Someone asked me if I could do a post indicating what, if anything, I appreciate about young-earth creationists.
You may be surprised that this post is not just a blank page.
The point of the request was in the spirit of the video that Brian McLaren made called “Reconciliation.” In the video, McLaren says the following:
So I think the six-day creation people — I think they're wrong; I think they are misguided. I love them; I respect them. If someone believes that I’ll be glad to be their friend, and we will just agree to disagree; that's totally fine with me. But, even though I think they're wrong on the details, I think they are right about something. And I think they are right to oppose the attitude of evolutionists who make it sound like all that the universe is is matter, energy plus time and that explains everything. And I think that there is something inside the six-day creation people that knows that that's not right, and so they are countering it. I think some of their conclusions are wrong, some of the assumptions are wrong, but I think they are right to counter it.
So what's my take? Do I have anything positive I can say about young-earth creationists?
I don't take McLaren's precise tack, since I think that one can stand more effectively against reductionism not by saying it is wrong but playing its game, but precisely by finding a way to embrace science without reductionism. Taking a firm stand on a false antithesis simply contributes to the problem.
But I do appreciate young-earth creationists' willingness to stand as a minority when the majority says they are wrong, that they are fools.
To be clear, I don't think that it is appropriate to do that when one is taking a minority stance on science, or history, or any other matter that requires expertise one doesn't have.
But imagine if, instead of being the young-earth creationists, they were the feed-the-hungryists in a world in which most are happy to live with relative luxury while others live in squalor. Or imagine if they were the marriage-equalityists – perhaps not persuaded that same-sex relations are right, but recognizing that that doesn't mean that they should not be a good neighbor and stand for the freedom and equality of people who disagree with them. Or if they were the end-injusticeists. Or the love-your-enemyists. Or anything else that involved taking a radical moral stand that would put them ahead of the curve and make them a potentially transforming influence on society.
The call of Jesus was not to hang around with him denying prevailing scientific theories in his time. It was to join him in loving Romans and Samaritans and not just Jews. It was to spend time with the marginalized and touch the untouchable. It was to live in a manner that embodied different values. Today's Christians tend to think that by rejecting science, or claiming that something they call science is “true science,” they are “going against the flow” and embodying different values. But a closer inspection shows that in fact these things embody the same values – among them, science as the only means to truth (coupled at times with a dose of postmodern rhetoric suggesting that everything is just a matter of interpretation when that argument is convenient). But also distracting from the fact that we are not feeding the hungry, much less transforming society in Jesus' name to eliminate hunger.
If young-earth creationists took their same willingness to stand against the flow, and applied it to the things the Bible emphasizes, they would put me to shame, instead of bringing shame on the Christian faith as they now do.
And so that's what I mean when I say there is something that is (or at least could be) admirable about young-earth creationists. If their willingness to stand against the prevailing tide were directed towards the kinds of things the Bible is actually most concerned with, they would be an amazing and powerful force.
They would probably do a better job with it than I do.