A creationist fights back

evolution-creationism1A believer in creationism did not at all appreciate my post True or False: Dinosaurs Lived with People, and wrote me to tell me why. Here’s her letter (which of course I share with her permission): 

Okay, so I’ve been annoyed by this for a while, but your post really brought it to a head. I realize that your post is discussing institutionalized Creationism, as opposed to individual beliefs, but I’ve seen this image too often recently touted as proof that everyone who believes in Creation is a total nincompoop. It’s frustrating to me to feel like this place that proclaims to be open and welcoming is not willing to welcome me. There are certainly discussions to be had as to what should and should not be taught in public schools (though I think we can agree that while we might not like it, the First Amendment guarantees the private sector the right to teach whatever they like, and we should not step in to tell them what to teach any more than they should have the right to impose their beliefs onto us), and concerns can be raised about not teaching socially acceptable views and theories, to place a post like this with a simple, silly poll making fun of it doesn’t open discussion or encourage thoughtful views.

I believe in Creation. I did the research 10+ years ago, when I was in my teens, and after several months of looking seriously at both sides, I came down onto the side of Creation. I’m well aware that this makes me look like a conspiracy theorist in the eyes of the world, but honestly? I’m okay with that. I don’t believe in Creation (or any other part of the Bible, for that matter) to make myself look better, to prove anything to the world, or to generally please anyone but myself.

What being a Creationist does not make me:

-It does not make me stupid, though if you want to believe that, I can’t stop you.

-It does not make me anti-gay.

-It does not make me pro-life.

-It does not make me anti-women.

-It does not make me a child abuser.

In fact, surprisingly enough, believing that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh doesn’t mean anything other than that I believe that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

I am not going to justify Creationism to you. I don’t have to. Quoting facts and figures at you won’t change your mind any more than quoting facts and figures at me will change my mind. It’s a belief, neither one of us will be able to adequately prove to the other that we are right, and in the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe that a loving God who sent his Son to die for us is going to quibble too hard on the details. I’m pretty sure that whether I believe in Creation, Evolution, or something in between, Jesus’s coming made it irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. So no, I’m not going to get into a debate about which side is more right, because ultimately all that will prove is who is the better speaker and has better access to their materials at the time.

Here’s the thing: To come to the conclusion I did, I did a lot of research. I won’t deny that my beliefs as a Christian affected my research, and I in fact started my research within a Creation Bible Study. However, I began the research because I had just gotten into my first hardcore biology class, and I was beginning to doubt things I’d been taught all my life. I was also having my first real crisis of faith, and somehow in my mind that became tangled up with Creation and “if I can’t trust the beginning of this book, how can I believe in the rest of it!?”

So I set out to be as objective about it as I could. I’m not going to promise that as a 17-year-old I was the most objective, nor that as a person getting my Creationism info from fundies that I was working with the best materials. But I did have access to both sides, I attempted to give both sides equal weight when researching them, and ultimately, I found more proof that satisfied me on the side of Creation. And then I stopped researching it, and lost most of my links and lists of materials. Why? Because I wasn’t doing this to convert the world to Creationism, I was doing this to satisfy my own questions. Ten or twelve years ago, I debated it with several of my friends who knew I was doing the research, partially because it solidified things in my head, and partially because I was a stupid teenager who thought that if I just debated hard enough, I’d prove to them that they were wrong and I was right. It really never worked. And now, I care more about showing God’s love to my friends than I do about ‘being right’.

That being said. I am pro-LGBT rights. I have been since long before I solidified my religious beliefs regarding homosexuality. I believe first and foremost that my belief in a thing should not affect politics, that the separation of church and state is important (and Biblical! God left us to our own rulers the moment the Israelites demanded a king instead of a judge with God as our King, in I Samuel 8. In Matthew 22:15-22 Jesus reiterates that difference, telling the people to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s), and that the worst way to show God’s love to anyone is to alienate and dehumanize them. So even before I had come to the conclusion that the God does not actually condemn homosexuality, I had come to the conclusion that my beliefs shouldn’t affect other people’s rights.

I am pro-abortion. This one took a lot longer, and was a harder conclusion to come to, but ultimately (again, after a lot of research) I found that life-before-birth theories just are not supported Biblically, nor are they supported scientifically. It was hard because I’d learned all my life that abortion = murder, and so I had a lot of emotions attached to the idea of being pro-life. But ultimately, while those emotions are enough that I personally may never be able to have an abortion, I can’t deny other women the right to have one based solely on my emotions. Because it’s neither Biblically supported nor scientifically supported, it can’t be murder. And if it’s not murder, then it’s not ‘wrong.’

I am a staunch feminist. Nuff said.

I get really sick of the child abuse accusations. Yes, when I have kids I will teach them what I believe about Creation. I believe that as a parent, it will be my duty to present to them what I believe. And also what Daddy believes. And what our parents believe. And as they get older, to provide the materials for them to learn about and research things for themselves. This isn’t just about Creation, but about every aspect of the Bible, religion, politics, culture, and social attitudes. As a parent, I will send my child to school to learn what the government deems necessary for them to be a productive member of society, and then supplement that at home with what I personally feel is necessary for them to grow up to be good people. If my children choose to believe in Young Earth Creation, good for them. In all likelihood that will not actually affect their ability to interact in society in any way, other than when dealing with biased people who assume that anyone who doesn’t believe like them is wrong and stupid and abusive.

If my children choose to believe in Evolution, that is also okay. I have no plans to substitute out my children’s science books. I will simply provide them with alternatives and encourage them to think critically about what they are being taught. I will do the same thing for their Sunday School classes, their History classes, and the things they watch on TV. I don’t want my children to blindly believe everything they see, hear, or read. And if that means providing opposing views and being open to discussion (which I would like to think is obvious, but hey), then so be it. I don’t think we should teach this in public schools, though. I think that is part of the parents’ job, to provide supplemental and opposing arguments based on the family’s personal belief system. Whether or not Creation should be taught in private schools is a matter for debate, and something I have not done enough research on to feel confident in forming an opinion on at the moment.

I am very very tired of people who claim to be open-minded and accepting constantly telling me that I’m stupid for this one belief that doesn’t actually affect them at all. I’m tired of being told that believing in Creation means that I have to believe in other things. I’m tired of “Creationism” being code for “politically high-handed fundies” when in fact believing in Creation over Evolution only means that I believe in Creation, instead of Evolution. I’m tired of jokes from otherwise open-minded people that make me feel like an outsider. I’m tired of being told by other liberal Christians that believing in Creation means I’ve gone to the dark side, and being told by conservative Christians that believing in LGBT rights means I’ve gone to the dark side. Why does a belief in something that doesn’t actually hurt or affect anyone else stigmatize me so much?

This is, in fact, one of the biggest reasons that I have considered seriously leaving the church forever. I am not a fundamentalist. I try to find churches that are open-minded and welcoming to all. I try to find online groups that are open-minded and welcoming to all. And when I find one that claims to be exactly that, I continue to be confronted with people who, without realizing it, find it a great joke to make fun of my beliefs. And when I ask them to please stop, I am attacked. I am not going to criticize you for believing in Evolution (or however else you believe the world came into being). That is your business, and ultimately, it doesn’t affect me at all.

I realize that your readers didn’t hit all of these points. But these are all things I’ve seen attached to that image since it first hit the internet, and seeing it on your blog in this way upset me because of all of the people, friends and strangers, Christian or not, who feel like they can make broad generalized statements about everyone who believes in Creation. If you can explain to me how believing in Creation actively goes against another person’s rights, harms them, or otherwise affects anyone other than me any more than any other religious belief, I am willing to listen. And I accept that it is your right, on your blog, to make fun of whoever you want to for whatever reason you want. But as someone who lurks here and has enjoyed the open-mindedness expressed in this place, I felt the need to speak up with my point of view.

At first I wasn’t going to publish this letter, because this pro-gay supporter of women’s right to choose abortion is so atypical of creationists that presenting her as representative of the group overall doesn’t make a lot of sense. But I liked what she had to say, because it so highlights how everybody shapes whatever they believe into something that is so unique to themselves. I have this private, personal theory that ultimately there are as many different kinds of Christians (and Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and all the rest) as there are people in the world. And this letter really brought that home.

Also—just for the record, or whatever—I don’t have a problem with creationists. I have a problem with creationism being taught to children as exclusively true. That “school” test is a travesty. I don’t care what people believe. But I sure care what they teach their children.

(And like so many other Christians, I do not in the slightest find the theory of evolution incompatible with God. If I were God, that’s how I would have structured the universe. It’s perfect. I think God’s whole thing is to never too revealingly tip his cards, and in that regard you cannot beat evolution.)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • DR

    The poll was about Creationist believers who try to sell Creationism as the only exclusive way to believe and who teach their kids that Jesus walked with dinosaurs. Please chill out and stop making this about you, it’s really not, there are a million very reasonable people who happen to believe in Creationism, no one is attacking you. That being said, there are thousands of people attacking science using Creationism to do it, consider that you aren’t what is being discussed here.

    • James

      you wrote very nearly the same thought that was in my head, DR. glad I paused to read through before I started typing! ;)

      • DR

        Thank you, I thought I was losing my mind for a second.

        • James

          well, being on my same brain-wave doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re sane… ;)

  • SquirrelyGirl

    I think everyone believes a little differently even when we appear to agree. I remember at a very young age asking my wise mother what she thought about the evolution vs. creation conundrum. Most people might have thought of her as a ‘fundy’..I just thought she was awesome. She never judged anyone for anything and just loved people. Her response to me was quick and simple, “I believe God could use any method He wanted to create the world. Evolution is as good as any I suppose.”

    • usingmyvoicewell

      Like.

      • Elizabeth

        Me too.

  • http://zzapp.com Jon Larimore

    I believe in “creationism” too, in that I believe God created the conditions and materials by which the universe came to exist some 14 billion years ago. I also believe that God is eternal, having neither a beginning nor an end, and the fact that God chose to create what we call a universe at that particular time is interesting, but of no particular consequence otherwise. There are many passages in our Bible which are the direct result of worldwide understanding at the time they were written, and that “7 days and nights” thing just happens to be one of them. No biggie. So what existed before The Big Bang? God existed. Still does. Always will.

  • http://Ingridspeak.wordpress.com Ingrid Moore

    Wow, that was chock full of info. I believe that God created the earth. I believe it probably felt like 7 days to him but was more like a millennium or some other large number to us. I believe we evolved and that amoebas were here first, then Dino’s, then mammals including us. I also believe in the grand scheme of things none of that matters.

    Admit I titter behind my hand at the people who believe we had some kind of Flintstonian society where we hung out with the T-Rex. I think it’s funny. It doesn’t mean God loves you any more or less it just means that occasionally I chuckle at you the same way folks chuckle at me for my many odd beliefs that talking to the copier at work actually keeps it from jamming on me. It works for me, I believe the copier understands me, and I look silly doing it. I do it anyway.

    I think the writer is overly sensitive and I don’t recall anyone saying she is a crazy, child abusing, pro-lifer who hates gays. I may have missed that part though. I’m sure the writer is a nice, intelligent, kind woman. I just think if your skin is that thin where you’re beliefs are concerned you’d be better served looking inward. After all it was a bit of humor. Snarky humor to be sure, but humor nonetheless.

  • Nancy Walker

    I am both a Creationist and Evolutionist. It disturbs me that people seem to need to divide the world exclusively into the two camps. I believe God created the world by means of evolution. And I suspect there are a lot of us who believe the same thing. (I think God had a lot of fun tweaking DNA to see what would come out!)

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      I can fit into that category too Nancy. I believe God did the creative process, but God also used eons to do so, as God also invented time. I also don’t think Genesis is an actual account of the event, but a lyrical rendering telling the who, using a very specific poetic framework to do so. As the writers of Genesis were thousands of years into the future…at least…they certainly don’t have first hand accounts of any of those events.

      The cool thing about lyrical/poetic formatting. Its easy to remember.

      Then I have to ask this. Does any other religion have branches that insist on such literal adherence to belief on their creative accounts, or is it just certain branches of Christianity? That question struck me today, and I have no answer.

    • usingmyvoicewell

      I’m with you, Nancy, in that I believe in both Creationism and Evolution. My God is too big for me to claim I *know* how God did (or does) anything! I think Lymis said it in the very first response, when he equated the Big Bang to “Let there be light.” That’s where I left off arguing about it, as well. Let’s face it: they’re both just theories. Whichever one you choose as best, right, most scientific, and/or most holy and true will depend on your own unique personal experiences. It really is that simple.

      Dear Letter Writer, I’m glad you wrote in. I applaud you for the research you did as a teenager, and for your integrity as you stood on your beliefs. Speaking from the other end of the age spectrum, though, (and as a fellow Christian), I hope you will always be open to learning more. Be open to questioning your faith; don’t cling to it blindly and irrationally. Use the wonderful mind that God has given you to continue to explore and reach for the Truth.

      God bless you.

  • Eva Leppard

    Wow. That was a long, long letter. Bless her!

  • Kirsten A.S. Mebust

    Thanks for sharing this, John. While I’m an evolutionist (along the lines of John Polkinghorne and others who see God at work deep in the process of chance, randomness, and natural selection in evolution), there’s much we need to affirm in the conviction that God is involved at the deepest levels in Creation. Scoffing at creationists also is a form of despising them, or in other words, a form of hate. And they know it. Glad to read an independent-minded, intelligent woman who is not afraid to make her case.

    • AC Smith

      I appreciate your sharing it, as well. It gives me a lot to think about.

  • Mark Dimon

    T’wern’t none of us there when it happened. It all be guess-work.. educated or no, guess-work nonetheless.

  • Jeff Meyers

    i REALLY dug her response- and I disagree with her totally. It was wonderfully balanced nuance and passion. I don’t comment on your blog- but I hope she reads this to know this is one Xian evolutionist who digs her and respects her opinion completely. (and kudos to you for posting it)

    • Mindy

      I agree with you, Jeff. I also disagree with her completely, but LOVE the passion and willingness to learn and love that she shows here.

  • Anna Miller

    I don’t go in for young-earth creationism, for me science & God go together. I’m pretty certain in my own mind that God is behind the big bang and evolution as there is far too much order in the universe for it to be a random occurrence. Though I don’t agree with the letter writer’s belief with creationism, I admire her courage in writing that letter. I’m sad that she has been ridiculed for her beliefs, as followers of Jesus that’s not something we should be doing. Sometimes we all need to try harder. :-(

  • John Gragson

    She has a good head on her shoulders generally but I’m troubled by her insistence that she needs to “believe the beginning of this book” without further questioning. Otherwise I agree with the above comments.

  • Pete Lefevre

    Scoffing at creationism isn’t the same thing as scoffing at creationists. Hate the argument, love the arguer, right?

    • mike moore

      I think it depends on the argument and the actions of the arguer.

      Here we have an articulate arguer who appears to have no desire to force others to live by her beliefs. No reason for hate here.

      In contrast, there’s the whack-a-doos who force every public-schooled child to be taught a specific and fundamentalist Biblical belief. For those, there’s usually plenty of reasons to hate both the argument and the arguers.

  • Bob

    Even if you want to accept the beginning of the book, how do you explain humankind all descending from one couple, Adam and Eve, who only had two sons, Cain and Abel?

    It seems you would really have to stretch belief to the breaking point to accept the story that comes right after that resting seventh day literally. But it is refreshing to hear from a creationist who doesn’t sound like a lunatic at least. But if she is going to really study this, she should study how mankind came about.

    • http://www.thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com Keshia W

      I don’t think this is what actually happened. . .Cain walks off into a city that was populated. So even if you DO believe the Bible is literally true (about which I have serious doubts), all that means is that Adam and Eve and their kiddos were living their lives while others were doing the same elsewhere.

    • Lymis

      Actually, Seth is also mentioned by name, as are an unspecified number of daughters. That doesn’t invalidate your point, nor does it explain where the grandkids came from.

    • James

      since the Genesis story is primarily about how the Jewish people came to be, it really wasn’t relevant how the “rest of mankind” came into existence. the only “first family” of any importance was the one that began the lineage of Abraham.

  • Jennifer

    Everyone has their own beliefs. As long as she’s not trying to tell anyone else they have to believe the same way she does, more power to her!

  • robert

    I am not going to disagree with this young woman, her right to have her opinion nor anything else. I feel for her pain… and I am thankful for her letter, but I have also agree she is likely a rarity… to her I would say that most creationists don’t research… they don’t draw conclusions… they don’t do anything than just accept what their ministers says… and accept the bible as being “literally true”… which leads to much abuse. Creationism is now a political “kickingball” and has alot of “stuff” tied to it. It is a “hot button” issue… esp. since it is on the agenda of some right wing types to pass it off as science… and no offense intended… it simply isn’t science. I would simple suggest that when the subject come up… you nod, smile and talk about something else. It will low your frustration and sense of isolation. (I do this every time my friend brings up the subject of her lazy bum of a husband.)

  • http://www.thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com Keshia W

    I think the issue is that these things were being taught in a school, as “fact”. This isn’t science, and it should not be taught as such.

    I actually am a Creationist as well, (though I can’t say I’ve done a lot of research because frankly I don’t care and this isn’t a belief that matters to me one way or another), but I was appalled by this test because it’s just not something that should be taught in ANY school, public or private, except maybe in a religion class.

