Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why creationism is bad for Christianity - an open letter to creationists in Edinburgh.

I was originally going to write this piece as a response to a talk given by Paul James-Griffiths (a member of the Edinburgh Creation Group) at Carrubbers Christian Centre last week, but its not really about him. There is a wider issue here about changes in the way Christianity is being presented by evangelical groups in the city. Whilst I don’t mind people believing whatever they like, when they try to represent young earth creationism as central to Christianity I think this is both incorrect and damaging to Christianity.

I write this as a former creationist myself who ended up no longer believing in God. Incidentally I attended Carrubbers and was involved in promoting one of the first tours of the UK by Ken Ham. So I speak as someone who had that level of investment in the whole house of cards at one time.

My own faith was shipwrecked by this issue because I had been told time and again that belief in a young earth and creation of the species as they currently are without evolution was essential to being a proper, soundly converted, bible believing Christian. When I started to doubt creationism I also began to question all the other things I had been told about God. I felt lied to, and ultimately I found I no longer believed in God. In hindsight if I had been in an environment where it was possible to believe in the Gospel message without having to accept creationism I would probably still be a Christian, or at least have some level of faith in God. Although its unlikely that this level of faith would have made me acceptable to evangelicals as a “real Christian”.

As time has gone on it has occurred to me that the communication challenges facing the church today are being made greater by the emphasis they are putting on creationism.

If you are a creationist in Edinburgh here are some reasons why I think your activities are bad for Christianity.

You are making the relevance of the bible conditional on the literal truth of a part of it which stands at odds with observable facts. 
You may claim that there is no contradiction between the two and that Genesis is science, but the majority of thinking people do not agree with that position and there is considerable scientific and everyday evidence to support their skepticism. By making young earth creationism central to the Christian message you are narrowing down the number of people to whom that message will appeal.  This is part of a wider movement in Christianity which seeks to add more and more levels of unreasonable belief in order to be accepted by the group as a “true believer” (whether it be pentecostal doctrines, dispensationalist, creationist or any other add on doctrine).

You are unwittingly providing fuel for militant atheists.
You see, if your argument is “Genesis can be proved to be literally true, therefore the rest of the bible is true, therefore God exists” it does not take much to turn this argument on its head and say “science proves that Genesis is not literally true, therefore the rest of the bible is untrue, therefore there is no god”. Even though there is no logical connection between the literal truth of Genesis and the truth of any other part of the bible or with the issue of the existence of God.

You are misusing creation as a proof for the existence of God.
Creationists use of a young earth and dismissal of evolution as a proof for the existence of God is a false dawn. Even if evolution was proved to be untrue it would not necessarily mean that God did it (there are other competing theories) and even then it would not logically fall that it was the Christian God as there are various other deities who lay claim to having created the world.

You are encouraging people to base their faith on a total denial of reason.
One consequence of creationism is that it tends towards putting a limit on how far people can go in investigating the world we live in. Some questions are simply off limit whilst others have a stop put on how far they can go. This means that Christians are more and more standing against education and this includes theological education just as much as scientific education. There is a general feeling amongst evangelicals that education erodes faith and is to be avoided. Hence the increased trend towards home schooling and Christian Schools in the Edinburgh area. By demonstrating outside the University and accusing it of being an atheist stronghold you are representing Christianity as Luddite in relation to education.

You are in danger of promoting lies.
Whilst I will defend your right to hold your beliefs about human origins there does come a point where it parts company with the facts and you have to accept that it is really just a faith position and accept it as such. When you try to promote it as hard fact then many people will view you as liars.

Some creationist beliefs previously promoted as true have later been found to be untrue.  This can not be said for any other area of Christian doctrine or the gospel message, which tends towards the metaphysical and therefore can never be found to be factually false. The alleged discovery of Noah’s Ark earlier this year which was then proved to be false was later defended by those involved as a way of bringing people to faith in God even although it was known to be false.
Intelligent design is worse than creationism because it starts with a definite lie. By claiming “this is nothing to do with religion” intelligent design organisations, staffed by evangelical Christians with religious objectives, start  from an immoral position which is at odds with the purported  character of God (who is supposed to be true and righteous).

In conclusion
It will be interesting to see what sort of response, if any, this article receives. My gut feeling is that there will be lots of comments trying to prove the creationist scientific claims whilst avoiding the actual point of the article which is about the way creationism has damaged the integrity of the way that Christianity is being presented in Edinburgh.

