belief!, 10 February 2006.Return to text.
- ABC News, Non-religious kids find refuge in ‘Godless’ camp, 9 February 2006.Return to text.
- Chin, R., Ungodly fun, Pioneer Press (Minnesota), 9 August 2004, p. 7D.Return to text.
- Uchtman, V., First secular humanist summer camp a rousing success, 9 February 2006.Return to text.
- Camp quest challenges to campers 1997–2002, 1 March 2006.Return to text.
- Banerjee, N. and Berryman, A., At churches nationwide, good words for evolution, New York Times, 13 February 2006, p. A16.Return to text.