Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Internet Monk is Mad

Chaplain Mike has a simply devastating post on the Bruce Waltke fiasco and what it means to modern evangelicalism. He puts forth a plea to the evangelical community to actually learn the science that seems to be so vexing:
If certain groups of Christians doubt that the evidence leads to the almost universally accepted conclusions of the scientific community, I suggest that we should be encouraging believers to pursue scientific vocations, to gain credibility by practicing honest accountable research, to do the hard work of coming up with compelling alternative models, and to make their case in the public arena.
The principle problem here is, of course, that with organizations like the ICR and AiG, they think they are learning the science. It isn't science they are learning, of course, but some bassackwards pseudoscientific deductions from a narrow interpretation of scripture. These deductions are completely at odds with accepted science in a host of different disciplines. Given the nature of scripture and the time-depth involved since the Bible was written down, they cannot help but be so. That the writers of these organizations are not even bothering to try to learn the science is obvious from Brian Thomas' horrendous post about Australopithecus sediba, on which I commented here.

Chaplain Mike then lists eight common practices of creationist groups that those of us familiar with this controversy have come to know so well. The post has the air of someone who has "had it" with creationists and isn't going to take it any more. Along the way, he has two particularly stinging criticisms:
  • Creationists ignore the complex history of interpretation when it comes to critical Biblical texts like the early chapters of Genesis. To them, there has only been one accepted view of the creation narratives throughout the ages, until some geologists started suggesting that the earth might be older than previously thought, which led to “liberal theology” and all its resultant social ills.
  • Creationists ignore the history of their own views. They fail to understand, for example, that the theory of a worldwide flood that changed the actual physical structures of the earth has its roots in “visions” by Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White, a teacher most Bible-believing Christians would find wanting in terms of theological acumen.
Among the early Sabbatarian Adventists, White was considered a prophetess, although the value of her visions have been debated. She appears to have supported Arianism, as opposed to trinitarianism, however, which is not an SDA position. The deluvial visions that she had in the late 1800s became the basis for the writings of George McCready Price in the 1910s and 1920s. Price's writings were full of unsupportable assertions on the geological record that were ignored by competent geologists. Sadly, these views were picked up in the 1960s and 1970s by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb for their book The Genesis Flood, which inspired a new generation of creationists. As Davis Young puts it:
All the evidence of the rocks tells us that they were not produced or arranged by a flood. The views of earth history offered by Woodward, Catcott, G.M. Price, Whitcomb and Morris, and John R. Rice are simply and obviously incorrect.
In Bruce Waltke's video, he asserts that to ignore the wealth of scientific evidence for evolution would put evangelical Christianity in the same camp as various cults that refuse to interact with the world. I wonder if that is strong enough. The complete rejection of the clear evidence of God's created planet suggests that a strange gnosticism is at work, where the record of God's creation is ignored or distorted so that a particular interpretation of His Word can go unchallenged. It is difficult to see how the modern evangelical church can be helped by such a movement.

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  1. Glad you posted this Jim. Chaplain Mike is spot on with his critique, even if it seems a bit harsh, it's true. And congratulations on the Biologos post! You da man!

  2. Great stuff! I was homeschooled from K-12 and indoctrinated in a young earth creationist viewpoint a la Ken Ham and ICR. My grandmother is still a huge supporter of ICR.

    Took me a lot of reading and struggle and pain to reject what I was brought up in and embrace the scientific evidence. I now rather resent the churches that did nothing to teach me how to think.

  3. Thanks, Irenicum. Keep watching. Part two of my post on human origins is going up there next week. Now I just have to get it written!

    Hannah, sadly, I am quite sure that you are not the only one with that story. I am sorry for the struggles that you went through. Glenn Morton has a similar story that he posted quite a bit back here.