Who is Responsible for Christian Anti-Evolutionism?

The blog Open Parachute is one of several that has highlighted the survey conducted recently, giving the perspective of a thousand Protestant clergy on subjects like evolution and the age of the earth.

As with all surveys, one has to look at who conducted it, who participated, and who would self-select out of the process. LifeWay is a conservative Christian organization, and so it seems unlikely that many mainline Protestants would have participated. There are hundreds of thousands of clergy in the United States, and so it is possible that this survey represents 1% or less of Protestant clergy in the U.S. And so it is perhaps encouraging rather than disheartening that, of the small number of Protestant clergy likely to be polled by and respond to a LifeWay survey, a significant number even of those conservatives accept mainstream science.

One also needs to consider that in a large percentage of Evangelical Protestant churches, the congregation hires or fires the minister, and so pastors in such contexts often say what their congregations want to hear on subjects like there. This is, I believe, one of the most tragic aspects of such churches: the person hired to teach and lead is forced to lead in the direction of the congregation’s most ignorant bullying members in order to keep their jobs, and so are effectively prevented from teaching and leading as they believe they should. This is not true in every instance, but I know it is true in many.

The survey does confirm some conclusions supported by other research. For instance: “Pastors with graduate degrees are more likely to strongly disagree that Adam and Eve were literal people than those whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree (16 percent vs. 2 percent).”

Read that carefully and think about it: the more a pastor has studied – not more science necessarily, but presumably in the first instance more theology and Biblical studies – the more likely they are to conclude that Adam and Eve were not literal people. Let that sink in, because it ties in with the previous point. The more someone has studied the Bible – not just read it and interpreted it however they saw fit, but studied it in depth and in detail – the more likely it is that a key stumbling block for the acceptance of mainstream science will be removed. Think about that.

Keep in mind as well other surveys such as the Clergy Letter Project, with more than 12,000 Christian clergy having signed to indicate that they see no necessary conflict between evolution and their faith. How many of those are Protestant?

Christians regularly feel threatened when their beliefs are challenged. But when someone whom they respect shows a sensible positive way of responding to the challenge, and illustrates that rethinking one’s belief on a particular topic is not synonymous with losing one’s faith, then they may view the issue differently and respond in a less defensive and more positive way.

So who is responsible for the dominance of anti-evolutionism and anti-science stances in general in certain Christian circles? All of us who are Christians and fail to openly and proudly stand up for our convictions, and who do not articulate clearly why a stance that embraces mainstream science is not only closer to the truth, but in important ways more Biblical and more in keeping with the historic Christian faith, than the so-called Biblical literalists, whose allegedly literal readings ride roughshod not only over science but over Scripture.

And so if you are a Christian who embraces mainstream science, I call on you to be courageous. Please don’t let bullies damage our faith tradition and science education. Together, we can stand up to them. You are not alone.

As an example, here’s a Christian, Ken Miller, talking about the evidence for human evolution and how we are related to other primates, addressing the matter from both a scientific and a theological perspective (HT Unreasonable Faith):

YouTube Preview Image

Also relevant to this topic is an interactive infographic USA Today has made about the religious makeup of American society, state by state (HT Jim West). Click through and interact with it!

  • Geoff Hudson

    I wonder what the numbers would be for the UK? 

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    Just tiny comments from my wandering mind:
    - “The more someone has studied the Bible …” the more he finds it is untrue.
    - The Catholic priest in the village of my childhood told me once he thought the OT was just tales.
    - I think many, even most, religious Christian professionals do not believe in what they are preaching/”teaching”. And that may be true up to the highest level, all the way to bishops, even the pope. Of course, that will not show in any survey …

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    By religious Christian professionals, I meant priests and pastors.

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  • http://thoughtfulfaith.wordpress.com/ Chucky

    I think there’s an important aspect to this too. Even if you don’t convince someone, they will at least realize that it’s possible to believe in evolution while remaining a faithful Christian. That’s important for them when they realize there’s more to evolution than they’ve been led to believe.

