The Truthfulness of the Creator is at Stake

The diabolical heresy known as young-earth creationism is not simply wrong. It is much worse than that. It is an affront to one of the most basic teachings of Christianity and indeed of Abrahamic religions in pretty much all their forms. Whether one’s theological stance is theistic or panentheistic, and whether one views God as a being, or Being itself, or Creativity itself, the concept of God as Creator is about as fundamental as one can imagine.

Young-earth creationism depicts the Creator as deceitful. The evidence consistently points to evolution having occurred. Not just fossils, although those do this spectacularly, including finds like Tiktaalik which show up in the fossil record precisely where evolutionary biology predicts that they should. No, the same genetic evidence that stands up in a court of law to determine matters of paternity also shows that our relatedness as all human beings and beyond. The fact that human beings have one fewer chromosome than other primates, while one of those is noticeably longer, has telomeres in the middle, and shows regular matches to the genetic sequence of two chromosomes that other primates have, can be explained in one of two ways: either we are related to them and an ancestor of ours but not theirs experienced a chromosomal fusion event, or the Creator deliberately made it look like we share a common genetic history with other primates when in fact we do not.

And so who are you going to believe? The genetic evidence, like the fossils and geological strata and light from distant stars, are all ultimately the handiwork of the Creator and should be trusted as such by those whose faith is in the Creator. Or you can reject this testimony from the Creator in favor of that of charlatans, who assert that they are just offering you the word of God, when in fact they are demeaning God, as well as idolatrously elevating the words of mere human beings like ourselves to a divine status.

It shouldn’t be a hard choice, considered from a Christian perspective…

As a further example of the penchant for dishonesty among young-earth creationists, consider the recent example of how Ken Ham has kept changing the figures of his past estimates of attendance at his Ark Encounter theme park, so as to make its situation look better. Meanwhile, the local government in the area that is supposed to be benefiting from tourism to the Ark Encounter reports numbers different from those released by Answers in Genesis. As Libby Anne writes:

I know, of course, that Ham is peddling pseudoscience. I’ve known that for a decade now, and that realization played a starring role in my journey away from conservative evangelicalism. But somehow, Ham’s willingness to play fast and loose with attendance numbers just underscores his role as a snake oil salesman. He can’t even be honest and open and transparent about attendance numbers. And somehow, that feels like one more betrayal on top of the rest.

The oddest part of all of this is Ham has no need to keep inflating numbers and projections. It simply makes him look foolish, to no purpose. 800,000 visitors to an attraction located in the middle of rural Kentucky is still a good run. The Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, attracts 1.5 million visitors a year. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, in D.C., has 4.3 million annual visitors. The Space Center in Houston draws 1 million visitors per year.

Ham created this problem for himself by making unrealistically high projections and then inflating attendance numbers to save face. This was completely unnecessary.

While the attendance at Ham’s Ark Encounter theme park may not be quite what he had hoped, there are still millions of people around the country who believe Ham and what he’s selling. What he’s selling is packaged with plenty of glam, and he’s a good salesman. His answers sound scientific, and what he’s offering is theologically appealing to many.

I’d like to think that even as a young earth creationist I would have been upset to see Ken Ham playing fast and loose with his attendance numbers. I was a true believer, after all. I didn’t question his science—I was completely convinced. But transparent toying with attendance numbers to create a false narrative? Surely I would have objected to that.

See also Paul Braterman’s explanation of why you should trust scientists rather than young-earth creationists when it comes to radiometric dating, and a recent example of dishonestly blaming evolution for school shootings.

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Brother, you have no idea how timely this post is for me. Thanks.

  • Believing snake oil salesman Ken Hamm over the entire scientific community is sort of like believing snake oil salesman (and KGB thug) Vladimir Putin over the entire intelligence community of the U.S.

    • otrotierra

      Yep. U.S. White Evangelicals still supporting Trump are now forever cemented to Putin as well. This is how history will remember them.

    • Nick G

      Hmm. While I certainly believe them over Putin in this instance, there are plenty of past examples (*cough*Iraq*cough*,*cough*Vietnam*cough*) of the US intelligence community going along with lies promulgated by their political masters.

  • otrotierra

    Thank you for this. Ken Hamm and his White Evangelical followers despise science and the study of scripture equally. Jesus taught his followers to “Seek..”, yet Ken Hamm practices the mirror opposite.

  • John MacDonald

    I’m not sure why envisioning the God of the Judeo Christian tradition as a liar is so problematic (see 1 Kings 22:21-22.)? As Dr. McGrath wrote:

    “I found myself wondering whether Jesus might have been viewed by the Gospel author as, like God, above such ethical matters just as God could be depicted as sending a lying spirit to deceive a king (1 Kings 22:21-22). I also wonder whether Jesus might be an example of the appropriateness of deception in order to preserve oneself in a context of persecution.” see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/08/snts-third-main-paper-and-simultaneous-short-papers.html

  • Evolution is so full of holes thought, there are so many errors with evolution, like the lack of transitional forms. It’s an embarrassing theory. And your saying young-earth creationists are calling God a liar because they dare to challenge evolution? Evolution is a garbage ideology. Malcom Muggeridge said it would be thought of as ludicrous by future generations.

