Friday, March 14, 2008

Creationism Versus

This may seem like a rather weird post but I'm working on a non-fiction book about the conflict between evolutionists and creationists, and I've been doing a lot of reading lately on the creationist positions. (There are more than one.) Last night I was working on a section on Young-Earth creationists and I thought I'd post it here.

Why you ask? Two reasons. 1) I think it's pretty interesting that folks can hold the Young-Earth view despite the evidence against it. 2) I do not want to give a false or misleadingly negative description of anyone's views. So, if you happen to know anything about this issue, please let me know if you feel I've misrepresented anything in my description of the Young-Earth viewpoint. I want to get it right.

The term “Creationist” is often used to designate people who believe that God created the universe, the Earth, and human beings in pretty much the form that these things exist in now. Creationists are often depicted as accepting the Bible literally, not only as a guide to how humans should live, but as an actual history of the universe and its life forms. These commonly held beliefs about creationists are incredible oversimplifications. I want to talk here about some of the different viewpoints within the creationist camp.

Adherents of the young-earth view most closely resemble the stereotype that people at large have of creationists in general. Although there is variability even here, most young-earth creationists accept a literal interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Genesis for the creation of earth. They believe that God took six literal days to do the work, and that the earth is only about 6,000 years old. This date is arrived at by counting the generations listed in the Bible. They also tend to support the Biblical report of an earth-wide flood, which is thought to have happened about 4,000years ago.

One of the most outspoken proponents of young-earth creationism is Duane Gish, an American who is trained as a biochemist, although his work for the past few decades has been outside the laboratory and in the creationist arena. Gish, who is also considered to be a fundamentalist Baptist, denies that evolution meets the criteria for a scientific theory, and urges the teaching of “Creation Science” in the classroom. This would include teaching the “young” age of the earth, and that most “fossils” are the remnants of animals killed in Noah’s flood. He is currently affiliated with the Institute for Creation Research.


Lisa said...

This is a fascinating subject and I recently watched an HBO special on large church groups who have a very concerted effort underway to educate children about creationism. The education that I observed was redolent of certain re-education camps and I found it pretty disconcerting. I was further freaked out recently when I found that one half of a couple we know -- in almost all ways very open minded and left leaning -- was raised in an evangelical household and he does not believe in evolution. I kind of thought we'd figured all of this out quite a long time ago...

Shauna Roberts said...

I didn't realize there were different types of creationists. This reads to me very clearly and nonjudgmentally.

Lana Gramlich said...

...but, but, but...what about my 400 million year old fossils? *blink blink*

steve on the slow train said...

William Jennings Bryan actually believed that the days of creation were not literal days. And the textbook used in the Scopes Trial was one of those racist texts that depicted Africans as a lower form of human. In some ways. Bryan's creationism was more progressive than the evolution taught in Scopes' class.

Those of us who believe in both craetion and evolution probably have some label, but I don't know what it is.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

I was raised Southern Baptist and that is very close to what I was raised to believe. Dinosaurs were supposed to have existed before the flood. I had a Sunday School teacher who taught science at the local Christian school and she said there was evidence of human foot prints within dinosaur foot prints to show they co-existed, etc.

I don't necessarily believe that anymore, but I don't fully subscribe to the evolutionary point of view either because I think it goes too far in the other direction by completely discounting any kind of Creator or being greater than we are who may have had a hand in things.

Gabby said...

Oooo! Interesting topic! As a religious person, I believe in the creation. However, I believe that one of God's days doesn't equal one of ours, therefore probably slanting the age of the earth many years, ever which way. Now, as to dinosaurs... Remember me teaching a class on the creation to Sunday school kids? One actually asked when God created the dinosaurs. I told him that was a good question which I don't have the answer to. Them having been killed off during the flood seems a little strange to me, seeing as God kept some of every creature, so I don't think that's the case. Unfortunately, I can't answer this one. As to the young earth, when our science says otherwise...? Well, perhaps I will just leave the statement that I believe True Science will explain True Religion, and vice versa. While science does explain many things, there is still a lot that it doesn't. ANYWAY, I'll just fall back on the good ol' "Faith!" exclamation, and "we aren't meant to comprehend the mysteries of God" and leave it at that. Doesn't mean I don't question things, or don't want to find out if something is true or not, it just means that I think God wants us to work for some things. (And, now I think I've gotten too wordy, but you brought this topic up in a very tactful way and I appreciate it. AND, I also appreciate all points of view and won't argue with who's right or wrong. One day maybe we'll know. ^_-)

Monique said...

