Guest Post: Credit Where It’s Due

(This is the second guest post by DTE. The first is here.)

Credit Where It’s Due

Credit where it’s due. YACs understand better than most Christians that a literal creation and Noah are fundamentally essential to Christianity. Now, while I cannot respect their intellect in believing those things-much less the defenses they trot out to defend those things-I do respect their consistency, to a point. Let me explain.

A significant distinction between Christianity and science is that Christianity claims to have final truth. Science, on the other hand, claims to have an incomplete, but increasingly comprehensive, understanding of reality. That distinction leads to a second: When science can’t answer a question, it will investigate further. When Christianity can’t answer the same question, it will claim a fairy tale to be “the final truth.”

A third and related distinction is that it’s easier (much easier) to get a scientist to amend his view of reality than it is a Christian. Even so, over time and generations, Christians reject mythical God belief for knowledge. Consider that as science answers questions for which religion has always provided mythological answers– Copernican theory, evolution, mental disorder– the religious, sometimes slowly, but always surely, come along.

Even now, as we see Christians commenting on this very blog, arguing against science, promulgating a young-earth and a world-wide flood, the official positions of Christian denominations are being altered to allow for knowledge. The YAC is an endangered species of the Christian genus and, ironically, they will one day be fossils.

There will be a time that its as uncommon to find a Christian that believes Creationism in the face of evolutionary science as it is to find one now that holds to a geo-centric universe in the face of Copernican science, or in demon possession in the face of medical science.

In fact, even the resurrection itself is being modified currently in Christian seminaries to accommodate knowledge. Why? Because Christians and scientists agree: Science proves correct in the long run.

As I said at the beginning, credit where it’s due: The YACs understand far better than their less literal brethren in Christ that without a literal creation and a literal Noah story, there is no ground to believe the resurrection. Still, the YACs are far more likely to seek medical science than cast out a demon

It’s a matter of time: YACs, maybe not these YACs, but YACs in general will go the way of the geo-centrist Christian or the demon expelling Christian. Eventually, science, as it always has, will find the answers that make even a semi-rational person’s clinging to mythology all but impossible.

Atheists and Christians agree: Over time, knowledge displaces primitive mythology. Only Christians that reject Copernican theory but not demon-possessions need comment.

7 Responses to Guest Post: Credit Where It’s Due

  1. Sirius says:

    This is a lovely piece of wishful thinking. John Lennon would be proud. Though you’d both be wrong.

    I’m interested in something you said, hack though you may be: You said that the resurrection is being modified in Christians seminaries. In what way? The question is academic, of course. Just because some Christians have compromised it does not follow that we all shall eventually, for there has ALWAYS been a remnant which has not compromised and that remnant, backed by God, has always repossessed Christendom by revival. And this is not just wishful thinking, for this is demonstrable to anyone who’s read a history book.

    Yet what if some have modified the theory? Darwinism is now modified into the neo-Darwin synthesis. Einsteinian physics displaced the Newtonian. And some bright day, Darwin’s theological argument for a purely naturalistic origins will finally die the death the evidence has earned it. If freedom of inquiry is re-asserted within the scientific community, Darwinian dogma will find itself stripped that high artificial wall of protection to preserve and true science will be able to move forward as the self-correcting search for truth it was intended to be.

    Now your last point about Copernican theory is a frightfully bad dodge. ALL the world’s scientists, athiest and theist embraced geocentrism. In fact, the leading astronomer of Galileo’s day rejected heliocentrism not because of any theological consideration but rather because Galileo’s argument was faulty. He was right about heliocentrism, but for all of the wrong reasons! Furthermore, while Christendom used poor exegesis to erroneously support geocentrism, no such doctrinal position was mandated from the text. Creationism and a global Flood are explicit in the Biblical text.

    I conclude my comments with a note concerning your FAITH in science’s ability to answer all questions, though no philosopher of science would dare make that mistake. Science has limits. That acknowledgement should cause you to re-examine the mythology YOU take on faith: the Just So Story of a Future Infallibly Omniscience Science. Knowledge does displace primitive mythology, but Christians and atheists do not quite agree on the definitions of mythology and knowledge. I daresay that the knowledge of Christ will demolish the lies of naturalistic science.

    If history is any indication, your optimistic assertions that Christendom will finally vanish will go the way of Neitsche’s laughable “God is dead” proclamation.

