Sermon illustrations


The Devil Buried the Bones

And I was reminded of an event from my father’s childhood.

He was in a Sunday school class, listening to his teacher expound on Genesis 1 and a young earth, and asked his teacher how to make sense of all those dinosaur bones. “Was there no room for Rex on the ark?” he asked, with guileless sincerity. “The devil buried the bones,” his teacher answered, and proceeded to explain that a literal Genesis 1 and young earth were essential to Christian faith.

My father found himself before a fork in the road. There he was, a young boy who loved Jesus and dinosaurs, and the die had been cast—either the Prince of Darkness had spent the better part of the last millennia burying dinosaur bones or there was no God.

Taken from Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt by Austin Fischer. Copyright (c) 2018 by Austin Fischer pp.1-2. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com


The Evolution of the Rose

A couple years ago I got to take a tour of the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. The name is a bit misleading because what they are most known for are there amazing gardens. And so we were on this tour and I got to learn something about the history of roses. And it goes something like this.

There have been roses since we have been on this planet, but the wild roses in Europe, while all different colors and quite beautiful, would only bloom once a year, and so for most of the warm months you would be looking at a bunch of ugly green canes with thorns, no flowers. But then, some botanists in the late 18th century began experimenting by grafting the Chinese wild rose, which was only green, but bloomed all summer, with the European rose, and after a bunch of testing, created what we know to be the modern rose, which blooms from June through October, but not only in green, but in a myriad of colors. 

Isn’t that interesting, so roses as we know them are really a modern invention, and because of the grafting of the wild Chinese rose with the roses of Europe, we have this stronger, much more beautiful flower than we ever had before.And that is what Paul is getting at, but instead of it being one wild rose and another, we are grafted into Christ, God incarnate, and our lives should therefore look different than they used to.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

I’d Save Two Brothers, Not One

According to legend, one night in the 1950s while drinking at a pub in the West End of London, [Biologist and neo-Darwinist J. B. S. Haldane ] was presented with a philosophical question: How far would you go to save the life of another person? “I would jump into a river to save two brothers, but not one,” Haldane said after feverishly calculating on the back of a napkin. “Or to save eight cousins but not seven.”

However, Haldane’s drunken calculation may have pointed to a way out of the “altruism conundrum” for evolutionary psychologists. If a person performs a selfless act for someone in their own family, they are still promoting the survival of their own DNA, right? Sociobiologists in Western Europe decided it can only be explained among people and organisms who were related by blood.

Richard Lui, Enough About Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness, Zondervan, 2021.

Taking Selfishness Seriously

In 1976, Richard Dawkins claimed in his bestselling book The Selfish Gene that we can’t expect humans to be anything but selfish: “We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.”

…One of Dawkins’s fans was Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who pulled off the largest accounting and corporate fraud ever, resulting in shareholders losing $74 billion. Skilling said his favorite book was Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, which was in the evolutionary spirit of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Even though Darwin was by all accounts a kindhearted man, his theory ultimately inspired some controversial philosophical and political positions, such as social Darwinism and eugenics. Social Darwinism. The late-nineteenth-century English professor Herbert Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” because he saw natural selection as “red in tooth and claw,” a brutal description of the competition for scant resources. He didn’t value protecting the weak. If more weak people died, more beautiful, healthy, strong, and smart people could thrive. Spencer believed this would improve the condition of humanity over time.

Richard Lui, Enough About Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness, Zondervan, 2021.


See Also Illustrations on Politics, Science.