    Saying that the schools might be excused because they are private schools is like saying that it’s fine for a private school to teach kids that the Sun revolves around the Earth or the Holocaust never happened. Any institution of learning has a responsibility to provide a quality education and abstain from blatant lies and fairy tales, and if private schools have NO accountability then that is a problem that we need to address.

    As far as your other beliefs, you are right, you are outside the norm, and because of that you will have a hard time finding a place where you fit. It’s unfortunate but society loves to categorize and you happen to not fit neatly into any one box. It’s a good thing–it means you think through your beliefs and own them. I think you should feel free to participate here. I really don’t think anyone was making fun of those who believe that God created the world–it’s this specific incident that is alarming.

  • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

    Doesn’t this sort of belie the entire problem? In other words, the notion that the “research” necessary to unsubscribe to the prevailing scientific consensus on human origins can be done by a 17-year-old, and end with the a subscription to the creation myth of Genesis? I agree with her overall sentiment about avoiding other assumptions, but still find myself in utter disagreement with both her process and conclusion. Whatever her other (admirable) points of view, she went about this one the wrong way.

    • Mindy

      Thank you, Don. She sounds like a lovely young woman, and as the mother of a 17-yr.-old girl who is still finding her way to her own beliefs, I admire the work this girl tried to do. I appreciate her embrace of a Christ-like Christianity and hope she never loses it. I appreciate that she tried to do research – but hope she learns that where she started that research colored everything else along the way, and took her away from what science can and has proven.

    • Lymis

      Let me add that this is a 27+ year old woman who is still subscribing to the views that resulted from her researches at 17. In a very long, and very detailed letter, she appears to be saying that she did that research, came to those conclusions and hasn’t revisited the matter since.

      I’m guessing she’d be horrified to think that she should hold to the views her 17 year old self came to about music, fashion, food, and who the hottest boy in the world was. But cosmology and the origins of the Universe? Completely settled. I find that odd at best.

  • spinetingler

    “So no, I’m not going to get into a debate about which side is more right, because ultimately all that will prove is who is the better speaker and has better access to their materials at the time.”

    No, it will prove where the preponderance of scientific evidence lies.

  • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

    I like what she says, too. For me, personally, belief in creationism has never been a deal breaker as far as my religious and spiritual beliefs go. I incline to believe in evolution because, for the most part, the physical evidence seems to support the theory. It does fall totally flat tho, when it comes to the idea of the First Spark since no scientist has ever been able to create life from random elements in a lab. That’s a pretty major problem for evolutionists, tho they don’t like to admit it.

    That said, there’s just no way dinosaurs and people could have lived together at the same time. We’d be a quick snack for them and couldn’t have survived in their world, so the creationists John and the rest of us were making fun of need to give that one up. I hope the letter-writer can see that that kind of belief is belief without question and totally doesn’t hold water. I hope too that she’ll stick around and keep stirring the pot; rational discussions with a variety of points of view is much more enlightening than total agreement, and if we get like that we should all move on to other blogs.

    • Em

      Actually, scientists found in the early 50′s that organic compounds are formed fairly easily from elements and chemicals that were most likely present on early Earth. They were able to form amino acids (building blocks of proteins, arguably the most important macromolecules in living organisms) from those elements plus an electric charge to simulate prolonged exposure to UV radiation. These were shown to spontaneously form small proteins.

      And for the record, I liked her letter. She had the courage to speak up when she felt persecuted and, though I disagree with her, appreciate her perspective.

      • DR

        This is where we really have to define “persecution”. There is a huge, huge, huge difference between feeling persecuted vs feeling offended and it’s getting exhausting to watch those of us in the Church use the two so interchangeably. Being persecuted is getting your hand cut off for a belief, even dying for it. It’s being denied a federal service, a bank loan, an apartment rental opportunity, etc. because of a belief. It’s being told you can’t have a relationship with God if you don’t interpret Scripture a certain way. It is *not* a lot of people being angry with your belief and it’s certainly not being mocked for it. Even bullied for it or shouted over. It’s not holding a minority view or being told your particular belief is not founded in Scripture or science or education. It’s just not. None of us are persecuted for what we write on the internet, not even if we’re banned. It’s just not, people are actually being persecuted for the sake of Christ and we’ve completely lost the meaning of their sacrifice.

        • Elizabeth

          Woah. This.

    • Jill

      If I live to see a day when everybody on this blog agrees with everybody else… nope, not even worried about such a thing.

    • JohnAGJ

      Oddly enough, I just watched this interesting BBC documentary “Did Darwin Kill God?” last night:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yU2y7jGWVs

      Talk about strange timing!

      Perhaps it comes from my Catholic background but the whole Evolution vs. Creationism debate never bothered me much. Both may have their respective flaws, but one comes from science – and therefore will be revised as needed by use of science – while the other is nothing more than religious belief. Genesis isn’t a science textbook and to view it as one misses its purpose as a theological and moral writing for the ancient Jews. I believe that God created everything, i.e. provided that First Spark so to speak, but that comes from my personal faith and not from using the scientific method. Frankly, I don’t have any idea how science could make a credible determination about that one way or the other anyways. Evolution may contradict a literal reading of Genesis, a la modern Creationists, but that’s about all. So what? This doesn’t challenge my faith at all. We’ve gone through this before when passages seeming to endorse the ancient belief in geocentrism was view differently once a more heliocentric model was proven scientifically. Science and religion/philosophy can be helpful to each other but shouldn’t intrude on each other’s realm.

  • Elizabeth

    I believe in Creation, for the record. It’s the puppet master pulling the marionette strings that matters.

  • http://www.danzemek.com Daniel

    Doesn’t the writer of the letter say: “I am pro-abortion”, yet John says in his concluding paragraph that she is “pro-gay, anti-abortion”….did I miss something?

  • Don Rappe

    Dear lurker, letter writer and fellow Christian, I enjoyed your letter and wish to take it seriously. There are many good things about your letter, especially, that you are writing honestly from your heart. You correctly point out that theories about the creation of all things are, like astrophysics, very little related to our day to day life and how we go about living it. I do wish to call attention to one part of your letter which I think is very important.

    *** I was also having my first real crisis of faith, and somehow in my mind that became tangled up with Creation and “if I can’t trust the beginning of this book, how can I believe in the rest of it!?” ***

    I believe you may have misidentified a crisis of faith in God with a crisis of faith in the Bible. The two things are not the same. I do not think you are dumb, so I shall not spend any time pointing out the differences; I just want to call your attention to it.

    Nowadays. people are apt to laugh at the idea that the Earth is flat and has edges you can fall off from, but that was not always the case. They laugh at young Earth ideas for the same reason. My comadre, the mother of my godson, has been to our fine zoo in Brownsville and doesn’t think she is related to any of the monkeys she sees there. I go to the same zoo with its excellent collection of fellow large primates and see something completely different.

    Scientists don’t like to accept anything much on authority, so doubting the average biology text is a perfectly scientific attitude. I do recommend reading Darwin’s work to see what the ideas really are.

    The first chapter of Genesis begins almost word for word (Hebrew versus cognates in the Agadian) with the poem “enuma elish” which was written on seven tablets and read at the New Year festival in Babylon. Clearly, the Jewish captive scholars cleaned it up (corrected it) so that instead of describing creation as the result of a war in heaven between the old bad gods and the new good gods, it became the story of the work of the God of Israel who really created the heavens and the earth. Seven days instead of seven tablets. I put my trust in the idea that we all belong to the God who created the heavens and the earth.

    I try to put my faith in God, but, avoid Bibliolotry which places the authority of a book above the direct witness of God’s creation. I revere the book and study it, but I do not worship it.

    • Elizabeth

      “[M]isidentified a crisis of faith in God with a crisis of faith in the Bible.” You are too good, Don.

      • mae

        agreed. This is the key. Very clear identification of the issue.

    • mike moore

      well said.

  • mae

    I was raised extremely fundie and went to all the creationist seminars put on AIG growing up. I believe the science they presented helped fuel my love and passion for science. However, I started to doubt the young earth creationism as they taught it when I went to college. I attended ORU, where I was initially shocked that a CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY taught EVOLUTION!!! Because AIG and the other young earth creationist teach it as “To be a Christian YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE LIKE US.” However, despite the bad rep ORU has (and David Barton doesn’t do us alumn any favors) I had an EXCELLENT chem prof who taught a Philosophy of Science class and made us read book by Dawkins and other atheists complemented by books by creationists and Intelligent Design folks. It was the best thing he could have done for us. I now look back and suspect he didn’t want his young scientists going out in the “real world” and making arses of ourselves.

    Anyways-what I learned through all my years of being both a scientist and a Christian is that:

    1.) don’t tell a scientist who has dedicated their lifes work to a subject that they don’t know wtf they’re doing because you’ve read a book or two and a few internet articles on the subject (even if that subject is evolution). Because that makes you look incredibly ignorant

    2.) I’ve researched enough biochem to have my mind blown by it. (I’m an analytical chemist and I usually try to avoid subjects with “bio” in their name). I personally step back and say “This is why I believe in God” after I sit through a seminar talk on protein folding mechanics.

    3.) However, if I WERE a biochemist, I’d pretend God didn’t exist while doing the research. Because you have to, as a scientist, try to figure out how things work WITHOUT GOD. Because that’s how we develop cures for cancer and treatments for AIDS. By working in the lab, and working on our own, and using the brain he gave us to solve the problems before us. You can’t sit back and say “God dunnit, so I don’t have to figure it out, it’s impossible, it’s too complex for my puny brain.” You have to doggedly and determinedly try to figure out how it works WITHOUT GOD actively participating in it.

    4.) item 3.) applies to origins of life research as well. You can’t bring God back into the lab when researching evolution and pretend that it couldn’t have happened without him. It’s bad science. It’s bad logic.

    5.) I personally DO believe God created the world. And I don’t care how, or why. But I’m sure has h*ll not going to go up to the PhD’s who DO research the topic and tell them they’re stupid and I, with my blind faith, know how it happened and they should quit their work. They’re work is invaluable for understanding the world around us, the genetic code that determines our health, furthering our understanding of cancer research etc.

    I also believe, after spending the past ten years in the lab in universities, that science and my faith are completely compatible. They are two sides of the same coin. They complement each other and my understanding the world around me. I need them both, and I need them to NOT conflict. By forcing them to contradict one another, I would be throwing off the balance, and choosing one over the other. That doesn’t need to be the case. I believe it’s sort of like when Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars”. This is how I feel about science and evolution. Give to science what belongs to science. Faith and religion have a few monopolies of their own, but don’t make Faith look bad by trying to take something that doesn’t belong in that domain and claim ownership over it.

    • DR

      I love this comment!

    • Lymis

      So do I!

    • Andy

      Me three!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Me four.

    • James

      Awesome!

    • Jill

      And this IS the education that we collectively need to have the chance to gauge for ourselves what makes sense and what has merit.

      It’s a simple choice to simply belief what we’ve been told, been fed to believe. It’s *not* the same as having a choice, providing options, and learning distinctions and subtleities, then forming for ourselves an informed conclusion that we can hang our hats on. That’s why a one-sided education will always be a bad idea.

      • mae

        I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying about “one sided” Jill. If you mean that Intelligent Design needs to be taught in a public education science classroom, I’d have to argue with that. As a Christian and a Scientist, I just don’t believe religious theories on the origins of the species belong in a science classroom. If you want to teach that in a religious education course in the same school, fine by me. But don’t clutter science up with religious beliefs please. Also, there are a LOT of different religious stories throughout America. NONE of them belong in the science classroom.

        Science isn’t a religion, it’s a way to think about solving practical problems around us (check out the scientific method, it applies to life problems all around us). Science transcends religion. It’s a language I can speak to my Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Catholic, Protestant, etc. colleagues at conferences. We meet together as we work in the labs and at conferences and we come from a variety of religions and cultures and we all talk SCIENCE with each other! We talk about the latest development in Mass Spec, how to most efficiently create biochemical selective coatings for micro-electrodes, and column packing in HPLC. We don’t run around comparing our religious beliefs pertaining to the origin of light. We simply compare our research, what we love about it, and how to improve it, and how we have a novel idea and how absolutely BRILLIANT WE ARE! (okay…there might be some ego problems at the big conferences….)

        What I’m saying, like I said in the first post, “Give to science what belongs to science, and to Religious class what belongs to religion.”

        I’m not saying God did NOT create the world, in fact I personally believe he did. But when it comes to science, leave your personal religious beliefs out of the research. It doesn’t belong there, in fact if you tried to put it there you’re going to foul your research up with some weird bias and misunderstandings. Like I said in the first post, you have to research as IF God didn’t exist, because you have to figure out the “Why” in a phenomena without God’s input!

        Religion doesn’t belong in the science classroom. You’re not offering “an alternate perspective” you’re offering a personal religious one if you bring Creationism into the classroom. It simply is NOT science, it’s a personal religious belief. When I taught undergrad labs and lectures, I didn’t say “God did this or that,” I said “Determine pH at this point in the titration. BY YOURSELF.”

        • Elizabeth

          Wow, Mae. Overreact much? I’m positive Jill gets the separation between church and state. The rest of your rant isn’t bad.

          • mae

            I clearly stated at the beginning that I wasn’t sure what she was saying. Then I went on to state my opinion on teaching religion in the science classroom. It wasn’t meant to be aggressive and I apologize if it came off as such.

            I’m not entirely sure what is meant by “another side” in science, unless you’re discussing two unprovable scientific theories used to describe the same phenomena. In this case, creationism isn’t considered a scientific theory and couldn’t be publishable in a peer reviewed journal, but it is a religious perspective and I see it as perfectly good for a religious class.

            Again, I apologize if I came off aggressive or inflammatory. I did not intend for it to be such at all.

            And I think this is a place for comments and opinions, so I thought it was okay to discuss our opinions and experience in the subject. I love discussing opinions and experiences on topics because I think it teaches us all to listen, analyze and reform our own opinions.

          • Elizabeth

            That’s why John puts up with us. We’re teaching each other the best way we know how. Welcome!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Thanks, Elizabeth. Good job. (And she’s right, mae: welcome. great comment above.)

          • mae

            Thanks for the welcome! I’m usually just a lurker, I’ve commented only once or twice over the years. This is a subject I love to chat about though ;) I’ve personally had to think about it a lot over the past 10-11 years and reconcile the way I was raised with what I had to believe when presented with alternate perspectives as an adult.

            I appreciate the post, and the letter writer for that matter.

            And as always, appreciate Mr. Shore’s input and presentation of current issues!

          • Matt

            Yes, welcome. We could always use a new musketeer in our mishmash of miscreants.

            And don’t worry about Jill. She’s a dear friend of mine, kind, and smart as hell. A little overprotective, but God knows we could all use that sometimes ;).

          • Jill

            (Ssshhh! Don’t give away all my mystery…)

            Great alliteration, Matt. Nice one.

        • Jill

          Did we cross wires here? I thought my embedding underneath you was showing my agreement with you.

          If you could show me the place where I said “that Intelligent Design needs to be taught in a public education science classroom”, I’d appreciate it, because there might be a doppelganger of mine, posting awful things in my name.

          Otherwise, yeah, I didn’t say anything of the kind that you read into my furtherance of your statement, mae. If I’m unclear about one-sided, it was to highlight that a one-sided education is just that, incomplete. In your education, you have found where religion and science intersect as well as diverge. Because of that education, you can speak to the merits and the downfalls of either side with eloquence. That is the education I was cheering you on about.

          • mae

            thanks for clarifying. I wasn’t sure what you meant by “one sided” and I was a little concerned that I’d misrepresented myself in the first post.

            I don’t like the idea of “the controversy” over origins of life being taught in the science classroom as a lot of ID people do. (Because there is NOT a controversy when it comes to science, it’s more of a religious controversy if any at all that Creationist believe exists).

            And thanks for the welcome.

            Again-I wasn’t trying to antagonistic-just trying to clarify my post.

            The class where I got to read all the books in undergrad was called “Philosophy of Science”, and it was a humanities class taught by a philosophy prof and a chemistry prof. It wasn’t a science class.

            It did me a WORLD of good though, and taught me not to make a complete fool of myself in science world. (apparently I need a class like that for internet comment discussions as well…..)

          • mae

            OKAY! I get it now!

            I re-read it and see what you mean by “one sided” !!

            Thanks! And I appreciate the feedback.

            I don’t comment very much online. (as you can probably tell….)

            I’m usually a lurker. But I’ve totally been pondering this topic for like 10 years now and discussing it with my friends who were raised like me, and in the science fields at graduates and post-docs and we’ve discussed a lot how we’ve changed etc.

            So when this came up on my favorite blog I wanted to chime in!

          • Jill

            I’m very glad that you did, mae! That’s what’s so fun and educational about John’s place. Lurking is more than fine, but I really enjoy your perspective, along with a lot of others here!

            I hope you feel welcome!

    • Lymis

      Maybe the part that isn’t being said is that, for lack of a better phrase, Unintelligent design shouldn’t be taught in science classes either, and I think that many of the people who fight intelligent design are as sloppy about what science is and isn’t as the people who promote it.

      Science is a method for organizing the way we look at facts and data and try to put them together into a coherent system. As such, hypotheses and theories about What’s Going On are perfectly valid, as are properly grounded claims for What’s Not Going On.