39 comments:

  1. The damage they've done eh! How many others could relay a similar tale to your own?

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  2. Well said, I sometimes joke that creationists are paid by Richard Dawkins.
    St Augustine of Hippo (writing pre-Darwin):

    "It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation." (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [AD 408])

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegorical_interpretations_of_Genesis

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  3. A great post. With your permission I would like to re-post it at the BCSE blog - I will of course link back here as well.

    http://bcseweb.blogspot.com/

    Let me know what you think.

    Regards,

    Psi

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  4. Hello Psi
    Feel free to link to this article.
    Gordon

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  5. Thanks Gordon,

    Here it is;

    http://bcseweb.blogspot.com/2010/10/view-from-pulpit-ex-creationist-speaks.html

    Regards,

    Psi

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  6. Hi Gordon,

    I appreciate your thoughtful blogpost. I am a biologist (worked in biotechnology and academic research labs for the last 17 years), and I'm also an Evangelical Christian (just to put it out there). You are understated in your condemnation of creationism. Personally, I think creationism is the largest and most damaging fallacy being promoted by a (significant) segment of the Church today. I'm sorry that this issue cost you your Faith, not a surprising outcome, but also not a necessary one (thankfully, it is still possible to a reason based Faith...I would suggest a book by Francis Collins (current head of the National Institutes of Health in the US who led the US human genome project after James Watson left, discoverer of the cystic fibrosis gene, also a former atheist turned Evangelical, MD/PhD, etc.), specifically read "The Language of God." A nice read that rips up creationism from a biological perspective (in lay language) and suggests a new paradigm which he coined biologos (http://www.biologos.org/ this is an organization which is trying to counteract the creationist movement, in short).

    Creationists spend far too much time talking about Genesis and far too little time talking about Jesus. I'd say that they're going to burn in hell for it, but that probably is too strong of a statement. :-)

    Regardless, evolution is pure and simple fact. There is no sense debating it anymore (beyond academic mechanistic arguments, but arguing over whether or not it occurred is a joke). Creationism really needs to just go away--I dare say that this anti-science establishment movement has gained enough ground in the US that it is fueling political debate and even activism (e.g. "the tea party"), all which stems from a serious lack of critical thinking. Just a thought, but I could be wrong.


    In fact, if your interested in Genesis 1 I would suggest a concise article by Rikk Watts (who is actually a New Testament Professor at Regents in Vancouver BC). In essence, he suggests the main aim of Genesis 1 is to highlite the differences between the God of the Jews and the Gods of the Egyptians. Here's a link:
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Bible-Science/6-02Watts.html

    Regardless, Creationism is not just a massive waste of time, it is destructive (take what happened to you). For some reason my outcome was different than yours, but I am empathetic to your past experiences. It is painful to know that people spend a lot of money supporting these zany ideas and the zany people who preach them, when they could be giving that money to feed people (or a million other better things).

    In any case, I enjoyed your post. Take care,

    Jeff

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  7. I would ask both Gordon and Jeff to consider joining in with us in the BCSE, we already have religious, ex-religious and never-were religious members and contributors.

    We are religiously neutral and our aim is to keep creationism out of science classes.

    It seems to me that you would both have good contributions to make from your own perspectives and you would be most welcome,

    http://bcseweb.org.uk/
    http://community.bcseweb.org.uk/
    http://bcseweb.blogspot.com/

    Regards,

    Psi

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  8. Hi Psi,

    In fact I did check out your blog the other day. I think it is a great resource. Honestly, it is a shame that such blogs are necessary, but until science education is protected from errant ideologies creeping into it, it is necessary (for a long time, I fear). Thanks, I will follow it more closely and comment if I every feel like I have something to add.

    Jeff

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  9. Interesting article here on why evangelicals should support evolution:

    http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/evangelicals_accept_evolution/

    However, I am surprised he does not mention the fact that creationists actually make the validation of their faith dependent on a lie. Non creationist evangelicals don't have that problem.

    That article is American, of course, and here in the UK we have an increase in churches who are taking a creationist position. I am preparing an article with evidence to support this claim, but its taking time to collate the information.

