Monday, 17 September 2007

Thoughts on Creationism

Recently I have gone back to arguing with creationists instead of 9/11 CTists. However one question has provoked me to write this.

The question may be found here.

It asks why so many Christians feel the need to disprove evolution.

Firstly we have to remember that in the USA primarily there are people that question evolution. This is not so much the case here in Australia.

However many of these people believe in some form of biblical literalism.

Many of the denominations grouped as Protestant believe in some form of literalism. The Lutherans for example have the idea of Sola Scriptura. Although the idea has changed slightly over time the basic idea is that the Bible is an authority in itself and that scripture interprets scripture.

Many people follow most of the ideas in the bible, but to be honest people do pick and choose what they follow. There are rules laid down in the Bible that people would not follow today involving various slavery rules like selling your daughter into slavery (Ex 21:7), stoning blasphemers (Lev 24:14), getting tattoos (Lev 19:28) and pretty much all of Leviticus 15.

People do follow many of the rules because they have become integrated in our society eg. murder, incest, rape.

When you look at a basic creationist you will find that they are religious, follow one of the Protestant denominations (to be fair Michael Behe, one of the biggest supporters of ID is a Roman Catholic), and is a literalist.

Literalism is really the biggest problem with the creationist.

Because they believe in a literal interpretation of the bible there is very little room to move around.

When they look at Evolution and also the current age of the Earth they get scared. In those two things they see a big threat to their beliefs and ideals. Some hear about former Christians who became Atheists because they learnt about evolution and it just heightens the fear.

Some would not want to actually learn about evolution because they fear that their world will come crashing down.

They want to believe in a God. Throughout history people have believed in deities. Today the top two religions are monotheistic, and the only polytheism that could compare is Hinduism.

Deities were created by men to help try and explain the world around them. Gods were created to explain the nature of the oceans (i.e. Poseidon is angry), thunder (Thor's hammer), volcanic eruptions (Vulcan is angry) and more.

Ideas were formed as to why various phenomena happened, diseases were caused by demons, or the wrath of the Gods. The Ancient Egyptians had the idea that the sun was pushed across the sky by a scarab beetle, in the same way that it pushes dung along the Earth.

In regards to Creationists it all lies in the first chapters of Genesis. The creation stories.

Being literalists they mainly follow the six day creation plus a day of rest idea.

Evolution, being a process over millions of years is a direct challenge to this. The Bible does however have lines that claim things like a day being a thousand years, but these are not really followed by the creationist.

The age of the Earth is also a problem, the current calculated age is 4.55 billion years.

The age of the Earth is not as much of a problem. The bible deals with that. Many creationists are 'Young Earthers'. Using the Bible, and following the 'names' and death 'ages' of various biblical people, they have managed to come up with an age of 6000 years minimum but you will see estimations of 10 000 years as a maximum.

Coupling this with some rather crappy arguments as to why radiometric dating doesn't work and arguments based on magnetic fields or the loss of helium they have convinced themselves that the Earth is a young one.

Evolution is a bigger problem. There is far more evidence that supports evolution, and the creationist knows it.

Instead of finding ways of reconciling the facts with their faith (Theistic Evolution is one such way), they instead have decided to attack Evolution making outrageous claims as to why it is false.

Many of them, woefully prepared, make arguments as to why their idea is the correct one in light of evidence to the contrary or that many claims are beyond the scope of scientific methodology (the Myspace forums seem to get many of these people).

Strangely enough members of other denominations, or even other religions, don't seem to have these problems. Hinduism works on a completely different creation model but it follows the idea that the universe runs in cycles of trillions of years. The Christian denominations that are not literalist also have fewer proponents of ID (which is really a predominantly Christian thing anyway), St. Augustine of Hippo wrote on the allegorical nature of Genesis (believing that everything was created in one instant) and this has been the predominant interpretation of the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox Churches, and the Anglican Church.

Also Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish scholar who also wrote on Genesis being an allegory.

All these groups have managed to reconcile the facts with their faith, and nothing bad has happened yet.

Perhaps the creationists should stop listening to their pastor on evolution, stop reading the creationist material and actually learn about the idea that they seem to have created a hatred of.

They may find that they too can reconcile their faith with the facts.

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