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  • Traz1019

    Again, an unstated assumption.  What tells us this is a fused chromosome? The belief that there must be ancestors to humankind.  When you make that assumption, anything can become supportive. It is far more trustworthy to say that there is an observed similarlity between the ape family and the human family, and let it go at that.  Because that is scientifically observable.  Letting this speak for itself, we found a genetic marker that says we are similar.  The Creator can use anything he wants to create, any way he wants. Further, it is not a weak argument to say that the Intelligent Creator made the two families similar–but obviously different–at that point.  This video tells me only one thing–when you assume there is an ansector to humankind, you will find one.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Traz, indeed, as long as you are willing to posit a deceptive designer who makes humans with one less chromosome, and with one that has telomeres in the middle and matching genetic sequence to other primates, so that it looks like we are related to them, then there is no evidence that is incompatible with such a scenario. But if one posits a God who is honest rather than deceptive, then following the evidence where it leads makes sense, as the pioneers in the natural sciences, many of whom were Christians, knew full well.

    • Anonymous

      re:
      Again, an unstated assumption.  

      no, it is a conclusion based on the data.

      re:
      What tells us this is a fused chromosome?  

      2 centrosomes and 2 segments of telomeres, 1 set is backwards. as predicted if it is a result of a fusion event.

      re:
      and let it go at that 

      if we did not have the molecular data, letting go might make sense, but we do have this data to understand.

      re:
      The Creator can use anything he wants to create, any way he wants.  

      and we look carefully at the world and see how He actually did create rather than sitting in a comfy chair and speculating.

      i think the chimp 2p+2q=human 2 is extraordinary evidence. imagine if the human C2 did not look like a fusion event. wouldn’t the ID/YEC be pointing at it vigorously as evidence of an immediate creation of Adam? a massive discontinuity with the great apes.

  • Andy S

    Traz: Humans are a species of ape. That is simply our classification. Just thought I’d point it out.

  • Anonymous

    re:
    an unstated assumption 

    YECists often have a problem distinguishing between conclusions and assumptions. 

    take this issue of are humans descended from a common ancestor with the great apes, or more specifically, humans and chimps share a recent common ancestor.

    this is a conclusion. it is a hypothesis that is continually being tested. it is also part of a scientific framework for thinking about human biology and genetics. it is this “being a part of a framework” that seems to give YECists and their kin problems, and why they call it an assumption.

    yes, i and everyone actually doing biology (i do not, i simply read about it) in an important sense “assume” the scientific framework in order to do their science and their thinking about biology. why isn’t it an assumption then?

    well, define assumption. it is something like an axiom, presupposition, required but not able to be proved bit of the puzzle needed to work on the puzzle, it is part of the setup. first, it can not be prove, it must be assumed to be true without evidence. if you have evidence then it is a conclusion. second, it must be necessary in order to do the puzzle, to think about the rest of the situation. 

    what are some of the assumptions science needs? that there is a real world out there, that it is morally good to investigate it, that we are able to understand it in some substantial way. things that a correspondence theory of epistemology uncovers generally. 

    are these things true? probably not in the way we assume them. that there is a world out there might not matter if what we are really dealing with is models in our heads. that it is a moral good to investigate the world probably doesn’t matter if it is your job to do it and your food and house payment rely upon you doing it right. as to the question of our ability to understand the world, i don’t know.

  • Anonymous

    re:
    an unstated assumption 

    YECists often have a problem distinguishing between conclusions and assumptions. 

    take this issue of are humans descended from a common ancestor with the great apes, or more specifically, humans and chimps share a recent common ancestor.

    this is a conclusion. it is a hypothesis that is continually being tested. it is also part of a scientific framework for thinking about human biology and genetics. it is this “being a part of a framework” that seems to give YECists and their kin problems, and why they call it an assumption.

    yes, i and everyone actually doing biology (i do not, i simply read about it) in an important sense “assume” the scientific framework in order to do their science and their thinking about biology. why isn’t it an assumption then?

    well, define assumption. it is something like an axiom, presupposition, required but not able to be proved bit of the puzzle needed to work on the puzzle, it is part of the setup. first, it can not be prove, it must be assumed to be true without evidence. if you have evidence then it is a conclusion. second, it must be necessary in order to do the puzzle, to think about the rest of the situation. 

    what are some of the assumptions science needs? that there is a real world out there, that it is morally good to investigate it, that we are able to understand it in some substantial way. things that a correspondence theory of epistemology uncovers generally. 

    are these things true? probably not in the way we assume them. that there is a world out there might not matter if what we are really dealing with is models in our heads. that it is a moral good to investigate the world probably doesn’t matter if it is your job to do it and your food and house payment rely upon you doing it right. as to the question of our ability to understand the world, i don’t know.