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  10. Evolution is THE big lie. 'There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,but the end thereof are the ways of death'. Proverbs 14. 12 KJV. How any 'evangelical' Christians can believe in evolution is beyond me. If you are a Christian you would by definition believe in the virgin birth,death and ressurection of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Evolution is mentioned no where in the bible. If you study the Word of God,He is described in many places as the 'Evolver',no sorry I think you will find He is the 'Creator'. Not ONE shred of evidence has been found in support of evolution. However I will accept that men will only see what they want to see. Also atheism has ALWAYS existed.The great lie of evolution is shipwrecking the faith of many and sending untold multitudes to hell. I have heard of many such un-biblical doctrines such as 'theistic' evolution which makes no sense whatsoever. Believe the abiding Word of God or the lie; 'Hath God said'? Genesis 3.1 KJV.Man is rebellious by nature,there is nothing good in him. Sin destroyed everything good in us. Our only hope is in the second Adam; our Lord and Saviour;the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Praise His Holy Name! The gospel of the LORD JESUS CHRIST begins in Genesis 1.1.Not Matthew! 'Let God be true,but everyman a liar'; Romans 3.4.KJV It matters not what you 'intellectuals' think of me;'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.' 1 Corinthians 1.27 KJV-So I am in good company! It is my prayer that many would turn from trusting in man's theories(which ALWAYS change) to trusting in God's word (which NEVER changes).Repent and believe!

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  11. Hello Colin

    The absence of something from the bible does not mean it is not true.

    Quantum physics is not mentioned in the bible. Neither is the law of gravity or the existence of x-rays and radio waves, yet we listen to the radio and drop things on our feet from time to time.

    You are falling into the same trap as many Christians and atheists in believing that creationism or evolution can either prove or kill religious belief. It can't. You seem to be claiming that evolution, if true, would mean that there was no God. That's not only illogical, but liable to set people up to lose their faith if they come across some of the evidence for evolution.

    This is one reason why the Christian schools movement and home schooling is growing in Britain. Rather than educating children to have a robust faith, Christians are giving their a fragile faith which needs to be kept away from certain information or it will simply collapse.

    When you listen to why parents send their children to Christian schools the public arguments are often about class sizes or discipline, but in private you hear about teaching them a morality which would not be sustainable with real world information or teaching science in a way that will not damage their children's faith. Well it can't be much of a faith then.

    If God exists (and my jury is still out on this) then he can withstand any sort of logical or scientific enquiry. If he can't then he doesn't exist and its just brainwashing. Which brings me back to the point of this article, that there is something inherently dishonest about creationism.

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  12. Hello Gordon,
    The definition of 'quantum' a latin word(according to my Collins English dictionary)is;'as much as suffices'-a description for 'quantity'as if we didn't know there was a lot out there. A lot of help I think you will agree! Latin IS an occultic language-it confuses people into thinking it has an esoteric meaning.Regarding physical science,man has harnessed the 'forces of nature'(what God put there)if you like to his own benefit.Gravity and radio waves ARE mentioned in the bible-for those to whom it has been revealed. I will give a couple of examples that come to mind;'He stretcheth out the north over the empty place,and hangeth the earth upon nothing'.Job 26.7 KJV As regards radio waves and x-rays they are just man's chosen label for God's forces of'nature'that are already at work.Ephesians 2.2 describes that there is a 'power of the air' that is at work. Gordon,I am sure that you agree that when you see the sun's rays,or indeed any light emmited from whatever heavenly being,that,that source existed before modern science. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1.9;'There is nothing new under the sun'. In Psalm 19.1 it says;'The heavens declare the glory of God'. You cannot make anyone believe in the Creator-He does that;'No man can come to me except the Father which has sent me draw him:and I will raise him up at the last day'.John 6.44. God says in His word that unbelievers will burn in the 'lake of fire';Revelation 21.8. I don't want anyone to go there-hovever this is the penalty for those who do not 'repent and believe the gospel';Mark 1.15.
    We made the decision to homeschool because as you well know evolutionary thinking permeates the curriculum at every level in the state school system,and as for the sex education.... Would you want your children to be taught lies? I am fifty and have been a believer for approximately nine years. I had to do a lot of 'unlearning'. It cannot have escaped your notice that this world is not in a good shape at any level-the bible calls believers to be separate from the world as best as they can be.
    How can creationism be dishonest? Do you really believe that an aeon ago nothing exploded,cooled down,formed into a planet,out of which crawled a fish from the waters into which it turned into an ape then into man? You have got a LOT more faith than me.
    'The truth will set you free';John 8.32.

    Changing the subject a bit,I know that you have articles about UFOs and fairies. Have you ever read or heard of 'Alien Intrusion' by Gary Bates?
    JESUS IS LORD
    Colin Ford

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  13. Absolutely fascinating Colin. I had no idea that you home schooled your children, but it does seem to go with the territory. I can't comment on your circumstances, but from people I know personally who have done this they do seem to believe that their children are more mechanical than spiritual.
    This article might be of interest:
    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/11/do-fundamentalist-christians-believe.html

    I didn't actually say that creationism was a lie, but that those putting it forward are dishonest in the way that they do it (by stating that creationism can somehow prove the existence of God). Also, that some creationists have promoted things the new to be lies as fact because they believed this was justifiable if it encouraged people to be Christians. The specific examples I gave was the "discovery" of Noah's Ark last year and the way that some proponents of ID claim not to be religious when they have previously promoted biblical creationism.
    You can see an example of this here:
    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/10/centre-for-intelligent-design-opens-in.html

    Here is the main weakness though: creationism is the only "doctrine" associated with Christianity which can ever be proved false. It is unique in this regard.