    Sweet dreams,
    Sirius Knott

  2. jeffsdeepthoughts says:

    Uhhhmmm…
    I’d like to come in with a few different questions, thoughts, and observations.
    #1) “YACs understand better than most Christians that a literal creation and Noah are fundamentally essential to Christianity.”
    I’m curious about this claim. First off, I wonder whether somebody outside of a world view is epistimically positioned to make claims about what precisely is fundamental to that world view… particularly when this world view is a holistic one, transcending the rational.
    Leaving that aside, it seems like there is some conflation going on here. While I would agree that a literal creation is quite necessary to the story told in scripture, I would disagree that a six day creation is. I believe that God literally created the world. I don’t believe He did so in six 24 hours periods. Ditto the flood: I’m skeptical that there was a world-wide flood personally. I don’t lose much sleep over the issue.

    #2) There might be Christians who claim to have some sort of final truth. There’s some really interesting debate coming from the emergent/post Modern Christians in this regard. A claim I will make is that Jesus was The Truth, in some unique and profound way. Like everybody else, when I’m outside of Jesus, I’m just a knucklehead pretty much making everything up as I go. The bible contains Truth, with a capital “T”. My little puny ant brain tries to carve it all up in interpretation and so much gets lost. Other interpretations aren’t any better.

    #3) I think that there’s an unfair comparison going on in the post. The writer focuses on sciences most current understandings and potrays science as some sort of universal balm. Yet he saddles religious believers with the whole of their own history.
    For the sake of consistency, it seems like a decision ought to be made. If skeptics get to leave out embarassments like phrenology, then religious folks get to leave out embarassments like persecuting Galileo. If skeptics get to ignore Stalin’s massacres (Or Cambodia’s killing fields or Hitler’s genocides) then theists get to ignore the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. To dictate the terms and saddle religious folks with the whole of their heritage but to pick and choose the things that potray the atheist in the most positive light is begging the question.

    Both Christianity and the scientific world view have changed. The fundamentals of both have not. Scientists still proceed through the scientific method. Christians still affirm God’s love and power and soviernity. But beyond these fundamentals, there are of course new developments.

    Here’s how I see the argument:
    #1) The only sorts of real Christians are Young Earth Creationists.
    #2) Young Earth Creationism is about to die.
    Therefore, Christianity is all but dead.

    The problem is premise 1. If I ran a similiar argument about science it would appear silly.
    #1) The only real science is the study of bumps on the skull. (Phrenology)
    #2) Phreneology is disproven.
    Therefore, sciene is dead.

  3. “YACs understand better than most Christians that a literal creation and Noah are fundamentally essential to Christianity.”

    I’ll sort of echo Jeff’s thoughts above. Christianity does, of course, teach that God is the creator of the world. However, a literal reading of the creation story as told in Genesis is NOT essential to Christianity.

  4. DTE says:

    Note well that none of Jesus’ slaves commenting have defended geo-centrism or demon possession.

    1. That the Gryffindor is not aware of developments in Christian circles renders it not my obligation to enlighten him.

    2. Of course a literal reading of Genesis– and Noah, and Jonah, and everything else– is necessary to Christianity. By faith you understand those things, according to the bible. Without the literal Adam and Eve stories, then there is no justification, due to Romans 5, and on and on. Moreover, if there’s no obligation to read the history of Genesis mythology as it’s written then there’s no reason to read the resurrection mythology as its written, despite its being “academic.”

    That less literal people have commented without understanding that Christianity hinges upon a literal Genesis does not change the fact, it only demonstrates their ignorance.

    3. The argument posited by jeffsdeepthoughts is not the argument—at all, because it assumes there is a “true” Christianity. There is not: All Christianity is Self-Projection as God. Fundies are only more consistent in their nonsense.

    4. I did not say that science will answer every possible question. I said the opposite, that Christians believe in “final truth” and that “Science, on the other hand, claims to have an incomplete, but increasingly comprehensive, understanding of reality.” That science has continued to ask and answer questions to the satisfaction of human inquiry, including Christians when those answers are contra the bible is an observable reality. I wonder if any Christians here—or anywhere—have considered the palpable reality of praying in hospitals or calling 911 before calling upon God or the countless other instances where their “true faith” is in reality and the crutch of mythological faith is leaned upon while the people (yes, human people) that can actually help do their jobs?

    5. It’s dumbfounding that any Christian (though someday I hope to get a real grasp upon the obtuseness of Jesus’ slaves) would say, “Yeah, well science changed, bucko!” when that’s precisely the point. Likewise, that Christianity changes is precisely the point: It changes to accommodate scientific knowledge (not to mention the penchants, predilections, and preferences of every individual Christian). Despite those accommodations, Christians continue to insist that they have some peculiar understanding of “final” or “absolute” truth.