My daughter worked for a while in a catholic school where absolutely nothing about Darwin's theories and evolution was taught and (to make matters even worse) those poor kids had no sex education whatsoever, whatever age group.

Anonymous said...

You really need to open your eyes. The theory of Evolution has been discredited by MANY scientists. To date there are a total of 0 missing links that support evolution. You are probably a very beautiful woman and to think that you evolved from a primate is just NOT science - its science fiction.
Steve -
That is called Theistic Evolution. I would say to you if you want to believe in the fairy tale of evolution PLEASE don't blame God for it. Man came on the seen perfect not through billions of years of struggle and death.
Glenn Rose Texas is where you can see those footprints and they are real.*blink blink* to you Lana. Job talks about Leviathan and Behemoth and he says they had a tale like a cedar tree. There was also a very recent discovery of soft dinosaur tissue. What does that say to us HINT HINT - the earth is not as old as you think it is.
I think you did a really good job and I think it was for the post part fare. You should have included the fact that Dr. Duane Gish has an earned PHD from UC Berkeley and that he has debated close to 400 evolutionists in his time. He won almost all his debates by the way, you can seen some on you tube.

Anonymous said...

FYI- in the schools that teach sex ed 1 in every 4 girls has an STD. It's better to do it God's way and wait until you find the one then get married and then have a family. This is elementary common sense here people . . .

Charles Gramlich said...

Lisa, I do believe that certain types of creationists can be quite open minded. Others are certainly close minded. But closed mindedness is not a product only of religious folks. It can be found in many places.

Shauna, there are several major types and various subtypes. I will probably post more about this over the next few days.

Lana, there flood fossils baby. Or so it is said.

Steve, I will post on other types of creationism as I go along with this, and there are plenty of creationists who do 'not' think the days were literal 24 hour periods. I'm guessing you would be a "theistic creationist." These folks tend to believe that God started the universe in motion but included the rules by the universe runs into his creation, and that evolution is one of those rules.

Rachel, I've actually studied the supposed human footprints with dinosaur prints and I can tell you that I'm absolutely convinced that they aren't human. For one thing, there are no toes and no true human shape to those prints. I'll also talk more about how evolution does not "require" a disblief in God, as is sometimes thought.

Gabby, I actually argue in my book that if a person has "faith" they really shouldn't be troubled by a concept such as evolution. Too me they are not mutually exclusive.

Monique, I tend to think questioning is a good thing, and so would encourage students to be exposed to views that may counter some of their personal views. Sex ed is important, although in an ideal world it might be handled by parents who had the training to do so. This isn't that world.

Charles Gramlich said...

Charles, I have to disagree with you completely on evolution. I see the evidence as simply overwhelming, but I don't see that fact in any way diminishing the ability or freedom of someone to believe in a creator God. What I would like to see is a rational discussion on this issue among evolutionists and creationists. I don't think there needs to be the kind of hatred that is often seen. For example, although I disagree with you, I hold no animosity toward you and I imagine we could sit down and have many interresting discussions.

Monique said...

I'm not sure that you will get a rationale discussion with Charles, Charles. For a moment I was totally confused by those two Charles'

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I thought this was incredibly fascinating. I had no idea that this was what young earth creationism is about. fossils just date to Noah's animals? Really? I'm having a hard time understanding. But I thought you laid this out very well without any judgment what so ever.

Steve Malley said...

Will you post on Hitchhiker Creationists? Those who believe the truth of Douglas Addams, that Earth, no matter how often destroyed, is re-created as necessary by dolphins, fossils and all?

Seriously, one thing I love about NZ, the nutjobs haven't had much success seizing power. They try, we laugh...

Bernita said...

Somehwere there's that line aout a thousand years is but a blink of God's eye.
But then I don't see evolution and creation as incompatible.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Yeah, see, I do think the earth is older than the creationists believe but not because of fossils or anything like that, more like looking at the bible itself (if you take them to be true or based on true events) and some of the stories in the old testament. A LOT of time passed there that is not accounted for, especially when you read accounts like Job or the Tower of Babel. Imagine that the world reached a population and advancement level high enough that they could build skyscrapers and have alternate forms of energy and communication, etc. Then imagine it collapsed and someone afterwards needed to write about it and explain it for future generations. There you have the story of "man's pride" and The Tower of Babel. So, just that one tale would have taken at least a couple of thousand years (considering how long we took to get to the sky scraper stage).

