So, What’s the Deal With Adam and Eve? Part 2

The Creation of Eve 12-13th Century Mosaic Monreale Cathedral, Sicily

So, it’s been light blogging because I’ve been recovering from having my gallbladder removed last weekend.  And percocet makes me mean.  So I’ve been applying the adage my boys have heard 1 times a day since they learned to speak: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

But I’m off the dope and wanted to get back to our earlier discussion on Adam and Eve.  (To understand this discussion, I suggest reading What’s the Deal With Adam and Eve? Part 1 first.)  When we left off, Adam had determined that there was no gibbon that tickled his fancy and God put him into a deep sleep.  Then God took a rib from Adams side, closed the spot with flesh and fashioned woman. 

A few things here.  The man is put into a deep sleep.  This can certainly mean simply that Adam was unconscious.  Under full anesthesia, if you will.  However, because we are also reading the story as an allegory, it can be informative to go a little deeper.  When we sleep, we are still alive.  We are not aware of what is going on in the physical world, but we dream.  Our brains are busy doing clean-up work that can not be tended to when we’re busy using it while awake.  And often we wake up and remember none of it.  If we do, as often as not, we’re left with an impression which is more emotion than anything and hard to put into words.  Continue reading

So, What’s the Deal With Adam and Eve? Part 1

Facepalm. Words. They fail.

I am fascinated with the creation stories.  I have mentioned before that it was the habit of ancient Hebrews to meditate by holding two thoughts which seem opposed together in your head at once.  I may have also mentioned that I have both a very high regard for scripture and I value science as a tool for understanding how God’s other testimony – creation – works.  Which right there creates a conflict which many people think they can make go away by picking the side that makes sense to them and hanging out there.  But I always figured that if God made the world (which I believe he did) and scripture is true (which I believe it is – in all sorts of surprising ways) and science was saying something different, God had an answer.  And not like, “well I only made the earth look billions of years old in order to see if you would trust me enough to think it’s really 6000 years old.”  A real answer.  Two true things cannot contradict one another.  If they are in conflict, it doesn’t mean one is right and the other is wrong.  It means we don’t understand them well enough yet.

So with this as my mindset, I set out holding these two ideas – biblical creation and the evidence of science – in my head at the same time and meditating on them.  Continue reading

Why Creationism Does Not Honor God

I’m going to start my day by ticking people off!

Just let me say at the outset that I am not saying that people who hold a belief in what is called “biblical creationism” do not honor God.  They may or may not.  But the belief system itself does not honor God.  Why?  Because it denies the work of God’s own hands.  The creation is very important to God.  “It is good,” was his judgement on it.  Scriptures tell us that the created world speaks so clearly of the reality of God that even those who have never heard the name of Christ can be judged because of the truth that it proclaims.

Today we are very privileged to live in a time when people who do not even know our savior are dedicating all the days of their lives to studying the work of His hands.  What have they discovered?  That mountains really do bow down.  They just take a really long time to do it.  That rocks when studied proclaim the glory of a God whose creation has been unfolding in ways both mysterious and wonderful for longer than man can fathom.  That the very atoms of our bodies come from dust – dust of the ground and dust of exploding stars and the dust that the stars and planets formed from.  Over and over, these scientists who study how creation works are explaining the physical realities behind the poetic descriptions given to people so long ago.  It is truly amazing how accurate these poetic descriptions often are.  The writers of the bible had no way of knowing that mountains really do rise up and then get eroded away.  They didn’t know about great banks of moisture traveling over the surface of the earth which when full, spill their water to the surface – like the water jars of heaven that the bible mentions.  They didn’t know that rocks contain the secret history of the earth and the records of life growing and evolving here.  Yet somehow, Jesus knew that they could proclaim the glory of God even if no one else would.

But then we get to evolution.  This is where many Christians lose it.  First of all, many Christians have bought into the idea that if evolution is true, it discredits God as creator and our special place in the universe.  Which is absurd.  If evolution is true, it is because God made it true.  Who are we to tell God how he may and may not create his own universe and the creatures who bear his image?  Who are we to deny the evidence of God’s own creation by insisting, “well, I read your book and as I understood it, it says you did it this way – not the way that your creation points to you making it.”  Doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?  It’s our understanding of scripture that is flawed, not the testimony of creation!

Many Christians will point to scientists and their faithlessness as a reason to disbelieve what God’s creation is telling us.  But I challenge any believer to take a closer look at creationist materials.  They are filled from start to back with dishonest representations of the work that these scientists are doing.  Take any argument and look to see the scientific response to it and the dishonesty of these materials starts to take shape.  A very basic example: does evolution rely on random accidents?  That is one of the claims used to discredit evolution, but it is very far from the truth of what evolution has found.  I wrote a bit about this elsewhere, but the mutations evolution depends on are far from random.  Irreducible complexity only makes sense if you don’t understand the parts life has to work with.  The basic materials of life fit together in such a way that scientists are beginning to think that life is almost inevitable.  Just like snowflakes naturally form because of the shape of water molecules, the basic structures which the most primative forms of life depend on seem to be the natural result of the way that various materials come together.

If you really believe that the creationist materials which claim to refute evolution scientifically are reliable, I have a challenge for you.  Look up the references they offer.  See what the original source material says and judge for yourself how accurately it has been represented.  If there is a quote from a scientist, see if it was pulled out of context in such a way that its meaning has been lost.  See what the scientist has to say about his or her work and what it means.  Creationist materials rely heavily on deception and count on those who are using it not to challenge or dig into its claims.  Our God is a God of truth and this reliance on deception is not His way.  And this reliance on dishonesty is pervasive among those who claim to be able to show the truth of “biblical creationism”.  In the infamous Dover PA case regarding teaching intelligent design, it was easily shown that the ID text book was simply a creationist text tweaked to remove explicit references to God.  The whole argument of the intelligent design proponents was that ID was not the same thing as biblical creationism, and yet they were so arrogant and so dishonest that they simply took a creationist text and modified it a bit. I have even heard proponents of creationism claim that God only made it appear that the world was billions of years old and that life arose from the process of evolution as a test of our faith.  These people are willing to make God himself into a liar in order to protect their own understanding! These people claim to be serving God, but the god of their own imagining is a liar who depends on other liars to protect him.  There is a father of lies, but it’s not God.