    Take the divinity of Jesus as an example. This could never be proven false or true by any objective method. The same with the trinity - it might be true, it might not, but its not proveable. All of these ideas fall outside the realm of enquiry by reason. As I say in this article, creationism sets up Christians to be proven wrong, and proven wrong in a big way.

    As for fairies and UFO's. I believe they are the same phenomenon and that a lot of the historical examples can be explained by a medical condition called Charles Bonnet Syndrome. That, however, is a story for another day.

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  14. Colin,
    I'm going to tell you what you don't want to hear, and you're not going to believe a word of it, but I'll say it anyway. I'll also say what Gordon politely refrained from saying. YEC really is a lie, and your understanding of the Bible is simplistic and inaccurate; and in order to make the claims you do (literalism and innerancy) one must come face to face with all the contradictions that now arise within the text (e.g. differences from one Gospel to the next, etc.). You're aware of this, no doubt, so doesn’t harmonizing them add material to the Bible that isn't there, which is counter to what literalism intended in the first place?

    Referring to an earlier comment, humanity has learned to harness the God given forces of nature (to the extent that we have) because of the sciencific method. This same process has conclusively led to the understanding that evolution is the only data driven explanation for how life came to exist on this planet. I fully grant you the possibility that God may have created everything over the course of 6 days exactly as laid out in Genesis (although do note that the 2nd creation story in Genesis is significantly different than the first), but if God did do this then He covered His tracks exceedingly well; for evolution is the only intelligible answer when one uses the same process that has helped us harness (some of) the forces of nature. BTW, I protest your statement that gravity and radio waves are mentioned in the Bible. If you are taking the 6 day creation literally, then why are you in this case adding meanings to the text that aren't there? If the Bible mentioned gravity and radio waves, then it would say "gravity" and "radio waves" in the text (albeit in Ancient Hebrew), and it does not. You are making an inference, just as I make an inference (with a lot of data backing me up) that the Genesis creation story is not historically or scientifically accurate and was not intended to be. The Bible is God's revelation to us about who He is and how we can know Him (on which I hope we agree). Isn't that enough, does it also have to be about everything else? Because I'll tell you, when I go to the doctor I will have wanted him or her to have gone to medical school and prescribe a treatment that is grounded in the scientific method (the same one that concludes evolution happened)--alright, I'll make some exceptions for alternative medicine, if there is some supporting evidence, but I digress. Regardless, I do not want the Doctor pouring over the Holy Scriptures trying to glean a shred of data on how to treat me.

    I do not take the Big Bang on faith, I don't need to (why would I want to?) as the actual evidence for it is robust. If you knew the mechanisms of evolution then you'd realize that turning a monkey into a man isn't much of a stretch (given the right environmental conditions and time frame). I feel that your understanding of the scientific data is lacking, to say the least. On that note, be aware that as your children grow up and take on a Faith for themselves, it may be a house built upon the sand that crumbles in the face of reason. We also homeschool for a variety of reasons (the main one being that we think we can educate our kids better than the local schools). We are trying to instill in them a sense of awe and wonder at the world God has created (through evolution), for if it took God ~5 billion years (since the existence of the earth) to get us to where we are today, then His creation must be good indeed--too bad we're unwraveling it all in the period of a few hundred years.

    When my kids go out into the secular world, they will not have to run and hide behind gross misrepresentations of the Bible because their Faith feels threatened. More importantly, their peers may come to understand that one can have a reasoned Faith in Jesus without twisting the source data to fit into a nice little box, lest we find we're the ones in it.
    Jeff

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  15. Hello Gordon,

    As you say,homeschooling does go with the territory! For some of us anyway. But would YOU (if you had the conviction that the 'THEORY of evolution' and 'theistic evolution' was a lie,send YOUR children to a state school to be taught lies?

