Creationism chases people out of church

Ken Ham is slowly killing the American church,” writes Joel Watch at Unsettled Christianity.

Kurt Willems agrees, posting a video at his Pangea blog in which he says “Preaching Against Evolution in Evangelical Churches Creates Atheists.”

I’d qualify Willems’ statement a bit. Preaching against evolution in evangelical churches doesn’t create atheists — it creates not-evangelicals. They were told that if evolution were true, then their faith would be a lie. And then they learned that evolution is true. Some of them may go on to become atheists. Others may go on to become Episcopalians. But some just stagger on for years with little identity other than not-evangelical.

But the basic point both Watch and Willems are making is an important one. The creationism of Ken Ham and Al Mohler is not true and therefore belief in it is not sustainable. I’ve made this argument quite a bit, as in “The Bible vs. The Facts?” where I wrote:

When Christian teachers like Mohler insist that the non-negotiable tenets of the faith include beliefs that can be and have been proven false, they set their followers up for inexorable crisis and calamity. It turns Christians into ex-Christians with industrial efficiency.

Or see “Hold on to the good” or “The walls came tumbling down.”

I’ve written about this a lot because I’ve met so many people over the years whose Christian faith was chained to some idea of young-earth creationism that dragged it down like a millstone.

And yet the more people are driven from the church by the unsustainable, unbelievable lies of creationists, the more desperately the creationists cling to those lies and insist on their centrality to the faith.

Roger Olson recently posted an essay from Michael Clawson that I think offers some insight into why the collapse of creationism is making its proponents ever-more vehement. In “Young, Restless and Fundamentalist: Neo-fundamentalism Among American Evangelicals,” Clawson argues that the anti-science defensiveness of late 20th-century “neo-fundamentalists” echoes the laager mentality of their early 20th-century ancestors:

Some conservative evangelicals are reacting to the contemporary influences of postmodernity in much the same way that the original fundamentalists did towards the influences of modernity a century ago — namely through hostility towards the broader culture, retrenchment around certain theological doctrines, and conflict with, or separatism from others within a more broadly defined evangelicalism.

… The driving force behind neo-fundamentalism, as with historic fundamentalism, is a “remnant mentality.” Neo-fundamentalists believe they alone are remaining true to the fullness of the gospel and orthodox faith while the rest of the evangelical church is in grave, near-apocalyptic danger of theological drift, moral laxity, and compromise with a postmodern culture – a culture which they see as being characterized by a skepticism towards Enlightenment conceptions of “absolute truth,” a pluralistic blending of diverse beliefs, values, and cultures, and a suspicion of hierarchies and traditional sources of authority. Because of this hostility toward postmodern ways of thinking, neo-fundamentalists have little tolerance for diversity of opinions among evangelicals on any issues they perceive as essential doctrines – which are most of them – as opposed to the broader evangelical movement which historically has allowed for a much wider range of disagreement on disputable matters. Neo-fundamentalists thus respond to the challenges of a postmodern culture by narrowing the boundaries of what they consider genuinely evangelical and orthodox Christianity, and rejecting those who maintain a more open stance.

Clawson’s description of this “neo-fundamentalism” is particularly interested in light of the fatal flaw that Watch, Willems and I all identify in the links above. Creationism, like all forms of this neo-fundamentalism, is championed as a militant defense of the church against the world. Yet in practice, creationism drives people out of the church.

It has the opposite effect from the one these neo-fundies are hoping for.

Clawson mentions John Piper, Al Mohler and Mark Driscoll as prominent examples of this neo-fundie “remnant mentality.” For an illustration of this, check out the poster promoting Mark Driscoll’s latest book, highlighted by Hemant Mehta and vorjack of Unreasonable Faith.

The poster emphasizes hierarchical gender relationships, suggesting that this is an essential belief if the church is to survive in the big scary postmodern world. It concludes by saying:

My grandchildren will worship the same God as me, because my children will worship the same God as me.

Vorjack’s cheerfully atheist response:

My grandfather was raised Southern Baptist.

My father was raised Southern Baptist.

… Hi.

It’s not just that the neo-fundie project doesn’t work, but that it’s counter-productive — that it accelerates the problem it imagines it is addressing. By emphasizing untenable doctrines like creationism or the divine right of husbands, and by insisting that these are central, requisite beliefs, the neo-fundies are chasing people out of the church.

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  • http://twitter.com/RodATJr Rodney Thomas

    I don’t know who Joel Watch is. Who is he?

  • P J Evans

     Typo. Joel Watts.

  • Diez

    This, more than anything, ultimately chased ME away from the church.  Any time a debate on the subject would come up, I literally had to suppress the physical urge to stand up and shout “WHO CARES?  WHAT RELEVANCE DOES THIS HAVE *TO ANYTHING?*”
    Feeding the hungry, covering the naked and cold (the naked and warm may remain so, if they wish), giving to the poor… none of these things are at all affected by your personal headcanon for the birth of the universe.

  • Amanda

    It does create atheists sometimes. I’ve met people like that, that made the leap from “creationism isn’t true” to “therefore God doesn’t exist.”

    Never occurs to them that some people believe in God and believe that evolution is true at the same time. They just can’t get out of the mindset that those two things are completely incompatible.

    And, to be honest, I thought that too for a long time, before I found out that Christians like Fred here existed. And actually, I’m glad, because now I’m a biology professor and may someday have to deal with students who think I’m trying to take away their faith.

    Reminds me of my ornithology professor in graduate school. He was an interesting character. A biologist but also a self-described “fundementalist evangelical Christian.”

    He thought that Creationism was a plot by Satan to turn Christians against scientists and intellectuals. I don’t believe in Satan myself, but supposing he did exist, that does kinda makes sense.

  • FangsFirst

    And, to be honest, I thought that too for a long time, before I found
    out that Christians like Fred here existed. And actually, I’m glad,
    because now I’m a biology professor and may someday have to deal with
    students who think I’m trying to take away their faith.

    My mother, with her PhD in Animal Husbandry¹ and Masters of Divinity hates little more than people telling her scientists can’t have faith.