  • Anonymous

    re:
    an unstated assumption 

    YECists often have a problem distinguishing between conclusions and assumptions. 

    take this issue of are humans descended from a common ancestor with the great apes, or more specifically, humans and chimps share a recent common ancestor.

    this is a conclusion. it is a hypothesis that is continually being tested. it is also part of a scientific framework for thinking about human biology and genetics. it is this “being a part of a framework” that seems to give YECists and their kin problems, and why they call it an assumption.

    yes, i and everyone actually doing biology (i do not, i simply read about it) in an important sense “assume” the scientific framework in order to do their science and their thinking about biology. why isn’t it an assumption then?

    well, define assumption. it is something like an axiom, presupposition, required but not able to be proved bit of the puzzle needed to work on the puzzle, it is part of the setup. first, it can not be prove, it must be assumed to be true without evidence. if you have evidence then it is a conclusion. second, it must be necessary in order to do the puzzle, to think about the rest of the situation. 

    what are some of the assumptions science needs? that there is a real world out there, that it is morally good to investigate it, that we are able to understand it in some substantial way. things that a correspondence theory of epistemology uncovers generally. 

    are these things true? probably not in the way we assume them. that there is a world out there might not matter if what we are really dealing with is models in our heads. that it is a moral good to investigate the world probably doesn’t matter if it is your job to do it and your food and house payment rely upon you doing it right. as to the question of our ability to understand the world, i don’t know.

  • Traz1019

    Wow, it’s obvious I hit a nerve.  Rightly so.  The focus of this internet article arises from reviewing a research inquiry about beliefs in Creation among clergy.  It is right to ‘consider the source’ of the inquiry (Lifeway,) though I strongly disagree with the writer’s view to minimize the results, as I would strongly disagree with the view on what ‘mainstream Christianity’ would entail. The need to “change” mainstream Christian thinking to ‘accept’ mainstream science is problematic to say the least.  Am I a person that earns his way by scientific research–no.  But I live and work in a realm where I must stay aware of different thoughts, of different formations of “what is truth.”  A study of origins not only interests me, it is vital to me.  Frankly, for me to hold to creation science is no less scientific than you holding to evolutionary science.  I was thinking strongly this morning of taking my sources and doing battle with you (such as the work of Dr. David A. DeWitt.)  Then I wised up because you have made your conclusions, and I know mine are not torn down because of your disagreement with me.  In this particular discussion of chimps and humans having a common ancestor, the expectations of similarity cloud your objectivity of accepting the differences, which are just as vital (again, see Dr. DeWitt’s works.)  The percentages mean little when you do not look at the quality of what is different. (Sorry, I digressed from my purpose.)

    Now why am I responding to this within this timeframe?  I am preaching a series of messages on, “My Faith, My World.”  This week it is “My Faith and Science.” Yes, I do research outside the commentaries. This article and this ensuing conversation has underscored for me the need to challenge teens, college age and young adults to examine what is purported to be science.  The writer and the following ‘commentators’ would rather shape faith with the science, a position that is simply untenable to me.  So this Sunday AM, we will use the creation vs. evolution theme one more time.  We will encourage people to dig like they’ve never dug before.  And instead of mofifying faith with science, allow their faith to guide what science is mandated to do.  Sorry, gentlemen, but your stated positions just don’t cut it.  There is just too much evidence that contradicts both your assumptions and your conclusions. 

    For the record, I am an anomaly to the study and to the assumptions made from it.  I am a Masters level pastor/teacher/counselor, with my graduate degree from a state university.  That experience, if anything, further solidified my faith in the Biblical record, in an evangelical relationship with Jesus Christ, and the need to respond to something that just does not make good logical sense–and to me, evolution just does not align with the observable truth in this universe. A short answer to the title of this article–I am…

    • Anonymous

      re:
       There is just too much evidence that contradicts both your assumptions and your conclusions.  

      you should share this ” too much evidence” here. i am unaware of any scientific evidence that contradicts evolutionary theory.

      re:
      again, see Dr. DeWitt’s works. 

      this gentleman? http://www.creationcurriculum.com/index_files/Page532.htm
      exactly what by him should i read now?

      if you post a link to your sermon series, i will listen to them.

