I genuinely love it when (semi)reasonable “Christians” attempt to do the “middle of the road” thing. The whole thing just stinks of desperation and panic at the undeniable fact that Fundies – hell, anybody who attempts to take the bible literally – is going to end up making “Christianity” look stupid/crazy,
Don’t get me wrong: as compared to Fundies, they’re somewhat less harmful (in the sense that punshing oneself in head is “less harmful” than self-inflicted trepanation with an electric drill.
Anyway – on the turd-polishing:
All the same, here are three logical consequences that follow from the fundamental teachings of young-earth creationism, and a few reasons it deserves to be a theological punching bag for once.
No. 1: God is a liar. The Bible says, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” And yet, at the heart of young-earth creationism lies a deceptive God, a deity who appears to have far more in common with the trickster Loki than the savior I’ve come to know.
The Vredefort crater in South Africa is the largest confirmed impact crater ever discovered on earth; it’s nearly 200 miles across — about the width of the state of Massachusetts. Scientists believe the asteroid that caused it was as much as 6.2 miles in diameter (i.e., about 6.0 more miles than the amount of miles I can run).
Under the young-earth model, this asteroid never could have struck. We know that, because if it did plow into the earth some time in the last 10,000 years, history most definitely would have recorded it, and we would still see the effects of its impact today. In fact, most likely, it would have caused mass extinctions and life would not have yet come close to recovering.
And so, if we must accept the young-earth position that either this planet is absurdly young or the Bible is not true, then we’re left with one option: God created the world with Vredefort and dozens of other large craters already in it, for no other reason than to make us think the earth had been hit by massive asteroids when in fact, it never was.
And it’s not just craters. There’s radiometric dating, ice layering, continental drift, human Y-chromosomal ancestry, the fact that we can see starlight that took billions of years to reach earth, and much more — all of which points to a very, very old earth (and if you don’t feel like reading, here’s a helpful infographic made by Christian smart people).
Speaking as a Christian, I think these facts are pretty overwhelming. And I decided it made a lot more sense to believe in a God who first revealed himself in a document meant to convey theological — not scientific or historical — truth, rather than a God who told the literal truth in Genesis but lied in creation.
No. 2: Faith is unnecessary. Throughout the Bible, we see the high premium God puts on faith. It was a frequent theme of Jesus’ messages: Obey me, believe me, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Creationism teaches that there is no reason to have faith, and here’s why: If the scientific evidence, objectively observed, really does point to the entire universe arising in a single creative event no more than 10,000 years ago, as YECs claim, then that means those who wrote the Bible undeniably had knowledge that they couldn’t have had without the touch of God. Thus, the case is closed. God is real, the Bible is inspired and perfect — no further discussion necessary.
Any Christian should recoil from that. We know there is no power in rote knowledge of objective facts; the power is in our faith. Abraham was a man who talked to God. He had no need for faith in him — he had heard his voice. And indeed, Abraham is not remembered as a man who believed in God — that was easy for him. He is revered as a man of faith, because he trusted in God’s promises, even when they seemed impossible.
I accept that there are legitimate reasons to doubt God’s existence. But I still choose to believe and trust in him, because through my faith and his unfailing grace, I have encountered a relationship with a savior that defies explanation.
No. 3: Nonbelievers must be avoided. Young-earth creationism creates (alliteration, get it?) a vast gulf between those who believe in the Bible and virtually everyone else.
When I engage with other Christians who disagree with me on evolution, I have never sensed in them much of a longing for nonbelievers to experience the joy and salvation of knowing Jesus. I more often tend to encounter a deep animosity and mistrust, especially toward scientists. But here’s the thing: If our shared theology is correct, we should be doing all we can to reach that very population (the scientific community) with a message of Christ that might make sense to them.
See, here’s the thing: The genuinely sad part about the above-quoted individual is: he or she has ACKNOWLEDGED that the Bible ISN’T history, CANNOT be taken literally, and gets pretty much every factual statement on any “scientific” topic COMPLETELY WRONG (nonexistent global flood, impossible ark, self-contradiction as to the number of animals supposedly contained in said ark, etc.)
And yet, this individual still cannot bring him/herself to question the underlying theology itself (the “heaven/hell/faith”/salvation/blood-atonement thing).
This stupid fuck tacitly believes that those unlucky enough to have been born in areas where children are customarily brainwashed into aping and parroting DIFFERENT superstitions (Islam, Hinduism – whatever) – are (justifiably) doomed to an eternity of “hellfire” – merely on the basis of what is LITERALLY AN ACCIDENT OF BIRTH – MERE GEOGRAPHY.
That (more than anything else) is what is so irremediably vicious and, frankly, disgusting about the even the “naltiest” of these “N.A.L.Ts” – their underlying theology amounts to “Fundamentalism-lite”.
Actually, I find them worst than (say) the Westboro assholes – because at least the Westboro assholes don’t pretend to be sane.
Quite frankly, there is no chance in hell (pun very much intended), that this individual will ever succeed in the task of brainwashing someone far smarter and more honest into any sort of “personal relationship” with something which is overwhelmingly likely to turn out to be an imaginary friend.
As a site populated (primarily) by really intelligent ex-fundies sums this up:
Keep in mind there are others I could mention and trying to rank them’s a bitch:
Let me start out with biblical/ministry related ones and move on to others:
1) Become a Pastor. Then you’ll learn how church people really behave. It could sour you from thinking there is an inward presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. Think Dan Barker, Charles Templeton, Joe Holman, yours truly, and many others. I had to start out this way. 😉
2) Become a Psychiatrist/Psychologist. Most practitioners in these fields do not believe. It’s probably because they know what makes people tick so they just can’t believe in a wrathful god who will judge us for our behavior or thinking patterns. Think Valerie Tarico.
3) Become a Biblical Scholar. I dare you. Do not stay within the confines of conservative scholarship, which is not much better than special pleading. Study at real schools. Think Hector Avalos (OT), Bart Ehrman and Bob Price (NT).
4) Become a Biblical Archaeologist. Just think William Dever and his books What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?, and Did God Have a Wife?
5) Become an Anthropologist. Not only are most anthropologists non-believers they are also relativists. Think David Eller (my favorite).
6) Become a Biologist. Try to maintain intelligent design as a biologist. And after getting your degree try publishing a peer-reviewed paper defending it. Only one has ever slipped through the cracks.
7) Become a Neurologist. Once you see how the brain works it accounts for why we think and behave as we do without the god-hypothesis.
8) Become a Physicist. Enough said. Think Victor Stenger.
9) Become a Zoologist. Study animals and see how much they are like us, and how we are like them. You’ll be forced to consider their fate when they die compared to where humans go when we die. You’ll be forced to consider why they suffer so much if there is a good god.
10) Become a Cosmologist. The existing universe and the many other possible existing ones put out the fires of religious passion. You’ll be forced to consider the vastness of existence and the wastefulness of a creator god whose greatest creation is on this pale blue dot.