Monday, August 11, 2008

Stand to Reason Alaska Cruise

A couple of years ago, Stand to Reason had an Alaskan cruise with people like J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. I really wanted to go because I was already a big fan of Greg Koukl, J.P. Moreland, and Bill Craig, and also because I had always wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise. But, alas, poverty would not permit it.

Things were different this time. I have a better job, and I managed to save enough money to go on an Alaskan cruise. And I also figured that since I was in my 30's and hadn't really done much, and might possibly die in another 30 years, I ought to get some adventure into my life. So all of that helped me decide to go on this cruise.

I took bunches of pictures and even a few video clips using my flip video camera. I got some video clips of some big chunks of ice falling off of a glacier into the water, and that was pretty cool!

Well, this cruise was a lot of fun, because for the first time in my life, I was around a lot of like-minded people. I mean other Christian's who were interested in apologetics and who I could have really good deep conversations with about it. I didn't even have any social anxiety attacks! It was awesome!

I thought I'd share some pictures with you. This first one was taken in Skagway. I was just walking along this creek where there were people fishing for salmon, and I saw a little trail that seemed to lead up into the mountain. I decided to walk up there and see where it went. I ended up hiking up there for about 5 hours, because the trail was really long and pretty steep in some places. After about 2 hours, I found this lake called "icy lake," but it wasn't frozen.

I continued to walk because a sign said there were some water falls. I was mostly alone up there in the woods, and sometimes the trail seemed to disappear. I got to thinking, "You know, a bear could come running out of the woods at any moment and eat me." I had my flip video camera with me, though, just in case. I figured if I was going to die, at least maybe somebody could be entertained once they found the video recorder. They could see the bear coming. I didn't see any bears, though. I didn't see a moose either. Shoot, I hardly saw any wildlife at all up there. Near the bottom, I saw a squirrel and a couple of birds, but that was it.

Every night, we got to eat in the Rotterdam dining room, and we had assigned seating. They stuck all of us STR people together, and these are the people I ate with.

From left to right, that's Josh, his dad Eugene, me, Steve, and Leroy (pronounced 'leROY," not 'LEroy.') They were really nice people, and we had some good conversations.

I had read a lot of stuff by J.P. Moreland and Greg Koukl, so I was really excited about having the opportunity to talk to them. I don't know if you remember or not, but I posted a blog a while back about a question I had been wanting to ask J.P. Moreland for years concerning beliefs, rationality, and volition. It was hard to talk to J.P. or anybody else because everybody else wanted to talk to them, but I did manage to catch J.P. and finally ask him my question. We had a nice chat about it, and then a couple of days later, I had another nice chat with him one on one.

J.P. was a bit of a recluse I think. He was very kind and generous with his time, but when the opportunity presented itself, he was gone. One time we were all up on the crows nest, and J.P. was surrounded. Then somebody said, "Orca!" and everybody looked out the window to see the orcas. I did, too. When I turned back around, J.P. was gone.

He did let me get a picture with him, though.

I got to eat lunch with Greg Koukl and six other people. Greg spent almost the entire time talking. We just had to poke him now and again. I felt a little bad about it because we were all finished eating, and he had barely begun because he had spent the whole time answering questions. Very nice fellow! I met him on the crows nest later that day, and he had all kinds of nice things to say to me, and it just about gave me a big head. So I said, "How would you like to have your picture taken with me?" He was all for it, and I asked Melinda Penner to join in.

I have never read anything by Josh McDowell because he's so popular that he's almost a cliche, and from what I've read, non-believers aren't that impressed with him. I admit that on an intellectual level, I wasn't that impressed with him either when I heard him talk. He made what I thought were some misleading statements that (in my opinion) inappropriately made the evidence for Christianity look better than it actually is.