So yeah, I think there are a lot of blanks that need to be filled in and no one is completely right. It's good to keep an open mind and just learn things as they come along.

*hops on soap box...*
As to the sex ed question, I may be biased, but especially after working for an AIDS project for a couple of years I know of lots of people who would have been better off if they had been taught safe sex at a young age. It would also have been good if they'd been taught what the symptoms of STDs are so that they'd know when their husband had them or when they'd contracted them from their husband who had not stayed faithful to them but had brought it home to them and their nice traditional family......

*hops off soap box...*

Lana Gramlich said...

Charles (that is not my Charles); I wasn't commenting to you, nor do I believe in your biblical superstions, thank you very much.

Lana Gramlich said...

"Charles" seems to be a mere cowardly Xtian extremist, considering he's faked being the real Charles here & his profile isn't shared. I guess his god didn't supply him with a backbone.

steve on the slow train said...

Charles Gramlich--At first, I thought you were playing the role of creationist as a sort of parody. But I didn't think you would confuse scene and seen even when playing a role. Glad to see intelligent comments from you.

Charles Gramlich said...

Monique, I was confused myself for a moment, when it said, "charles said," and I was, "I did?" But no, that Charles is a real person, not me. My posts always list my full name and show my pic.

Ello, tomorrow I'll post about Gap Creationism. And yes, kind of interesting.

Steve Malley, you know I bet you can find a group of people who believe in just about everything. I loved the old STar Trek episode called "A piece of the action," where the people of this one planet had modeled themselves on a book left behind by a starship. the book ws the "Gangs of Chicago."

Bernita, even as a kid I didn't find the 24 hour period to be very convincing.

Rachel, you might like the Gap Creationism. I'll post about it tomorrow or Sunday.

Lana, actually I'm glad the other Charles showed up. I think it's really important for my work to make sure I state the varied viewpoints accurately before I talk about any criticisms of particular views.

Steve, no, that Charles is not me. I enjoy a good discussion, although I've not always found that people I disagree with remain rationale.

Miladysa said...

I arrived here pretty late both in terms of comments and time [past midnight here] so forgive me if I repeat anything anyone else has said.

I believe we were created - as far as I am concerned things are far too complex for them to have just happened out of thin air.

I believe in evolution as in everything here is evolving, adapting and changing to the circumstances they find themselves in.

I believe the world is very old, a lot older than we think it is and so is man. I think that scientist/historians came up with some theories a while back and are too stubborn or too stupid to admit they got the timeline wrong and will not change it. The same people probably think America was 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus.

I do not believe G*d sat down and wrote the Bible - it was written by man. I do not think the Bible was every intended to be taken literally but to be used to guide.

I think Jesus was a good man and I like what he taught. I consider myself a Christian - the 'Church' probably would not consider me one though.

I never seem to fit in to anyone's 'box'.

eric1313 said...

I was raised a Jehovah's Witness, AKA, hidebound creationists.

I completely believe evolution because I have eyes.

I believe the bible because I have a heart.

God did not create a bunch of idiot automotons. He set the stage for all things to change, and he gave us the ingenuity and freewill to figure things out and uncover many of His secrets.

Freewill is likewise disputed by many, but that would imply that God planned out every evil and cruel act ever commited. I don't believe in that God. My God lives in the stars (as you probably guessed, Charls G) an probably as a giant full plate of creations struggling with their own existence.

Of course, you could go with Xeno Creation--that we are essentially a giant experiment by other allien cultures. I'd love to write a book about that!

And thanks for the comments, I'm back from my sojourns, I hope it's to stay. Things are desperate up here, but then again, they have always been that way for me, one way or another!

Jo said...

Why are so many people afraid of science? "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

....Albert Einstein

Scientists have often said that the closer they get to science, the closer they get to God. I think the truth of our existence lies somewhere between evolution and creation, with the truth being closer to evolution. Do I believe in God? I don't know. But if He did create us, what better way to do it than by the process of evolution. We are simple human beings, and can think only in human terms. A power greater than ourselves can think in terms of eternity. To Him, the billions of years of evolution would indeed be the blink of an eye.