  • Traz1019

    Wow, it’s obvious I hit a nerve.  Rightly so.  The focus of this internet article arises from reviewing a research inquiry about beliefs in Creation among clergy.  It is right to ‘consider the source’ of the inquiry (Lifeway,) though I strongly disagree with the writer’s view to minimize the results, as I would strongly disagree with the view on what ‘mainstream Christianity’ would entail. The need to “change” mainstream Christian thinking to ‘accept’ mainstream science is problematic to say the least.  Am I a person that earns his way by scientific research–no.  But I live and work in a realm where I must stay aware of different thoughts, of different formations of “what is truth.”  A study of origins not only interests me, it is vital to me.  Frankly, for me to hold to creation science is no less scientific than you holding to evolutionary science.  I was thinking strongly this morning of taking my sources and doing battle with you (such as the work of Dr. David A. DeWitt.)  Then I wised up because you have made your conclusions, and I know mine are not torn down because of your disagreement with me.  In this particular discussion of chimps and humans having a common ancestor, the expectations of similarity cloud your objectivity of accepting the differences, which are just as vital (again, see Dr. DeWitt’s works.)  The percentages mean little when you do not look at the quality of what is different. (Sorry, I digressed from my purpose.)

    Now why am I responding to this within this timeframe?  I am preaching a series of messages on, “My Faith, My World.”  This week it is “My Faith and Science.” Yes, I do research outside the commentaries. This article and this ensuing conversation has underscored for me the need to challenge teens, college age and young adults to examine what is purported to be science.  The writer and the following ‘commentators’ would rather shape faith with the science, a position that is simply untenable to me.  So this Sunday AM, we will use the creation vs. evolution theme one more time.  We will encourage people to dig like they’ve never dug before.  And instead of mofifying faith with science, allow their faith to guide what science is mandated to do.  Sorry, gentlemen, but your stated positions just don’t cut it.  There is just too much evidence that contradicts both your assumptions and your conclusions. 

    For the record, I am an anomaly to the study and to the assumptions made from it.  I am a Masters level pastor/teacher/counselor, with my graduate degree from a state university.  That experience, if anything, further solidified my faith in the Biblical record, in an evangelical relationship with Jesus Christ, and the need to respond to something that just does not make good logical sense–and to me, evolution just does not align with the observable truth in this universe. A short answer to the title of this article–I am…

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thanks for your comment(s), Traz! If I may ask in reply, why do you accept that the Earth rotates? It seems to me that it is a good example of something that is a well-established scientific conclusion, but one that is at odds with “the observable truth in this universe” if by that one means what is observable by the unaided eye.

      Most of us have become persuaded that the unaided eye is not always a reliable guide to the fundamental nature of reality. The irony, from my perspective, is that Christians ought to be particularly open to the possibility that reality is built on things unseen which reveal its true nature and character, rather than being resistant to such a perspective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Harrison/1558354000 Jim Harrison

    The usual assumption, well, my usual assumption, is that the ministers who don’t actually believe in God mostly belong to middle-of-the-road Protestant denominations. Maybe this assumption is in error. Maybe it is among the evangelical conservatives that one would find the majority of those who assert the truth of Christianity in public while privately thinking otherwise. At least insofar as the validity of biological evolution is concerned, not to mention the antiquity of the Earth, it seems more charitable to suspect that the Fundamentalists find something sublime in the ultra-Quixotic program of denying obvious truth than to conclude that they are simply muddle-headed simpletons. An elderly woman of my acquaintance once told me that she didn’t care if we descended from the apes or not. The truth didn’t matter because it was better to believe in something false in this case. Real faith, perhaps, is not simply belief in things not seen but belief in things not believed in.

  • Traz1019

    Seeing that you are asking, I have several points of disagreement with evolutionary thought.

    One is that we have no dating system that can accurately or adequately measure millions and billions of years. Yet for evolution to work, it is necessity. My biology prof, many years ago, said then that millions of years were figured for evolution to work, and mark it, it soon will be billions. That has come true. I predict before I die, it will take trillions. This is simply making space in the theory for not finding the necessary mechanisms for evolution to work within the expected time frame.

     
    Another is that the universe is running down, not expanding, or recreating energy, or however one wants to describe it. Though I certainly do not agree with the greenies, it is known that the earth is running out of resources. That appears to me to be exactly opposite of the theory and very much connected to the biblical truth that this universe has a finite end.

