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By Charles Lam
The scholar's most powerful place is in the classroom, where professors can explain evolution to hundreds of students at a time. Morgan certainly recognizes that absent any favorable education reform, the modern lecture hall and classroom remain creationism's greatest threat—which is why he teaches.
Still, he isn't afraid of higher education. When asked what he'd do if his kids end up as biology majors at a public university—where belief in evolution is a de facto requirement for graduation—he isn't concerned.
"They're ready. I've prepared them," he says with a grin. "They can take the class and get an A, but they don't have to believe it. I took a biology class at Orange Coast College. I never questioned the professor during class, but afterward, I would speak to him and tell him why I didn't believe some of it. I got an A, too."
* * *
It's 4:45 p.m. on a Saturday at Calvary Chapel WestGrove in Garden Grove—not the most ideal time for a public lecture. Indeed, more than half of the 75 chairs in a meeting room with purple walls are empty, even as activity buzzes around the rest of the campus. Yet Morgan's enthusiasm isn't deterred.
Dressed in his standard lecture attire—Napoleon Dynamite glasses, a short-sleeved dress shirt and tie, khaki pants, and a just barely necessary comb-over—he looks every bit the stereotypical mechanical engineer he is by trade, the trade that feeds his family and allows his second career as a creationist speaker flourish. Standing at the foreground of an open stage holding a microphone, Morgan is in his element.
He starts the meeting, described as a "Creation Lesson" in ads, with a brief prayer. "When I pray, I ask God to bless our time as we seek truth," he says. Two Calvary Chapel members then lead attendees in listlessly singing "How Great Thou Art" and "My Redeemer Lives," the afternoon heat stifling any joy for the Lord. Once the song ends, the PowerPoint comes on, and Morgan goes to work.
"What is the best one-word answer to give when someone asks you, 'Why do you believe in God?'" he asks the audience.
"Creation?" one girl asks.
"Nope. Close, though." he responds.
"The Bible?" another child offers.
"Not quite. Design," Morgan says, switching to a slide with the word written in all caps.
A few heads nod. He continues, "Does anyone know how many miles of blood vessels are in the human body?"
Morgan's son gives a knowing look from the front row but stays quiet. A few guess, but no one nails the answer.
His son bursts out, "Sixty thousand miles!"
"Right," Morgan tells him—and the audience. "Isn't that amazing?"
Next, a picture of Mt. Rushmore appears. "Was this natural or done by design?"
The next slide contains a diagram of the human eye. "See how the eyeball is turned and pulled by those tiny, specific muscles? The medial rectus rolls them upward, while the Superior oblique turns the eye downward and inward. Could that have come from chance?"
He points to a few other complexities in nature: an estimate of the number of simultaneous chemical reactions occurring in a living organism, the number of cells in our bodies, the respiratory system.
"So if all of this was designed, what does that mean?"
A pause, then someone gets it. "There must be a Designer."
Morgan then begins the anti-evolution part of his lesson, designed to undermine and—although he'll never admit it—mock the theory of evolution.
The audience, albeit small, is as diverse as it is faithful. There are crying babies and elderly women in wheelchairs; scientists and manual laborers; whites, blacks, Asians and, Morgan points out, one Latina.
After he finishes, half a dozen or so kids—including Morgan's—give PowerPoint presentations. Instead of reciting a similar, watered-down version of the previous lecture, each kid has chosen his or her own topic (e.g., spiders, why the Earth is just right for human life, ants). And each only passively references creation.
During his presentation about spiders, a kid describes how complex and fascinating is the design of a spider. Another shows the amazing design and machinery of an ant colony. Design, designer; no one says it, but everyone had absorbed the creationist's gospel.
After the kids have their turn, Morgan becomes more serious and focuses on the parents.
"Being able to practice public speaking at an early age, these kids have an advantage," he says. "And we need to make sure that our children are able to defend creation and inform others.
"And don't believe anything I tell you," he finishes. "Just listen to the facts that I present, do your own research and come to a conclusion."
This article appeared in print as "Captain Creationist: Bill Morgan is waging a war against evolution, one lecture at a time."