    (my very Catholic SGF working on her degree in biogenetics undergrad, to be expanded into a PhD, no doubt, knowing her…feels similarly. Though she’s often told how stupid she is for having faith by the people around her at school…)

    ¹My mother was involved in early success at transferring pig embryos to surrogate sows by non-surgical methods. Our only tiny familial hubbub in the news, with a paper article in another state and TV news report and stuff.

  • Lori

    The clearly untrue beliefs of the church in which I was raised didn’t make me an atheist, but they helped. Recognizing that one teaching was obviously untrue helped reinforce all the other questions that I was asking. After a long time and a lot of study and thought and hard work trying to believe I cam to the conclusion that I didn’t. I have no idea if I would ever have followed all my other questions and doubts far enough to actually leave religion if anti-scientific teachings hadn’t provided that extra fuel. Maybe, maybe not. I certainly don’t regret leaving belief, but anyone who wants to keep people in really ought to face that fact that creationism isn’t helping their cause. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.matchan Jeff Matchan

    It was the church’s teaching on homosexuality that primarily drove me away.  But I would have to say the evolution thing was a close second.

  • Lori

    Also, can we talk about how creepy that Mark Driscoll book poster is? That guy, holy crap. He obviously suffers from logic FAIL—-Mr Driscoll, allow me to join vorjack in saying “hi”, my father was a preacher and my grandfather was a lifelong believer. He’s also apparently so controlling that he doesn’t even bother to hide how controlling he is. The fact that his church has 7k+ members is seriously disturbing.

  • Anonymous

    Everything I’ve seen about Driscoll is that not only is he a terrible person, but he’s controlling as f*ck. 

  • FangsFirst

    The fact that his church has 7k+ members is seriously disturbing.

    A friend of sorts just posted a link from someone from his church. It said “Mars Hill” and I assumed “Rob Bell” except she said “back in Seattle” and I thought “Oh no. Oh God no.”
    I was right. she said that church was awesome.
    It made me sad.
    Then again, she’s twice my age and stopped talking to me because I liked the Dexter books and hate the show. No, seriously. That’s why.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Then again, she’s twice my age and stopped talking to me because I liked the Dexter books and hate the show. No, seriously. That’s why.

    That’s enough reason; words cannot describe the extent of how wrong you are in this respect. (j/k).
    Seriously? The writers of the show consistently seem much better at, well, everything, but most importantly the nature of Dexter’s mental state. The books show a remarkable lack of background research that defies my ability to suspend disbelief. 

  • FangsFirst

    Seriously? The writers of the show consistently seem much better at, well, everything, but most importantly the nature of Dexter’s mental state. The books show a remarkable lack of background research that defies my ability to suspend disbelief.

    I read the first two books before the show was even announced. I was severely, severely disappointed by the extremely human character they came up with, and the nicening and prettifying of a bunch of things (I don’t like to spoil either for anyone, which makes explaining myself difficult…). If you’ve read both, you can guess a few major things I mean (like the ending of the first book, or the neighbor’s dog and what we learned from it).

    I couldn’t tolerate the insane soap opera melodrama of the show after a very short period of time. But mostly the humanization of Dexter, as the peculiarly dark and utterly inhuman (admittedly unreliable, but I think I’m actually incapable of processing “unreliable narrators” most of the time) narrator, and his sense of humour were completely lost. That was severely disappointing. I couldn’t even finish the first season. Everything I read about what followed made me laugh, it was so ridiculous. And not in the weird, tongue-in-cheek bizarre way of the books (which decreased in quality until the most recent, it’s true)…just…stupid ridiculous.

    But I try not to talk tons about this. It gives people the impression that I’m a surly curmudgeon and just hate things. I don’t. I’m usually quite open. But the things that bug me seem to end up being popular with quirky people. Which is funny–I talked up Dexter and The Walking Dead before they premiered to people who had never heard of them.

    Now I go around telling those who ask not to watch either of them. I’m really not just contrarian!

  • hapax

    @FangsFirst:disqus
     — the wonderful thing about the internet is finding out you are not alone.

    I have *exactly* the same response to Dexter-the-books (well, audiobooks — have you tried those?  Nick Landrum captures the voice perfectly) and Dexter-the-television-program as you;  including the “talking them up to everyone until the show came out.”)

    No opinion on The Walking Dead because I don’t do zombies, but hapaxson shares your opinions.

  • FangsFirst

    — the wonderful thing about the internet is finding out you are not alone.

    I sincerely appreciate the sentiment…and the agreement!
    I haven’t tried the audiobooks–and kinda fell out since Borders went away, as I already failed to notice until we got shipments in that new books were out. Or sometimes even once it was on the shelf. That was kind of embarrassing, since everyone knew I’d picked up the first two as publisher promos when I started there early on, because the titles and concept appealed to me.

    Is Landrum very deadpan? I never imagine voices for anyone, but I tend to at least *think* Dexter would be very deadpan…

    most of my friends and friends of friends and people who’ve read the books of The Walking Dead tend to agree with me on that one.

  • Ken

    the nicening and prettifying of a bunch of things (I don’t like to spoil either for anyone, which makes explaining myself difficult…)
    <BLOCKQUOTE

    That's what rot13 is for.  Was it any of these:

    Qrkgre vf trarenyyl avpre – n punatr lbh pna npghnyyl frr orgjrra gur cvybg (abj frevrf bar rcvfbqr bar) naq gur erfg bs frevrf bar.

    Qrkgre'f xvyyf ner dhvpxre – gur obbx unf cebgenpgrq gbegher zheqref.

    Nfgbe naq Pbql qba'g unir gurve bja cnffratref.

    Znal punenpgref unir unq qvssrerag sngrf (YnThregn, Qbnxrf, Oevna, Evgn).

    Gurl qebccrq gur ohfvarff nobhg gur qnex cnffratref orvat napvrag tbqf/cnenfvgrf/jungriref.