    • God is not a liar or, rather, mankind is full of liars.

      Here are some clips from real prophets of God – welcome to the universe!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I9QxJkGpc8

    • Mr. James Parson

      Who is Malcom Muggeridge and why should I care what he thinks.

      • Nick G

        He was a British irreverent-campaigning-journalist-turned-old-fogey-then-corpse, who is thought of as ludicrous by current generations of Brits, if they know of him at all. Largely and deservedly unknown elsewhere. Knew nothing at all about evolution.

    • Lark62

      Where in the world did you get the nonsensical idea that there is a “lack of transitional forms”? That is akin to saying that pizza does not exist, as evidenced by the lack of restaurants selling pizza. It is simply obviously and palpably untrue to the point of ridiculousness. It is not true.

      Transitional forms are just one line of evidence for evolution. However, the evidence from transitional forms is so strong that that alone would be enough to support evolution. Examples: Transitional forms that led to the modern horse are known. Transitional forms between land animals and whales are known. Tiktaalik is a transitional form. The European Blackcap alive today is evolving into two species.

      Here are four sources of factual information, out of many.

      From Berkeley: https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/_0_0/lines_03. Read the entire Berkely site.

      Wikipedia (a secondary source) has a discussion of transitional fossils and a running list of just some of the transitional fossils that have been discovered. The most important fossils for dozens of animals are listed, with references to the primary sources. Wikipedia’s “Introduction to Evolution is also a good starting point. Again, follow the links to more detailed articles and primary sources. Check it out.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_fossil
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_evolution

      Coursera offers free online courses by major universities. The University of Alberta offers three courses starting in mid August –
      Paleontology: Early Vertebrate Evolution,
      Paleontology: Ancient Marine Reptiles and
      Paleontology: Theropod Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds.
      Each of these classes offers an in depth discussion of just one small slice of transitional fossils. (All three are good, and the Ancient Marine Reptiles class was surprisingly interesting.)
      https://www.coursera.org/ualberta

      Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True is also excellent.

      Read some or all of these sources, and be willing to discuss factual information not regurgitated silliness. Otherwise, you sound as sensible as someone who was told that pizza does not exist and has taken no steps whatsoever to confirm that claim. That person is either completely ignorant of everything around him or is a liar. Those are the only options.

  • AWRM

    I have a friend that I used to go to church with that has taken it on as his ministry (or something…) to convince everybody he can that the creation story is factual. It is a passion that has become an obsession. He has no post secondary education and has developed his arguments from a handful of books. He thinks that I have left the faith merely because I question his assertions and, perhaps even worse, I tell him that it doesn’t even really matter. It is nothing more than an issue that can lead to an interesting conversation that I can have with those kind of people that don’t start to froth at the mouth and go all Jeremiah on me.

    Perhaps I could classify myself as a kind of fundamentalist: the fundamental tenets of our faith is all that really matters. The “4 spiritual laws”, John 3:16, Matthew 6:33, Mal 6 bit about “He has shown thee oh man…”, loving everybody, fruits of the spirit… along with the ubiquitous passages urging us to forego the ego trips of religious projects and empire-building and to steadfastly get on the side of the less powerful. In my world, these are the fundamental and most beautiful truths of the Bible. These principles inspire me and drive my faith. If I’m going to get frothy at the mouth, these are the ones that will do it. Creation stories? Jonah? Talking donkeys? Meh… you can believe what you want and I’ll sit at the same table with you. When anybody starts to elevate these issues anywhere close to the beauty and holiness of God’s fierce love for us… Well, I start to get like Paul in Galatians: anathema on you all – which, doesn’t sound quite as vulgar as it did then. A proper translation might give a better idea of how angry Paul became with these types of contrived controversies.

    Both sides of this discussion need to settle down and regain some perspective. To say that the kind people who are willing to look quite foolish in our day and age – but are making their God of love look like a liar – is utterly divisive and, certainly, pure personal empire-building hyperbole. To declare everybody as an heretic because they have honestly come to believe the Young Earth narrative is way out of bounds. And, at the same time, to decree that you can’t have a relationship with Christ unless you believe the Genesis story as factual is putting up walls to actually keep people away from the grace of God.

    Now… that’s getting into the serious stuff.

    If we want to influence people to follow Christ, it’s not going to help if we’re aiming all our big heretic guns at such a picayune issue.

    To those of you who demand that we make our faith about such little dogmas about what kind of meat you eat or whether you cut your dicks or how and when the Earth was created… or naughty words, or holy days, or the mechanics of baptism, or, or, or,… Again, like Paul says at the second last verse of Galatians, (my translation) “Piss off. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. Go fight amongst yourselves”

  • Its unfortunate that this pits creationists against scientists as if those were the only options. I know Christians are among the worst liars because I’ve been there, defending the indefensible. It comes from being asked to commit to something without question, with every good intention but without reading the small print. The irony is that those who believe in an absolute with their future based on a proposed certainty, buckle at the slightest challenge that is so peripheral that if lost would make their apologetic so much easier.