As to the actual words of the creation story, we need to remember who it was given to: people who didn’t know what a billion was or what an atom or dna or a virus or sperm was.  Would we have preferred that God waited until our scientific knowledge caught up to the physical reality before making himself known to humanity.  Even within the story itself, there are signs pointing to a more complicated reality.  There are two different creation stories, for one.  A lot of it is vague – what is the light and the dark that God created?  And did it really not occur to God that Adam would need some way to reproduce until he decided to make Eve?  Which is not to disparage the creation stories in any way.  I’m personally fascinated by them.  I have been meditating on them for a good 20 years now and will probably continue trying to figure out what they have to tell us for many years to come.  It’s a shame that the story of the creation and fall have been treated so shallowly because they contain puzzles worthy of the greatest minds.

I have been upset for years over “biblical creationism” because of the bad fruit it produces.  Many of the scientists that Christians like to disparage (which is NOT loving) do not believe in God because of creationism.  It keeps people from knowing God.  Creationism breeds lies and liars.  It trashes the church’s testimony.  No one sees Christians denying the reality of creation and is inspired to follow God.  It keeps people hanging onto a simplistic, immature view of God as a genie who goes “poof” and makes things happen.  It puts God on our timeline and not His own.  Having to wait on God makes much more sense when you consider that God normally works over the course of billions of years and not minutes and hours.  Creationism discredits holy scripture by trying to make it into a history book rather than the record of the revelation of God to his people.  When we insist that scripture says something that is obviously untrue, people will no longer see any reason to take it seriously.

Often creationists try to claim that by standing up for “truth”, they are honoring God.  But if there’s anything that comes naturally to us humans it is refusing to admit when we are wrong.  Those who hold onto this very human, flawed understanding of what the scriptures say about creation aren’t being brave and faithful to God.  They are simply doing what we humans are always doing – trying to substitute our own ideas about how things should work for God’s and stubbornly refusing to be corrected.  God’s creation is telling us how He created life.  Denying this testimony does not honor God in any way.

Of course, our scientific understanding is incomplete and mistakes get made.  But the fundamentals have been being worked out for a long time now.  The evidence keeps mounting.  Mysteries keep getting solved.  It is well past time for people of faith to take a real interest in what is being found.  This is the work of our God’s hands and he has told us that it testifies to His ways and his truth. What we really need is a new theology that doesn’t deny the reality of creation, but uses it to understand the sort of God we serve.  That is what would honor God, I believe.  But we need more and more people who are willing to let go of their own understanding and love both God and his creation to lead the way.

It’s been a while, but I have written on this topic before:

Raising Christian Evolutionists

Teaching Creationism or ID? A Formula For Putting Your Child’s Faith at Risk

Ancient Hebrews and Creation

Disproving ID: Unlocking the secrets of cells

In Which I Call Creationism Demonic

“Expelled” Exposed

The National Center for Science Education has put together a website to respond to the new pro-Intelligent Design movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. It is called Expelled Exposed. I have to say that red flags were raised for me when I heard a podcast about the movie based on this premise:

Have you ever noticed that Christians are fine with having God and science coexist? In fact, Christians see scientific discoveries as strengthening their faith precisely because they reveal the marvel of the world. So why is it that so many scientists seem to hate the idea of God so much?”

Um, yeah. Loonies like Richard Dawkins aside, suffice it to say that this has not been my experience of the “conflict” between Christians and science. I have already made known my stance on creationism and intelligent design.

Part of my problem with creationism and intelligent design has always been the dishonesty used to sustain the argument against evolution. I suppose it isn’t too surprising to see that this dishonesty isn’t limited misrepresenting main stream science and scientists. It turns out that many of the stories used in the movie to demonstrate this supposed intolerance for alternative views are misrepresentations as well.

For example, one scientist featured in the movie, Richard Sterberg, claimed that after using his position as editor of a small scientific journal to publish a pro-intelligent design article, he was fired from his post as editor, forced out of his office at the Smithsonian, and made to turn in his keys which gave him access to the Smithsonian’s specimin collection which he needed in order to do his work. Turns out that he had put in notice 6 months prior at the journal, had to move offices along with everyone else in his work area as part of an office re-arrangement and needed to turn in his keys so he could be issued a key card that would work with the new security system. Continue reading

Teaching Creation Science or ID? A formula for putting your child’s Christian faith at risk.

In my last post I kind of poked at those who use ridiculous notions of socialization to criticize homeschooling. Today, I’m going to sharpen my stick and point it in the direction of some of my fellow homeschoolers. It is my firm belief that an unfortunate number of Christian homeschoolers are putting their child’s future spiritual walk at risk in service to an idea which is not even necessary to the faith. I am talking, of course, about those who are teaching their children a from a creationist, anti-evolutionary POV. (Of course there are parents and churches who are teaching kids who aren’t being homeschooled the same things, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to focus on homeschoolers who are doing this.)

Of course, one of the primary reasons some Christian homeschoolers teach their children that evolution, the big bang and such are wrong, is because they feel an obligation to inculcate a strong faith in their children. However, it is my very strong opinion, backed up by the experiences of many people who have been down this road themselves, that these parents are actually sowing the seeds of the destruction of their children’s faith in the future. Continue reading