      When science says, “We have evidence for believing the age of the earth” or “We have evidence that the species that live on earth have changed dramatically over time” it’s firmly rooted in what it is for, and can speak with plenty of authority.

      When people take that and say, “therefore, there is no God” the speaker has abandoned science and moved into entirely different territory. Science classrooms should be as free of atheism as they are free of theism. For the most part, I think they are. And school boards and parents should be as quick to rein in a teacher who explicitly teaches one as the other.

      But at the same time, “I’m not here to help support your religious views, and not covering things that aren’ t within the scope of the material is not an attack on your religion unless you make it one, in which case that’s your issue, not mine” is not an attack on religion, and far too many people try to make it one.

      • Lymis

        Wow. One unclosed italics tag. Ouch.

        • Elizabeth

          I don’t even know how to do italics. Good morning, Lymis.

          • Lymis

            Coffee is our friend.

        • Jill

          I just read it with a slight tilt of my head. It all worked out. ;)

          Very well said, my thoughts as well.

    • Don Rappe

      I too need my faith and my science not to be in conflict. And Lymis is correct. This places limitations on what I regard as science as well as what I regard as faith.

  • http://unchainedfaith.com Amy

    I do respect the passion with which this person has written. But as someone who has actually done genuine research–that is, in a lab and everything–I get really irritated when people claim to have done “research.” No, what she did was look things up and read them, after which she decided that her original belief in Creationism was correct after all. That is NOT research; it’s called “reading.” The REAL research was done by the scientists and Bible scholars who wrote the information she read.

    It’s admirable that she read a lot and came to the conclusion herself rather than blindly listening to whatever the minister said. But her starting point seems to have been the desire to “prove” to herself that the Bible is true. It’s not clear how much effort she put into the evolution side of things. I’ve read through some of the material put out by anti-evolution folks and it’s not pretty. The underlying theme is mostly “scientists are guessing and/or lying and their data are mostly invented/false”–which is not true. I doubt that a 17-year-old would have the life experience and analytical skills necessary to tease out which parts were inflammatory and which were not.

    • Karen

      I don’t respect passion when it is misplaced and misguided. Terrorists have lots of passion too. Passion directed toward idiotic and dangerous worldviews and theories (like Creationism) is not to be admired.

      • DR

        Karen, you’re excluding one’s ability to integrate their Creationist belief with what we know to be evolutionary fact. I don’t disagree at all with how Creationism has been used to attack science but your rather rigid approach to “all or nothing” isn’t realistic either. Faith and science don’t have to be oppositional if we simply allow them to co-exist as they were meant to.

        • DR

          Plus, you’re being a jerk.

          • DR

            (Sorry, that was mean.)

          • Matt

            (It’s okay, DR. I’m still a huge fan of yours.)

          • DR

            I’m a jerk (sometimes) but I’m worth it. :D

          • Elizabeth

            Always worth it.

          • Jill

            Wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Woah. Are you saying passion is akin to being a terrorist?

        Are you saying because you avidily disagree with someone’s worldview then it is therefore dangerous? Isn’t that being rather passionate yourself? And then based on the already mentioned criteria, doesn’t that make you a terrorist?

        Or…

        is it merely, this letter writer just sees things from a different way than you?

        She’s hardly alone. Many have landed on her conclusions, and it in no way makes them dangerous. They’ve just accepted a conclusion that works for them and have remained content with it. Some have held it so long, that giving it up would be dangerous to their faith. Do we yank out people’s belief foundations from under them because we don’t like them? Or do we respect where God has them, knowing that God knows them, what they need, where they can be people of faith, far better than we ever could?

        • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

          Oh please. What blather. If someone has a belief system that causes harm to others, then YES !!!! Yank it out from under them if possible.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            In extreme cases then I would agree, and there are those that exist in Christianity. However by doing so, one risks collateral damage to those you are trying to protect. Because they at the time believe it to the right and only way. By yanking the beliefs out from under them as well, one risks causing more harm, as they will not understand, and feel that they too are under attack.

            In some cases, when there is clear danger, then yes we must step in, and I think it must be clear, like child abuse, or planned or acted upon violence upon non-members of that group. For harmful theology, such as overt bigotry and hatred of particular groups, I do agree we should try as we can to let people know that there is an alternative and hope they listen, as well as to let others know, so maybe they can help, and by demonstrating the opposites in our own lives.

            In most cases, a gentle approach, is far better. We can’t force people to change their views, to do so is rather tyranical, to try may make them dig in even further. We can try to legislate proper behavior and put as healthy boundaries as possible for everyone’s safety, but we can’t make people believe its for their benefit. It is better to share ideas if we can, and to love them anyway, no matter what.

          • Karen Park

            All I’m saying is that passion, in and of itself, is nothing to be admired.

          • Elizabeth

            I’m not sure about that. By channeling passion, Saul of Tarsus becomes Paul the Apostle.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Passion is a beautiful thing. Without it we don’t have art. Without it we don’t discover new things, places, technologies, not giving up until we reach that goal. Without passion, we don’t strive for positive social change, we don’t go through the day to day mundanes of raising families. Without passion we just don’t give much of a damn. Passion is the fuel that can drive us forward, especially when you want to give up, or it seems unsurmountable. Sure passion can be channeled improperlly, but that is fault of the wielder, not of passion itself.

          • Lymis

            “Sure passion can be channeled improperlly, but that is fault of the wielder, not of passion itself.”

            That would be the “in and of itself” part of Karen’s point. If it’s properly directed, passion can be great. If it’s improperly directed, not so much.

            In fact, in the cases where it IS harmfully directed, passion is an actively BAD thing, because it can keep people from stopping the harm.

            “Look how passionately she pursues her art!” is one thing. “Yeah, he left a lot of bodies behind, but just look how passionate he was about it!” is another.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            You just put it so much better than I Lymis.

          • Karen

            Exactly Lymis. Thank you. So no I don’t respect the letter writer’s passion, because she is passionate about the silly idea that an ancient near-eastern creation myth gives a scientific account of the origins of life. That is a really dumb thing to be passionate about and I do not respect it.

          • Elizabeth

            Hi Karen. I’m just seeing this now. Try reading Gilgamesh before you dismiss near-eastern creation myths. I read it (well, way too young) but it’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s an archetype for many of our belief systems. I like the Herbert Mason translation.

          • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

            What I meant by “yank it out from under them” is not to force them somehow into another belief. There’s no way to do that, but to use language and logic, maybe snappy, maybe even occasionally snarky, certainly intelligently to make them think about what they think they think, to bring them up short, disabuse them of their smugness, sometimes maybe even publicly, like the President did to the fundy woman in an episode of West Wing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSXJzybEeJM (many of us will remember that). Such people are undeserving of being handled gently or merely ignored.

          • Elizabeth

            Amen. We’ve been patient way too long. Shock and awe. I just don’t want to hurt any innocent bystanders.

  • Don_G

    I’m a creationist basically because I really can’t swallow the idea that all we see today evolved by chance no matter how much time you give it. How long ago creation actually happened doesn’t matter to me. I just believe it was created rather than evolved. If it is proven someday that evolution is a fact then I’m open to changing how I think but I can’t see that happening on this side of eternity. :-) Here is an interesting 1 hour 20 min video I found interesting:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjvuwne0RrE&feature=youtu.be

    • Tami

      “If it is proven someday that evolution is a fact … ” Well, it has been. The evidence is not refuted. “Theory” in the sense it is used in regard to evolution is defined as “the general or abstract principles of a body of fact”, not a hypothetical idea. People chose to believe for a long time that the earth was flat, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. It is simply impossible to look at the set of known facts about the world objectively (without being influenced by religion) and still believe that the earth is 6,000 years old.

      • Don_G

        Not all creationists believe it is 6000 year old.

        It has been a long time since I’ve finished college. But I don’t believe they have proven that one species has ever developed into another. I’m talking macro-evolution, not micro-evolution. We know that micro-evolution is a fact. Extrapolating that into macro-evolution is what I have a problem with. There are limits to extrapolation without data to support it. Please take the time to view the video. If anyone has sources to point me to that answer some of the video’s claims I will gladly check them out.

        Thanks.

        • DR

          With all due respect, the video seems to be lacking in citation. Would you provide those?

        • James

          asking for a point by point scientific rebuttal to a video (over an hour in length!), in a forum primarily populated by people here to discuss matters of faith, is a bit of an over-reach on your part don’t you think?

          how about this. don’t ask us to watch a video produced by a “creation science” apologist and digest down the salient points then go find the resources to rebut them individually for you. instead, you watch the video with a critical eye and identify the key points the producer/narrator makes. then YOU do a Google search on those points and find the THOUSANDS of articles that have been written (both for an against) and weed out those that aren’t from credible scientific sources then sit down for some serious reading.

          seriously, we don’t expect to change your mind here. likewise, don’t expect to toss a YouTube video at us and change any of our minds.

        • Tami

          I did view the video and put no stock whatsoever in the guy. None.

          Macro-evolution is micro-evolution to the Nth degree. It is quite simple to extrapolate if you consider the idea of compound interest that most people a quite familiar with. The maker of the video that you posted the link to uses the same idea to try to disprove evolution. He does not take into account the vast expanse of time involved. If the numbers can multiply exponentially as he says, then given enough time, the small changes become massive. There are quite a few other problems with his ideas even within the first few minutes of the video. One of which is the idea that there are “no extra parts” in humans or any other species, making them “perfect”. The statement is simply false, and I don’t believe this requires further explanation.

          “But I don’t believe they have proven that one species has ever developed into another.” There are many observed instances of speciation that you can read about if you wish. The short version citations are here: http://www.holysmoke.org/cretins/speci.htm

          • Tami

            Obviously, this answer will be a gross oversimplification, but this is a good, yet super concise explanation from an evolutionary biologist:

            Microevolution and macroevolution are, essentially, the same thing. However they are very different in the respect that macroevolution extends over many generations and can eventually lead to another species. Yes, there is proof of macroevolution. Obviously we do not have the time to sit around and wait thousands or millions of years to watch it happen, so we must look elsewhere. Summation is a great example. Scientists from different fields (such as biology, paleontology, anatomy, genetics, microbiology, anthropology, etc.) can take different species of animals and arrange them on a phylogenetic tree (tree of life). Every time, from all different fields, independently, all of the trees of life will match…EXACTLY. We also have millions of fossils to show transitions and millions of animals to compare DNA.

            Specifically regarding humans, Chromosome 2 proves that we do in fact share a common ancestor with the Great Apes. All of the Great Apes have 48 chromosomes (24 pairs), we have 46 chromosomes (23 pairs). Where did that pair go? We believed that a chromosome had gotten fused, but we weren’t sure. If there was no fused chromosome, then evolution had a huge problem. Then we found Chromosome 2. Chromosomes have a telomere on each end and a centromere in the middle. Each chromosome has two telomeres and one centromere. So if a chromosome had been fused, it would have three telomeres (one on each end and one in the middle) and two centromeres (one should be inactive). Guess what…we found it. Chromosome 2 has three telomeres and two centromeres (unlike any other chromosome). Somewhere along the line, we broke off and took our own evolutionary route, although we still belong in the family of Great Apes.

            On a side note, Endogenous Retroviruses (ERVs) exist in DNA. They are essentially viruses that are “good,” and they exchange information. If they land on a body cell of an organism, their information is forever lost. However if they land on a sperm or an egg, their information will be passed to that organism’s offspring. Chimpanzees and humans have over 60 ERVs in the exact same places in our genome. The chances of even one ERV landing in the same spot in our genomes (if we weren’t related) is .00000000016% (since our genome is about 3 billion base pairs long). Think of the likelihood that over 60 ERVs would land in the exact same spots.

          • Elizabeth

            Damn. Loving the science on this post.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            I know. I got a … science chubby.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            God, I hope no one ever reads that. Most immature joke EVER.

          • Lymis

            Really?!? Do you read your own work? This is hardly your most immature.

            That’s part of your charm, and why we love you.

          • Tami

            I read it, and got a giggle. Immature keeps us young ;) *pun intended*

          • Jill

            I second her damn. I’m not scienc-y. If you can’t tell. But I wish I was now.

          • Lymis

            Go Tami!

          • Tami

            :) many thanks

          • Tami

            For the fellow science buffs, here is a very interesting site with very in depth information. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/phylo.html#trees

      • DR

        Thank you! Science is not a theory, science is able to produce facts that can be proven and repeated. I’m completely fine with Creationism as a belief! But it’s a decision of faith, there is no real science backing it. Science is what can be seen. Faith is what is unseen. Both are fine – both are gifts! Neither have to be mutually exclusive (except when they are).

        • Don_G

          The DVD set may have sources in it, I don’t know because I don’t own the set. How does any video define it’s sources for instance on Discovery or the History channel. They don’t take video time to do it.

          Yes, science, to me, is another avenue God reveals himself to us. I’m in total agreement with that. But you must admit that macro-evolution is not observable and repeatable in a laboratory. I see depictions of how some species could evolve into others, but no proof it actually happened that way. Is there actual fossil proof, or some other proof, that one species has ever evolved into another? Without that proof then evolution is no more than faith as well.

          • DR

            The Discovery Channel documents each video they make and provides thorough citation. I’m fine with whatever you want to believe! I was taken aback by asking people for their sources if they were planning on countering your video while your video doesn’t have any specific citations itself. Don’t you find that to be slightly ironic?

          • DR

            (And yes, they do so at the end of each video they provide, even the ones they offer via You Tube).

          • Don_G

            I am simply asking for someone here that is certain of evolution to point me to something, a book, website, whatever, that will show me a rebuttal to some of these claims in the video, or show me proof of one species evolving to another. I gave the video reference because it gives some of the arguments against evolution that I have heard for a couple decades so it is not something new this guy has discovered. BTW, He is good at research. He has worked with other organizations and exposed some of the false and corrupt ministers in our country. His material has been used in court cases. So I have no doubt he has sources.

            Anyway, I’ll look and see what I can find to refute his claims (there are a couple Christian evolutionary web sites I will check).

          • DR

            Got it, thanks for the explanation, I’m sure someone far smarter than I will be able to provide what you need. Interesting video though!

          • Matt

            If you’re looking for sources, why not go back to THE source?

            Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” is great place to start. His life in general is just fascinating as well. The many, many letters he wrote in his lifetime are available for general reading via the Darwin Correspondence Project: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/. He devoted his entire life to the subject; I think he has more than enough to satisfy you.

            If you’re curious about the history of evolutionary thought, Wikipedia has an entire article with a pretty thorough overview of the whole thing right up to the present: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_evolutionary_thought. At the end are enough sources to keep you busy for a long, long time.

          • Matt

            One last thing: Darwin had a faith crisis related to his work, especially after the loss of his 1o-year-old daughter, Annie. He did not coldly reject all faith out of hand. Everything is not black and white.

          • Don_G

            Ok, thanks. I’ll check them out. I’m looking for things more specific to some of the arguments in the video though. I will also check that Christian evolutionary site. I’ll have to find it again. I lost a bunch of my links awhile back.

          • Lymis

            Don, that really isn’t an unreasonable question – it is one of the most important “fuzzy areas” of current evolutionary theory.

            I don’t think anyone can argue natural selection, or the effects of deliberate breeding for specific traits – within a species, it’s utterly unquestionable that there is drift, change and adaptation over time in reaction to all sorts of external circumstances and environments.

            I am by no means an expert on the current state of evolutionary theory, but as I understand it, there is neither general consensus nor anything resembling proof in the scientific sense about the mechanism by which one species shifts to another – or about the mechanisms by which complex organs like the eye come about – there are unresolved conceptual gaps in the idea of intermediate forms (why would a species pass on not-quite-working eyes for the thousands of generations it would take to get it “right”).

            But seriously, that scientific truth doesn’t justify the stand you appear to be taking.

            “We don’t yet have a conclusive proof or a compelling explanation for speciation, so there is some as yet undiscovered mechanism at play, and I believe that the hand of God is in the mix in some significant way, even if it is very subtle” is, to me pretty unassailable a stand.

            But this “We don’t have conclusive proof of speciation, so it’s scientifically valid to claim that it all happened in six days, females were formed from male ribs, and every land-based and fresh-water organism on earth is descended from what you could fit in a single boat within the period of recorded human history” is not.

            There are deep metaphorical, symbolic, and theological truths in those stories. As science, though, you’re dealing with something the tin-foil hat people would scoff at.

            “We don’t have all the answers yet” is basic science. “There is no conclusive proof for the mechanism of speciation, so people are free to completely discount all the data and evidence that there is for every other aspect of geology, biology, and history” is pretty much unhinged.

          • Matt

            “…there are unresolved conceptual gaps in the idea of intermediate forms (why would a species pass on not-quite-working eyes for the thousands of generations it would take to get it “right”).”

            I think it’s important to remember that, as far as we can tell, evolution has no true end-goal in mind. Maybe God has some underlying logic, but from what we have seen, sometimes less-than-optimal traits persist.

            Organisms *tend* to develop the traits which give them the best advantage in their environment, and those organisms that are wanting die out, but that’s not always the case. We’re all constant works-in-progress, which I consider to be a beautiful thing.

          • Lymis

            Sorry, are you agreeing with me or disagreeing with me?

          • Matt

            “But you must admit that macro-evolution is not observable and repeatable in a laboratory.”

