Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Due Diligence

This blog post is my response to a series of questions my friend raised regarding my criticism of Creationism. I felt this would be a better fit for my answers than the platform of our original conversation. 

1. Why do you think the debate regarding creationism (and its offshoots and various understandings - which according to your earlier blog about offshoots being at a point closest to true revelation, there seem to be more offshoots from creationist thought than evolutionist thought (perhaps unity of a theory/belief represents truth more?) - and evolution, continues today?

Firstly, I think Christian creationism is better contrasted to Non-Christian creationism (to explain how variance equates closer truth in this case), rather than evolution. Eg., Who is the creator god, Yahweh or Brahma, and how did creation come about?

I found a great summary of the varied offshoots of Creationism, which does an excellent job of explaining this further. Understanding this, we can see that Christianity has been more reluctant to drop biblical allegories in favor of evolution, and has in effect, retrofitted evolutionary explanations into biblical fundamentals to create the various offshoots we see present.

I think the debate continues to happen when we eisegete scripture, taking liberties based on its presupposed inerrancy. The debate is unfruitful, not because discussion about our origins shouldn't happen, but because we enter the discussion from an unfounded reverence for the prooftexts. I believe the Bible is a collection of books, supernaturally infallible for the purpose of pointing us to Jesus. If someone wants to make it a textbook of science, which it was never intended to be, we have warnings against such practice and should not be so ignorant.

2. Does which side one person falls on matter?

Yes, but I think this is better understood in a different way.

3. If yes, why?
Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you.
- Matthew 7:15
Looking at the continuum, I think it is evident where Young Earth Creationists fail to contribute to any discussion on the matter of Origin. Eg.,You will never get a Philosophical Materialistic Evolutionist to consider the earth as flat, or the centre of our galaxy, so why would they consider it to be 6,000 years old? Besides the recession of logic, this does not expound any scientific mystery.

The following are held by members of the Board of Answers in Genesis to be either consistent with Scripture or implied by Scripture:
  • Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ.
  • The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of creation.
  • The Noachian Flood was a significant geological event and much (but not all) fossiliferous sediment originated at that time.
  • The gap theory has no basis in Scripture.
  • The view, commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of biblical teaching, that knowledge and/or truth may be divided into secular and religious, is rejected.
  • By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
Young Earth Creation apologists believe the Origin of Life is narrated in Genesis, and any evidence must fit into the narrative to be considered valid. This is a classic example of a doctrine as the central ideal fallacy, and is also the reason why discerning bad theology matters. Christianity has to reflect reality—not the other way around.

4. Why do you think non-christians bring this matter up? Do they really care or is it just to justify not believing?
Invoking the supernatural is the dead-end to further inquiry.
- Anonymous
I think non-christians do care for the most part, otherwise they wouldn't ask. Creationism is not an easy (or necessary) hurdle, and there are more important things at stake if Jesus is who he says he is. But to the seeker who asks for evidence of 6 day creation, I would rather answer "No, I don't believe the Bible was written to be a book of science." If they have any more questions, they'll ask.

5. How do you think a creationist world view versus an evolutionist world view (or Big Bang theorist's view) affects [a Christian's] own narrrative framework for interpretting life? (more sucinctly: What does a belief in creationism or evolution look like through the eyes of [a Christian] interpreting life...do they really differ in perspective enough for this view to matter?)

I think Theistic Evolutionists have a better worldview than Young Earth Creationists for two reasons:
  1. Their faith is informed by the reality around them, which permeates everything from the way they read scripture to how they respond to scepticism, ultimately leading to a fuller appreciation for God's creation.
  2. They do not get overwhelmed by defending Old Testament paradoxes; they generally get asked better questions by non-christians.
St. Anselm described theology as "Faith seeking understanding" and theistic evolutionists believe that this search for understanding extends to scientific understanding. 'Young Earthers' also make this claim, but they are either lying (to themselves), or they don't understand the process.
I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.
- Matthew 10:16

6. If the debate was to be settled, what do you hope it looks like? Where do you think this should lead? What are you hoping changes/stays the same in Christianity with respect to the interpretation and application of Genesis? (What does your vision of the future of Christianity look like?)

I think the only way to settle the debate is to concede that if you look around, creation itself tells us the universe is more than 6,000 years old.

It should lead to repentance, thus producing a change in the handling of scripture. Presupposition is not welcome, and is never helpful for theology or apologetics.

In short, I think the future of Christianity needs to drop the presupposition of Biblical inerrancy.

7. We can point out flaws better than most I think, but can we imagine something better? 
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom.  I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified.
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
Ultimately, we should not claim anything at all. Science and scripture inform our worldview, but Jesus is the essence of our worldview. However, claiming nothing cannot be our true contrition if we maintain a Young Earth perspective, if you concede that the stars are visible, for example.

That said, I imagine a kind of Christianity where Jesus is the only controversy worth talking about, debating over, or dying for. I want nothing less to be a hinderance for a questioning mind.

8. This is the heart of my questions...what can/should the church of tomorrow look like? 

I think my purpose (and the purpose of this blog) is to inspire the church to keep asking that very question.

Some of the questions I have for the "church of tomorrow" are:
  • Can we find God in a Methodological or Philosophical Materialistic worldview?
  • Should we study and explain the natural world, without assuming the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural?
  • Could science lead us to a greater understanding and appreciation for our creator?
  • When does God interact with creation, and can we define these interactions as supernatural?
  • What are the problems for anti-theists?
  • What can we learn from Progressive-Christianity (questioning traditions) and Christian Existentialism (choice constitutes your existence)?
  • Are we using proof-texts to support any other theology? Are there other ways we misuse scripture?
  • How is social media best used as a platform for discussion?
  • What are the fruits (good or bad) of memes, rage comics, or trolling?
  • Do we need to keep repeating the mistakes of our past in order to engage culture appropriately?

9. What is the potential good that can occur/be achieved (in church and in the world)?

I found that Young Earth Creationism (even when I never talked about it publicly) limited my ability to test scripture against the reality it claimed to have relevance for. Giving up this presupposition allowed me to ask myself the questions that really troubled me, and allowed me to discover the answers that exist in reality, and not just believe them because the Bible told me so. It helped my faith.

10. I ask these because I'm curious. There is a lot of pointing of fingers, labeling, disagreements, etc. but repeatedly I find myself frustrated because while we point, we do little to imagine (or if we do, to explain) a different way / a better way... The Bible says that without vision the people perish... Where is the vision?.... What's your vision?

No-one is asking which god created the universe anymore, and the world has bigger questions than how God did it. So turning a stumbling block into a stepping stone is, in my opinion, the best use of our time.

What did Paul learn from the pagans in Mars Hill? The pagans worshipped an unknown god, by making sacrifices to idols of gold and silver. Paul taught them that God made us in His image, so these things have no resemblance. Today, our challenge is humanism (go figure). Science worships the unknown, but they have dropped the god.

My vision is to see Christianity cater to this mystery.

I think the Gospel needs to be presented the way Jesus presented it, as a hidden pearl: easily trampled, often overlooked—but, once found, worth selling everything you own.
- Matthew 7:6, 13:45-46

No comments:

Post a Comment