I’ve been musing for some time now on this whole creationism vs. evolution debate, which Sarah described so eloquently in that link, and the merits of the arguments made by the so-called young earth ‘creation scientists’ like the bunch at ICR, who my dad is such a big fan of. The more I read and research and learn for myself, the more I educate myself about both science and the Bible, the more and more convinced I become that these men (I am 99.9999999999% sure they are all men) are doing a massive disservice to both faith and science, creating a giant stumbling block for countless hundreds of thousands, smearing the name of God and in fact are an insult of the highest order to the very things they propose to stand for.
I know that’s harsh, but I don’t say that lightly. I find them and their methods to be profoundly lacking in integrity, intellectual honesty, true faith and reason, and generally morally bankrupt. I don’t just disagree with them; I think they are dangerous and actively destroying people’s faith and image of God. I think they are directly contributing to a sullying of the true wonder of God’s creation and it’s magnificence, and I think they will answer to him for it. It’s not my job to judge them, but I do feel that on a purely ethical level, something needs to be said when they are – knowingly or unknowingly, ignorant or intentionally – using falsifications and deception and nonsense to promote a view and a mindset which is detrimental to faith and growth and reason, putting God in a box and pulling blinders over the true wonder of the natural world, causing needless pain and crises of faith in children and other searching hearts. It’s tragic, and terrible, and should not pass unchecked or unchallenged.
I found a link in the comments at TWW somewhere (not that post, but a related one I can’t find just now) to Answers In Creation, which was originally I think set up to be a counter to Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis; it has since changed it’s focus a bit, but it is still an excellent resource for information and links about theistic evolution and other analysis of Biblically sound old-earth science and theology. So I’ve gradually been looking through these things and revisiting this issue a bit; I had put it on the back burner for awhile since it wasn’t as pressing of an issue for me to figure out where I stood on it compared to some other things.
But I found this on Slacktivist today, and it made me cry, because sometimes Fred has a talent for putting into words the way I feel before I even know it myself:
Over the past almost nine years of this blog, I’ve encountered many, many good people struggling to recover from this noxious pseudo-faith. They were taught from earliest childhood that the absurdities of young-earth creationism were inextricably bound up in this all-or-nothing package deal. It was pounded into them, sometimes literally, and they learned what they were taught. If the universe is more than 6,000-10,000 years old, they were taught, then there is no God. If the story of Noah is not a journalistic account of an actual historical flood that killed the dinosaurs, they were taught, then Jesus is a fraud, life has no meaning, and justice, virtue and compassion are all empty illusions.
Few things make me angrier than this abusive all-or-nothing doctrine. It makes me angry because it chains together truth and lies. It makes me angry because it sets a trap, binding children into a twisted machinery that guarantees either a painful crisis of faith or a feckless, drifting life of dissonance and denial. It makes me angry because when those children get old enough to encounter the obvious and inescapable realities forbidden by that package deal, it may take them many painful years to sort out all the other lies bundled up with it — all those bogus “therefores” lashing meaning, goodness, faith, hope, and love to the unsustainable lies of a rigidly fragile foundation of “creation science.”
And it makes me angry because bundled in with all those other lies is the vicious slur that such all-or-nothing, package-deal fundamentalism provides the only legitimate basis for a meaningful life, for goodness or worth. This is the slur that says not only that we cannot be “good without God,” but that no one is any good without this particular tiny, vindictive, brittle God. It says that if there is no God — or if God is not exactly like their idea of God — then you are unloved, unworthy of being loved, and incapable of loving others.
That slur is a lie. It is illogical, indefensible, blasphemous and cruel. But for many of those who had it pounded into them for years and years, it can take a long time and a lot of pain before they learn to stop believing it.
And but so, my point being, I do not much care for the all-or-nothing, package-deal fundamentalism of the “scientific creationists” and the “creation scientists.”
I’ve spent a long, long time sorting through what I believe about various things, picking out bits of the ‘package deal’ of fundamentalism that was sold to me as all or nothing to find that it is anything but, and a great deal of it is not only not truth, but poisonous. This is one of the less important ones, in a way, because it has not been crucial to my everyday life or salvation, and I was content to leave it at “God created things at some point, somehow, and there may have been evolution involved, but how we got here is less important than how we live and where we are going.”
If I had been more concerned about it, or perhaps if my areas of interest lay more in hard sciences as opposed to language and culture, it might have been a bigger issue for me. I consider myself fortunate that it was not, because I do know people whose crisis of faith hinged on this and they were not able to reconcile it. Causing people to lose their faith entirely because you are clinging to outdated ‘science’ that is neither biblically nor scientifically sound is not bringing glory to God or living a Christlike life.
I read somewhere recently, and I wish I had made a note of it because I can’t find it again, but someone quoted Galileo from a letter he wrote regarding the heliocentricism controversy surrounding him, in which he said something to the effect of, “When science and religion seem to contradict each other, we should consider that the science is not wrong, and the Bible is not wrong, but our interpretation of it.”
I believe the Bible is inerrant, I believe God created the world, and I believe that we have no damn idea how he did it, or when, and perhaps we never will. I believe that perhaps our tiny minds aren’t able to comprehend it, and I believe that in any case that part is largely irrelevant. The point of the creation story and the flood story in the Bible is not how or when, but why. The things we are meant to learn from these parts of the Bible may not be (and certainly aren’t primarily) physical truths, but metaphysical and spiritual principles and lessons.
For a long time one of the ways that I reconciled the facts for myself was the rationalisation that, “Maybe the world was created only a few thousand years ago, but with the appearance of age, so that the scientific findings about millions and billions of years reflect a phantom history which the point of creation materialised.” I understand that this is a popular theory in some circles, however at the time I came up with it I was unaware that anyone else had thought of it. Nevertheless, it was pointed out to me recently that while God certainly could have done that, why would he?
It would be incredibly deceitful and dishonest of Him to say, as he does in the Bible, to look to the earth and study it and nature and marvel at his creation, to imply that we can know him and his character by studying natural laws and the wonders of the heavens, and yet have built into that natural world a deception, a false age and an appearance that belied reality. My God is a God of truth, and justice, and mercy. He would not purposely lay for us such a stumbling block, nor would he direct us to study his creation and know him by his works if the things that we are able to learn and perceive and study in observing it are not also leading us to Truth.
Therefore, I believe with Galileo, that what science has tested and proven and discovered is truth, and what is written in scripture is also truth, and if they do not seem to agree, then it is our own understanding and interpretation that is wrong. Not the text, and not the facts. Because my God is that big, and he is Truth, and he is Love.
(eta: fixed links)