    I don't claim that every minutiae that 'creation' scientists teach is true-they are sinners just like me. But there again I am 100% convinced that you wouldn't claim everything that was taught by the disciples of Charles Darwin is true either. I put my faith in the Word Of GOD.The Word of God answers every question there is;if you have the eyes to see it.
    It cannot have escaped your notice however that the United Kingdom was in the not so distant past a great Christian nation that practically ruled most of the known world. Queen Victoria gave the credit to the 1611 KJV bible. What we see today is very sad;'human rights' laws have replaced the bible,the UK is being slowly but surely taken over from Brussels,the indigenous people mostly don't know who they are anymore as foreign cultures are taking over (mainly Islam!),we have sold out all our assets abroad...I could go on. God gave us the nations-He doesn't want 'globalisation' remember the 'Tower of Babel'?

    Can you trust anyone anymore? Do you believe and trust the politicians? The bible is the only constant that there is. Just because there is Churches closing down everywhere doesn't mean that the bible isn't true. The local methodist church in our village closed last year. I was in the 'Highlands and Islands' a few weeks ago;the same story.

    At the end of the day it all comes down to faith, a creationist can't prove a Darwinist wrong or vice versa.

    I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Messiah because after studying the Old Testament I see the 'Servant King' whom the accredited leaders of Israel rejected! Because of Israels rejection,salvation has come to the gentiles (nation peoples).Romans 11.11-15 Praise God.

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  16. Hello Colin
    The bible does not claim to answer every question. It clearly does not answer the questions of science that Jeff has referred to. That's just a statement of fact. What concerns me is that fundamentalists will not accept these sort of facts because they fear their faith will collapse. It seems to me that this is why they home school or use Christian schools.

    As for the UK being "in the not so distant past a great Christian nation", clearly it wasn't.

    It was a place where everyone had to say that they believed in God and other than a few immigrants all were expected to be members of churches. That does not make people Christians. As an evangelical you should know that its an issue of personal revelation and conversion. The number of such Christians in Victorian Britain was quite small and very few were in positions of power as most were from quite poor backgrounds.

    Even if I accept your argument that Britain was a great Christian nation, I would have to compare that to the moral actions of governments and individuals in those days where we had:

    - A high rate of syphilis infections.
    - Extreme poverty in cities (suggest you read - The People of the Abyss by Jack London for background).
    - Young children working in dangerous conditions in factories without education.
    - An economy driven by natural resources taken from conquered countries.
    - Goods produced by slaves taken from Africa to work on plantations.

    These are the things which drove Victorian Britain. I don't see much Christianity other than a surface veneer. There was no golden age.

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  17. Hello again Gordon,

    Yes all was not wonderful,you are quite right.

    Such is the sinful nature of man.

    The bible only answers 'every question' if you believe it and are CONVINCED of it's veracity.

    But what about today in this enlightened age? I really don't know how to start on that one.

    If people lose faith in the foundational book of origins-Genesis,then it neccessarily follows that what ever follows cannot be trusted.

    How would you know if you were being decieved by secular scientists? Do you understand all their hypothesis? They always seem to contradict each other and add on or subtract a few billion years here or there when trying to age the universe.

    I remember going to Cheddar Gorge about 15 years ago and they aged their stalagtites in millions of years; yet there is a beautiful example about 10' long perfectly formed out of a plastic drainage pipe in my back garden! Also we were told that diamonds take 'millions' of years to form;apparently now they can create the conditions to manufacture them in a laboratory-really perfect examples. I did see a documentary about it on tv.

    I came across your blog when researching Revelation/God tv. I must confess (sadly) that there are a lot of false teachers on there.

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  18. Well, the bible clearly does not answer "every" question. It does not explain how to change 13 amp plug. In fact the bible does not know about electricity. Clearly everybody accepts that the bible has limits (even if they claim they don't), its just a question of where those limits are.

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  19. Colin,
    I don't specifically understand your intentions by some of the samples you gave above (manufactured diamonds, etc.). I think you just demonstrated that secular science has truly managed, through careful application of the scientific method, to apply accumulated knowledge about the physical forces to industry & manufacturing. In essence, you've somewhat validated that which you seem to fear (secular science).

    Two points, science has to be secular by definition. Science asks questions that can be tested to determine the validity of a question (hypothesis). How does one do that with God (as you know, there are some scriptures that warn against testing God)? If I ask God to perform a miracle so I can believe in Him, will He do it? If He did, we'd all be Christians, I think; or at least a member of whatever religion we had the closest associations with. Before I do an experiment on the lab bench, I might say a prayer (though I usually don't, to be quite honest) that I not screw up the experiment, but I don't ask God to influence the results. I don't ever pray "please help this turn out in such a way that the result is really exciting." That's madness, because the nature of science is that the data has to be reproducible. My fellow scientist has to be able to repeat it. If God doesn't give him or her the same result, then I'm the one who is a fool (the one who tried to be a deceiving scientist).