            This is why it is considered a theory. Again, “theory” does not means what it normally means in mainstream discourse (as in “something which has not been proven”). It means that there is no practical way to directly observe it, in this case because it happens on a hugely massive scale in terms of time and space–but evolution is the most compelling explanation based on the information available to us.

            Real science never claims to be absolute. The best science is firm at its core, with flexible layers that can shift, change, and grow as our understanding deepens.

          • Don_G

            Ok, so evolutionary science tells me this is something you can’t observe, nor repeat and experiment with, yet asks me to believe it anyway. And this is the best explanation of the data we have. Sounds like faith is required to me.

            The only way I could accept it is if God is directing evolution, giving it the intelligence it needs to even be possible. Because if it is all up to chance it is absolutely impossible. Yet, I don’t see it as the best explanation since there are no links (as far as I know) existing between one species and another even in the fossil record.

          • Matt

            I don’t need to “faith” to know that if I step off of a 30-story building, I will fall to my death.

            That is what we call the “theory of gravity.”

          • Don_G

            Yes, but that is experimentally verifiable, reproducible, and observable. Evolution of one species into another is not.

          • Matt

            No, because again, we do not have the resources to directly observe it or to directly reproduce the exact mechanism. Maybe someday we’ll find a way.

            But that’s not what we need to build a solid theory. What we need is to observe what happens around us: the diversity of species, the way they change and adapt over time, and so on. Then we propose an explanation for why this happens as it does. Through more observation, related experiments, and building on others’ ideas, the theory is able to more accurately explain and predict more and more things that occur. Sometimes we need to scrap the whole thing and start over.

            Among other things, evolution is able to explain why modern microbes are becoming more antibiotic-resistant. Creationism has nothing for this except “the wonder of God’s creation.” Rather unhelpful for a person with a severe MRSA infection.

          • Don_G

            Yes, I can see that. But you are talking micro-evolution, which I agree with (and from my experience, all creationists whose material I have read agree here as well). It is the extrapolation of that into macro-evolution that is too far reaching for me to accept.

          • Matt

            “It is the extrapolation of that into macro-evolution that is too far reaching for me to accept.”

            You’re drawing a false distinction with the whole “micro” vs. “macro” evolution.

            Macro-evolution is micro-evolution played out on a grand scale. Fundamentally, they are the same process. You give the universe that we live in enough time and materials, and according to the rules we have observed, the kind of life we have emerges. It can be very difficult to grasp just how *much* there is out there, that is for sure, but that does not change the fact that it exists.

          • Don_G

            I looked at my bank account over a period of 6 months and recognized that it increased by $3000. I figured that at this rate, 40 years from now, I will be making $240,000 more than I’m making now. That extrapolation looks really good to me, but invalid. I have no idea what could happen over that 40 year time. I need to observe other variables in making my estimation.

            Scientists do the same type of thing with evolution. They take legitimate small changes within species observed over a few years or a few decades and then make the big jump saying that over X billion years we would have this or that change. That is a much bigger extrapolation than I made in my bank account example. Macro evolution is all guess work. We have no evidence that one species could ever change into another, yet some scientists make that big jump and call it verifiable by these very minute observable changes. If they had one, just one proof that one species became another then I would be much more prone to accept it. But there is none that I am aware of.

            BTW, Gravity is a law now, isn’t it? Not just a theory. I’ve always heard of the “law of gravity”.

            I’ve enjoyed this discussion. It is helping me to see where the main issue is. Thank you very much for joggling my brain.

          • Don_G

            Found what looks like a very good site on this subject. For those interested:

            http://www.talkorigins.org/

          • DR

            Don, regarding your analogy? Multiplication is still multiplication, regardless of any factors you put in. Your money would still multiply, even if you lost half of it. Math is still math, micro or macro, it does not cease to be math. I’m not sure which factors one would introduce in that scenario that demonstrate a difference between micro and macro.

          • Elizabeth

            Yep. Evolution is a theory, gravity is a law.

          • Matt

            Yeah, realized that almost as soon as I said it. Thanks, Elizabeth. That’s what I get for doing this at midnight.

          • mae

            Not exactly true, here’s a good explanation though if you’re interested:

            http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070807220925AAwEBXl

          • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

            A couple things for consideration, just off the top of my head. Dogs and wolves (as well as coyotes, etc.) share a common ancestor. In the several thousand years that people have been breeding dogs, we’ve gone from something vaguely wolf-like to a huge and varied range of animals.

            Yes, dogs are still all the same species, but if you didn’t know that, would you look at a Pomeranian and a Great Dane and think for a minute that they’re the same kind of animal? And that didn’t happen over hundreds of thousands or millions of years, just thousands.

            Just because you can’t reproduce something in a lab doesn’t mean it isn’t verifiable. I mean, we can’t reproduce nuclear fusion either, but we know it happens by observing the stars.

          • Tami

            If we had a few hundred billion years we could.

            “Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours.”

            ― Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

            Here is some info on fossil proof…

            http://www.windows2universe.org/cool_stuff/tour_evolution_3.html

            There is no more evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines to fight diseases, than for evolution (micro or macro), and yet you don’t think faith is necessary to believe in the medical validity of vaccines. There are people who refute that validity; namely strictly practicing chiropractors. What do you think of their belief? Do you think it obviously defies know scientifically proved facts? Do you think they harm ppl by discouraging vaccination of their patients, and patients’ children? They are only one group who deny efficacy of vaccines, and are contributing to the re-emergence of diseases that have long been wiped out.

            Belief in evolution takes no more faith than belief in medicine.

      • http://www.thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com Keshia W

        Creationism =/= Young Earth.

    • Don Rappe

      I love the study of statistics and chance. One of the better parts of God’s creation.

      • Don_G

        You all have given me a lot of good stuff to consider. Thank you very much.

        • Matt

          No, thank *you* for being so open and good-natured, Don_G. You are a rare gem, indeed. Good luck in your future searching and learning.

    • Hannah Grace

      Uh…why can’t you believe in evolution AND creation? That creation happened through evolution? Not that hard….

  • Kathleen

    Nice letter but I’m still not impressed with those who’ve had one biology class, who did their “own research” and decide that the Earth is only thousands of years old, people lived at the same time of dinosaurs and all the rest of Creationism.

    My mind is open but it did not fall out of my head.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

      God, I love that. Hilarious.

  • Karen

    Not impressed. Religion isn’t something you just get to “believe” as an individual, and that’s all there is to it. This is the worst kind of Sheilaism and is something we all need to work against. It isn’t up to this undereducated but well meaning person to determine for herself what truth is and the rest of us can go hang. This letter was really deeply disturbing.

    • Matt

      “Religion isn’t something you just get to “believe” as an individual…”

      I don’t meant to come off as confrontational, but isn’t that the whole point of religion? Believing, I mean?

      “It isn’t up to this undereducated but well meaning person to determine for herself what truth is…”

      Then whose job is it, if not hers? Yours? It is her life, she should be free to make her own choices, and I see no evidence that she is hurting others with her beliefs.

      • Karen

        On the contrary Matt, if “religion” is just the thoughts or unsubstantiated beliefs (dreams) of an individual it ceases to have any meaning at all. It also gets really boring and not worth talking (or typing) about.

        It is only the late 20th c. and early 21st century people who live in what we call the US who, in the entire history of humanity, privilege individuality above all other values and goals. Nothing is valued unless it is discerned and decided upon by the individual. What about tradition, loyalty to the group, the community, the common good or any of that? Meaningless? For us, but for no one else in teh world.

        Individuals don’t determine truth. That is the delusion we live under currently but it is just that, a delusion.

        • Matt

          Well, no, individuals don’t determine The Truth Once And For All, For All Beings Until The End of Time.

          But they do determine their own truth. They do determine what is right for them. That is one of the things that our constitution protects, after all: That whole “pursuit of happiness” thing.

          Absolutely “religion” can also mean one’s faith community, the people one shares beliefs, history, culture, and ritual with. That is hardly meaningless. Sharing and supporting in community is one of the greatest joys in life.

          But only you can walk your own walk with God, or with the higher power (or powers) which make the most sense for your life.

          And from I can tell, this is what the letter writer is doing.

          • Karen

            What you are saying is a post 19th c. Protestant understanding of Evangelical Christianity and does not apply in the slightest to any other type of religious experience–of any kind, anywhere.

            You are universalizing your own historically determined experience of faith. One that is very limited, and in the case of someone, like the letter writer, who thinks she can determine the validity of SCIENTIFIC claims based on her individualistic understanding of faith, it becomes utterly ludicrous.

          • Matt

            Every single person of any faith–Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or otherwise–takes their faith at least partly from their families, their communities. Or they seek out their own faith. Some think about it more than others. Some worship more often than others, some are more strict about their faith’s “rules” than others, some believe more strongly in this doctrine vs. that one. That is what I mean by walking your own walk.

            When did being a Muslim, and so is your next-door neighbor, come to mean that you have to do exactly everything exactly alike, or you are not both Muslims?

            Not that it matters, but I firmly on the Evolution side, and the letter writer has impressed me by not allowing her beliefs to interfere with her ability to care for others and to think. Whether she matures as a scientist enough one day to take another look at the evidence is not any of my business. That is for her to decide.

            And as an aside: You’re on dangerous ground, proclaiming my faith to be “very limited.” You have no idea what I believe.

          • Karen

            I’m just saying that the idea that all religious people, even modern Hindus, even Medieval Catholics, even ancient Israelites had a personal relationship with God is a gross universalization.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Maybe not all people Karen, because to some it is not all that important. But I don’t doubt that many in these categories you list did and do have such a personal relationship. At its heart, religion seeks communion with the divine. It seeks to interact, understand, ask questions, find answers, learn from that divine.

            And here’s the thing, it is so personal, so intimate a relationship that no one has a clue its going on…except the individual and God.

          • Karen

            NO! my point is that religion is NOT and has not been for all people everywhere something intimate and personal. It just isn’t. It is so hard for evangelicals, both on the left and on the right to imagine this.

          • Karen

            sd, Do you see that you are privileging an individual relationship with God over any other type of religious belief or behavior? Only those for whom it “wasn’t that important” would have a non-personal relationship with God. I am saying that simply isn’t true–that is a Protestant Evangelical lens and it does not apply cross-culturally or trans-historically.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            No, what I am saying is that people’s relationship with God is a personal/intimate matter, based on criteria between the two individuals, them and god. It isn’t for everyone, and even those that it is for, it will be a purely individual matter, as to how deep they opt to take it.

            Evangelicalism, of which I would make a lousy representative, is not at all what I am viewing things from.

            I think its up to the person and to God. It happens in all forms of religious constructions. It’s a spiritual construction, not necessarily bound to the constraints of religioun. Religion just helps people to navigate the practical aspects. I think is beautiful, because it to me, simply shows that God is much more expansive than any of us assume.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            To me The DalaiLama is a deeply spiritual man. I think he and God are on great terms. The Sufi Mystic, another. The modern author Anne Lamont, who’s books I am just now discovering. St. Augstine, who I don’t always agree with, but respect. The Buddha. All I think met God somewhere along the way and were forever changed.

            They are the more public examples. There are millions like them, and there are those, who just never choose to take that step. Then there are some, who’s attempts have been stimied because someone told them, “NO! That’s not the way to meet God, you must do it this way instead.” When instead God had something else in store all along.

            I don’t think the deep spiritual life is a mandatory thing for us. its just a personal one for those who choose it.

          • Hannah Grace

            Karen is right. Evangelicals think religion is about a “personal relationship” and that to say it can be something else is just a slur against other religions. It’s not. To point out that, say, 1700s Judaism in Amsterdam wasn’t at heart about a personal relationship with God isn’t a slur. It’s just demonstrating an awareness that ‘religion’ is not just ‘exactly what you believe, but calling God another name’.

      • Lymis

        Matt, yes and no.

        Yes, personal belief is the heart of religion.

        But you don’t get to slap the label of “religion” on absolutely anything and then demand that people not only respect your right to believe it, but that they pretend your views are valid and must be treated with equal weight.

        And, I’d add, you don’t get to proclaim your belief in something that not only doesn’t match the observable reality around us, but isn’t even internally consistent by the rules you claim to be following.

        In other words, I’ve never actually met a Biblical Literalist who actually, once you scratch the barest surface, actually believes that every text of the Bible is literally true. But I’ve met plenty who, not actually believing it themselves, insist I’m supposed to pretend that they do, and respect them for it.

        • James

          “demand that people not only respect your right to believe it, but that they pretend your views are valid and must be treated with equal weight”

          This! ;)

          it’s at the heart of every argument over creation “science” and I’ve seen people with generally “liberal” viewpoints fall into this trap time and time again, trying to “be fair” and grant equal weight to ideas that simply are not science. it’s a trap. it’s a trap. don’t do it.

          “I’ve never actually met a Biblical Literalist who actually, once you scratch the barest surface, actually believes that every text of the Bible is literally true. But I’ve met plenty who, not actually believing it themselves, insist I’m supposed to pretend that they do, and respect them for it.”

          for a terrific example of this, ask any creation “scientist” (who will also, by default, be a biblical literalist) to present to you a single, solitary, cud-chewing rabbit (Leviticus 11:6) and watch them weasel their way out of a literal reading of the text.

  • dlrs

    I, like our thoughtful, passionate letter-writer, also believe in God. I believe that creation story presented in Genesis as well as other sacred texts in other cultures is the story of how God is engaged with our world and with us. I believe God is the beginning and the end.

    However, I THINK that evolution is the most logical and fact-based explanation as to how life began, how life came to be. No, you don’t have to justify Creationism as a valid explanation for how life came to be, but you have to PROVE it with facts that have been proven though time and through science. You can believe all you want, but creationism cannot be supported by scientific means.

    I’m pleased the letter-writer is open-minded and open-hearted and thoughtful. But no, I cannot and will not condone teaching creationism as a valid scientific explanation for the evolution of life. But I can believe it to be how we are God’s people.

    • DR

      I must be reading the wrong letter because I can’t get past the first few sentences:

      “I realize that your post is discussing institutionalized Creationism, as opposed to individual beliefs, but I’ve seen this image too often recently touted as proof that everyone who believes in Creation is a total nincompoop. It’s frustrating to me to feel like this place that proclaims to be open and welcoming is not willing to welcome me. ”

      This is, in my opinion, contradicting itself and I don’t find it reasonable or thoughtful at all. She first realizes that the discussion is at a macro – institutionalized level – and then insists that it’s about her and how she feels and then goes on to say she doesn’t feel welcomed as a result. I’m fine with being the minority view and I’m glad others are getting something substantial out of her comment. And it’s important to talk about how we feel, that can be a great wake up call. All that being said? I think it’s BS to say this blog isn’t “welcoming” when she’s already identified that she’s making a conversation about institutionalized Creationism personal. Those of us who are talking about it this level and honoring that conversation are doing just that.

      • Elizabeth

        Sorry DR. I want to “Woah. This.” for everything you’re putting out here.

  • Matt

    Well, this person has certainly stretched my brain. In the best way possible. Right on, Letter Writer. You are yet another example of the awesome diversity of God’s children.

  • Lymis

    The problem I have is the idea that seems so often tied together – that to believe in a Creator, you absolutely have to buy into a six-day creation narrative (one that is utterly contracted in the very next chapter of the book, in which things are created in an entirely different order.)

    And it also seems to always be wrapped up in all sorts of absurd claims about what that must “mean” – that those 6 days had to be 6000 years ago, that dinosaurs therefore had to coexist with humans and die in the flood, that there is no such thing as evolution, and so on.

    Sure, an omnipotent God could have created the world 6,000 years ago, but it’s manifestly obvious that if he did, he created it with million-year-old fossils in the ground, evolution well in progress, and carbon-14 merrily decaying away. And no, you can’t disprove that.

    But you also can’t disprove the idea that God created the universe 5 minutes ago with all our memories in place, Bibles on bookshelves, and again, evolution in progress and carbon-14 merrily decaying away.

    If God created the world in 6 days, he created it *old,* and the distinction stopped mattering before he finished his nap on that first Saturday.

    The problem isn’t the existence of the Creator – who is fully capable of starting with a Big Bang (“Let there be light”) and subtly working through all those quantum events that appear so “random” – or any of billions of other ways. God’s outside of time, anyway, and created not only the then, but the now, and the yet to be all at once anyway.

    The problem is all the outlandish things that people claim “have to” follow from a belief in Creator, and from the belief that one or the other (can’t be both) of the creation stories in Genesis is literally true (the other being inconvenient hogwash, one assumes.)

    And it’s bad enough when those outlandish things are simply easily disproved ideas about how the world around us actually works. You don’t need a neat Biblical theory to tell you whether or not it’s raining when you can just stick your hand out the door.

    But when that is extended to declare who gets equal civil rights in a free society, who is allowed to be considered a child of God, and who gets harassed and punished for who and how they love, then it’s not a matter of simply letting people believe what they want to believe. It becomes a matter of stopping people from hurting other people who never did anything to hurt them.

  • Calvin

    Pro abortion? Pro choice, maybe?

    • DR

      I’m sure that’s what she meant. :)

  • Elizabeth

    People always try to put God in a box and tell Him what He can and cannot do, based on their idea of Him. Check out Jonah, he totally didn’t want to go preach to the Assyrians- he knew they would repent and he didn’t want them to because they were enemies of Israel. My favorite part of that book is not the big thing with the whale, but the telling incident with the bush.