But Josh won me over on a personal level. He's one of the most likable and friendly people I've ever met. He was jovial, funny, layed back, cheerful, warm, deep, personable, and just an all around good guy--the kind of guy you'd want to be friends with. Now I've become interested in reading his stuff just because I like him on a personal level, and I'm more curious about what goes through his head. He told me his two best sellers were the exact opposite in writing. Evidence That Demands a Verdict (I'm linking to the revised edition) took him the longest to write, and More Than a Carpenter was written in the shortest amount of time. He said he basically wrote MTaC in one sitting. It took him 48 hours to write it, and he didn't sleep that whole time.

I think I may have exasperated Josh with questions. I just figured this was my once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to these guys, so at the risk of pestering them and wearing out my welcome, I talked to them as much as I could and asked questions every opportunity I got. Josh was nice about the whole thing, though, and he let me get a picture with him.

Unfortunately, it was back lit with the flash on, so I had to play with the picture a little just so you could see our faces. This was the best I could do.

Sean McDowell, Josh's son, was there, too, and he was one of the speakers. I didn't get a picture with him, though. I did buy his book, Understanding Intelligent Design, though, and he signed it for me. He asked, "Who should I make it out to?" I said, "To my good friend, Sam!" So that's how he signed it.

I noticed a curious thing about Greg, J.P., and Sean (we're on a first name basis, you see). I noticed that when they spoke, they all had the same kind of body language. They all made the exact same kind of hand gestures and such. It was interesting. Josh had a style all his own, though. He didn't even use an outline. It was all just in his head.


At 8/15/2008 6:14 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Thank you for sharing this, and the pictures! I might have had some social anxiety, too, hanging out with such luminaries. Would have been fun to come and hang out with you, too.

At 8/15/2008 6:37 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

I'm glad you had a fantastic time, I sort of envy you because it is unlikely that there will be any interesting rationalist equivalents that I could go on.

I know he wasn't on this trip, but I just wondered if you saw William Lane Craig wipe the floor with Peter Atkins, either live or on youtube?

At 8/16/2008 12:16 AM , Blogger Sam said...

I wish you could've been there, Paul.

I guess the problem with people who don't like organized religion is that they aren't organized enough to have a cruise. :-) It would be interesting, though, if there were ever a secular equivalent with atheist speakers and stuff.

There are a lot of Craig debates on the internet that I've seen, so I'm sure I've seen the Atkins debate. I just don't remember it.

At 8/16/2008 2:40 PM , Blogger Paul said...

To be honest, I think there are many atheist societies, which have various activities, including debates with theists. Not sure how large their numbers are or how many field trips they include.

I know there are many Christian ministries doing cruises now. Who says Christianity can't be fun!

Psio, I wonder if you're talking about a recent debate or an old one. I own a set of taped debates between them from several years back (1998, I think). Pretty good listening, and unique too. Atkins affirmed the beginning of the universe and took the position that it came out of nothing. He justified the something-from-nothing idea by saying that nothingness split into equal parts of positive and negative, which means there is a net balance of zero in the present order — no imbalance, no creation, no problem. Besides the, "Uh ... okay" factor, loaded with philosophical and scientific problems.

At 8/16/2008 3:29 PM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Yes it is the 1998 debate, it is on youtube in 12 parts here.

I thought WLC was much more effective than Atkins in that situation.

You are probably right about atheist societies, there might well be secular humanist or rational atheist cruises for all I know!

At 9/16/2008 3:22 PM , Blogger Jessie said...

Wow, Sam! An Alaskian cruise with all those guys. I hope you milked it for all its worth. I bet you were floating on cloud nine the whole time. Did you meet any like-minded girls? :-)

Shawn and I really want to go on an Alskian cruise. He went on a long vacation there via motor home back in 4th grade or so. He has fond memories.

I am jealous!

At 9/17/2008 9:59 PM , Blogger Sam said...

No, I didn't meet any girls, darn the luck! Not that there weren't women I didn't meet--just not the single/available type, you know. I did get hit on by a gay guy, though. :-(

Y'all should definitely go on an Alaskan cruise if you can! There were some people who did combination tours--they'd do a few days of a land tour and then join us on the boat in the middle of it.

I'm trying to decide what to do next year, and I'm seriously considering going to Crater Lake.

Good to "see" you again!


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