  5. DTE–

    Please explain how a literal reading of everything in the bible (you said yourself above: “everything else”) is necessary to Christianity. There are many passages in the bible that are clearly not literal but are poetic, allegorical, figurative, etc. That doesn’t make them false or not true; it makes them a different form of writing. Of course, there are also several passages that people dispute whether they should be taken literally or not. Case in point: the Genesis creation story. However, it has been noted for centuries that this passage may not be meant to be literal (something I’ve talked about on my own blog)–literal/figurative/historical/cultural, etc…these are things that have been discussed, even before modern science had anything to say about the issue.

    Romans 5 is likewise one of those debatable passages, and has been for some time.

  6. Oops, submitted too soon.

    The debate with Romans 5 being…are we discussing spiritual or physical death? Of course, many YEC’s claim there was no death at all before the fall, but this would seem to contradict what happens in the story of the fall as told in Genesis (Adam was told he would die the day he ate the fruit–clearly he didn’t physically die).

    It has also been argued by many people (not sure how far back this goes, though) that Adam and Eve may not be literal people. For example, the word “Adam” in Hebrew means “man” or “the man”; it may be that these words were never meant to be seen as individuals. This wouldn’t change the spiritual truth of the story–again, it would just mean it’s not a literal historic account, just like the creation story is not a scientific account.

    I think it’s also worth noting that at times Paul seems to refer to Adam as an individual but at other times as representative of humanity. For instance…

    In Romans 5:12 we find that through one man sin entered the world but in 1 Timothy 2:14 Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    So who sinned first–Adam or Eve, the man or the woman? Paul assumes either in order to bring out different theological points from the account. This seems to indicate that Paul is stressing theology rather than a literal historical account.

  7. jeffsdeepthoughts says:

    #1) I’d like to return to the idea that it seems kind-of silly for somebody outside of a certain group to dictate to somebody within that group what counts as essential. Especially when the group is one where participation in the group changes fundamental experiences.
    The best paralell I can create that would make sense from a secular perspective is the following:
    I’m not a fan of rap music. As such, I am far from qualified to claim that such-and-such an element is an essential portion of being a rap fan. Even if I studied rap an in academic sense, people who enjoy it are clearly experiencing it differently than me. Therefore, it seems like if somebody from within the “world view” of being a rap fan told me that something wasn’t essential to being a rap fan, it would be incumbent on me to accept this claim.

    Secondly, I can’t and won’t deny that I believe I have more robust version of the truth than an atheist of a Budhist, in the sense that I believe I am right and they are wrong about certain things.
    But it seems like the agnostics are the only people who aren’t guilty of this charge. Atheists certainly are claiming that the truth they are arguing for is more consistent with reality than mine is. It therefore seems a bit disingenuous to say things like “Christians continue to insist that they have some peculiar version of the truth.” I’d be curious to hear why DTE isn’t guilty of exactly the same charge.

    I’m not sure which of my arguments DTE was referring to in his #3 above. If he (she?) is referring to my phrenelogy argument, it seems to me that the point is that DTE is assuming Christianity to be false, not that I’m assuming it to be true.

    Airtight noodle observes that there is plenty in the bible which is clearly not literal. Jesus taught most often in parables. It seems to me that the extremes of both sides– militant atheist and ultraconservative, reactionary Christians– have the same problem. The problem is that the world for them exists in only two categoires: Literally true or utterly false.

    I’d argue that there are cases where something being taken as literally true actually trivilizes. For example, if you said “The early bird catches the worm” It’d be silly if I started hunting for the bird that actually ate the worm. This would go beyond a misunderstanding. This overliteralization would preclude me from learning the real truth beneath the statement.

    As for demon possession…
    I’m a special education teacher. I worked with emotionally disturbed adolescents. I’ve got experience with very, very mentally ill kids. I had a student, once, who still bore the scars on his arms from where he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire because the voices told him to do it.
    If this isn’t demonic, I don’t know what is.
    I am not discounting the entire field of mental health or psychiatric medications. In honesty, my experiencing with most “Christian Counselors” is that they haven’t paid nearly enough attention to the wisdom that secular psychology and psychiatry has to offer. But again, it’s not an either/or proposition, considering mental illness and demon possession. It’s a both/and proposition.

    As for geocentrism, it’s been pointed out that Geocentrism wasn’t a uniquely Christian belief.
    Furthermore, I’m still unclear why, in this debate, science gets to pick and choose what it answers for yet Christianity has to answer for every foolish thing it’s ever believed, done, or suggested in any of its various forms.

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