    “But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left–and also many animals?” Jonah 4:9-11 Yes, the loving creator, who cares even about the animals in the city.

    Remember, one of the reasons that people crucified the Christ is that He didn’t fit into their narrow vision of what God should do. People draw lines in the sand over the smallest discrepancies.

    “And there was evening, and there was morning–the fifth day. And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:23-27

    “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. ” Genesis 2:5-7

    In one part of the story, man is made after the plants have already been made, and the beasts of the sea, and the beasts of the ground, in the other, the plants haven’t even sprung up yet. Now, if you are reading the bible like a science book, then the fact that these stories don’t line up exactly may cause you to doubt the whole concept of the existence of God based on the ‘facts’ not lining up. The point of the bible is to help humans get to know their creator, not to give humans a great many things to argue about.

    Personally, I think evolution would make a lot more sense in trying to sew these two stories together into making sense, but ultimately the thing that really bugs me about the evolution/creationist debate is the way it is taught as though you can only accept evolution if you don’t believe in God or that you cannot possibly believe in God if you believe in evolution. I’ve had to sit through my fair share of classes where the instructors had a bone to pick with Christians, so I can understand the temptation to just throw it all away and say it’s garbage so you don’t have to listen to someone rail against your beliefs, but that’s not Christian behavior. Christian behavior is turning the other cheek, and just dealing with that not everyone will agree with you, and that the majority of the world will not. None of us are perfect, but we should be trying. Also, if you notice, God says what the plan was, then it happens. The details aren’t specific on -how- it happens.

    “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

    The knowledge of God is supposed to be apparent from observation of the creation itself. Nor can it be bad to look at the creation itself, since that is supposed to be a source of understanding about God. Even if the individual stories were fictions, Jesus often taught in parables, the point of the reading of the stories is to get to know God’s personality, and by knowing the personality of the God you are meant to reflect, you will more likely grow to reflect Him. However, poetry is very hard to “prove”, yet many people react to how “true” it is.

    Faith journeys with the guidance of the Holy Spirit are a series of steps of understanding, and I’m not at the end of mine, but I’ve had to slowly come to understand that the corruption of one word doesn’t invalidate the bible. I was astounded when I found out that the Sabbath was Saturday, not Sunday, as I’d been told. I’ve had to face the fact that the bible was not written in English, it was written in several different languages Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and so forth and translated many different times. This means that Jesus’ actual name was changed from the common Jewish name Yeshua to a name that didn’t exist until it’d gone through translation from Yeshua to Greek Iesus to English Jesus (J having started out being pronounced like I). The problem is that you can’t make a faith journey if you can’t believe something simply because it’s a little deeper than you first thought. I’ve had to learn about patrilineal legal issues so I could understand that the story of Tamar with Judah was that his family was screwing her over, that when Onan spilled his seed on the ground, he was really shortchanging Tamar of what he owed her- a child, which would give her legal rights in Judah’s family. Up until I took the right anthropology class, I had to take the scholar’s words for it that it was a story about how masturbation is a sin. I also had no idea that the giving of the wife to the brother of the wife (levirate marriage) was to help make sure -the widow- had a child to look after her in her old age, as well as to carry on the name of the father in the inheritance, it was as if he was trying to rob her of her retirement, just to spite his brother. (Who as the older brother would have a better portion than he).

    You can believe whatever you want, but when you are unwilling to look into things just because they disagree with what you’ve chosen to believe, (or what some ‘authority’ believes you should) you miss a lot of the richness of understanding you could have if you looked closer. I’m not going to argue ‘did not’ ‘did to’ ‘did not’ ‘did to’ like a small child, and if Jesus did not come to force feed the world what they didn’t want to hear, but to speak and let those who were open to hearing the truth be the ones to work for Him to make the world a better place, who am I to go farther than Jesus did? But just another thought, and then I’ll just walk away from this ‘debate’:

    “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

    Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

    “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

    “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” John 3:1-12

    Do you see the difference between Nicodemus’ idea of the conversation and Jesus’? He couldn’t hear what Jesus was saying to him because he was from a group whose pride in their birth, and having the right ancestors led them to believe that they were better than other people, he took Jesus literally, or we wouldn’t have that lovely image of an old man trying to climb back into his mother. Now, just because Jesus wasn’t speaking of it being a literal rebirth does not mean it’s not ‘true’.

  • Lymis

    There’s another aspect of this that might apply. Channelling Dan Savage’s advice to Christians who aren’t anti-gay, in situations like this, it’s important for people who do have balanced and reasonable views but still claim membership in a group that for the most part doesn’t, one has to wonder whether they make anywhere near the same effort to tell the unreasonable majority the same things they are so eager to express to the rest of us.

    I don’t mind someone who believes in a six-day Creation pointing out that they have other, more liberal views, but the affront in the letter is out of line. The tone of “How dare you lump us all together! We aren’t all nincompoops!” implies that it’s completely unreasonable to associate a Creationist view with things like bigotry, intolerance, reactionary political views, and so on. That’s ludicrous.

    The vast majority of people who go out of their way to express Creationist views do so specifically for the purpose of supporting anti-gay, anti-science, and anti-feminist views, and to pretend otherwise, especially with a tone of wounded shock, points the finger in the wrong direction.

    Now, for all I know, the letter writer spends all her free time on right wing Christian creationist blogs speaking up for gay rights, reproductive choice, and moderate politics. But you couldn’t convince me to bet a penny on it, because in my experience, as Dan Savage noted with pro-gay Christians, the people who constantly insist “we’re not all like that” tend to focus on telling that to the victims, not to the victimizers.

    “Hey, just so you know, some of us don’t feel that way, but I can certainly understand why you’d get the impression that we do. I know it doesn’t significantly address any of the very real problems you’re talking about, but it’s worth letting you know that there’s a variety of views on this side of the fence, too” is very different from the tone of this letter, with it’s whole tone of “I’m so annoyed that you are always talking about the 95% of the people who are doing horrible damage without ever considering MY feelings, how DARE you.”

    Yes, I’m sure it is frustrating. Imagine how frustrating it would be if people used sweeping generalizations to pass constitutional amendments to restrict your basic rights. And until “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” stops being the rallying call for anti-gay bigots, it’s up to a Creationist to prove they aren’t a bigot, not up to me to prove they are – and it’s unreasonable for a tolerant and moderate Creationist to expect otherwise.

    • Elizabeth

      I think that is a terrible point of view.

      Why should anyone have to prove anything at all to you? Why is your approval so sought after that this woman who is making herself vulnerable needs to prove anything at all to you?

      You are sounding exactly like the people you are professing to distrust. Just on the other side of the argument.

      • Elizabeth

        How is she making herself vulnerable? She chose to write John and gave him permission to use it. She invited this discussion.

      • DR

        What in the world are you talking about?

      • Lymis

        If she wants to have her views, I’m fine with that. If she wants me to agree with her views, or to stop believing my own, then just saying “It’s religion, you have to believe it” doesn’t cut it.

        She’s not obligated to prove anything to me. But she doesn’t get to declare me wrong with no supporting evidence and then demand that I do the work to prove myself wrong.

        And I think you might be missing a big point. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The vast majority of the people who speak publicly about Creationism use it as the basis of some pretty extreme social and legislative agendas. To demand that those of us on the receiving end of that assume that everyone is a fluffy bunny until proven otherwise is unfair and unrealistic. I’m prepared to believe that any given fundamentalist or creationist is a nice person, but if someone wants me to understand that, it’s on them, not on me. Otherwise, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the rest of their beliefs line up with the majority.

  • Fred

    Great letter! I don’t agree with her views, but her letter is an excellent point well written. It applies to all differences in opinion, not just creationism. We should all be respectful of each other, and not place people in boxes.

  • Cheryl Marcuri

    She is NOT anti-abortion. She says very clearly that she is PRO-abortion, because she finds no justification for the statement that life begins at conception. As for Creationism, I believe everyone has the right to their own beliefs, provided it doesn’t harm anyone else. She is not harming anyone, nor is she saying that she’ll harm her children’s thought processes. In fact, she is saying the exact opposite. Good on her!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Right, sorry about my mistaken descriptive verbiage there at the end. I’ve corrected it.

  • Tamara Wilson

    Actually, she’s not as atypical as you may think. I found her views to be very much in line with much of what I believe! I do believe that God created the earth and universe. I too have done the research and weighed it out for myself. Weather it was in the literal six days, or took longer matters not. But I do believe that God created the world, the universe and us! Like this woman, I see no purpose in getting into a huge debate about it. In the long run it isn’t that important. However, I do agree with her that folks should not be judging others based on one part of that persons beliefs that happens to be different from their own. That just doesn’t hold up when you are claiming to be open minded!

    • Tamara Wilson

      Oh, and btw, I’m pro choice….NOT pro abortion! :) Me thinks she may have just mis-worded that a bit.

  • Rev. Steve Clunn

    The letter writer makes a great point in showing how we all tend to pigeon hole others into a whole array of beliefs based on one. I have always felt no incompatibility with God as creator and evolution. I just figured that this was one of the ways God does the creating and the sciences are a gift to us all in that they help us to better understand how God put things together. My only departure from the author of the letter is our understandings of the origin and purpose of the creation narratives found in Genesis (there are two located there). My hope and prayer is that if and when she, or her children (one day) do critical and objective research on the scriptures, especially the creation narratives, that it won’t throw her back into a crisis of faith! The selective literalism of certain parts of scripture is a most dangerous thing… we all do it as Christians, but we have to be clear and honest that it is interpretation, belief and understanding… an act of faith; and not an act of fact.

    Personally, the core of my faith is the “Great Commandment” that ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:25-28)” This Commandment is found in slightly varied forms: Matthew 22:35-40 adds in the “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” implying that Jesus is telling us to take these more literally; Mark 12:28-31; and, Deuteronomy 6:4-5 & Leviticus 19:18 which may have been the source documents for Jesus’ understanding on how the Law of faithfulness ought to be put together. I prefer the Luke version because it attaches it to the “Good Samaritan” story. But I realize in saying that this is the core value of my Christian faith, I have made a statement of belief, interpretation, and understanding… an act of faith.

    I respect the authors act of faith about creationism, although I disagree with her seemingly literal interpretation of creation occurring in six days, as we know it… if I’m incorrect, please forgive my false assumption. More importantly, I believe, I respect her holding us all accountable to the idea that we unfairly judge others and lump them together based on one belief to create an “us and them” mentality. This is precisely the divisive state we are currently facing as a culture and society. The people of Judea condemned fellow Hebrews, the Samaritans, for not holding to correct beliefs. The Jewish scholars condemned the early Christians (Paul, formerly Saul was one of them). Early Christians had to come to terms with their condemnation of Gentiles (Peter in Acts) and each other (1 Corinthians is a case study in church politics). Isn’t it interesting that Jesus reached out with love, care and challenge to all of these groups:

    The Samaritan woman at the well; his own confused disciples; the Roman soldier seeking healing for another; and, the very people who hung on the crosses next to his.

    Maybe there’s a lesson we can learn from the Bible, each other and this conversation. That is, that if we are to follow the way of Jesus within the Christian faith, we might consider beginning with the understanding that we are each a gift from God; afforded God’s love, grace and presence (the Spirit); and, we are each called to reflect that knowledge, love and hope out into a world that seems so entrenched in polarization, judgement and vilification. Blessings, Grace and Peace to all!

  • Allen

    Very refreshing to hear a well-presented opinion that differs from mine. It reminds me that, of the two statements “God is in the Details” and “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” that the latter is much more in line with Christ’s teachings. As a gay Christian who goes against Dan Savage’s assumption (I tell the gays to back off about my Christianity, and the Christians to back off about my being gay about equally, with the result that I never feel quite at home in either of those worlds), her frustration at being pre-judged because of one aspect of her life resonates.

    Go in peace, Creation-believing Christian Woman!

  • Gianna Zellner

    What a wonderfully thought out and presented letter. It really should make all of us think. We are human. We make mistakes. I am totally against being PC but I do admit that once in a while I may rub someone the wrong way without realizing it. When I do that, all I can do is apologize for the fact that what I said made someone uncomfortable. I can only hope they accept the apology and take it for what it is, an attempt to make peace.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

      I see no reason to avoid making someone uncomfortable when they are doing harm to others with their personal beliefs. I’m gay and I have given my evangelical siblings a LOT of discomfort by challenging their beliefs about THAT. You should see the struggle in their faces when I tell them I am quite comfortable with God and being gay, thank you. I am the expert in this issue, not you and I don’t care what you believe until you vote.

      • Elizabeth

        Uh huh. This is why we don’t piss off the gays.

  • David Larson

    My biggest issue with those who will argue creationism VERSES Evolution is one of words and definitions. My dad taught me to be a Tillichian and so I go back to the root of the words used. The process presented in Scripture is a type of Evolution. As is the Scientific modeling that follows the theories of Darwin et al. If we do not believe in evolution then we must believe in either a static non-changing system or a de-evolution system. And I really don’t know of anyone who believes in those two ideas. (OK, enough blabbering on my part) The writer of the letter did present her ideas in a well ordered missive. But my favorite part was, “I am a staunch feminist. Nuff said.” no explanation and no need for one! Amen! Preach it sister!

  • Mike Huber

    Ok, she has rejected the hateful politics. That’s nice. And if she feels that genesis I is a compelling mytho-poetic description of the relationship between God, herself, and creation, great. But if she thinks it is a description of what happened in the science/history sense, she is falling for the recent and vicious heresy of literalism.

  • Adriana Maldonado

    How interesting … The sermon at my church was exactly about the same thing. The pastor says that God creates everything. There is plenty of room for time gaps within Genesis, and what we perceive as (days) might have actually been years, even eons. If God created it all, then science should be (and is in my opinion) a way to help explain his creation. There is no need to set a dividing line between creationism and evolution… God created it all.

  • Angelika Enns Gorham

    I find your readers letter very honest and refreshing. Good or you for speaking up and reminding me to listen more. Thanks John posting.

  • Hallie Mac

    She looked into “both sides for several months” as a teenager and that qualifies as “doing a lot of research”??

    My brain hurts just reading that.

    • anakin mcfly

      For a teenager, it is.

  • Laura C. Minnick

    I appreciate her willingness to write, and her fairly liberal opinions on other points (though to me they smelled just a bit of ‘the lady doth protest too much, methinks’), but her main stance on evolution vs creationism? I’m sorry, but ‘I was a teenager and I did the research’ was jejune beyond words. You did the research? As a teenager? So you know more than scientist who have devoted their lives to the study of the origins of the world? You know better than them based on you were taking biology at the time and you had some information from some creationists… oh, but you ‘measured’ the evidence?

    Excuse me, but I reallyreallyreally want to drop the f-bomb…

    I have keyboard-shaped creased in my forehead from reading things like this.

  • Christie Draper

    Who cares where she personally stands on creationism/evolution? The point she made about separation of church and state is what matters. And her pro- gay rights and pro choice shows that she is not a judge mental fundamentalist. Her stance on teaching alternatives to evolution is a “who cares” moment because as soon as those kids get their own educated minds on this subject they will decide on what was presented to them by both sides. She is obviously not teaching hatred, bigotry, or condemnation to her children and creationism is not a deal breaker. We need more “religious” people like her in the world so lets give her a break!

    • Lymis

      Shall we also teach the Hindu cosmology or the Norse creation myths in science class? Why, if we are going to include purely religious views as valid alternative forms of science, are we limiting it to explicitly Christian views?

      • Jill

        I’ve always liked the idea that the Universe vibrated to create the “OM” sound at its inception. But I’m really ok with that *not* being taught in science curriculum.

        • Elizabeth

          But Jill! My Tibetan chimes are on a hook next to my door! Our platonic girl crush is over?

          • Jill

            Hey love! That’s where mine reside, next to my jewelry drawer replete with OM necklace, sodalite prayer beads, feng shui coins and bells. And I’m still ok that my HS science teacher didn’t hand them out.

            Girl crush, solid.

        • James

          where the hell is John’s “like” button! ;)

          • Lymis

            Rumor has it that it’s just over his navel.

        • Lymis

          Hey, I know, can we come up with a Unified Creation story if we decide that the first thing God said was, “Ummmm, Let there be Light” ?

          • Jill

            Oh, I do like the way you think, mister.

            But maybe underscore the AUM sound instead of ummm, otherwise it sounds like God’s unsure about the whole thing. And we wouldn’t want that…

            (and I LOVE reading the switch of the gears between the comment above! HA!)

  • Steven Waling

    Problem is that there is no credible alternative to evolution, and to ‘teach the controversy’ is to teach a lie. I’m glad she’s not a bigotted fundamentalist, but she’s still wrong about evolution and her children will still grow up with a warped view of science.

    • Elizabeth

      Before we start picking on anyone’s children, let’s remember that Christianity compels us to believe in virgin birth, fasting for 40 days and nights without dying, and Lazarus. As in Alice in Wonderland, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. The fundamentalist kids I grew up with rebelled by mastering science.

      • god

        No. It does not. Here is a nice, simple spin on Christianity. Try to live like Jesus. The bible is a book of man distorted by men or 2000 years. Churches are more of the same. But Jesus was a pretty positive role model. Don’t try to make sense of a old book or a new church. WWJD?