    Which leads me to your point about being deceived by scientists. First, how do you keep from being deceived? Easy, get educated in science. Granted, this is not always easy to do (I have no idea what most thoeretical physicists are talking about). Second, read about other scientists' reviews of their colleagues' work and get a consensus. "Secular" science is a self correcting process. If somebody uses deceit (which is very rare but can happen) they will invariably be called out for it because at some point someone will try and repeat it. Therefore, in the short run deceit could happen, and in the long run it will be discovered and corrected. Also keep in mind that there are plenty of scientists out there who are believers.

    Lastly, a question that I haven't been able to understand that maybe you can answer. If you don't believe this, then never mind, but I know many Christian's who firmly believe that the Book of Revelation is a blue print for our future. Through proper decoding we can determine certain things about the rapture, tribulation, etc.. Why do they believe this? I think it is because Revelation is complete nonsense if taken literally, so for it to be meaningful reinterpretation of it required (from their viewpoint, from my viewpoint Revelation was written to give hope to Christians being persecuted by the Roman Empire). Not one of them takes the book literally because it is obvious that it cannot be literal. However, when it comes to Genesis, every single one of them takes the book literally. Why isn't this double standard more recognized? It is clear to me based on what I know about God's creation that the opening chapters of Genesis are as nonsensical (taken as literal history) as Revelation is (going to be) literal history, but regardless I don't understand why they are given different treatment by people who claim to be treating them consistently? It frightens me a bit, to be quite honest, because this is what the radical Muslim does (and they frighten me), which is to pick and choose what they want to believe about their scriptures. Dangerous!

    It is not sufficient to say that somebody who doesn't take Genesis literally no longer has faith in it (keeping in mind that our Faith is ultimately in Jesus, and not any one book in the Bible). That said, I've not lost my faith in the creation accounts in Genesis. It is filled with wonderful theological material that informs my faith, but as a literal history, no.
    Jeff

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  20. Hello Gordon,

    Arguments seldom produce any fruit. I am just TRYING to proclaim the abiding Word Of God. Nothing more and prayerfully nothing less. I DON'T claim to understand everything in the bible. If I did,would I not be God?
    I love the Lord Jesus Christ because He offers me something that NO ONE else can. I trust and worship Him because I believe His word,period.
    He is the ineffable creator of the heavens and the earth.

    I believe the creation account in Genesis. I accept that God created the heavens and the earth. Granted it doesn't reveal how He did it. Do you think our fallen,finite minds (I include Einstein,Hawkings,Dawkins etc)could understand such information?
    We can choose to believe or reject the gospel.
    Most people are surprised to learn that the gospel is not an invitation but a commandment,read Acts 17. 30; And the times of this ignorance God winked at;but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. But carry on reading the next verse: Because he has appointed a day,in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained;whereof he hath given assurance unto all men,in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    The apostle Paul reasoned from the scriptures to eminent philosophers in his day. Some believed and others didn't.
    Likewise I believe that the book of Revelation is the inspired Word of God. I believe in it 100%,that is not to say that I understand it 100%. This book is a very Jewish book and fits like a glove with the old testament Jewish prophets such as Isaiah,Daniel,Joel,Zechariah etc. As well as corresponding with Matthew 24.Luke 21 and the letters of Paul,John and Peter.

    I believe that far more intelligent people than me came to believe in the creation account of Genesis because a 'light bulb' went off! It is IMPOSSIBLE to believe other than by revelation.

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  21. Colin,

    Yours was a typical response from a fundamentalist. Glossing over real questions out of what is either over confidence or the fear of what lies on the other side of those questions. I did that for awhile also. However, if one believes in the integrity of the Gospel, then one needs to face the lack of integrity in their own approach to it. Maybe you'll come to grips with it someday, or maybe you won't.

    I might suggest a book:
    What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists (2004), by Keith Ward, who was a religion professor for ~40 years and ended his career at Oxford. Before you discount the author outright, he does open the book by saying he is a born again Christian. I'm not trying to talk you out of being a Christian...that is the last thing I want. I'm merely suggesting you take a first step in acknowledging that there is a twinge of possibility that your approach to the Biblical material might not constitute an entirely honest approach. For grins and giggles let's just assume I'm wrong, but since I posed the question it is at least worth addressing. However, you cannot take verses of the Bible (and likely out of context) to support your claim. Why? Say you had the opportunity to witness to someone of a different religion, but they refused to listen to you because they keep citing their own scriptures as reasons to ignore you. You would get frustrated, right? You would at least want them to take a moment to think outside of their box, otherwise they will never believe. That's all I'm asking you to do, that which you would expect of somebody else. If you're not willing to do that, then we can't expect people of other faith's to be willing to do it either.