    V guvax fbzr bs gurfr (yvarf 1, 2, 3) ner whfg orpnhfr gur bevtvany jbhyqa'g fryy ba gryrivfvba.  Gur ynfg bar V guvax vf na vzcebirzrag, naq fvapr Yvaqfnl unfa'g er-hfrq vg erpragyl, ur znl nterr.

    V'z nyfb ernyyl tynq gung frnfba fvk svanyyl pnhtug hc jvgu gur obbxf va univat Qroen xabj nobhg Qrkgre.

  • Ken

    Well, that’s a mess, isn’t it?  The blockquote ends after the first paragraph.

  • FangsFirst

    Qrkgre vf trarenyyl avpre – n punatr lbh pna npghnyyl frr orgjrra
    gur cvybg (abj frevrf bar rcvfbqr bar) naq gur erfg bs frevrf bar.
    Qrkgre’f xvyyf ner dhvpxre – gur obbx unf cebgenpgrq gbegher zheqref.
    Nfgbe naq Pbql qba’g unir gurve bja cnffratref.
    Znal punenpgref unir unq qvssrerag sngrf (YnThregn, Qbnxrf, Oevna, Evgn).

    Gurl qebccrq gur ohfvarff nobhg gur qnex cnffratref orvat napvrag tbqf/cnenfvgrf/jungriref.

    V
    guvax fbzr bs gurfr (yvarf 1, 2, 3) ner whfg orpnhfr gur bevtvany
    jbhyqa’g fryy ba gryrivfvba.  Gur ynfg bar V guvax vf na vzcebirzrag,
    naq fvapr Yvaqfnl unfa’g er-hfrq vg erpragyl, ur znl nterr.

    V’z nyfb ernyyl tynq gung frnfba fvk svanyyl pnhtug hc jvgu gur obbxf va univat Qroen xabj nobhg Qrkgre.

    Yeah, that about covers it. And I think the reason you give for 1-3 is dead on, and the thing that disappointed me most about the show, as it’s on Showtime and they have been trying to catch up to HBO in willingness to do anything–often exceeding by forgetting plot and the like in the process. and I think #4 was for the same reason, which also disappointed me.

    I am kinda all right with the change for number five as well, which is why I think books 3&4 kinda suffered (though, creatively, I liked the *idea*–it just seemed a little “wait, what?” in the context of what came before).

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Gurl qebccrq gur ohfvarff nobhg gur qnex cnffratref orvat napvrag tbqf/cnenfvgrf/jungriref.

    That’s the point where I stopped reading the books. (I do think the early seasons of the show did a good job capuring Dexter’s snarky outsider view of “normal” humanity, but it’s fallen down in the later seaspns and I didn’t even watch the last few eps.) Ironically I’m in an online RPG crossover game playing a Dexter-analogue where such things are also canon, and decided against using it (before the book came out) because it frrzrq gbb zhpu bs n pbc-bhg rkphfr sbe uvf orunivbe; V gubhtug n abezny ohg qnzntrq uhzna jbhyq or zber vagrerfgvat gb cynl.

  • FangsFirst

    so, brightside, my friend responded on the Mark Driscoll front, after I said “That horrible misogynist?”:

    I was never into his
    preaching enough to want to read any of his books. And it’s been 5 years
    since I was there. I have to say I’m totally shocked. I probably saw
    him preach 20 times, and he never said anything inappropriate. Very strange. Very sad for me to hear this. Much appreciated, my friend.

    So, she definitely agrees that he’s a jackwagon, at least. hooray!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The fact that his church has 7k+ members is seriously disturbing.

    A friend of the family mentioned to me that apparently Driscoll’s congregation mainly consists of young people with low self-esteem who treat going to church as a meet-market.  They are there to meet someone who will tell them what to do and reassure them that they are good. 

    These are people who will respond to intimidation. 

  • mud man

    if evolution were true, then their faith would be a lie. And then they learned that evolution is true. Some of them may go on to become atheists. Others may go on to become Episcopalians.
    I doubt that. Once you become convinced that faith is a lie, you aren’t going to have much fun as an Episcopalian unless you enjoy etiquette role-play which granted some do. Many gnutheists plead a Baptist childhood, whether that’s most, I couldn’t say. 
    … Mark’s poster is something. “My wife will be prayed over by Me” is an evocative image, considering, but “The Bible will be opened by Me” was really eye-catching. I got an idea, let’s print it in a Secret Language!

  • P J Evans

     Put a sign on it: No Gurlz Alowed.
    That’s the impression I get from that poster: Driscoll’s church is a boy’s club.

  • mud man

    If they don’t let the gurlz in, who would they pray over??? What are you suggesting???

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Once you become convinced that faith is a lie, you aren’t going to have much fun as an Episcopalian unless you enjoy etiquette role-play which granted some do.

    There’s a difference between believing faith is a lie and believing a specific kind of faith is a lie.

    In my experience, what evangelicals and Episcopalians mean by “faith” are very different things.

  • Joyful Yes

    Oh my, yes. VERY different. Episcopalian here, recovering Catholic. Of course, I was never taught creationism in my 12 years of Catholic school 1973-1985. The biology nun was very clear on the reality of science, and the religion teachers, if asked about the literal truth of the Bible creation story, said things like “some of that is an allegory” or “it’s the mythological explanation people used at the time, now we know better”. We were never asked to believe untenable things about the earth’s origins. Other untenable things, yes (and for those I left the church — the crap about contraception and women priests…)

  • Andy K.

    One of the worst public defenders of creationism is 
    Hank Hanegraaff, host of “The Bible Answer Man.” He sucks in a variety of ways, but he stands with Al Mohler on this subject and insists that “The evolutionary paradigm is daily losing ground, and cannot stand in an era of scientific enlightenment.” The utter lack of humility on that show is astonishing. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Hank Hanegraaff, host of “The Bible Answer Man.” He sucks in a variety of ways,

    …and none of them are the fun one.  I’ve heard him berating people who think God has talked to them.  You just know that if this guy had been around in 30AD….

    …eh, I can think of too many ways to finish that.

  • Andy K.