     
    Probably the most defensive I am regarding evolutionary thought is within the area of biology. Nothing that I have seen as “here’s definitive proof” rings true. I don’t mean to lean on one particular source, but Dr. DeWitt answers the video clip presented on the website very well. I am left with, “here we go again,” another ‘big development’ in biological evolution.
     
    Especially when you factor in that the amount of fossil specimens is miniscule. We visualize “Lucy” as an upright walker when in fact with what few components we have, she could not. When the gentleman in the video talked about the deceptive designer referring to the Creator God, it did not settle well with me, knowing the long time fallacies publicly paraded as proof of man-apes or ape-men, a near ancestor or a far ancestor. Friend, that is deceptive.

     
    The sidebar to that is that evolutionary presenters deny that this is a theory. It’s proven, put together in irrefutable wisdom–it’s just fact. I am leery of education systems that do not have openness about the options to understand the evidence. I taught in a Christian school. When I spoke to students I laid both models side by side, and gave them opportunity to see the thinking behind them. For the most part I sense a bit of arrogance because mainstream science somehow deserves my trust. When I sit down with someone to counsel or talk, I am very much aware that I must earn/win the relationship of trust. I don’t see that with evolutionary thinkers, from Carl Sagan and all around the horn. That perspective teaches me that my skepticism is a great tool to search out truth.

     
    I find it very difficult to put Christian, Biblical faith and evolutionary thought together. Frankly, it was easier for me to define lines when I knew I was talking about the godless natural selection of evolutionary theory. But when I am confronted with folks who speak of believing God, and hold this position, frankly my first thought is that they have succumbed to the great science malady. I am very interested in how you put these two things together. Right now it sure sounds to me that you have to devalue scripture a long way to hold this position.

    Well, I’m done. In very broad brush strokes, some scattered ideas of my mistrust. Respond if you wish…

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I will indeed respond, and I will start at the end. You seem to believe that there is one Biblical view of creation and of cosmology. There are multiple views, whether one thinks of the different creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2, the still others in the Old Testament depicting God fighting the sea monster, or the evidence that Paul and other New Testament authors had updated their cosmology to reflect the Ptolemaic system of their time. The Biblical evidence indicates a willingness on the part of the Bible’s authors to update their understanding of the natural world.

      The fossil evidence is unsurprisingly limited and piecemeal, but what there is fits the predictions of evolution precisely, and thanks to now having genetic data to supplement paleontology, Francisco Ayala (a Christian) rightly says that there are now “no more gaps.”

      The universe running down does indeed point to it having a beginning, but that is not disputed in biology and is simply not a matter of biology. If you meant to try to posit that the second law of thermodynamics is at odds with evolution, then that is a false claim that unfortunately still circulates. Living things are not closed systems, neither is the earth, and if this bogus claim were correct then presumably the growth of embryos and more generally of living things would be impossible. Life – and not just the evolution of species – illustrates how organisms which take in energy from their environment can move against the overall trend of entropy.

      The timescales of millions and billions of years are provided by evidence of varying sorts, but the clearest and most precise is from radiometric dating. I highly recommend the book The Bible, Rocks, and Time by a couple of Christian geologists.

      • Traz1019

        You know, my venture into this web article was two fold. One to update myself on live topics in science, and two to prepare a Sunday message regarding how faith relates to science. I’ve taken time and energy to look at the options/issues suggested here, as well as to examine my own worldview.  I find that I am quite strengthened in what I hold, that Genesis is what it is, it establishes the foundation for the remainder of scripture, how to view and understand the Creator God, the truth of the human dilema, and the very earliest statement of God’s promise to provide His alternative of salvation by grace.  Like it or not Genesis combines all these into an epistemological whole, and I accept that.  Scripture’s truth about salvation has an introduction, and that is the story of the creation and its fall into sin.  This preparation has given me opportunity to read on both the evolutionary and creationist sides of things like radiometric dating and similarities of human and chimp DNA.  I needed to do that.  My thoughts for Sunday will be to establish that God Himself has given the mandate for science to fathom this universe, therefore for young people to reachout and not be afraid of moving into a scientific career.  To allow the scientific method applied across the board will bring us into direct contact with the action and character of the Creator God whose fingerprint is found on every particle of this universe.  And then make science do good for humanity.  I believe that it is rather a waste of time to apply all the energy of making science gives us answers about origins when appliying the same energy and focus to find answers for Alzhiemer’s, or cancer, or Huntington’s diease if far more improving the human condition.  Thanks for your imput, and I wish you well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          So presumably the view that fossils are produced as mainstream geology concludes and not as YECs claim, which has led us to find oil, shows how mainstream science of the sort AiG rejects benefits humanity. And the medicines which take into account the evolution of microorganisms presumably illustrates why evolution is not just about pondering interesting questions about the past. Thank you for reminding me to emphasize these points!