    Jeff
    PS Gordon, sorry for "commandeering" this portion of your blog.

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  22. Jeff, I don't mind.
    I think this is a very important issue. YEC seems to be inherently dishonest (misrepresenting science and misusing the bible) and I can't reconcile this with the claims of Christians about honesty and integrity in other areas of life. It just doesn't seem right and it also doesn't seem necessary which is why I wrote this article in the first place.

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  23. Hello Gordon and jj,

    Sorry for the time taken to respond.

    The term 'YEC' is something I have never used to describe myself, and is of itself a very unfortunate 'label'. Call me a creationist because I believe in the Creator,but I am clueless as to how old the earth is because the bible doesn't say. It may well be between 6-10,000 years old,it could be a billion years old. Holy writ does not reveal it. Having said that, scripture does tell us that God is 'The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity'; Isaiah 57. 15. This tells me that God is outside of time,so I am not really concerned at all about the age of the earth. Only the age of mankind and how death entered into the present creation and how we can be saved.
    If we read Genesis 1. 1-2 aright we will see right at the very beginning of holy writ what would appear to be a problem between these two verses;

    1.In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
    2.And the earth was without form,and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

    In verse one we see that God created the heaven and the earth. Then immediately after it is without form and void. Something cataclysmic happened here;how much time is between these two verses only God knows. The prophet Isaiah tells us in 45.18; 'For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens;God himself that formed the earth and made it;he hath established it,he created it NOT IN VAIN,he formed it to be inhabited.'(emphasis mine). As mentioned elsewhere please refer to Arthur Walkington Pink's exegesis on this subject from 'Pink's Archive' and click onto 'Gleanings in Genesis' and hopefully you might understand where I am coming from.(At 2 wpm I don't want to spend the rest of my life on this blog!)

    There is so much false teaching in in the name of Christianity today and there is only ONE defence against it; READ and BELIEVE the WORD. Hebrews 4. 12 tells us; 'For the word of God is quick and powerful,and sharper than any two edged sword,piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,and of the joints and marrow,and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.'

    What does 'born again' mean? There are many,many false teachers and preachers today (look on God tv-I also include YEC's)posing as 'born again' believers. Read 2 Corinthians 13-15; For such are false apostles,deceitful workers,transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel;for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.'

    jj I have looked up Keith Ward and discovered that he is a 'philosopher' as well as being 'born again'. He was joint president of World Congress of Faiths,he is part of the ecumenical and 'interfaith' movement whose core belief is that 'all faiths lead to one God'. If you don't believe me type his name into the Wikipedia search tool. The Word of God tells us in many,many places that there is ONE way to be reconciled back to God,but for the sake of brevity I will quote two scriptures; John 14.6; 'I am the way,the truth and the life:no man cometh to the father but by me.' Again in Acts 4.12; 'Neither is there salvation in any other:for there is none other name under heaven given among men,whereby we must be saved.'

    The reason I love and worship the LORD JESUS CHRIST is because He died on THAT cross for ME! And ALL who repent of their sins and believe in His atoning blood. I don't think what I have just said would go down too well in one of Mr Ward's interfaith meetings,do you?
    If it were possible to be reconciled back to God without the cross then there was no point in Him dying on that cross,was there? The true Christian faith is all about the Cross of Calvary. 'He was slain from the foundation of the world'; Revelation 13. 8. The atonement was not a last minute plan to out thwart Satan!

    Colin

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  24. The above had to be edited as I exceeded the number of words allowed.

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  25. Colin,

    The point of using Keith Ward's book is to illustrate examples of where Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible are wrong and logically inconsistent. On the face of things, I don't mind interfaith movements so much, I think they are somewhat necessary if we are to live in a peaceful understanding with people of other faiths. To listen to others rather than dictate to others, just as we ought to spend more of our time in prayer listening to God rather than talking, I suspenct. I would point out that C.S. Lewis argued that all religions possess truth (or else nobody would believe them), but those truths are fulfilled in the person of Jesus (paraphrasing). If Ward's take on Christiainity is a bit (or way) too liberal for you (it is for me to some degree), then that is another issue. Paul also argues that pagans (which I read to believe people of other religions, but that was the dominant non-Judeo/Christian religion in his world) can have a heart after God. I will avoid further discussion of how this might look in this life or the next because I don't really know, but I suspect that Grace and Mercy will win the day (since they already have).