    CU 5012, would he have been a Pharisaic opponent of Christianity, or a Sadducee?

    I will also say from personal experience that Hanegraff will close your audio if you try to engage him in a direction he does not want to go. He will get into some long discussions, but in the area of origins, he is VERY defensive.

  • Andy K.

    BTW, not disparaging the Pharisees. Just pointing out their role in the dialog of the Gospels, and curious about how Hanegraff would find himself in 30 AD.

  • Deggjr

    It has the opposite effect from the one these neo-fundies are hoping for.

    Maybe.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    In his book “Rapture Ready,” Daniel Radosh describes a conversation he had with Ken Ham at his Creation Museum.  Radosh brought up the fact that millions of American Christians have no problem with accepting evolution and do not see a conflict with Genesis since they do not interpret that book literally.  Ham essentially said that all those Christians were false Christians, and what they believed therefore would have no meaning for him.

    This is part of the whole ego-boost that Young-Earth Creationism (and Fundamentalism in general) gives to those who subscribe to them.  They, and they alone, and the real, true, Christians, and all those other so-called Christians are no better than the non-Christians.

  • Helena

    I can only point out that the following doctrines have exactly the same evidentiary basis and plausibility as young earth creationism:

    The existence of Yahweh
    The resurrection of Jesus Christ
    The existence of the soul
    The resurrection of individual Christians

  • Anonymous

    Uh, no. We have evidence against young-earth creationism. We don’t have evidence against anything else you mention.

    In other words, shut up, you’re making me look bad.

  • Joyful Yes

    Nah, I don’t think you look bad. You are correct — there is solid evidence AGAINST young-earth creationism. Concerning those other things, there may be little or no evidence FOR but also none AGAINST. I can believe in God and the soul without clashing with my rational mind which respects science. Not so for creationism.

  • Lori

     
    I can only point out…  

     

    No, you could just stop. You’re tiresome, you’re adding absolutely nothing to the conversation and you’re making the rest of us atheists look bad by association. I know for a fact that there are other places where your schtick is welcome. You need to either contribute something meaningful here or find one of those places where this sort of empty repetition is considered clever. 

  • FangsFirst

    No, you could just stop.

    I don’t know, I think that IS all Helena can point out. Maybe Helena is a robot with a broken tape reel¹ and can’t access any other part of it’s memory bank! That would be so sad. Poor robot.

    ¹Yeah, that’s right OLD SCHOOL robotics!

  • Brandi

    Dear Helena:

    Please stop making my side look like smug douchebags.

    Thanks.

  • hf

    the following doctrines have exactly the same evidentiary basis and plausibility as young earth creationism

    Technically no. (Though the other objections I’ve seen make no sense, not if “evidence” means some fact that increases or decreases the credibility of a theory.) The usual meaning of “young earth creationism” includes the usual meaning of “Yahweh”. And neither follows logically from the other — not unless we take a logically contradictory version of the second, and strictly speaking we don’t have to. So the compound claim has less probability or plausibility.

    Despite the fact that if the Garden of Eden existed it would have had to exist in some definite place, the claim that it existed in Jackson County, Missouri technically has less probability. It’s like the difference between saying someone will win the lottery, and saying I will win the lottery.

    That said, if we tried to read the Bible literally, we’d have to say it implies a large probability for YEC. Because the God it describes would have gotten bored or annoyed and trashed the whole Universe in a lot less than the 100,000 years (minimum) of humanity’s existence.

  • Anonymous

    God, Driscoll would probably use terms like “The Wives” too. That poster is something out of V for Vendetta or The Handmaid’s Tale. People have commented on the “you’ll believe as I tell you too goddmanit!” one but I think the “bible opened by me” is much creepier. No unclean female hands shall touch it, and the opener of the Bible will serve as the first and last work on interpretation and application of scripture, look upon my works and despair…

  • Lunch Meat

    For myself, I think the “wife prayed over by me” part is the creepiest. It’s the one that shows most clearly that not only does the father control completely the children’s religion, but the wife’s too. As a Christian wife, it utterly squicks me out even to contemplate the idea of my faith being controlled by my husband and me only believing because he wants me to.
    And what’s so wrong with active sentences that all of them have to be passive? What’s wrong with “I vow that I will serve my church. I vow that I will love my wife. I vow that I will lead my family.” Same semantic idea, but in the passive it makes it seem, at least to me, as if the vow-er is making a vow on behalf of his wife, instead of on his own behalf. This personal vow is more about power and control than personal piety. As if a man’s faith is seen more clearly in how he rules his family than in how he loves and sacrifices for others.

  • Rikalous

    And what’s so wrong with active sentences that all of them have to be passive?

    I think it’s so that CHURCH, FAMILY, BIBLE, and all the WIFEs line up prettily.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    And what’s so wrong with active sentences that all of them have to be passive?

    The format may be passive, but all those “by me”s make it sound possessive, which I suspect is the intention – “I’m not just going to do these things, I’m going to own them.”

  • Lori

    It’s quite telling that the Driscoll poster is so creepy that everyone has a different idea of which is the creepiest part. 

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    It constantly amazes me, the bullet I dodged totally by the accident of being born into a Catholic family rather than an Evangelical one. I was in my teens before I was even aware of this so-called controversy. And then my reaction was, “There are people who think that you can’t trust science if you believe in God? But, but, God wants us to use our brains! That’s why He gave us brains! I mean, c’mon, y’all, Taste And See Etc., right?”

    I left the Church, but it wasn’t because the Church (as filtered through my parents and our Parish*) was trying to teach me things that were stupid. I just came hard-wired with a different faith, which, once I discovered it, pulled me away.

    *The particularly Catholic stupidities, or perhaps the Vatican stupidities I should say**, didn’t play a large role in Catholicism-As-I-Learned-It. St. Angela Parish was big on beatitudes, not very big on sexual politics. Also, we had altar girls.

    **That I distinguish between “Catholic” and “Vatican” should tell you something about the full set of bones, indeed the whole skeleton, that my Mom has to pick with the Pope. I think that skeleton gained a bunch more bones when John Paul died and Benedict took over, actually. It was the sort of addition that makes paleontologists realize that the critter belongs to an entirely different class or maybe even phylum than they’d thought.