        • Elizabeth

          Jesus probably wouldn’t waste His time on troll bait.

      • LVZ

        Forgive me for arguing semantics here, but some of the strange things in the Bible make a lot more sense when you look at the cultural context of when they were written. For instance, “forty days and forty nights” — whether applied to Noah’s flood or Jesus’ fasting — was an _expression_ back then. It means “a long time” — not forty days literally. In the same way, “a pillar of salt” was an expression that refers to someone broken by grief, i.e. a pillar of _tears_. Lot’s wife wasn’t literally transformed into sodium chloride. I heard once that people _still_ use those expressions in parts of the Middle East.

        • Elizabeth

          Bingo. Like creating the Earth in seven days is a semantic expression.

        • Lymis

          While I’m not prepared to argue about the meaning of “pillar of salt” or that it’s appropriate to be skeptical about Lot’s wife literally turning into one, it’s pretty clear in the story that something catastrophic happened to the woman – otherwise the whole thing with Lot’s daughters saying “We are the only hope for the human race, let’s get Dad drunk and get pregnant” takes on even deeper levels of creepy than it already had going on, if Mom was just whimpering in a corner at the time.

          • LVZ

            Well, there are dozens of interpretations of the story of Lot’s family and the destruction of Sodom. The interpretation I personally believe is that it’s a legend that arose much later and didn’t happen literally. The logic is this: when the ancient Israelites left Egypt in the Exodus and arrived in Canaan, they were shocked to find other groups of Hebrews already living there — including the Moabites and the Ammonites — who spoke a similar language. As the Israelites fought skirmishes for years with the Moabites and Ammonites, they had to rationalize why these distant relatives were current enemies. Rival tribes tend to come up with stories to mock and belittle their enemies — just look at an elementary school playground! The story arose that the Moabites and Ammonites were descended from crazy drunken uncle Lot who was so out of it that he slept with his own daughters. So, when the Israelites were negotiating with their neighbors and decided to rattle sabers, they’d say — “we’re the _legitimate_ descendants of Abraham, and you guys are the bastard descendants of an incestuous drunk.”

  • textjunkie

    Sorry, don’t buy it. I’m sure the letter writer is a great person, and I’m glad she’s not out to convince everyone to agree that God created the world in 6 days and that evolution is “just a theory”, but seriously. I can’t respect her ability to come to a logical conclusion. It’s like she saying that people who believe in the existence of phlogiston or that the world is flat are just as reasonable as anyone else. It just doesn’t work.

    • anakin mcfly

      Ignorance =/= illogic.

      I recently read a great book “Among the Creationists” which said that one of Creationism’s huge appeals is that it is, actually, logical and seems to make sense to most people without a rigorous scientific education – i.e. most laymen. Many creationist science arguments thus often cannot be debunked by non-scientists, because they require more knowledge of evolution’s complexity to do so.

      • textjunkie

        Good point–but it doesn’t have to be *that* rigorous a scientific education, any more than it takes a a rigorous scientific education to understand that the world is round (roughly), even though common sense says it is flat. What’s sad is that so much of the US doesn’t get even that much of a scientific education.

        I was taking her at her word that she was not ignorant and had done some reading, hence the comment about logic. But I’ll grant you in general your statement is true.

  • god

    I believe that the Earth is flat. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. Don’t bother me with facts and I won’t try to convince you, either. This doesn’t make me

    - stupid

    -anti-gay

    -pro-life

    It just means that I believe in something that I know is nonsense. It gets me attention, which has been working for me. Kind of a freak show thing. When attention wanes, I post online to renew the attention.

    I did a lot of research to come to this belief. Now, I’ll admit, this research was biased by the fact that I am a card carrying member of the Flat Earth Society, but not too much. And I did this research when I was 12, but I was bright, even then.

    And I am pro-abortion, although I am not sure what that has to do with it. In fact, I asked my parents why they didn’t abort me. One less mouth to feed, etc.

    I’m a feminist. Except for female fetuses. Abort.

    I have other beliefs, too. Take gravity, for instance. Science does a poor job with gravity. They try, but they aren’t really doing very well. And I suspect that many of you will agree with me on this one. So I choose not to believe in gravity.

    I don’t have to worry that my children might believe in a spherical planet. Remember: abort.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yikes, dude.

    • DR

      Always nice to see the assholes chiming in.

  • Tami

    In the spirit of the original letter, which addressed the original poll about the “science” test, I wonder what people think about government funds being used to teach creationism ( http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/hundreds-of-voucher-schools-teach-creationism-in-science-classes )?

  • Lucy Houston

    Thank you for printing this letter. I have to say, that I feel for this woman. I grew up defending my beliefs as well, and it is hard to go against what everyone else believes is true. And it’s no fun to be made fun of for your beliefs, especially when you feel you have done the research. I stand in that position on the opposite side in my family. They are all fundamentalists christians, and I am the heathen that believes in evolution. :)

    I too went through a difficult time when I felt that evolution was challenging my faith in God, and as the author says, I felt that if the Creation story was not true, then none of it was true. I feel this is the fatal error that many Christians cannot get past. There is this believe taught in the church that the Bible is inerrant, written by God, perfect and factual. This belief is only about 200 years old actually – as old as the scientific revolution when Christians felt that they had to defend themselves against science (and they’re still arguing today). Before that time, parts of the Bible were seen as allegory (stories to teach us lessons), or proverbs (words to live by) or simply the history of a nation (Israel). It was not all supposed to be taken literally. So I take the Genesis creation story as an allegory meant to teach us lessons about life, and not as science. I don’t think it was meant to be a page out of a science book. And in this way, like John Shore, I accept that God created evolution and all of it, whether we understand it or not, is part of his perfect plan.

    Peace.

  • Stephanie

    Just for the record, my Husband and I are also pro-gay supporters of women’s right to choose abortion who believe in creationism, so there are more of us than you think! :)

  • Terri-Anne Williams

    While I disagree with her conclusion, I was so happy to hear someone complain about the treatment they receive from some liberals. I have many liberal “friends” that are downright cruel & disrespectful in how they show their distaste for opposing beliefs by fundamentalists ~ most of them having been on the side of fundamentalism before. What I find the most ironic is that they are so often mistreating fundies in the very way they claim to have been treated by fundies.

    • Don Rappe

      I find it very difficult to find anything conservative about fundamentalism. What does it conserve? Finding how to hold the faith without closing ones eyes to the reality of the created universe tends to conserve the Christian faith in the modern world. I feel I’m being very conservative when I try to avoid every superstitious understanding of the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

  • Kathleen Bergin Green

    I thought it was a brilliant article. She has the rare ability to articulate her point without dismissing, downgrading, or disrespecting the ‘other side’. I respect that – a lot!

  • Rob Mottice

    The beauty of Evolution is that it is happening whether you believe in it or not. Simply put, God didn’t CREATE, but is STILL CREATING.

    • Valerie Horton

      good way of putting it.

  • Kathleen Merrill Jackson

    I’m having a hard time understanding why a non-fundie has a problem with believing both in a Creator and evolution. To me, it’s not an either/or question. I am sorry she feels ridiculed, it seems she is very thoughtful and willing to self-educate.

    • anakin mcfly

      You should check out some creationist material in-depth sometime – to a non-scientist, they can be very, very convincing. I was taken in for two years in my teens, having started out accepting and liking evolution, and not being a fundie at all, but I thought the ‘science’ in favour of YEC was unarguable. It didn’t help that whenever I tried to argue my case, people just mocked me and called me names rather than actually engage me in debate.

    • Lymis

      It’s also worth pointing out that a lot of the material supporting evolution takes it far beyond scientific truths and into claims that evolution is a proof of the non-existence of God. It’s fairly easy to find a large body of such material, and use it to cast the Creation vs. Evolution debate as one about the existence of God in the first place.

      If someone honestly believes that the only choices are a belief in creationism or the complete denial of God- something people on both sides of the public debate often claim – I can easily excuse someone for siding with God. But that’s not the actual debate, and I can’t excuse the people who try to make it that way.

  • Auburn Sheaffer Sandstrom

    I subscribe to several “leftish” Christian sites and get very weary of the anger-baited mocking of some stereotype of fundamentalists. I am leaving a fifteen year period of giving fundamentalism a sincere go. It doesn’t work for me for so many reasons, but neither does any other group that takes a lot of easy cheap shots. Fundamentalist Christians are such easy targets. Many that I know are precious, humble people.

    • Lymis

      Many that I know are precious, humble people. But they are also, in many cases, precious, humble people who are standing by while other people very loudly and very publicly do tremendously evil things in their name, without making any visible effort to stop them.

      I’ll grant them the sincerity and simplicity of their beliefs. I’ll honor someone who says, “I don’t feel the need to understand science in order to interact with God.” But when they extend it to saying categorically that science is wrong, and use their humble precious beliefs to hurt others, that ends.

      Someone doesn’t score moral points by standing by while someone is being assaulted and tapping the victim on the shoulder and saying, “Just so we’re clear, we’re not all like that.”

      I think the current crop of offensively smug reductionist atheists also have a lot to answer for, but they’re not reacting in a vacuum. If the precious humble people don’t like the way people react to their religion, they need to discipline the people who speak for them.

      • Elizabeth

        Amen.

      • DR

        YES

      • Tami

        I totally agree.

    • Lucy Houston

      Fundamentalist Christians are the targets? Wow do I see the exact opposite. I think that they are the ones more often attacking, trying to run over other’s rights, and then calling themselves the victims. I think most Fundamentalist Christians have boundary issues – in other words, if they think something is right, then it must be right for all people, and they’re going to try to change the laws so that everyone has to abide by what they feel is right for them. And then they call themselves the victims.

      So here’s a thought: if you think abortion is wrong, then don’t have an abortion. If you think it’s wrong to be a homosexual, then don’t be gay. If you would like to pray in school – go ahead. No one is stopping you. You don’t need a law to pray in school, unless your objective is to make everyone else pray with you. And if you want to believe in Creationism, then do so, but quit trying to force it into the public education’s science curriculum. My not wanting my children to study creationism in science class, doesn’t make you a victim.

    • DR

      Those of you who choose this mentality are deciding to take in the MACRO damage that this group of people have done (and choose to do by embracing their beliefs, despite how lovely they are) and make it some kind of abusive statement against the people themselves. Any reasonable person knows that a human being can be loving, kind, and well-intended and still drive a gay kid to suicide because of some interpretations of the Bible they choose to believe. Part of your transformation out of your fundamentalism experience is to stop making discussion so personal, even if it is mockery. There is just such tremendous pain and abuse this group of people who’ve held these beliefs have caused and many have not intended it. They’re lovely people, you’re right. And they’ve still done massive amounts of damage. Prioritize the damaged ones.

      Best to you in your journey.

  • David Crass

    My favorite statement of hers: “in the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe that a loving God who sent his Son to die for us is going to quibble too hard on the details.”

  • Edward John Devine

    I honor everything she says but…it’s time to hit the books again. God is always doing a new thing and we are always learning new things about the old things; and her original investigation was faulty. The question should have been “Did God create the world 13.6 billion years ago or 5,000+ years ago.” The answer to that question is “Yes”. Both are true. God created the world 13.6 billion years ago and it was without form and void and the whole bunches of stuff happened that science can explain. 5,000+ years ago God set the modern world in motion (“created” the modern world). We couldn’t understand this before but it can be understood now based on what scientists and theologians and scholars know now, that they never knew before. Science and Faith is not an either/or proposition. We must seek the rightness in each to know God’s rightness in all.

  • Bill VH

    She made a great point about being open minded. If there is one major thing that science has taught us is that there are exceptions to just about every “fact” we have accepted. I also like giving my liberal friends and family a “dope slap” when I sense them being closed minded. It is easier to pick on conservatives and many do, so I figure it is my duty to point out the inconsistencies in liberal thought and action….wait….action is one of the liberal’s weakest attributes.

    • Lymis

      Poor argument, because it assumes that if some aspect of things can’t be proven or has exceptions, or is disproven, that therefore all other possible explanations are suddenly equally valid.

      If you argue that all dogs are brown, and then see a gray dog, it means that dogs come in other colors, not that unicorns can drive Buicks.

      You won’t find an informed person who claims that the current state of evolutionary theory has no fuzzy spots in it or areas that have multiple hypotheses, nor that there is unanimous consensus in the scientific community about every detail. But the fact that a theory is incomplete does not make it invalid, and it doesn’t mean that every other idea – especially ones that absolutely don’t match the observable facts – must be given equal weight.

    • DR

      What an unloving decision to make. Faith and values don’t seek to be consistent, they seek to contribute to the greater good in ourselves and others. Consistency isn’t the ultimate goal, even in logic – truth and love is, reflected in our care for the most vulnerable. If I sensed you were prioritizing me as a liberal trying to hold me accountable to some kind of “consistency formula” you’d developed , you’d not be my friend for too long.

  • Carolyn Horne Amrhein

    My problem with the letter writer is her attitude that people owe her belief in a “theory” of creation (theory here is used as an unsubstantiated guess that meshes with a religious text) the same respect owed to the theory of evolution (theory in this case means “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.”).

    She’s free to believe whatever she wants; but her beliefs don’t necessarily deserve respect or freedom from mockery. In the context of discussing the mechanics of the physical world around us, some “beliefs” have more merit than others. They just do, and if that’s offensive to creationists then sorry, but you deserve that discomfort for attempting to use religion (which is about things metaphysical and inherently unknowable) to explain the physical world of empirical evidence and observable phenomena.

    I also take issue with the idea that a teenager’s “research”—just reading things from both sides—earns her beliefs any credibility. Just because you read some articles that use academic language to justify a pre-existing set of beliefs does not mean that those writings have any value whatsoever in discussing the literal, physical truth of the matter. The scientific method requires that we begin from a place of open-mindedness and follow the facts where they lead, rather than starting from a point of religious “knowledge” and cherrypicking/misinterpreting/misrepresenting empirical evidence to fit that preexisting notion.

    With that said, believe what you want. Teach your kids what you want (no matter how sad that makes me for your kids). But don’t enter a discussion of the physical world around us with ancient poetry and expect us to give it the same respect we give fossils and carbon dating. It’s really not that hard. Science helps us understand what we can touch and taste and see. Religion helps us understand the ineffable—how should we treat each other, what is love, what is beauty, what is truth. Reducing spiritual texts to literal science/history books is a disservice to both science and religion.

    • Lucy Houston

      Really well stated. I have similar thoughts about the mixing of science and religion. They both have their purposes and are both helpful in their own arenas.

    • textjunkie

      Hear hear.

    • Tami

      Outstanding. Very well said.

    • Robert

      Exactly what I thought when I read this- thank you for putting it into words.

    • Deanna

      exactly! if you throw out the science of evolution, you might as well throw out all of science with it…physics, biology, embryology, geology, paleontology, etc…it all fits together in our amazing world

      • Lymis

        And, as Carolyn points out, if you throw the science into Scripture, you throw out most of the poetry, symbolism, and beauty, not to mention seriously damaging your ability to make non-linear leaps of spiritual understanding.

        People who see Genesis as history seldom seem to spiritually dig any deeper into it. Proof texting is a horrendous disservice to Scripture.

    • C.Y.

      Well said.

      • mae

        Very well stated.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa. That was outstanding.

    • Nicole

      Great response.

  • Terri Drake Imhoof

    People who don’t accept the incredible likeliness of evolution simply do not understand how science works. If you don’t know how knowledge is created and tested, any idea is as good as the next. It doesn’t make them bad people, just ignorant.

    • Amy Buttery

      I agree with this exactly, Terri. Young people who accept creationism also cut themselves off from serious careers in the hard sciences. Many people won’t care, but for those who have a mind for science but who are heavily influenced in their youth to conclude that creationism is valid, this is a loss and makes me sad. I don’t quite accept the writer’s assertion that “believing in creationism means nothing more than believing in creationism” and the implication that it’s a minor point. Creationists almost by definition believe in a level of biblical literalism that has implications–I think dangerous ones–for many other passages. (Literalism: because why take that one VERY old and very “magical” or fantastical part of the bible literally if not willing to be literalist about other less unbelievable stuff?) Creationist belief also has real implications for issues like climate change. Most physical sciences build on an understanding of earth that is inconsistent with creationism. So if you don’t accept an old-earth hypothesis, you aren’t gonna get far with other scientifically based projects to solve or address climate change.

      That said, I applaud the writer for reminding us that we cannot assume we know the whole constellation of beliefs a person holds based on one. Maybe it’s because many of us have met so many people that subscribe to that constellation of beliefs that we assume they are inherently related. As someone else said above, I respectfully encourage the writer to come back to the evidence and logic at some point. This is not to say I don’t believe she arrived at her current views honestly or with serious, genuine research and intent, just that when you conclude something scientific that is disputed by the vast majority of other scientists, the burden of proof for your view has to be greater.

    • Nicole

      Ignorant of science, you mean? Not completely ignorant, correct? Because you sound a little arrogant there.

  • Pat O’brien

    She has come to her conclusions with intellect and an open mind. We should all learn from her and even though her beliefs are different than mine it is refreshing to see a thinking person rather than a blind acceptance of what others tell you to believe.

  • anakin mcfly

    I could have written this a few years ago.