    The literal and historical interpretation of Genesis is one such point where Fundamentalism falls on its face, which you apparently do not cling to. In that sense, this discussion is over. Although I read a bit of "Pink's" and the statement ..."but all that took place from Genesis 1:3 onwards transpired less than six thousand years ago" is very bold indeed (and flies in the face of all the data). The fact that geologic time (and a literal 24hr period) is already conceded by pink, I think it would be wise to concede this claim and admit that life occurred over much of geologic since all the data suggests it. The fact that Pink was not around to see modern science makes me wonder how he might have restated things today. I also take issue with "Rather must it be the part of scientists to bring their declarations into accord with the teaching of Genesis 1." If I'm reading that correctly, that would be a gross perversion of the scientific method to suggest that we ought to seek data which confirms Genesis 1. That is what Creation Science has done, and they have perverted everything about science. If we used that methodology for science we might think we know a lot, but would no in reality know nothing and falsely criticize everything that we didn't know. This is an impossible and dishonest suggestion to make.

    In fact, having conceded geologic time I would add that it would not take a lot of effort to turn you into a Theistic evolutionist (or whatever term you want to use); however, I don't care if you really become one or not, rather I would just ask that you not pass judgement on the faith of those who are (I'm not saying you are doing so, but I have encountered others who have on many occasions). Whenever possible we should seek harmony between Christians and allow God to smooth over the rough edges.

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  26. Gordon, your faith was weak if you let an argument about how long creation was to take you from Christ. But, what was your belief based on before? An old earth?

    My faith is based on the same as the Apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 2:1–5: "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

    Your comments are justification for leaving Christ; he would never leave you.

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  27. My faith was based on believing the bible literally. Once it was clear that this didn't work for the creation story (physical evidence being contrary to what's written) then I either had to stop being a christian or become aliberal christian (which to the born again types is not a christian at all).

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  28. Amen JJ! Your contribution to this debate is like a breath of fresh air.

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  29. This article is very good. As a christian Priest,myself, of the Anglican persuasion, I am delighted to find someone who can be so clear in critiquing the literalist approach to Scriptures. I'm sorry you had to loose your faith along the way to get there. I am going to use your work in some of my own thinking and writing about how a response to that approach might be made from within what used to be called "main stream" Christianity. and that I hope may now be called (I hope) sensible Christianity. Well done.

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  30. I am glad you found it useful. Sadly the trend is still in that direction. Not because creationists are persuading more people, but because in a shrinking pond of Christians they make up a larger proportion.

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  31. Here's my take on the subject:http://testiculation.blogspot.co.uk/

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  32. Hey Gordon, if you no longer believe in God, why are you so concerned about what christians believe?

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  33. Hello Robert,
    Please read the update here:
    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2014/03/my-return-to-faith.html

    I assume you are a Christian so what do you think about my comments about creationism (which I still totally agree with)?

    To address your question directly - at the time I wrote this I felt robbed of my relationship with Christ by people who told me I was not a Christian because I did not believe in X, Y or Z doctrine.

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  35. Oh stop it. The amount of bending over backwards that needs to be done to get evolution and the Bible to kiss and make up is just ridiculous. You aren't believing that based on evidence, you are believing it because you want to cling to secularism.

    Also, anyone who says they were a Christian, but then stopped being one because of [insert reason here] is basically saying that they wanted to be a Christian, but weren't ready to believe and trust Christ.

    Maybe Paul's journey to the truth will help you.

    http://creation.com/freedom-from-the-new-age

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  36. I just have to ask. How do you consolidate these scriptures with millions of years of death and disease and evolution:

    Luke 24:27 - Jesus claimed the scriptures (the old testamemt) testified of Him and so when He appeared to the disciples as they walked and he taught them from the scriptures beginning at the books of Moses that He was the Messiah, Jesus was establishing the authority of all the scriptures including Genesis.

    Psalm 33:4 - God doesn't lie. It's against His nature.

    Acts 3:21 - Peter says that God spoke to His Prophets since the beginning of the world? Was He speaking to unintelligent bacteria?

    Luke 3:38 - Says Adam's progenitor was God.

    Psalm 33:6 - Says God spoke the heavens into existence.

    And there are many, in fact literally the whole Bible goes against a non-literalist interpretation of the creation story in Genesis.

    Who did Jesus come and die for? We evolved monkeys? Why? If there was no literal garden of Eden or Adam and Eve then Jesus is an imposter. In fact we don't need him.

    The things I've read in this thread display such a weak and fragile faith in God word it's pathetic. Either God created man in His image and sent His Son to save us because we have disobeyed Him or man is a worthless sack of chemicals.

    Jesus, who is God, believed in a literal Genesis.

    And where is all this evidence for evolution you all keep talking about. Produce it for me.

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