    The problem with making this all about creation vs science is that , as Jesus said, we can end up swallowing gnats while straining camels. White Evangelical Trump supporters are a case in point. The more creationism is lambasted and marginalised the more it is justified in their eyes because it makes them feel special guardians of truth – religious Davids and against atheistic Goliaths. It is their obsession and is their only justification for existence. Why wouldn’t they lie, their eternal destiny depends on it.

    I have to say I find the tone of this article a little patronising. Its to do with justifying its author and doesn’t really address the problem at all.

    • Mr. James Parson

      What do you see at the the problem?

      • ‘Problem’ might be the wrong word but the problem the young earth creationists have is that they are beating the scientific community with a quasi-scientific stick. The beast they are fighting reared its head in the age of reason. At the time the church resorted to ridicule believing they had the weight of received wisdom on their side when the general mood was one of optimism and progress and science was the new saviour. By the mid twentieth century the scientific saviour was feeling his age. The age of Aquarius was wooing the young people with mysticism and spirituality but the rational church was just feeling its feet.

        At the same time the religious right in America was flexing its muscles in the political arena while the Zionists were bouyed by the establishment of the state of Israel. Their prophesies were coming to pass and the creationists were gaining confidence. The apparent discovery of the real Noah’s Ark and the Shroud of Turin turned the heads of the rational. But the church was gaining the world and losing its soul. The assurance the Evangelicals have in their scriptures has corrupted their gospel. Their confidence shifted from an almighty, holy God to a personal saviour and familiarity has breeded contempt.

        There is no need to rubbish the creationists’ theories. They are clearly misjudging the prevailing mood once again. They answer questions no one is asking and in an age of deep mistrust in the establishment, their insistence on certainties, especially concerning their eschatology, clash with grassroots demand for putting right what is before our eyes. No one is looking for a god who is in control, who created and will finish it, we are looking for one who shares our pain and thirst for justice.

        • Mr. James Parson

          No one is looking for a god who is in control, who created and will finish it, we are looking for one who shares our pain and thirst for justice.

          I never looked for a God at all. I was taken there when I was a small child. My only choice was go OR be punished and go anyway.

          • What’s your take on the article?

          • Mr. James Parson

            I going to kind off topic, so I hope you will indulge me here.

            Diamonds are known as the hardest known substance, but they are not the strongest. As soon a pressure is put on them in the wrong way, they shatter. But if you pick different substance, say gold. It is quite malleable. It can change shape and still be gold. Gold and diamonds might be precious materials, but they are very different in nature.

            ~~~~

            Young earth creationists see the Bible like the diamond. They can’t imagine throwing away part of it, without throwing away all of it.

          • I don’t really follow your analogy but comparing it to gold and diamonds is quite good. Like you say, gold is incorruptible. It isn’t subject to the atmosphere and no matter how much you heat it its still gold. However its not very practical for most things so it has to be mixed, hence rings are never 24 Karat. Diamonds, on the other hand, are very practical, especially in cutting things that are very hard. But a diamond is only carbon and at a certain temperature it will revert to graphite.

            Genesis has a specific purpose and if you respect it for what it is it serves you well. But if you put it in the furnace of science it turns to dust. In a round about way the author of the article is saying that young earth creationsists don’t treat their scriptures with respect and, as a result, make God out to be a liar. They claim the diamond to be both supremely hard and indestructible but they won’t allow it to be heat tested because that would make them out to be liars.

          • Mr. James Parson

            That was exactly what I was try say.

    • Susan M.

      I thought he said that we would end up swallowing camels while straining at gnats.

    • Susan M.

      P.S. I’ve observed that people who lie to others lie to themselves first. Only by convincing themselves that what they say is true can they say those things with a straight face.

  • TinnyWhistler

    This is the conclusion I came to as a physics student at a Christian college. My professors were pretty good at toeing the line of being truthful and educational but not immediately ticking off students from a variety of Christian traditions. They’d ease into the “heresy” so to speak and be a quiet example of firmly believing Christians who chose to and encouraged us to look at the science and make up our own minds.

    I remember sitting with a friend of mine talking about the age of the earth (more up our alley than genetics!!) and the conclusion we came to together was that either God is deliberately deceitful or those rocks are pretty darn old. I keep telling myself I should learn something about genetics so I can have conversations with various varieties of science-skeptical Christians and actually know what I’m talking about, but I really don’t like biology.

  • Susan M.

    I talked to one young woman several years ago who completely believed in the new creationist ideas. When I asked her how she explained fossils, she replied that scientists went out and buried them.
    There’s no having a discussion with someone who thinks like that. I was speechless.