  • Becca Stareyes

    Nicole, my mother (raised Catholic, now is… liberal Christian something or other who doesn’t really go to church) was the same way; when my sister (a biology minor) and I (I read a lot of science blogs) were talking about a YEC book being sold at the Grand Canyon gift shop, she was surprised that 1) people believed in the literal truth of the Genesis story and 2) they weren’t all people her mother’s age.  My mother somehow spent 10-15 years living in Nebraska without realizing that, yes, people seriously do believe the universe was created in six days.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    “That’s why He gave us brains! I mean, c’mon, y’all, Taste And See Etc., right?”

    Brains to taste, Brains to see? I see where this Zombie Jesus thing came from!

    Trying out this blockquote thing, excuse me if I end up bolding the next ten comments or something. Slacktivist’s been in all italics for me since the Patheos move. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Rather than the creepiest part,  here’s my take on the most hilarious part of said poster…

    Why is the “L” In “Real Marriage” crooked?

    I mean I’m just saying it looks like the definition of a “real marriage” by the image, is a broken one.  Which makes sense given the recipe involved.

    @LoriAnnK:disqus  – Yeah that’s very similar to my experience.  Evolution wasn’t the make-it-or-break it point* – but it helped pry open a door for a lot of questioning.  I mean, it’s hard NOT to question if you catch someone who is supposedly directly connected to God in a lie about something you’ve been taught is central to your belief system…  and when you call them on it the response is not contrition or even shock at a mistake, but to LIE LOUDER.

    It makes it very easy to start wondering what else is being lied about.

    *Really there was no one singular “THIS IS THE THING” – thing; it was a wide swath of problems some personal, some policy based, some just “WTF ARE YOU PEOPLE THINKING?” based.

  • Lori

     
    Also, I suspect this means we need to do some serious baking – the dark side promises cookies and deliver we must.  

    I can definitely handle this. I’m a pretty good baker, if I do say so myself. 

  • Anonymous

    And yet the more people are driven from the church by the unsustainable,
    unbelievable lies of creationists, the more desperately the
    creationists cling to those lies and insist on their centrality to the
    faith.

    That’s about half the tragedy, for those of us who left a church with friends in that mindset. There’s a girl about my age, a little younger, who I grew up with– she’s all of this, in spades. And my dad, up until fairly recently, was the same way. The thing is, people cling the lies more and more desperately because it’s so tied, in their minds, to their faith. If they admit to YEC being untrue, their whole faith may come crashing down, “just like Pam, when she forsook God’s way and became an atheist.” And that’s a scary thought. So they stuff their fingers in their ears, turn away, and go “LALALALALA.” And the harder you try to pull, the harder they push back.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Deggjr’s comment: I’m not convinced that those who hold to remnant theology really want to keep people in the church or to bring more people into the church. The more people adhere to their beliefs, the less they can claim to be a “remnant.”

    The Fundamentals, as established back in the early 20th century, were about drawing the line to establish those who didn’t think like them as outsiders. And I suspect that the insistence on purity of thought concerning YEC is part of the same mindset.

    Of course, there’s a fair amount of cognitive dissonance they have to tolerate in order to do this. They can simultaneously claim that the majority of Americans are Christian (one definition), while very few people are Real True Young Earth Christians. And they can simultaneously believe that the majority of people are going to hell and that any given individual, including those from Christian homes, has a non-zero chance of ending up in hell … and still have children.

    I think it’s interesting that YEC had a big resurgence shortly after there was a large evangelical resurgence. In other words, “If all those ‘others’ are going to be joining our group, we need to make sure they’re ideologically pure–and if we’re lucky, maybe they’ll go away and we need not be troubled by all these new folks.”

  • Amaryllis

    Kind of a tangent here, but I spent some time on the New Jersey Turnpike recently. And that poster reminds me of the kinds of books you see for sale in the little convenience stores at the rest stops– “Three Ideals for a Christian Wife”  (submission, seduction, and… I forget, something else beginning with an S) and “Christian Leadership for Men” and “Daily Devotionals for Girls” and “Secrets of a Prayer Warrior” and other such targeted Evangelicalism.

    And it occurs to me to wonder, why are those the only kinds of books for sale in those stores? There are racks of secular, general-interest magazines, but only Christian books. It can’t be market-driven; I can hardly believe that all the millions of travelers on that road (yes, it’s bad, but it’s not literally Hell!)  only want to read Christian books, and books promoting a particular flavor of Christianity at that.

    Aren’t those facilities state-operated? Why is the State of New Jersey giving this concession to a sectarian distributor? It’s not even a Bible-Belt state; according to a quick Google, Catholics are the single-largest religious group, followed by “None” in second place. (Although, I suppose if you add all the Protestant denominations that Wiki counts separately, Protestants as a group would outnumber the no-affiliations, but still, it’s a religiously diverse place.)

    The more I think of it, the weirder it seems.

  • P J Evans

     I see racks of ‘Christian’ books in my supermarket. Frequently next to the shelves of popular books, which tend to be either romance novels or suspense-thrillers. (Except for the really political books, which are all pretty much conservative-for-Fox-fans.)

  • Anonymous

    I think those are the “Choice” books, or some such title. They are in a lot of supermarkets. I suspect it’s due to some really good marketing by the publisher. If I saw them in a state-run facility, though, I’d contact the local state representative–senator or member of the General Assembly–and ask some questions. Do the research first, though. New Jersey has some very religious areas, and some representatives aren’t going to be sympathetic to questioning religion stepping over the church-state divide.

    They’re in one of my local supermarkets, too, but this supermarket (Safeway) is one in which the manager finishes his public announcements about special sales on clementines in the produce section by saying, “Have a blessed day!” So I’m guessing he’d be happy even if they were overtly religious.

    For the most part, though, I suspect the books are marketed as “inspirational” rather than “religious,” and that’s how they get placed. “Inspirational” in a sort of Oprah-ish way, in other words.

