Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Devouring our own

Photo: Pixabay

Every now and then I get a frustrated chuckle when some well-meaning fellow creationist confronts me because I'm not creationist enough.  I've mentioned this occasionally here (OK, confession: I've griped about it before), but I've tried to not get down about it.  I understand that I'm different from the average creationist, and I don't buy into the party line about evolution being bunk or on the verge of collapse (that's just nonsense).  So it makes sense that my perspective would alarm some folks who've never heard anyone say the things I say.  So I try to smile and laugh it off.  I admit that it's not very much fun when someone who knows me personally tries this confrontation business (yes, that happened), but that's not the usual problem.

Lately, I'm increasingly hearing stories that I find very, very upsetting.  I want to say first that I fully support an organization's choice to define itself however it wants.  If you want to have a young-age creationist organization that focuses on environmental protection for manatees, then go for it.  Good luck finding anyone to work for or support your organization, but if that's your burden, that's your burden.  As long as you make your focus and doctrinal statement very clear, then do what God has called you to do.

What I don't like is organizations having unwritten requirements.  That is totally unfair, and I will protest it vehemently.  Let's say you run a creationist nonprofit that defines "creationist" according to biblical requirements: you have to believe in a young earth, historical Adam, Fall, Curse, global Flood.  That's great.  If that's what it is to be a creationist at your organization, then that's it.  If someone says they believe that, then they believe it.  You can't go harassing them because they don't buy into the pat answers about Flood geology or irreducible complexity.

I'm hearing these kinds of stories more and more.  "I don't know" isn't a good enough answer any more, even though the question has nothing to do with an organization's statement of faith.  For some employers, if you don't give the creationist party line when asked about evolution or radiometric dating or the big bang, then you've just put a target on your back.  Those creationists like me who honestly know that these issues haven't remotely been worked out (despite the protests of our fellow creationists) are becoming increasingly unwelcome in the larger world of young-age creationism.  This is very, very wrong.

Why?  Because "I don't know" is not just a legitimate answer, it's the right answer.  We do not have a perfect creationist interpretation of biology, geology, or astronomy.  We do not have all the answers.  We need to find the answers. That's the truth.  Evolution is not bunk.  It is not a theory in crisis.  It is not foolish.  I know that we constantly hear otherwise from many famous, well-intentioned creationists, but they are wrong.  They are sincerely mistaken.

It is only by admitting that we don't know that we will ever make any progress on these issues. No creationist will ever try to find a better explanation of radiometric dating or the cosmic background radiation if they refuse to admit that we don't already have the answers (which we don't).  You'll only inhibit the growth of creationism by forcing people to adhere to discredited ideas like the vapor canopy or unsettled ideas like which rocks were formed by the Flood.

Even more, does it matter to my status as a creationist what I think about this or that scientific theory? Science changes all the time, constantly, inevitably.  The creation science of the 80s is radically different from the creation science of today, because creation science, like all science, changes.  What I think about science shouldn't be the deciding factor on whether or not I'm a creationist.  If I believe that the Flood covered the whole earth and that God's creation originated only thousands of years ago, I'm a young-age creationist.  Even if I have the dumbest ideas about geology ever invented, I'm still a creationist.  Even if I think there is no scientific evidence to support my view, I'm still a creationist (I don't think that, by the way).  You're welcome to think I'm stupid or wrong or stubborn or mentally ill, but you can't say I'm not a creationist.  That's just nonsense.

Let's face some more unpleasant reality: The more we turn on each other, the more we devour our own, the fewer creationists there are going to be.  We already take enough garbage from conventional scientists, atheist and Christian alike, and I understand that we're not all going to get along.  But there needs to be some fundamental acceptance of being a creationist.  The more we witch hunt each other, the fewer we'll become.  So if you want to destroy creationism, then by all means, continue condemning or blacklisting other creationists for not accepting your version the vapor canopy.

We can bicker and argue about the science all we want, but we need to remember that we share so much in Christ and in our beliefs about the Bible's teachings on origins.  I want young-age creationism to grow in that unity.  I want us to work together to figure out all these scientific questions.  That's going to be challenging.  I certainly haven't done much in my career to foster unity, and that was wrong.  We need to work harder to be creationists together.  I don't know exactly how to do that, but the path we're heading down - with these people questioning whether so-and-so is really a creationiat - will lead to self-destruction.

I don't want to see that happen.  As much as I might disagree with other young age creationists, I have more in common with ICR, AIG, and CMI than with BioLogos.  It makes a lot of people squirm when I say that, but it's true.  We're all young-age creationists, for better or worse.

So let's pray for our fellow young-age creationists who face harassment or loss of a job because of other young-age creationists.  Let's all plead that the Lord will protect them and guide them and help their critics to see how important it is for young-age creationists to be uncertain about scientific questions.  And let's plea for mercy and forgiveness for our own divisiveness.  Maybe God will have mercy on us and protect us from ourselves.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com. If you enjoyed this article, please consider a contribution to Core Academy of Science. Thank you.