        • Anonymous

          re:
           I believe that it is rather a waste of time to apply all the energy of making science gives us answers about origins when appliying the same energy and focus to find answers for Alzhiemer’s, or cancer, or Huntington’s diease if far more improving the human condition.  

          the answers to all 3-Alzheimer’s, cancer, and Huntington’s will be found by careful evolutionary thinking. they are all significantly genetic diseases where the mechanisms are thoroughly evolutionary in origin. why is Huntington’s fixed in the population? what selection pressures does chemotherapy place on cancer cells? why does disease like Alz strike after reproductive age? only a good knowledge of ET will lead to answers to this important questions about your diseases, and only research into origins will create the structure to create this knowledge.

          AiG can fund “creationist science research” (if only they would) and they would never advance medicine’s search of the answers to these 3 diseases one iota. why? because their theory is of no use in creating questions to study these diseases. maybe that is why they make no attempt to fund research, they know their theory is impotent as a research programme.

        • Anonymous

          re:
           My thoughts for Sunday will be to establish that God Himself has given the mandate for science to fathom this universe, therefore for young people to reachout and not be afraid of moving into a scientific career.  To allow the scientific method applied across the board will bring us into direct contact with the action and character of the Creator God whose fingerprint is found on every particle of this universe.  And then make science do good for humanity.  

          by the grace of God this is true, it did not have to be this way, God could have made the world too complex for us, He could have tricked us like apparent age theory proposes, He could have hidden important pieces, but He choose not to do any of these things but allow us to think His thoughts after Him.

          the problem with your approach is that any YECists studying any science to any real depth can not withstand the cognitive dissonance without extreme compartmentalization. i personally have never meet a YEC, lots of OEC, as i was, and if you as Ken Ham does, makes the age of the world-universe essentially a salvation issue, then YECists kids with science education will leave this church for another that allows at least OEC thinking. it is better to discourage independent thought if you want your thoughtful kids to stay in your denomination, YECism is completely incompatible with any decent scientific education. you can not learn to read the book of nature if you believe Scripture teaches a 6k year old universe period.

        • Anonymous

          it is a noble goal to learn about the science. you should be commended for your effort. it is a shame that more YECists pastors do not attempt even to look at the science for themselves however briefly. it is unfortunately a dangerous thing to do. 

          for YECism is brittle, it is so very wrong, (14B/10k 1.4×10^10/1×10^4=6 orders of magnitude),  so isolated, so insular, that even a brief excursion outside the protected enclaves of AiG, evolutionnews, ICR can set into motion thoughts that “my interpretation of the Scriptures may not be quite as certain as my peers propose”. it is God’s universe, sadly so for the YEC, because He created it ~14.5Bya and no amount of holy hand waving will obscure that fact if someone is genuinely studying the book of God’s works. 

          i hope others embarking on the same study do find, like you did, J.McG’s blog here, for it is a decent portal into the study of God’s creations, both the universe and Scripture.

    • Anonymous

      re:
      One is that we have no dating system that can accurately or adequately measure millions and billions of years.  

      what evidence do you have that the U235 system can not measure millions of years within it’s stated accuracy? or pick any radioactive dating system you are most conversant in any explain exactly why it is so inaccurate that the earth can be roughly 10k years old. 

      • Traz1019

        http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v14/n2/radioactive is just one of many scholarly responses to problems with radiometric dating.  Though you believe I appear to be mixed up on assumptions vs. conclusions, this article allows evolutionary geologists raise the question of assumptions used to establish how radiometric dating can be applied.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Traz, that you can mistake what Answers in Genesis produces for scholarship, and do not have the basic grasp of the relevant scientific data and methods to see when they are lying, says alot. I hope that if you are genuinely interested in getting at the truth, you will also read what scientists have to say on the subject, and look for responses to AiG misinformation. Here might be a good place to start: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html

          • cipher

            James, this is the reason arguing with them is pointless.

            • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Cipher, I disagree, having been a young-earth creationist myself. It takes some people a long time to work up the courage to critically investigate the claims they have bought into, since no one likes to admit that they were taken in by charlatans. Some never have the courage to do so. But some will, and so it is important not to give up hope.

        • Anonymous

          i’ve read the stuff from AiG years ago. i want to understand what YOU personally believe about radioactive dating. what understanding YOU have. why YOU don’t believe the science. 

          if i asked you why i should baptize or not baptize my kids would you give me a link to your church’s website or take a few minutes to explain your personal understanding of the issue?

          i can read, and have read most of the important YECist material, i can explain why i am not convinced. what i want to know is your depth of understanding of the science of radioactive dating, not AiG’s authors.

          why?

          because most YECist really don’t have a clue about the science. i’m looking for someone who does to explain to me why with what they know they do not believe the theory. 

          actually finding a YECist that was genuinely interested in discussing the science would be sufficient. but i’ve thus far found neither. yet.

        • Anonymous

          re:
           evolutionary geologists 

          there are no evolutionary geologists. evolution is a biological theory not a geological one. ET requires a particular sort of replicator, it doesn’t exist in geology. there are geologists who understand ET, i’m sure there are good geologists that don’t understand ET, as it is unnecessary to their field. unfortunately people sloppily talk as if evolution occurs outside of a replicator-based field like genetic algorithms or biology, in fields like cosmology or astronomy or geology, however they are wrong(&confusing) to do so.

    • Anonymous

      re:
      I find it very difficult to put Christian, Biblical faith and evolutionary thought together. Frankly, it was easier for me to define lines when I knew I was talking about the godless natural selection of evolutionary theory. But when I am confronted with folks who speak of believing God, and hold this position, frankly my first thought is that they have succumbed to the great science malady. I am very interested in how you put these two things together. 

      you do not have to put them together-the conciliatory position. but they can not compete as in YEC-the competitive position(haught’s system). 

      the Scriptures are written wholly within historical time, the Chinese, Sumerian(&descendants) and Egyptian are each several thousand years (100 generations-imagine that) older than anything in our Bibles. all of them thought, as is the common observable pre-scientific way, that the world was small, the earth was the center, the stars nearby-all roughly close together in a sphere or half shell, that creation was recent(even if like the hindu it cycled), that human beings unique in a biological sense. 

      none could conceive of deep time or deep space anymore than we can. our minds and perceptions are keyed to a vastly smaller local scale, it is only with great not-common sensical education that the leading edge of our brightest can imagine either the great distances or great time our universe is.

      ET doesn’t impact theology in more than a few places directly, the historicity of Adam and Eve as the sole progenitors of the human race without antecedents, for one big example. that is why Darwin had very little to do with theology until the massive reaction of fundamentalist to liberal theology at the time of the Scopes trial. and it really isn’t until the publishing of of the _Genesis Flood_ that the issue of a young earth enters into the consciousness of modern conservatives.  

      now it is much easier for more liberal theology to be in a complementary relationship to ET, to draw analogies and models from science to read Scripture with. i don’t see conservative theology looking much outside its own history for these things, but i do see the need not to put young Christian minds into the position of choosing either or, either atheistic biology/science or YECist theology. it’s a false dichotomy-Scripture or modern science, both Scripture and science are each much bigger than either Dawkins or Ham conceive them to be.

      • Traz1019

        Thank you for your thoughts, but I respectfully disagree. I wish you well…

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  • Anonymous

    Christians regularly feel threatened when their beliefs are challenged.

    Everyone feels threatened when their beliefs are challenged.

    That’s the conclusion of terror management theory, which sprang out of a Pulitzer Prize winning book and is now supported by over 300 published studies.

    There’s an award winning documentary on it that is one of my favorite films ever, and it’s free on Hulu if you’re in the USA.

    Only vaguely related to your point here, sorry, but it’s an important and relevant theory to why the reaction is so strong. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      If you happen to remember the name of the documentary or have a direct link to it that you can share, I would be grateful!

  • Anonymous

    It’s called “Flight from Death”.  I see a link to Hulu in my post, but perhaps it doesn’t come through for you. ;-)

    Google will find it for you if the link doesn’t work.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Sorry I didn’t see the link in the comment. Thanks!


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