Creationism – Still a problem for Christianity

Here in the UK, the main publisher of Christian content is Premier Christianity. They do radio broadcasts, podcasts, a magazine and host various blogs.

This week they published a pair of blog items that were guaranteed to grab my attention.

https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/10-questions-to-ask-a-young-earth-creationist
https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/10-questions-to-ask-Christians-who-believe-in-evolution

The ten questions for Creationists are:

1. Can we start by agreeing that the Gospel is more about the Rock of Ages than the ages of rocks?
2. Does the age of the earth – or its shape – matter to a Christian?
3. Does the Bible teach that the earth is spherical?
4. How could people in 1000 BC grasp the idea of geological time?
5. Does the Bible always speak in a direct literal way?
6. Why do you assume that animal death only began to happen after Adam ate the fruit?
7. Is young earth creationism the traditional Christian view?
8. Were early geologists opposed to Christianity and did they use their geology to undermine belief?
9. Did Christians oppose old earth geology in the past?
10. Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

The ten questions for those who accept evolution are:

1. If the Bible was your only source, would you ever suggest that Jesus Christ used evolution?
2. Why do you believe rocks containing thorns are millions of years old?
3. Why would you believe that Jesus the Creator used such processes to create the world, and then hypocritically declared it to be “very good”? (Genesis 1:31)
4. Why would God use a process which favours the strong over the weak?
5. How do you reconcile the truth of God’s word with millions of years?
6. At what point did humans become humans?
7. Was Jesus mistaken?
8. How can we trust God?
9. If evolution is true, then why didn’t God simply tell us that?
10. What would the Apostle Paul make of the theory of evolution?

Some of the questions (like Creationist question no.3) look to me like ‘softballs’, unserious questions designed to allow a standard response to a common internet meme. Given the majority readership of these posts is likely to be Christians, this seems like a waste of a question. Why not present a question that promotes deeper dialog between different Christian factions? I for one am not interested in this sort of question, it’s not challenging.

I’m also disappointing by the depth of the answers to the questions, they are all brief and only cover the the question superficially when some of them (like evolution question no.5) deserve much longer answers. Maybe what should have been done is cover each question in a single blog post and allow a bit of dialogue between the two individuals involved in the questions. That would have been my preference anyway.

Questions aside, it’s the public comments below that have produced the most heat. I have weighed in with my own views and predictably ran into the expected presuppositionalist telling me what it is I believe. I find those highly irritating and it is always a test of patience to remain civil in my replies.

As is to be expected, the more thoughtful comments come from the Christians who accept an old earth and some form of evolution and the more antagonistic comments are from the creationists, who espouse a much more literal version of the bible accounts. Sadly, they don’t continue their biblical literalism into the verses that talk about loving your neighbour and witnessing with respect and gentleness.

Oddly, I find myself welcoming the terrible comments from Creationists, not because I enjoy reading what they say, I don’t. I welcome the comments because it permits the rotten part of Christianity to expose itself. The more this literal and unloving section of Christianity floats to the surface and spews it’s bile, the more people will be turned away from it and be unconvinced by its claims. The clutter and chaos created by the creationists acts as an inoculation against the more attractive aspects of Christianity. Because at the very core, Christianity is still a myth trying very hard to be taken seriously and Creationism reveals that in the most effective way possible.

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Book Review – Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?

Cover of "Creation or Evolution: Do We Ha...

Cover via Amazon

More than a year ago I was lent this book by the pastor and I have eventually finished it (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creation-Evolution-Do-Have-Choose/dp/1854247468). The book is held up by some as a refreshing view on the relationship between Christianity and Evolution.

I found the book mixed and ultimately disappointing, but there are some good bits in it.

On first handling the book it is clear that the intent is going to be to show how acceptance of evolution does not have to be at the expense of religious belief, specifically Christianity. This aspect interested me, given my journey, so I started the book specifically looking for how it would answer that specific challenge.

Evolution

Most of the book is devoted to explanations of various bits of evolution. By necessity they have to contain a certain amount of technical language. However, I found on the whole that the passages on evolution are lay friendly and do a good job of explaining why evolution is not only a valid theory, but an accurate description of observed fact as best we know it.

The book explains well how evolution is a naturalised process and our knowledge of it has no pre-requisite of any god. The processes we understand are fully explained and there are no missing bits that require the invocation of the supernatural.

Creationism and ID

Creationism and ID are also dealt with effectively, albeit with far fewer pages. They are accurately shown to be scientifically deficient and their need to have a god directly be involved to ‘push the process along’ is shown to be a limiting factor for which there is nothing to show.

One good point that is made in the book is the argument for beauty. Many creationists will look at the world we see now and argue that the beauty there can only have been put there directly by god. I once made precisely those arguments. The book counters by saying that the processes that made us and all we see around us are no less beautiful and they too came from god. When a creationist views the world and sees beauty and says it must come from god, they are by implication saying that the long processes that made the beauty they see can not be beautiful because they don’t believe god did it that way.

This is a dangerous way of thinking because it creates a closed mind and stops that believer from fully appreciating the glory of their god’s creation.

The book explains well why creationism and ID are not valid.

Tying Evolution and Christianity

So the big question I wanted to book to answer was, given the above, how does the author, who professes his faith at several points throughout the book, demonstrate that belief in god is consistent with evolution and, more specifically, show that there is a logical reason to hold that view. Sadly, the answer just doesn’t come.

No matter how much I wanted to see an argument for god, it just didn’t happen.

Conclusion

The book successfully argues for the science of evolution and against the god of creationism. As a result it has confirmed my position as an atheist and done nothing at all to tempt me back to faith. I suspect the author would be disappointed, but he should not be surprised.