The theory is that the universe, and everything in it, started with an explosion of tiny particles. The question is, where did the tiny particles come from? It is a paradox. Can non-matter create matter? Perhaps it was a Higher Power.

People say, "If God exists, why can't we see Him?" Perhaps we see him every day, in everything around us, and we don't recognize Him because we are looking at everything too literally, and with a human eye.

I believe in evolution. But...

Travis Erwin said...

Nothing to add except the passage is well written and doesn't appear biased, which I'm guessing is one of your goals.

Erik Donald France said...

Sounds like an excellent project and one for thousands of libraries to acquire for their shelves.

"Creativists" might be a better term. When I was converting to Catholicism as an adult, the dude in charge had us walk through the two different versions of Genesis, but he didn't try to reconcile them literally. I appreciated his approach -- as I do yours.

WH said...

I have always viewed God as an architect and artist rather than a magician, who snapped his fingers. What bothers me about creationism (or "intelligent design," a variation on a theme) is that it not only contradicts fossil evidence but also the unambiguous research gleaned from astronomy, which can accurately gauge the age of stars and galaxies 14 billion years old. Also, the evolution of stars and planets from nebulae is fact, not theory. Aquinas and Augustine would shudder to regard the earth as not part of the natural universe.

I think it is ironic that virtually all rabbinical scholars of the OT understand that Genesis is a complex book that was the product of a thousand years of oral tradition and has hundreds of sources, all attempting to describe the nature of man's relationship to God, not literal "history." How strange that Christianity and not Judaism gets hung up on this oral tradition.

I think this is such a polarizing issue because few people have studied the OT and react viscerally, without any real understanding of the texts comprising the Pentateuch. The sources of Genesis are numerous, some even drawing on pagan creation myths.

Whether it's politics or religion, we humans tend to be such literalists, missing the point of an idea completely.

Lisa said...

The first set of "Charles" comments freaked me out too since I initially thought it was Charles G. For the record, I've always been a little mystified as to why creationists seem to hone in on how offensive the idea is that we've evolved from primates. There's a great book by Richard Dawkins, called "River Out of Eden" that is part of a series of books written by respected scientists and lays out the theory of evolution in terms that a non-scientist can follow. If there is a God, I can't imagine that he wants us to be ignorant, so I'm willing to entertain any theories that don't go to a certain point and then ask me to suspend disbelief -- the rest is magic. My eyes are wide open and if I have evolved from the big bang and through single celled organisms to amphibians and early primates, why is that not beautiful?

Charles Gramlich said...

Miladysa, there is a lot of good stuff in Christianity, but like all human organizations religions have some faults. I'd like us to honor the good and correct the faults.

Eric1313, glad to see you back. I hope all is well. Eyes and a heart would go a long way toward settling the arguments.

Josie, I love that quote by Einstein. Excellent.

Billy, good point about the need to understand how the Bible came to be. I also never liked the idea of God the magician.

Travis Erwin, that's the sort of feedback I was looking for. Thanks.

Erik, that's a good term. Hadn't thought of it in that way.

Lisa, exactly, the "evolution" of humans from more primitive life forms is far more beautiful a concept to me than the "made from mud" idea.

david mcmahon said...

Sounds like a great subject, Charles.

Yes, you're right about my Formula One post - it is indeed the 20 kmh speed limit sign that has to come down!!!

Donnetta said...

Always the good teacher, Charles G. Keep offering us lessons. I'm 57 years old now and still haven't formed a final opinion. I believe science has set forth overwhelming proof of certain things. I believe there are certain things that are unprovable through scientific means. I believe that the Force is with me.

Miladysa said...

Me too Charles.

virtual nexus said...

Charles (Gramlich!)

...this is a hot issue over here in church circles; there's a seminar coming up in a local Anglican church - a debate between a creationist and a Theistic evolutionist. Think quite a lot of Christians are sceptical about extremes either way.

btw - we live a short drive from Downe House, where Darwin lived. May post on that at some point.
I'm interested in the fact they found the remains of the Beagle a few years ago.

SzélsőFa said...

Detto what Bernita said!!!

ANNA-LYS said...

I don't know how one is created that can be an empirical schooled scientist and have hang-ups on a saga, not meant to be literally taken. I wont here and now put forward any pathological diagnose ... but You got to be at least two to have these approaches, so far from each other. Are You sure it is not like the Nicholas Bourbaki, that actually was not one person, but a group of mathematicians :-)