Creationists and Cappadocians

I’ve been a little snarky about 6-day, young-earth creationists of late, like here for instance.

At The Week, Michael Brendan Dougherty rises to their defense – although not on the science. (H/T Rod Dreher) His defense echoes something I’ve said from time to time in defense of a sort of agnosticism on the subject for most people – said largely to affirm that it really isn’t vital for us all to hold any opinion at all (let alone the opinion endorsed by most experts) on most topics:

In the world most of us inhabit, day to day, the world of lovers, wriggling kids, disease, war, and death, the sureness of God’s love is relevant in a way that the details of early hominid fossils never will be, glorious as they are. Have some perspective, people.

But I’m not going to retract the snarkiness, valid though that point is.

Ken Ham (Creationist synechdoche as well as literal participant in the recent “debate” that’s generated the buzz) isn’t just saying “God loves you, and worrying too much about these fossils may make you forget that.” He’s saying instead, I think:

  • that mainstream science is all wrong on the science
  • some mainstream scientists are just sheep, but some are knowing deceivers who just want people to forget God
  • Biblical flood catastrophism is a scientifically superior explanation of fossil phenomena
  • Genesis 1-3 is a reliable scientific account

If I’m right (and I’m almost certain that Ham is at least “in bed with” people who so teach), then it is important to inoculate against the loss of faith that’s apt to come when, for instance, a fundy kid goes off to study science and finds mainstream science overwhelmingly better than Creationism.

My position is not revisionism. It’s not a new intellectualoid Christian rearguard action. No, in the grand sweep of Christian history, including the writings of the most important Church Fathers like the Cappadocians, Creationism or something like it has not been by any means the sole position or even the consensus position. It’s not exactly a late arrival (though Bad Catholic argues that “Creationism Is Materialism’s Creation”), which is the indictment I levy against some Evangelicalish dogmas, but there’s no need to rewrite Christian history to make science and faith appear compatible because Christian history isn’t much about science, or predicting the future, or any other common obsession of some Christians today.

That’s some of Father Stephen Freeman’s gravamen in his recent essays here and here.

A really, really, really perceptive and critical reader, who has followed me obsessively in my “real life” as well as in cyberspace, gathering it all in a sort of “opposition research” database, might now pounce: “Well, didn’t you once bitterly criticize the biology ‘Team Teachers’ at Lafayette Jefferson High School for making the same point about non-creationist religious alternatives?”

Not really. What I critiqued was them transgressing the bounds they supposedly were observing against “religion in the science classroom” as they goaded the administration into threatening an award-winning Chemistry teacher (of creationist persuasion).

They (and I don’t doubt the fundamental decency of their motivation) were trying to show other religious alternatives to creationism to the disadvantage of creationism (whereas the public school classroom shouldn’t be putting its thumb on the religious scales) via crude caricatures, like a supposed “spectrum” of beliefs, with creationism positioned just one step toward the center from “flat earthers,” the ne plus ultra of lunacy.

There was more, though the “spectrum” specially stuck in my craw. The gist was that they were using the biology classroom to lobby for “mainstream” Christianity, if one really must be a Christian, and to lampoon creationism by guilty associations.

That’s nothing public school should be involved in.  But I can be involved in blogging for historic Christianity versus the modern errors of Creationism.

I now return, I hope, to normal life – where it’s not all that important that I give a rip about the Ken Ham/Bill Nye “debate.” and where I need hold no opinion at all on Creationism versus Evolutionism.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.