  • Amaryllis

    Yes, I suppose so. I’ve seem similar stuff in supermarkets and drugstores too, but as part of a general selection. And I wouldn’t have a problem with them being sold at the rest-stop stores, for those who like that sort of thing, if there were other choices than Choice. It’s the monopoly that stirkes me as odd.

    So the moral of the story is, if you’re traveling the Turnpike and expect to need something to read, bring your own.

    (I don’t drive, and I can read in a moving car, so I think about these things.)

    New Jersey has some very religious areas, and some representatives aren’t going to be sympathetic to questioning religion stepping over the church-state divide.

    I grew up in New Jersey, and pretty much everyone I knew back then was at least nominally religious– but they were either Catholic or Jewish. I hardly knew a Protestant, let alone a fundamentalist Evangelical, until I went to college in a different state. Oddly, though, I believe Our Gracious Host grew up not far from my own home town, where apparently he was surrounded by Evangelicals and didn’t know many non-Evangelicals until he went to college… so there’s that.

    And when I said last night that the NJTP wasn’t quite Hell, I meant to link, but I forgot. So, have some Sunday Springsteen instead.

    Early North Jersey industrial skyline
    I’m an all-set cobra jet creepin’ through the night time
    Gotta find a gas station, gotta find a pay phone
    This turnpike sure is spooky at night when you’re all alone
    I’m living on the edge of the world

    Radio, radio, hear my tale of heartbreak
    New Jersey in the morning like a lunar landscape
    Got a counter girl at the Exit 24 HoJo
    Down past the refinery towers where the great black river flows
    O I’m living on the edge of the world
    Tryin’ to get a message through…

  • Dan Audy

    (my very Catholic SGF working on her degree in biogenetics undergrad, to be expanded into a PhD, no doubt, knowing her…feels similarly. Though she’s often told how stupid she is for having faith by the people around her at school…)

    I have to say that this attitude always makes me very sad. It is a very modern problem mostly created by YEC types being idiots and atheists being jackholes at anyone with faith as a consequence. A huge amount of early science (in the west at least) was done by priests seeking a better understanding of the majesty of God’s Creation (that and they were generally better educated and supported by a broad ‘donation’ base which left them time to think about these things). I’ve always viewed science and religion as largely being non-overlapping magisteria where, except for a few physicists dealing with the first moments of the universe, the science and the faith have very little to do with each other in any practical sense and could quite comfortably coexist (occasionally with a little cognitive dissonance but hey what would humanity be without the ability to self-delude).

  • FangsFirst

    I have to say that this attitude always makes me very sad.

    Me, too. Especially considering she’s the only person–literally, only–I’ve ever known who took my atheism and said “Oh, okay.” Not, “So how do you…” or “Does that mean…” She said she believes God does not make people incomplete (which led to her divergence from the Catholic church on homosexuality), so the absence of faith/belief for me meant nothing about a lack/void/absence for me. It makes me very sad that someone could have faith and completely respect atheism in that way and be subjected to such asshattery. 

    Especially because I’ve never had the relaxation of a person of faith I know in reality not attempting to reconcile my lack of belief as some kind of denial, however politely or with understanding. No matter how many I explained, “This makes me uncomfortable, because it feels like you think I lack something, where I do not think, feel or act the same toward you,” it was always met with a sort of knowing wink, once someone even told me they remembered being angry at God like me, when they were my age…

    I’ve known an unfortunate number of obnoxious atheists who didn’t care if people were YECs or not, they liked feeling superior and saying “sky-ghost” and other condescending nonsense. You can, of course, see plenty of these people floating around the internet (one who shall remain nameless in this very thread. I already covered my one and hopefully only response to that person). Some of her “friends”* actually liked, as I’ve noted before, to show her studies that said atheists are statistically smarter than believers, with Catholics being the bottom of the heap on statistical intelligence.
    Of course, evidence I saw indicated those two may have been smart, but they were repellent and kind of creepy as human beings…and I’d rather be a decent idiot than a genius asshole.

  • FangsFirst

    *oops. Forgot the footnote on “friends” but I have no idea how to phrase it…They aren’t her friends anymore. Mostly because of me. So if you ever see me getting squiggy about controlling SOs, that’s why. I’m terrified I’m one myself.

  • Anonymous

    That’s not really the same thing.  There’s a world of difference between “I should be the only person of importance in your life” and “these people are assholes and you would probably be better off not being around them.”

  • FangsFirst

    I appreciate an objective viewpoint on that. My friends all admit their bias toward me and therapists are naturally there to not tear me down, so it’s hard to find a source of information on it that doesn’t feel like it’s just there to not make me feel bad.

    It’s all way more complicated, as other friends of hers have called me a stalker and one of her coworkers threatened to speak to my mother (!) when my parents visited once,¹ all (ALL!) of her exes have been controlling and abusive (some in ways no one could debate, though they were, as sociopaths are, very good at hiding it from everyone but her) (which is the why I got very entangled in that conversation here, and ran away), and her coworkers (and some friends) took it upon themselves to
    periodically borrow (or outright steal) her phone and harass me with
    accusations of stalking and the like. Online harassment, too.² I’ve kind of led to her friends circle being pared a LOT. That’s most of why it makes me neurotic. It wasn’t two people…it was a lot of people. Not that I feel any sorrow, regret, guilt or remorse over the gropers. At all. They can…well. Nevermind.

    ¹That person ended up face first into a wall. Yeah. That was her, not me. She’s a little protective…and a fifth degree black belt…
    One wonders how their priorities are so backward that they go after the person she will harm people to protect, and ignore the people who harmed her. Who were often friends of theirs.

    ²Incidentally, none of them had met or spoken to me before. At all.

  • Anonymous

    Mother of Christ, between this and all your other horror stories, what shitpit do you live in?  And do you need evac?

  • FangsFirst

    what shitpit do you live in?

    As far as I can tell, I fell into the far worse shitpit she has been stuck in.