    Incidentally, the staunchest YEC I know is gay and strongly pro-LGBT. He’s also strongly pro-life, though, pointing out that people are starting to find biological bases to homosexuality and transsexuality that might be detectable in utero, and how long before parents start aborting LGBT fetuses? Or any child who wasn’t ‘good enough’ in some way?

    • carlsan

      With aborting LGBT fetuses you would see a rise in pro-life

      supporters suddenly become pro-abortion.

      • Lymis

        That’s a common argument. I don’t think it’s valid.

        I do, however, think we’d see a sharp uptick in early child abuse, as people try to start in infancy to make sure their kids don’t turn out gay.

        • James

          the camp of folks who are concerned with whether infants might “turn gay” has always been there and has always been inflicting abuse. the purveyors of spiritual abuse, James Dobson and his clones, have long maintained that homosexuality is strictly the result of failed discipline in the household.

          • Lymis

            Either you missed my point or I phrased it badly. Please, I’ve very aware of the people who abuse their kids to try to keep them from being gay.

            My point was that if there were a genetic test that indicated prenatally that a child was likely to be gay, that abuse would start in the crib, regardless of any behavior the child might or might not actually exhibit.

          • James

            ah, I overlooked the bit about the abuse being predicated on the result of a genetic test. my bad. :)

  • Merrie Ritter

    Thank you for sharing this letter and to everyone who added comments. I’ve bookmarked this page for later study. Great discussion!

  • Rebecca Rodriguez

    Thank you for sharing the letter. I think she will help me be a better listener.

  • Ann Foster

    Let’s hope her views are evolving…(cough)

    • Diane U.

      :)

  • Janet

    I spent my youth as a fundamentalist. Knew the Bible backwards and forwards. I’m not a fundamentalist any more. I gave up reading the Bible for years because I couldn’t read it without hearing those preachers in my head telling me what it meant. (Although I’ve read a lot of books *about* the Bible. Does that count?)

    This year some of us in my church (Episcopal) have joined the Read the Bible in a Year Challenge (http://thecenterforbiblicalstudies.org/). Committing to this was a really big deal for me since, except for scripture readings in church, I really hadn’t read the Bible for years. I am LOVING it. I am loving it because I am able to read it with fresh eyes and heart. And it seems so clear and obvious to me that the creation stories were stories told around the campfire at night. They are stories about what God it like, and that God loves us and cares for us.

    Why on earth would they need to be about anything else?

    • Janet

      Sorry, “stories about what God IS like.” Wish there was an edit button.

    • textjunkie

      I tried to do a Read the Bible in a Year course, because even with a fundy background and quoting bible verses left and right, I knew there were long stretches of Numbers and Jeremiah and what not that I had never gotten into (I’d done the entire New Testament for sure). I’m glad you are loving it! I actually had to step back from it because I found so much of the OT repugnant, and obvious spin-doctoring to make the winners look like they’d been blessed by God from the beginning. It was a truly odd experience for me. Psalms was great, the minor prophets are awesome, but most of the history books were revolting. Still not sure what to do with it, but let’s just say I’m happier now to read books about the Bible than the OT, for sure.

      • Janet

        I’m asking a lot of “why?” questions. Why did they write that? Why was that important? Of course a lot of it is repugnant, but history is what it is. I do confess to skimming a bit over the tedious passages.

        • mae

          I love the way you phrased that. That is exactly how I see the Bible. They are beautiful stories. I DO believe the Creation story is in there to depict the nature of God, and the loving fashion in which he formed us. It’s VERY VERY beautiful!!!

          I also see this throughout the Old Testament, and in the New Testament. No I don’t agree with Paul’s societal rules he puts in his letters (1. I braid my hair AND 2. speak up in church!) but I DO love his letters and the Jesus he presents in them. I look for the message behind the letters, the character of Jesus and his love presented. I don’t look for a list of rules that are inane and impossible to follow in this century! I’m SO not going to advocate for slavery etc. LOLz

          but I love the message and person that the Bible gives us. That’s the Person who I base my faith and my religion on.

          Thank you for the post! I appreciate it!

          • vj

            mae, I love the way the scientist in you keeps popping up in your comments, in the way you number your points ;-)

  • Jorni Wilson

    I think it IS awesome that she spoke up for herself and her beliefs. I am a minister, and in ‘my personal’ belief, I think we spend too much time debating on ‘who or what’ created the world and not nearly enough time on ‘how can we save it for future generations to debate’. We sometimes get so involved in the “I’m right, You’re wrongs” of religion that we forget how sacred this life is and what miracles truly surround us. Our life is fragile, our faith is there to give us strength, NOT power over each other. LOVE is the central message of all faith based religions. I am not concerned so much about a woman who believes critical thinking is important. She admits that when she has kids, she will encourage the same critical thinking in them. Not homophobic thinking, not blow up abortion clinic thinking, not women are less than and undeserving of rights over their own bodies thinking… Church and State are separate for a reason, and contrary to popular belief, the U.S.A. was NOT founded as a Christian nation. What makes us unique, is we have diversity. We have choices. I think the test that was posted was from a Creationism School, and that too was a choice. I think this chick has her head on straight, and I’m sorry she has been the butt of jokes to make her feel unwelcome. Her beliefs have nothing to do with hatred or harming others. Cut her some slack and just LOVE the fact that she is not trying to breed ignorance into a broken world. We need to stand together against those who wish to harm us, our miracle planet, and all the sacred life she (Earth) supports. Peace.

    • Don Rappe

      Not a Christian nation, but, a free country.

  • Jen

    I can certainly empathize with the letter-writer’s frustration at being lumped in with a large and very vocal group of people with whom she shares only one, relatively more benign, controversial belief among many that are downright malignant. I don’t think she’s in for much relief. For better or worse, this particular belief is the one the fundamentalist movement has chosen to use as their battering ram in their intentionally aggressive and public war for the introduction of religious education in American public schools. She’s to be commended for having had the interest to make her own examination of things at a young age, as well as for sticking up for herself in a rather hostile crowd, but that probably won’t take any of the heat off her.

    • carlsan

      We shouldn’t lump all creationists as stupid, all Muslims as being terrorists, all Christians as good and holy.

    • mike moore

      per Jen: “… this particular belief is the one the fundamentalist movement has chosen to use as their battering ram in their intentionally aggressive and public war for the introduction of religious education in American public schools.”

      I hope the letter-writer understands that Jen really has gotten to the heart of things here and provides real insight into why Creationists are met, even here at JohnShore, with such hostility.

      • Jill

        This.

  • carlsan

    I have no problem with someone being Creationist. It’s their problem not mine. It has absolutely zero effect on my life. Like you John, I do care what children are taught in our public schools. Darwin’s theory is based on his scientific thought. Creationism is a spiritual theory and belongs in the church and home.

    • Nicole

      I doubt that test was given in a public school. And public schools are in NO danger of having that kind of testing foisted on them.

      • n.

        in many states, they kind of are in that danger. more so charter schools than public schools, but there are a lot of inroads attempting to be made by certain varieties of christianity into public schools.

        • harrisco

          Tennessee passed a measure in 2012 allowing public school teachers to teach alternatives to scientific theories like evolution, in the name of enhancing critical thinking. Creationist groups lobbied for this measure. Similar measures have been put forward in other states. Conservative Christian groups also tend to favor home-schooling, religious schools, and voucher systems–all of which allow, if not mandate, teaching of creationism as science. Some conservative Christian education outfits only advance the innumeracy, ignorance, and miseducation of young people.

  • Eleanor

    I am never more impressed by the awesomeness of the Creator than when I think how incomprehensibly intelligent he has to have been to structure the laws of chemistry and physics in such a way that the universe would inevitably generate human life.

    • anakin mcfly

      yes.

    • anakin mcfly

      incidentally, I remember feeling this sad, crushing disappointment when I thought that YEC was true, because it made God so small and limited in power, nothing like the awe that overwhelms me when I think about the sheer vastness of space and time that make up this ancient universe.

  • Lynda Padrta

    I’ve always felt that by questioning what I know and believe, I understand more about myself and my faith. And I better believe that we should “love each other.”

    I’ve never felt concerned by conflict between creation and evolution; I consider them to the same thing seen from two different perspectives.

    I don’t think anyone on earth knows what God thinks or what He has planned. But I also believe God gave us intelligence and curiosity to learn about our world.

  • Richard Lubbers

    I loved this letter, John! Thank you for sharing it.

    She speaks what we all need to remember; that we are all differently influenced by our upbringing, our capacity to seek truth, how we learn, and what we experience. She sounds like someone that would make for a very interesting evening of conversation.

  • Barbara

    I’m not so sure that God is resting yet. Or that he has finished speaking. Or acting in our lives…Creation is ongoing and never-ending. If God had rested, we’d all be dead by now…

    • Richard Lubbers

      Yes!

      God is not sitting back resting on the laurels of Jesus’ accomplishments. Neither has God finished speaking since the Council of Nicaea. The word of God is living and active. I sincerely doubt the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews meant the Bible. Living means it is still being spoken, not printed in a book.

      We have ears to hear. His sheep hear His voice.

  • Lucy Houston

    An interesting comment to me, is that she says that her beliefs about Creationism were influenced by her being a Christian. “I won’t deny that my beliefs as a Christian affected my research, and I in fact started my research within a Creation Bible Study.” Yes, that is the only reason she is a creationist. I bet that it would be difficult to find a Creationist among Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Jewish scientists and that’s because, the research does not point to the conclusions found in Creationism – namely that the world was formed in 7 days, 4000 years ago. If the research did point in that direction, we would have Creationists in other faiths.

    • mae

      Speaking from personal experience, it’s hard to find Creationists among Christian Scientists.

      The AIG movement is a very very select minority, and many of them don’t have degrees beyond a bachelors, they don’t do active scientific research as far as I know. They are more like a motivational speakers group, or political/religious movement. They do put up museums though I guess.

      I’ve worked among Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist and Agnostic scientists for about a decade and none of them mixed their religious perspectives into science (except when we’d desperately pray to our respective deities for good results that night that we could include in our thesis so we might one day graduate!).

    • n.

      um…. there are Muslim creationists. i was just talking to one last week, unless i misunderstood what he said (it was a fast-moving conversation with a million and three topics).

  • Leslie Marbach

    The letter writer made a good point when she said, “I’m pretty sure that whether I believe in Creation, Evolution, or something in between, Jesus’s coming made it irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.”

    Arguing over the origin of the earth and its inhabitants doesn’t help us become better, more loving people.

    Having said that I’m still confused as to how she could be presented with all the facts and come to the conclusion she did. It seems that too often extreme conservatives dismiss hard-core scientific facts because “in their opinion” it’s not true. I can believe that with all my heart that the sun rises in the west even after seeing sunrise after sunrise. My opinion doesn’t mean diddly-squat. And that’s why no matter what school kids go to, they need to be taught reputable science. Beliefs based on non-science need to be taught in church or home–not school.

    • Leslie Marbach

      I meant to add that learning actual science about the earth does help us become better stewards of the earth, which is a good thing. If we better understand how it works, how it’s changed over time, then we can know what to do to preserve it. What does the letter reader believe about global warming? She’s forward thinking in so many areas but I’ve found a correlation between YECs and denial of climate change.

      • mae

        “but I’ve found a correlation between YECs and denial of climate change.”

        Good observation. Looking back now I think I’ve also observed this phenomena. Because once you start negating facts in one area of science it’s easy to lose faith in the entire profession, despite the facts proving elsewise.

      • n.

        she might not be in that correlation, though. there are SOME creationist environmentalists. it goes under stewardship…

    • anakin mcfly

      “Having said that I’m still confused as to how she could be presented with all the facts and come to the conclusion she did. ”

      Because the YECs have very convincing arguments, especially from the point of view of a non-scientist, and there’s at least one atheist scientist who said he would have similarly been convinced if not for his own higher-level science knowledge.

      • mae

        A lot of their arguments SEEM convincing when they present the “evidence” because they present either outdated theories of evolution that even evolutionists have moved past, or they present half-evidence to support the alternate argument. AKA they’ll present you their argument vs a lot of Straw Men Evolution arguments. Which when given those options, the YEC argument SEEMS better.

        • anakin mcfly

          Yep, and most laymen just aren’t educated enough in the sciences to know that.

  • tom Weller

    This question just doesn’t bother me any longer whichever was it is interpreted.

    Do I believe the story in the Bible is literal, NO.

    Do I believe that a “day” is 24 hours in the greater scheme of things, NO

    Do I believe that all things are “created” by GOD in HIS way and time, YES

    Do I a problem reconciling the two theories in my belief, NO.

    End of story for me. A Biblical story written so that the ancients could best understand and revere their origin and their GOD, doesn’t bother me in the least way, and nor do any of the other metaphoric allegoric, language or hyperbole contained within it’s pages. If it teaches us to love GOD, Love ourselves, and not judge anybody else, then I’ll continue do what I’ve been doing and read a piece of its text each day. I can always stand to learn something new and interpret things better than I did yesterday. Thanks for sharing with us John Shore.

    • http://johnshore.com Rich

      Tom, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “Do I believe that a “day” is 24 hours in the greater scheme of things, NO.”

      While the bible states 7 days, it could have easily been 7 stages or 7 steps that went into the building of earth. I think the bible was put together for teaching and putting the earth build into the concept of a work week would allow early people to have a view of the growth of earth that they could identify with. Father, I think, built the Earth in these 7 days or stages or steps, with each step possibly being millions of years long. In other words, I think both sides are right in a sense.

  • dlcw59

    I liked what she said, but I would certainly encourage her to “do the research” again now, with adult eyes and mind and resources. There are many things I believed and felt I could back up with facts at age 17, that I understand much differently now at 60. Plus “research” is ongoing and it certainly becomes dated when better and more accurate information becomes available. This goes for all of us about everything. Keep your mind open and keep doing the research. Don’t dig in your heels.

    • C.Y.

      Well said. A major component of growing as a person is to never stop questioning and exploring what you think you believe.

      • mae

        Great advice. I certainly was a young earth Creationist, and I’d done “research” on the subject throughout high school and even my first year of college. I probably didn’t start to alter my perspective until my last year of undergrad when my CHRISTIAN professor (who I believe is a big proponent of ID) made me read a bunch of Dawkins books as well as Creationists and ID books. I really appreciate the perspective he taught me. The university also brought in panels with both Creationists and Evolutionists who were all Christians.

        anyways- looking back with a more experienced perspective, and more grown-up eyes changed my opinion on the situation.

        I still believe God created the world, but I don’t argue with science. And I don’t believe faith and science need to argue. To quote Martin Luther King, Jr.

        “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.

        The two are not rivals. They are complementary.

        Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.”

      • anakin mcfly

        I used to think the same, but now I’m not so sure; I’m starting to think that perhaps there should come a time when you stop questioning everything and just learn to be happy and content with what you have, as long as you’re not hurting others. Otherwise it’s never going to end – I think that even if there is some Truth out there, chances are that you can never know for sure if you have it. So many people are convinced they’re right, even when they completely contradict each other, and it’s not possible for all of them to be right. That considered, it would seem arrogant for me if I thought that my exploration and questions will eventually get me to the ‘real’ truth, or even to an improvement on what I’d previously believed.

        Case in point – I started out accepting evolution fine, but it was my questioning of it that led me to YEC. I don’t think that constituted much growth on my part. Further questioning then brought me back to evolution, but for all I know, if I continue questioning once again, I might end up back in the creationist camp. There’s definitely no shortage of YEC out there – some with legit science degrees – who are firmly convinced that they have solid scientific evidence for their beliefs, after all, and there’s no reason why I might not end up being one of them.

        But in the end, all that searching and questioning won’t really get me anywhere or teach me anything much new. I’ve gone full circle, I’ve been on and argued for both sides, and I think I’ve taken what I can from this particular debate. Such that I’d like to put it aside and stop the questions when it comes to that, because I don’t see anything I can gain from it.

        Same for LGBT stuff – I’ve spent years of my life researching and questioning and wrestling over what made me the way I am, and if it could be fixed, and how, and if I’m just deluding myself, and if the fundies are right after all, and so on; but after the initial useful self-awareness, all that brought me was no end of stress and guilt and thoughts of what-if-I’m-really-a-perverted-sexual-deviant-who-will-burn-eternally-in-hell. One of the things my therapist said was to learn to live with uncertainty, because the world is full of uncertainty. This is the way I am, if God made me he made me this way, I’ve done a heck lot of research to properly and cogently defend myself when needed, and nothing else – all those questions, those fears, those doubts – have much real use any more.

        Same as for my belief in God – I’m an agnostic theist, and currently do believe that God exists. But I also acknowledge that it’s just a belief based on faith, and that the atheists might quite likely be right after all. Because of that perhaps I ‘should’ continue questioning, exploring and searching… yet my belief is one that strengthens me and makes me want to be a better person and gives me hope and leads me to be be kinder and more compassionate to others, and I see no gain in continuing to question – not even the security of ‘knowing’ the truth, because I doubt it possible to ever, truly, know. I’ve found what’s best for me, at least now at this point of my life. If it changes in future, I might reconsider.

        Ideally, I hope very much that I will eventually reach a time when I no longer need to question, because what is ‘right’ would not matter so much as what is ‘good’, and I can be content in the knowledge that some answers may be forever out of our reach, and perhaps not as important as people often make them out to be.

        • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

          Very smart and Amen. I’m 68, divorced, gay and have come to very similar conclusions. It ain’t worth the angst.

        • Cindy

          Anakin –

          I enjoyed reading about your quest for the answers! Of course it is not about what is right! If that were so Jesus wouldn’t have spoken so much in parables. LOL. Growing up Catholic, I focused on reading the gospels when I was a young girl. I figured if Jesus was God manifested in the flesh, then whatever God made sure that Jesus said was what was most important, and if Jesus said it alot, it had to be super important. (And he didn’t EVER say anything about homosexuality!) The heart of God is in the heart of Jesus, and the heart of Jesus is in a passion for those who are treated poorly by those who are in power (Justice) and in healing the sick and in being with the marginalized, the misunderstood, the poor, the castaways, those who are looked down upon, and have their stuff taken from them, …. those whose life is not an easy one. (in a nutshell: love, compassion and justice)

          And another thing – God loves us unconditionally, NO MATTER WHAT. HE DOESN’T TAKE THAT LOVE AWAY IF YOU DON’T RECITE JOHN 3:16 OR BELIEVE IN A CERTAIN NUMBER OF DAYS FOR CREATION, OR SIN A CERTAIN NUMBER OF TIMES! (IT’S CALLED GRACE!)

          When I began branching out, reading the other biblical stuff, it had to pass that Jesus test or I just didn’t lend a whole lot of credence to it. And I certainly didn’t shout it out to strangers on a website or in a subway!

          And as I became an adult I found these exact same principles in all the other major religions!

          Your chosen word – good, I would equate with love. There is a verse about the horrors of turning someone away from God that scared the heck out of me. Since then, I always chose my words carefully, and tried to always encourage others (do good!) It’s Matt in Matt 18.

    • n.

      yeah i was going to say something like this but i am only 40.

  • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

    You know, I haven’t even yet read the article (to which I’m not replying) yet; but I’m replying because I don’t want anything in it to affect this reaction…

    …which, as I read merely the article’s headline, “a creationist fights back,” was to utter, aloud, “so what ELSE is new.”

    Now I’ll go actually read it.

    Gregg L. DesElms

    Napa, California USA

    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

      Oops! Sorry… I meant “to which I’m now replying” in the parenthesis in my immediately-previous first sentence. [sigh] I make that typo a lot… as subconscious cogent commentary, I think. [grin]

      Gregg L. DesElms

      Napa, California USA

      gregg at greggdeselms dot com

      • Don Rappe

        At least you’re not having trouble with italics like some of us do. This is only a test.

        • Jill

          Never underestimate Don Rappe, that’s my motto.

          • Elizabeth

            And yes. Don is old-school wise.

        • anakin mcfly

          Wait, we can do italics on this site?

          italics

          [i]italics?[/i]

          • Elizabeth

            Finally! Someone clues me in. I’m down with brackets.

          • Lymis

            It’s hard to describe, because to explain it, the characters you use to make it happen disappear. You use the left and right triangular brackets that are usually over your comma and period. This explains it pretty well.

            http://pd.clcillinois.edu/docs/basic_html.pdf

          • Elizabeth

            Sweet, Lymis. Thanks.

  • Sue M.

    Let me be honest. Yes, it makes you stupid.

    Six days and then RESTED? Why? God got tired? The omnipotent God got TIRED? Of TALKING??

    Wow. I sure wish that God’s followers would get tired of talking. ;)

    • Elizabeth

      Maybe He was trying to set an example? We could all probably use a day off.

    • http://upcsermonsandmore.blogspot.com Patricia Raube

      Scripture gives two rationales for the sabbath. One is that God rested, and the other is that Israel knows what it is to be a slave and Sabbath is a gift to remind the people that they are slaves no longer. So, the idea that the omnipotent God rested as a wonderful example to people to let go of the notion that we are so important the world can’t go on turning unless we keep working…. I kind of like that.

      All that said, I’m a pastor who believes in evolution, and who considers the two creation stories of Genesis to be literature, to be poetry, to be myth, and to be truth: God created everything, one way or another; it doesn’t actually matter to me precisely how. But I agree with John on the beauty of evolution as God’s means of creating. It’s a lovely scheme. And I think God gave us brains that enabled us to come up with scientific method and to read the fossil record, and that’s great too.

      And for what it’s worth, the letter writer sounds anything but stupid. I don’t agree with everything she espouses, but there’s far more that we agree upon than that we disagree upon. I appreciated reading the letter.

      • DR

        This was lovely.

    • Nicole

      “Rested” could also be a metaphor for putting the paintbrush down, so to speak. His work was complete. For all we know God just wanted to look at the beautiful thing for a while.

      And don’t call people stupid. It’s just mean.

      • Elizabeth

        The paintbrush metaphor rocks.

        • Nicole

          :)

      • Allie

        Nichole, honey, she SOLICITED people’s opinions about her stupidity, or lack of same. It’s not the same as calling a passing stranger stupid.

        • DR

          No she didn’t solicit opinions of anyone calling her stupid. She created some visibility around how she intellectually knows that we’re talking about the merits of creationism and evolution, etc and the dangers of the Young Earth theology being taught as truth and evolution being taught as “dangerous”. She doesn’t want to be lumped in with a far more dangerous approach to Creationism. I’m annoyed that she’s taking it personally and I’m also annoyed with any of us who align with a belief saying we get to be one of the “good guys” who aren’t so extreme, that’s like saying someone who has a bunch of gay friends but still votes against gay marriage is one of the “pro LGBT Christians”. That’s bullshit, they’re still on the wrong side, hurting people. So I’m not excited about the idea of indulging her injured feelings terribly but to suggest that she solicited being attacked and mocked is not true, some people chose to react that way. There are are some that met her intellect with theirs and it’s been fascinating and pretty instructive to watch the light rise above the heat.

        • Nicole

          I don’t know, Allie. Even as a kid, I hated it when someone called someone else stupid. I don’t like name-calling.

    • Don Rappe

      I’ve long thought that keeping the sabbath was the first labor law.

    • DR

      With all due respect, it’s a beautiful account in Scripture and there is a lot of messages on can intuit about the nature of God resting and what that means for us designed in the image of God. Anyone regular here knows I struggle with damaging theology but even I cringed at the abruptness and unkindness of calling this “stupid”. There’s a ton I’m not a fan of in her thoughts but none of them are stupid and you kind of proved the point she was making with her thoughts.

      • Allie

        Actually, DR, I’m of the opinion that saying nothing anyone can say to her can possibly change her mind is pretty stupid.

        • DR

          Really? I say that about the stuff that to me, reflects the essence of love and truth. I’d be hard-pressed to think anyone could change my mind about LGBT rights, for example, there isn’t a lot of information or facts that could change my mind about those beig an essential part of faith in Christ. I get what you’re saying but I think the occasional resolute statement can sometimes reflect a passion for something important, not ones intellect (or lack thereof).

          • DR

            So I’m cool with being stupid if that makes me stupid! Though I’d spell it “stoopid” , I like that better.

  • Drew M

    I am glad that she wrote the response. The issue is not black and white…so much depends on the paradigms you bring into the discussion. To categorically state either position is to close off the opportunity for growth.

    • DR

      Yes!

    • Cindy

      Great response!

  • robert

    Hi…

    Science explains how the universe was created… religion explains why it was created.

    The problem occurs when religions decided that their ancient texts are “literally” correct in everything. The creation story was a myth or metaphor, as are all creation stories in all religions.

    • Elizabeth

      Best as a metaphor. If I ever get a tattoo, it will be “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It’s true on every level.

    • Cindy

      I loved the way you put your response!

      I think that when people take the bible literally they take all the beauty, and majesty, and mystery and depth, and everything that God has put into the bible for their instruction and growth and life out of the bible and reduce the book, and their faith to stupid criticisms and arguments like this that make the bible and some of its followers look foolish.

      If they were to stop taking the bible literally (which they have only been doing for about 200 years) they could stop this pettiness and the bible would be open to their hearts and their minds and their souls and they would be discussing the finer, and deeper and greater points AMONG THEMSELVES instead of ridiculous points such as how many hours or days it took God to create this amazing, vast wonderful universe!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    Creationism simply makes no sense. That said, I agree with everything else the letter writer wrote. I have no problem with weaving together the Biblical creation story with evolutionary science. Imagine trying to tell Bronze Age tribal people about evolution. But for modern, educated, obviously thoughtful people like this letter writer to swallow that Bronze Age mythical “explanation” is incomprehensible. I will never understand how a person can be so open minded and critical thinking about so many social and religious issues and yet believe in Creationism. I’m simply shaking my head with incomprehension.

    • http://www.thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com Keshia W

      I think maybe part of the issue is that we have distinguished between Creationism and Intelligent Design.

      I was just talking to my Evolution-believing husband about this post and he pointed out that I am actually NOT a “Creationist”, I believe in Intelligent Design.

    • anakin mcfly

      You’re underestimating the lengths YEC organisations go to to convince people. They have science conferences and everything.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

        No, I don’t but that doesn’t help me understand her. How can a person be so thoughtful about everything else that she speaks of, that are also anathema to religious fundies, and still be so willfully thoughtless about Creationism. Only way I can resolve that is to give her the benefit of the doubt that, vis-a-vis Creationism, she really has no clue what she’s talking about.

  • http://www.pathoes.com/blogs/kimberlyknight Kimberly

    Thank you for sharing this well reasoned, beautifully articulated message from one of your readers. I appreciate your willingness to lift up a critique even when you feel it is outside the norm. As it turns out John, she is not as much an anomaly of a creationists as one might think. There are plenty of folks from the non-evangelicalism side of the Christian family who hold to the notion of a Creator God while also believing in scientific reason, LGBT rights, a woman’s right to govern her own body and many other human and environmental rights. As you are well aware, not all Christians fit the caricature of “creationist” you portray – sure plenty do, but plenty of others do not. I hope you reader will explore the UCC sometime…

    Kimberly

    • Nicole

      I’m a creationist, too. I believe God could create the world in six literal days, six metaphorical days, or through eons of evolution. Everything appears to “grow” in our world, I don’t see why God couldn’t have chosen to “plant” the human race and have it grow through evolution. It doesn’t change God’s action as a creator.

      • Lymis

        Honestly, I think you’re misusing the word creationist. I don’t consider believing in a Creator to make someone a creationist – that’s a word with specific meanings, generally associated with the literal 6-day Genesis creation account.

        The two are not inherently linked, any more than all people who believe in God are Presbyterians.

        • Nicole

          So what would you call someone who believes the universe was created? I guess to me, that’s the difference. Believing that some uncontrolled, chaotic phenomena caused the Big Bang, or someone created the Big Bang as part of a plan.

          And, as many here know, I am no science major. So if I sound juvenille on this subject, I ask for a little kindness. Thanks! (That’s for the commenters in general, not you, Lymis. You’re the soul of kindness.)

  • Allie

    Stating outright that no amount of facts can change your opinion is kinda my definition of stupid. If anyone has a better working definition of the word “stupid,” please let me know. The letter writer is not the first very articulate stupid person I’ve encountered.

    Although it may not be polite to say so, stupid beliefs are stupid whether anyone says so or not.

    • Allie

      Actually let me register a complaint with the way the letter writer uses the word “belief.” These are matters of fact. Either things happened a certain way or they did not. The evidence is before us. Drawing the wrong conclusion from the evidence is no more a matter of “belief” than getting the wrong answer on an exam is a matter of belief. The teacher is not going to go for it if you say “But I say the answer is four, not three, it’s my belief!”

      It may turn out that all of us who accept the current theory of evolution are mistaken in our interpretation of the facts. It’s wildly unlikely, but possible, that new evidence (such as Jesus descending on a cloud saying, ‘I put those dinosaurs in the ground and all that junk in your DNA just to fuck with you people, ha ha’) will prove that we are all presently mistaken, and at that time, we will be forced to apologize for thinking the letter writer is stupid. But that’s what it would take.

    • DR

      Her last point seems to be reflective of the need behind her comment: she is asking for how her beliefs harm others. Thats not stupid, she’s asking for proof that her way of believing in Creationism ( in the ways she’s stated) are causing harm. So far only a few of us have taken her up on that ( I’m not one of them). Many have aligned with her and others have challenged certain aspects of her decision-making and a few have been assholes. Pretty much your garden variety internet conversation!

      • Tami

        “If you can explain to me how believing in Creation actively goes against another person’s rights, harms them, or otherwise affects anyone other than me any more than any other religious belief, I am willing to listen. ” The question is a difficult one. It is true that it may seem at first that her belief (as well as others with similar dispositions) are not “harming” anyone, and particularly if you lump it in there with “any other religious belief.” Belief in and of itself could cause no harm except to yourself if you were never in contact with of never had effect upon anyone else; this is impossible. This letter alone has gotten thousands of Facebook shares, tweets, and 300+ replies on this blog. Obviously, this is of influence in some way.

        What is also apparent is that her letter is in response to a test that is given to pre-school and primary school children which promotes the very belief she has a hard time understanding as harmful. These children are basically being brainwashed and taught not to think for themselves, but to blindly and obediently respond, when faced with the truth “were you there.” The promotion and continuation of selling lies to the young is infinitely harmful to those children and our society as a whole.

        • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

          And as another commenter alluded to, belief in Creationism is usually part of a pattern of social activism that includes all kinds of radical fundie “thought” (term loosely used) that includes the kind of insane legislation currently running amok in North Carolina trampling all over Constitutional Law and civil discourse. If that isn’t the definition of harmful, I can’t imagine what is.

          • Lymis

            I can understand the letter-writer’s frustration.

            I just wonder if she can really relate to how much what she says feels to those of us on the receiving end of all this as though she’s saying “But, I’m the good kind of Nazi, really! It’s so frustrating to get judged!”

            I’m not saying that the parallel is in any way exact, but honestly, the vast majority of people who have done serious harm to me in my life have all been fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. That chrome fish isn’t a warm and fuzzy symbol for all of us.

        • DR

          We don’t even know the specifics of her belief, Tami. I think the word “Creationism” is such a trigger for some that the possibility of someone like the letter writer approaching it with an additional respect for science and evolution together – how they in their minds, are not mutually exclusive – is something that a lot of people here who are dismissing her outright are just not paying attention to.

          Drew said something that was so true for me. That people are bringing their own ideas and beliefs to this conversation, so much so that it is causing a lot of commenters to actually rewrite what she’s offered which is more of a reflection, in my opinion, on the black and white thinking that’s surrounding this conversation. Many have said here that for them, evolution and creation are not mutually opposing ideas. That’s a great thing. I guess for me, we should all debate the merits of an idea or theology that we know causes damage to kids and to others when held, expressed and taught, I get that, I think each comment here is illuminating, if only that it shows our collective inability to talk through something pretty complex on the internet.

          • Tami

            “We don’t even know the specifics of her belief, Tami.” Well, it seems we know pretty much what she thinks in regards to Creationism as is seen in quotes from her letter: “I believe in Creation” , “ultimately, I found more proof that satisfied me on the side of Creation.” , “If my children choose to believe in Young Earth Creation, good for them.” and “when in fact believing in Creation over Evolution only means that I believe in Creation, instead of Evolution.”

            I really don’t see that she is being dismissed at all, but she wrote the letter because she wanted to “stand up for her side” so to speak. She is tired of people who believe in real science being upset by religious belief being taught to children as science.

    • n.

      i think she’s pretty obviously not stupid. and if she’s probably wrong, please remember that being wrong and being stupid are not the same.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com Laba

    Definitely not typical for a creationists, but I don’t really care what people believe about Christianism. I do have a problem with informaiton being directly withheld from homeschool children. I was a homeschool kid, and non one ever told me flip about evolution. I don’t expect my mom to believe in evolution, but she should have taught me both and let me made up my mind.

  • Tami

    So, I was thinking on the test again and how the writer of the letter seemed to indicate that she would stand up for the schools’ right to teach materials as they see fit based on it being a private institution. I made up my own test that might be given at a religious based school, but not Christian. Wonder how many would stand up for this type test in a private school?

    [IMG]http://i43.tinypic.com/iwopz6.jpg[/IMG]

    • Elizabeth

      Fourth grade’s a little early for irony, but I like it.

  • Tami
  • B_STATS

    YEC believers must never be taken seriously or even humoured. They must be mocked and shown how foolish they are.

    • Tami

      In my opinion, that doesn’t sound like a very open or productive method. Mocking and making people feel foolish only serves to put people in a more adversarial stance so that the result is them not hearing what you are saying. If you want to have a real effective conversation to generate change, there must be a dialogue that respects the other person. Giving that respect isn’t saying that you agree, but that you are committed to helping people see the truth of evolution.

  • Hannah Grace

    This is an EXCELLENT letter and I respect the author an incredible amount.

    Love to you from this Christian lesbian, who also finds herself excluded from both worlds. “But you’re a sheep…a sheep!” says the gay community. “You are not one of the sheep in Jesus’ flock”, say the Christians. Fuck ‘em, and fuck anyone who stereotypes you and excludes you and mocks you when they disagree with you, even when you are harming no one, and just being faithful to your own truth.

    Bless you.

  • Hannah Grace

    http://thehappyscientist.com/science-experiment/gravity-theory-or-law

    Gravity: It’s a theory and a law. Since there was some debate.


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