May 28, 2007

Creation science?

Over the weekend, I enjoyed a very civil and interesting conversation with Tony and his friends about the new Creation museum opening in Kentucky. Everyone knows where I come down on this. I think the museum is dangerous because, among many problems, it presents creationists beliefs as if they are factual.

Tonight coming home from the garden store, SOF and I heard this NPR story on the opening. SOF noted that this kind of story does not help Christian's anti-intellectual image. Especially when you hear a young mother saying that this museum is Biblical truth AND science. You don't get to dismiss evolutionary science, the expertise of thousands and thousands of trained scientists and then claim that this museum is "science."

The rest of the story was equally disheartening when you hear of the room devoted to connecting evolutionary thought to abortion and pornography. This is not good for our educational system, our approach to problem solving, or the incorporation of meaningful religious faith into our cultural conversations.


Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- I have alot to say on this if I get a chance later (got to run now) but a quick comment after following the links- don't you think it's incredibly ironic or appropriate or whatever that this is presented as a commercial attraction for $19.95 a pop? -Later-BB

ubub said...

"New Shimmer is a floor wax AND a dessert topping!"

Tony said...

I will pre-apologize before I enter into this conversation. :)

I know where they are coming from regarding the abortion/pornography thing, and well, you probably get it, too.

Nevertheless, the conclusion of the tour, since the Creation Museum "does something the secular museums don't, provide both sides of the story" to quote Ken Ham, is to show how evolutionary thought is incompatible with the God of the Bible.

God created all people in His image but evolution, in its strictest sense, says we are descended rather from a common ancestor, albeit not created. Therefore, man has no dignity, no value, no cause for morality, and if you believe in evolution in any way, then you are a gross immoral (amoral?) pig and it will cause you to abort your babies and look at dirty magazines.

Even Dawkins, in his book, The God Delusion, argued for morality, and even had a whole chapter devoted to it and he is a die hard evolutionist/atheist.

Now where can I get one of those Shimmers and does it come in chocolate?

steve s said...

I saw an interview with Ken Ham and some prof from Case Western on Fox last night. I'd have to say that Mr. Ham did not fare that well and it was fairly clear that the prof and the interviewer did not agree with him.

While I believe that science does not always do an adequate job of explaining things and that some people 'worship' science, to the point that they are not critical, I have a hard time with most of the 'literalist' positions. My knowledge of science is mostly limited to high school. My degrees are in the social sciences and law, so I have to rely on others to explain things to me. Both my father and grandfather were geologists, so I have a hard time with the idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old (among others).

I fail to see the connection between abortion, porn, and evolution. Abortions existed in the ancient times, so they pre-dated the theory of evolution by several thousand years.

Streak said...

BB, great point about the commercialism of this "museum." Tony, I do understand the connection, I just reject it. I love that Ham says they present "both sides" even as the museum people admit that every exhibit is intended as an evangelism tool.

Steve, I believe that Case Western prof was featured in the NPR story as well. I can see him doing well in a debate against Ham.

One thing that has always bothered me about the young earth, btw, is the huge cultural growth in Asia that is not reflected in the Bible, or not as far as I know. Chinese culture goes back 5,000+ years? But the earth is only supposed to be 6,000+ years old? Did the Bible writers not know about China (most likely) or did God simply decide not to talk about them and the thousands of other cultures outside the middle east?

Kevin said...

There's one opening here in Bible belt Alberta as well:

Simply nutty.


Wasp Jerky said...

This is precisely why God invented satire.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- This one is such a broad discussion it's difficult to know where to start. I'll probably have trouble keeping a line of thought here, but here goes. It's helpful, I think, to be reminded that evolution is not a theory about events that happened long ago. Evolution is happening now. It can be seen all around us as an active principle within species. Species are not fixed in time- we humans define species based on a freeze frame in time. Creationists seem to act like this is a debatable ancient event that can't be verified in present day. The peppered moth in urban britain is a great present day example of a species undergoing natural selection. To refute that natural selection has occurred and is occuring is setting oneself up to be made quite the fool. To the majority of people in the world the debate on origin of species makes for good pub debate (or heresy trials, depending on your time in history), but has very little bearing on anyones day in, day out reality.

It has been my experience that if you ask a Christian how they know God is real, they will give an experiencial reply- something like "I feel his/her presence", "I had a mystical experience", "I see him/her in creation", etc.... So, practically, I think most people's belief IN God has very little to do with whether or not they believe in a literal 7 days of creation, evolution, big bang, or common species origins. In other words, despite their dogmatic insistence that genesis is literally true, their own account of WHY they believe in God has more to do with their experience with him than "the bible tells me so".

Regarding metaphore versus history, I think that it's a mistake to view that as an either/or choice. The question, in my opinion, is what is the truth in the account. Does there have to be minute historical accuracy in order for there to be truth? Is there such thing as minute historical accuracy? I'm by no means unique in feeling that its a mistake to view the bible as a history book. I don't think it makes that claim for itself. Why would anyone expect an ancient Semitic culture to provide scientifically sound interpretations of the events going on around them? We make new discoveries every day that refute long held "beliefs" about how the world works. Would a fundamentalist modern Christian use medical remedies from Abraham's family healer? Of course not! Why then the insistence that his views on the specifics as to how the world was formed and life evolved to be any more informative? As far as we can tell, however, Abraham did have a unique relationship with God and from that we can learn a great deal.

Creation scientists insist on a "biblical" interpretation of science. However, there is much of the old testament, in particular, that they do not follow or consider to be applicable in today's society. Look long and hard and you'll be hard pressed to find a conservative christian who adheres to the Mosaic law. He'll certainly insist on chiseling the ten commandments into the nearest public space, but he won't be too keen on the rest of exodus, leviticus, numbers, or deuteronomy. Why, then, the modern fascination with an ancient interpretation of scientific principles?

I find the fundamentalist obsession with creation to be an interesting phenomenon. It has no place in the doctine of personal salvation- the evangelism upon which evangelicalism is based, and yet it occupies so much time, effort, money, and pulpit time. I think there is an underlying fear that if the first five chapters of genesis aren't literally true, then faith is a house of cards that will fall around them.

Finally, (for now) I will say that my vision of God and spirituality is only enhanced by science, not threatened by it. How can any explanation of creation, even a modern scientific one, threaten ones relationship with a spiritual being? The museums will make someone alot of money for a while. If I'm interested in how I should react to a difficult time in my life, I'll reach for Matthew 6. When I have a headache I'll reach for a tablet designed by heathen scientists who believe in cell receptors and neurotransmitters.
Later, Streak. Sorry for the length- BB

Streak said...

kgp, nice to know that we are not the only ones. I guess.

BB, great comment and no worries about the length. I have been grappling with the origins and how that impacts every day life as well, but I think you say it better.