    I can’t really get into the totality of it, but she thinks she’s miserably uninteresting and stupid and ugly and worthless.
    Things she hates me for sharing only because she’s afraid it sounds like bragging:
    She used to dance trained ballet, figure skate until her feet bled, speaks Scots Gaelic, French, English, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Spanish, and is working on Chinese,¹ is, as mentioned, a fifth-degree black belt, used to be a print model (too short for stage modeling), has had short stories published in major magazines and other publications, used to compete in beauty pageants, and is working her way with no loans through secondary education (a BS in biogenetics, with a second major in Chinese, as well as a pre-existing Associates in advanced maths) with no real help from anyone else. She was working two full time jobs (one teaching taekwondo to small children via a program she created at an existing dojang, the other was the restaurant) and going to school 23 hours a week when I met her. Oh, and tutoring (which is how I met her–she came into my bookstore and started flirting with me one day…). And doing a lot of chores and errands for her family, like a lot of the basic childcare for her younger brothers.

    She’s lost the only family member that showed unconditional love. She’s lost friends to everything awful you can imagine. She’s been through absolute hell herself.

    But, again, this woman thinks she is uninteresting, stupid, ugly, lazy and worthless. Such attitudes leave one willing to accept or forgive awful behaviours up to a point. And, of course, everything is her fault anyway.

    I’m not a white knight. I’m not telling you this to prove I’m awesome for sticking with her. I’m not. I do it wrong a lot of the time. But she’s the world to me, and when she can squeak out words for such feelings, that’s what she says I am to her.

    It’s not easy to just find out that the most beautiful and wonderful person in the world still had to and has to deal with these things. Nor is it any easier when being around someone she loves is impossible without constant triggers, simply because relationships and men in them putting hands on her has awful associations and there’s now someone whose hand she wants to hold, or that she wants to hug.

    A large part of my hanging around here is that she decided to deal with all of that, and was told the best way to do so was away from me. I haven’t spoken to her for over six months, since she spent a night trying to be sure I knew she loved me and that maybe being with me could make up for finding out she can’t have children, which she wanted more than anything in the world, so she could give them the life she never had–not that she’ll admit it’s because she didn’t have it. She couldn’t hurt the people in her life by suggesting they weren’t enough. Even when they weren’t just not enough, but horrendous. But she can’t have that until she can figure out how to not be scared around me.

    She’s stronger and better than me, and I have no illusions about it. But it makes me want to be worthy of that.

    So…no evac for me, unless it’s plus one.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always viewed science and religion as largely being
    non-overlapping magisteria where, except for a few physicists dealing
    with the first moments of the universe, the science and the faith have
    very little to do with each other in any practical sense and could quite
    comfortably coexist (occasionally with a little cognitive dissonance
    but hey what would humanity be without the ability to self-delude).

    I dunno, I liked kinda what you said earlier more. Religion is part of the reason why I tend to ask why, poke things, pull things apart. The first commandment isn’t “Blindly love thy God, and make sure you don’t think about love when poking the universe,” but “Love thy God with all thy… mind.” I think that’s what a lot of our earliest scientists had in mind. (And why it’s so infuriating to realize that the Church was, in many ways, as eager to close its eyes and indulge willful ignorance as it is now.)

  • friendly reader

    I’m repeating myself from one of those older blogs, but I know that the main reason I dodged the creationism-or-atheism-no-other-options bullet is that I read Virginia Hamilton’s “In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World” (beautifully illustrated by Barry Moser) when I was in third grade. As the title suggests, this book is a collection of creations myths from different cultures re-written for a children’s reading level. And interspersed amongst these were the J and E accounts from Genesis. Yes, that’s right, this book flat out tells children there are two contradictory stories in the Bible and tells them separately. And reading these stories in this context, my reaction was “Oh! Now I get it!” You see what the purpose of creation myths are in a culture, what their true function is. They’re not science, they are vehicles of meaning.

    I tried to pass that on to students in my 5th and 6th grade Sunday school class. When we had a lesson involving the book of Genesis, one of the girls asked me “But what about dinosaurs?” My answer was, “Back then, nobody had archeology or science to know about dinosaurs or geology. So instead, they wrote down important stories to them that talked about their relationship to God. And that’s what we’re going to talk about.”

    It is not a difficult concept for children to grasp. It should not be difficult for adults, either. And yet here we are…

  • friendly reader

    Oh, I forgot to add an asterisk, but the only reason we even did Genesis was because the lesson plan followed the lectionary and going to the Old Testament lesson rather than the gospel was a wimpy cop-out to keep from discussing Jesus’ teaching on divorce. Honestly, I had a lot of smart kids in my group, I think we could have talked about it. As it was, my pastor gave a great sermon that would have horrified people who don’t like it when you read the Bible in a historical context. Of course, those same people wouldn’t have listened to a female pastor to begin with, so…

  • Anonymous

    On this whole Young Earth Creation thing . . . Years ago I was **mostly** on the side of YEC.  Used to get all the mailings, was busy looking for evidence of an actual flood, etc.  But then there was a shift.  I can’t say exactly when that shift took place, but it probably was a combination of things.

    The first thing that got me thinking that YEC was whacked was the mandatory document of faith sent to me asking for my signature in support of their doctrines.  I don’t remember what it all included, but I’m sure there was something along the lines of “YEC is the only scientific explanation that is compatible with God’s creation of the universe.”  When you start making exclusionary claims about God and belief, you start running into problems.  And I especially didn’t like people telling me exactly what to believe about God; I am an Episcopalian, after all.

    That experience eventually led to a realization that unless I had a strong enough faith to let God out of the box I was trying to keep him in, then it wasn’t faith at all but an attempt to control an idol I had made.

    And then, of course, there’s the issue of what Christianity is based on.  Christianity is not based on a rabid defense of YEC, Christianity is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, nothing more and nothing less.  And if the resurrection is the basis of my faith, then I really don’t care how the universe came into being.

