By Gustavo Arellano
By Aimee Murillo
By Matt Coker
By Vickie Chang
By Matt Coker
By LP Hastings
By Michael Goldstein
By R. Scott Moxley
"Our first [belief] should not be what the technical scientists say," Riddle tells the audience. "It should be the Bible." Colossians 2:8, he states, "is a very clear warning that we should check everything first against the word of God."
Riddle rips into the people and organizations that claim UFOs exist or work to prove their existence. Hollywood. Colleges like the University of Washington and the University of Colorado that offer advanced degrees in astrobiology. NASA. Former President Jimmy Carter, who says he once saw a flying saucer ("And you elected him," Riddle scolds the audience, which laughs in derisive agreement).
The UFO conspiracy, Riddle argues in a stern, drill-sergeant delivery, is meant to scare society. "But the scariest [thing] of all—banned by courts, schools and politicians—is the Bible . . . Evolution is the foundation for this whole train of thinking.
"The more we learn about science, the more we point to a greater God," Riddle adds. "Every experiment is a poison to life."
More debunking. His PowerPoint presentation (every speaker will have his own PowerPoint presentation this weekend) flashes pictures of Roswell, flying saucers, aliens playing basketball and soccer, an artist's rendition of the psychedelic passage that opens the Book of Ezekiel, where the prophet described seeing "wheels" manned by "four living creatures" with "the likeness of a man."
UFOs don't exist, Riddle concludes. Besides, "Why do they always have a New Age message, much like evolution?" And even if aliens did exist, "they're under the Curse."
So what causes the popularity of UFO sightings? Evolution.
"That is a fact," he spits out. "That is an absolute truth. For we have a great Deceiver amongst us," so deceitful that 10,000 pastors recently lent their name to a letter saying evolution and faith can co-exist.
Riddle finishes with a book plug.
* * *
Larry Vardiman follows Riddle.He's with the San Diego-area Institute for Creation Research, which argues the Earth is thousands—not billions—of years old. A billion-year Earth "is the basis for evolution," the portly Vardiman mumbles. "It degrades the reliability of Scripture . . . it does violence to the word of God." But those are the only highlights of Vardiman's lecture, who bores everyone into sleep with talk of carbon dating and "accelerated decay." He urges listeners to buy his 800-page book, "if you really want to get into it."
The first evening concludes with Chuck Missler, a former Bible teacher at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa who now runs a publishing house and ministry in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Missler made headlines last fall when he told a group of North Idaho College students, "They say Islam is a religion of peace. That's nonsense. Islam, the Koran is a warrior's code for world conquest, from cover to cover. Check it out. Read it yourself."
Missler has previously said in cassette lectures that Auschwitz and Dachau were "just a prelude" to the Tribulation. Missler also believes in aliens. "Are these 'aliens' so prolific that they constitute a political constituency?" Missler wrote in a 1997 newsletter. "Will there be UFO incidents as part of a carefully orchestrated program to lead us toward a political agenda? Or has it started already? Are the UFOs, and the increasingly widespread abductions, part of the preparations for this scenario?"
But Missler wouldn't talk about UFOs or the Holocaust tonight. His focus was biotechnology.
Missler begins with a chart showing that physicians caused 9,000 times more accidental deaths than gun owners. Missler isn't clear what the charts have to do with biotechnology, but the audience nevertheless laughs and applauds. He moves quickly on to the subject of DNA replication.
"It's just a matter of time before the clone people come," the folksy Missler says. "Will the Antichrist be a clone? Will they be able to be saved? These are big issues."
From clones, Missler segues into nanotechnology. He warns against its abuse by tyrants. "What if it was available to Joseph Stalin?" Missler wonders. "Adolf Hitler?" Hitler's picture flashes. Beat. "Hillary Clinton?"
The audience laughs and applauds.
Missler wraps up his sermon with a book plug. Then he becomes serious. "If I didn't tell you about something, I would do you a disservice," Missler says. On March 20, he warns, Iran will begin trading its oil futures in euros, not dollars.
"Something's coming down the pike," Missler says. Iran was testing electronic bombs over the Caspian Sea that would destroy the East Coast. The End Times are near. "Al Qaeda has nukes planted in the U.S., according to my intelligence sources.
"God just might reward us with a revival," he concludes. "But I fear that the judgment of God is upon us. It's our fault."
NO NAMBY-PAMBY SAVIOR
Between the lectures of Vardiman and Missler, Perkins screens a commercial for a fall "Steeling the Mind" conference in the Holy Land. Participants in the Biblelands Cruise 2006 will visit a cave on the island of Patmos where John allegedly wrote the Book of Revelations, Jerusalem, the Jordanian city of Petra ("which could play a role in future Bible prophecies," the commercial narrator chirps) and "the breathtaking view of the Valley of Armageddon."
Conspiracy, warfare and doom govern the dispensationalist world-view, and previous seminars in the "Steeling the Mind" series featured such topics as "The Coming One-World Religion," "Hell's Best-Kept Secret" (delivered by former television idol Kirk Cameron), "Pyramid, Planets and the Bible," and a seminar on Lake Forest pastor Rick Warren titled "The Devil-Driven Church."
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