  • hapax

    That experience eventually led to a realization that unless I had a
    strong enough faith to let God out of the box I was trying to keep him
    in, then it wasn’t faith at all but an attempt to control an idol I had
    made.

    hapaxspouse calls that kind of false faith “Schroedinger’s God” — people who keep God in a box of literalism that they refuse to open and examine, because they’re secretly terrified that they’ll find out that their God is dead.

  • Diez

    The poetic justice in all this is that YEC is essentially being consumed by the very thing it seeks to deny.  Natural selection isn’t just for animals, you know.  It also applies to ideas.  Those that are useful (in any way) are preserved and passed on.  Those that aren’t eventually fizzle and die.  And it looks like the one use YEC had (drawing battle lines to muster the church) is rapidly vanishing.

    Here’s hoping it goes the way of the dodo sooner rather than later.

  • Anonymous

    Not really those that are useful in any way–those that enable the entity to reproduce. And by that account, YECism is far from counted out. It’s associated with groups that have high birthrates and because it’s simplistic, it can be presented in a fairly straightforward fashion to politicians. And it’s associated as well with people who will yell at politicians.

    The fact that this silly idea has as many adherents as it does is evidence that it’s pretty fit to reproduce. It’s only running into trouble because of the ecosystem that was already in place before it became popular. But that ecosystem came into being under different circumstances and has been under attack from a variety of directions for a while.

    I am not sure I go for the analogy of ideas with genes (or animals). But if we allow the analogy, it’s far from clear that YEC is unfitted for survival in the culture. Look how the teaching of science has already been dumbed down.

  • Dan Audy

    Not really those that are useful in any way–those that enable the
    entity to reproduce. And by that account, YECism is far from counted
    out. It’s associated with groups that have high birthrates and because
    it’s simplistic, it can be presented in a fairly straightforward fashion
    to politicians. And it’s associated as well with people who will yell
    at politicians.

    The possibility that authoritarian leanings and high birthrates were genetically influenced and linked bothered me very badly for quite a while (OCD, insomnia, and mild paranoia are a bad, bad combo).  If that were the case than it would be favoured and become more widespread and more awful and and and and.  Eventually I realised that (a) I sounded like the bigoted people (American/European Caucasians and Isreali Jews) worrying about how the other was going to demographically take over the country, (b) Authoritarian’s really are on the decline in the moral arc of history no matter how hard it is to recognize it at this precise moment, and (c) even if it were true the only possible solution would be eugenics on a massive scale which is morally abhorrent and something that only an authoritarian would want to do in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The possibility that authoritarian leanings and high birthrates were genetically influenced and linked bothered me very badly for quite a while (OCD, insomnia, and mild paranoia are a bad, bad combo).

    I think that this might be a good time to draw a distinction between genetic propogation and memetic propogation (in the classical sense of the term “meme”.)

    The Wikipedia article on the subject of memes.

    To quote their section on religion as a meme:

    In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.

    Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.

  • A Prof

    Ken Ham is also taking aim at colleges too with the same Louisville Slugger nuance. See “Already Compromised,” his 2011 that “surveys” Christian colleges and determines which ones do and don’t fit the ideological bill.

  • a Prof

    * his 2011 book

  • Anonymous

    The biology nun

    I’m sorry, I know it’s childish, but I just love that phrase.

  • The Lodger

    “Biology Nun” is going to be the name of my next band.

  • Anonymous

    I’m of the opinion that if you build up YEC so much to the point that it is the linchpin of your religious belief (even more that Jesus, it seems to me), and it can be flatly shown that you’re flat-out lying about evolution, then it makes me wonder what else you happen to be lying about. That’s addressed to people like Al Mohler, who have to know that they’re sitting there and baldly lying day in and day out about a lot of things. I don’t know how he (and Ken Ham and Mark Driscoll, for example) live with themselves.

  • Anonymous

    It was the little old lady I knew from the bell choir coming up to me at a restaurant where I was waiting for friends to show up telling me that I was going to hell for reading Harry Potter.  I now find Carlin’s philosophy much more relevant.  Darwin’s too.

  • Shallot

    Um.  I haven’t participated so far in the conversation, so this feels really forward and eavesdroppy… but that’s a terrible situation.  Internet hugs, if you want them.

    You implied she’s getting help; I hope they work together well and make lots of progress.

  • FangsFirst

    Not at all (my inability to appropriately discern what to share and not is probably resultant from the AS, and so I also have trouble finding things eavesdroppy or forward). I appreciate the sentiment, honestly, thank you.

    She’s getting some kind of help…she was advised to take time away from me by another survivor. She’s still in contact with my best friend and my mother (who knitted her a prayer shawl last Christmas, so they’re close in their way), so I do occasionally hear bits and pieces secondhand. None of them talks much.

    Still…last I heard she’s (of course) beating herself up for not getting over this quicker. Of course, she called me once and questioned why she was not over watching a friend of hers bleed to death in her arms. I mean, it had been three years! Surely that’s enough time to get over THAT…or at least, she thought so. Sigh.

  • FangsFirst

    Not at all (my inability to appropriately discern what to share and not is probably resultant from the AS, and so I also have trouble finding things eavesdroppy or forward). I appreciate the sentiment, honestly, thank you.

    She’s getting some kind of help…she was advised to take time away from me by another survivor. She’s still in contact with my best friend and my mother (who knitted her a prayer shawl last Christmas, so they’re close in their way), so I do occasionally hear bits and pieces secondhand. None of them talks much.

    Still…last I heard she’s (of course) beating herself up for not getting over this quicker. Of course, she called me once and questioned why she was not over watching a friend of hers bleed to death in her arms. I mean, it had been three years! Surely that’s enough time to get over THAT…or at least, she thought so. Sigh.

  • Just a thought…

    This is a very western conversation.  I completed part of my studies for my M.Div. in Asia – they have a totally different set of theological issues and had little patience for Western (read American) students who tried to force the conversation of creationism vs. evolution.  The answer to how believers work out this answer just wasn’t important.  Same thing with issues of infallibility and inerrancy.  It shows just how ethnocentric we are that regardless of where we fall on this issue – we think it’s a question that is important to people every where. 


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