Teach creationism; undermine theology

By John Pickering 24/09/2013

My fellow science blogger Alison Campbell recently wrote a blog post entitled “teach creationism, undermine science”  in which she highlighted some of the concerns shared by many scientists.  As a Christian and as a scientist I believe the issue is far worse than the undermining of science.  Because so many teaching creationism are so well meaning it saddens me to say this, but the teaching of creationism is anathema to the Christian gospel.  Three reasons:

1. Creationism misrepresents the Bible.  When the Hebrews were standing on the banks of the Jordan wondering what would befall them should they cross, they were not asking “How did God create the world?” Rather, they were wondering if Yahweh who had led their parents generation out of Egypt, and seemed to be in charge in the desert, actually knew anything about farming across the Jordan.  It seemed to them that the local fertility gods must know something – after all it was a rich land.  The two stories of creation we now find in the book of Genesis speak to the fears of the Hebrews then, and in later generations to fears held when they were in exile.  The message is clear – Yahweh is in charge, and the so called gods (eg the sun and moon) are mere creations of his.  Those stories are definitely not scientific accounts – indeed science writing was not to be invented for thousands of more years. They answer “whose in charge” and “what’s my purpose” questions, not “How” questions.

2. Creationism rejects truth about the workings of creation which science has revealed. Science is a gracious gift which is to be cherished and put to good use.  It is under God’s sovereignty and requires the participation of his people. Indeed, creationism opts out of kingdom building, the task of the Church.  Our destination is not some super-spiritual, non-material eternal existence in heaven (indeed no where does the Bible explicitly say we will “go to heaven”), rather it is a new earth (material) where God dwells amongst us and God’s rule applies (heaven).  How this will come about, no-one can be certain, but our pursuit of knowledge through science and our applying that knowledge as good stewards of the Earth is part of the process of building the kingdom.

3. Creationism puts a stumbling block to faith. Sadly, propagating creationism results in an easy, and sometimes convenient, target for scientists who may otherwise be willing to listen to what Christianity has to say.  To use Paul’s terminology, it is a stumbling block. Many pupils taught creationism as a science will later learn the falsehood when they are exposed to all of science in its full glory. Sadly, many will react against Christianity and throw the baby out with the bathwater.  When this happens, those who taught those pupils creationism as if it were science will become accountable.

Tagged: Creationism, Education, Gospel, Kingdom of Heaven, religion, School, Science, Theology

0 Responses to “Teach creationism; undermine theology”

  • What christianity has to say is love thy neighbour and treat others as you might like them to treat you. Most other reasonable religions have sects that say the same thing. It is fairly universal.

    However they ALL say that a supernatural entity created the world. “Yahweh is in charge” says the same thing. There is nothing rational about this from a science point of view. The evidence looks pretty sketchy. I don’t know which part of being rationally wrong doesn’t get through.

    In the short time i was being indoctrinated in the christian church I was left in no doubt god created me and that at the time my shuffle from this life occurred that i would be drafted though the hot gates or the pearly gates. Apparently the choice was mine.

    I have difficulty in accepting that science is/was a “gracious gift”. It was modern man discovering that thinking out loud gave different reasons for life, the universe and everything. Some might consider it to be some supernatural “gracious” gift but that is akin to some considering a women who dialed a wrong number and in the process possibly saving someone’s life is a miracle.

    Uh uh. Sorry.

  • Hi Ross.
    Agree with love your neighbour etc… the bloke who said that also claimed divine status. That is the claim of Christianity distinct from other religions (not all of which claim a creator).
    Part of my criticism of creationism theology is that it tends to fall into arguments about science as if it could prove/disprove the existence of God. Many atheist fall into the same trap when responding to creationism theology. My response (to either) is simply to ask “Which experiment, when, proved/disproved the existence of God?”
    I wouldn’t expect anyone to accept my proposition that science is a gracious gift if they reject the existence of the giver in the first place.

    Rod – 🙂 Is my science somehow tainted (wrong?) because I am a Christian, or is it that my Christianity is somehow tainted because I am a scientist?

  • Hi John
    I don’t know your science or your Christianity so I can’t comment as to whether they are tainted or not; I do hope your Christianity is tainted by the science.

    To my mind, a Christian Scientist is the archetypical oxymoron. However, as your question implies, this is a glib response.

    As much as anything my comment is really an expression of amazement at our (human) ability to maintain two completely contradictory thoughts in our minds at the same time – classic doublethink – a perfect demonstration of the compartmentalisation of human thinking. In one part of your brain, a scientific thought process that values evidence and would not even contemplate the validity of any hypothesis without some hint of evidence in support, and at the same time, a religious thought process that values belief without evidence. We (scientists) all do it to some degree (leave our tool box at the office) – but it boggles my mind that you can engage in both thought processes in the same sentence.

  • OK then Rod, man of boggled mind 🙂 I don’t believe that it is as black’n’white as you make out to be. My science is full of beliefs. E.g. I believe that the scientific laws apply the same today, yesterday, forever and in all parts of the universe. Given how little of that realm in time and space we have explored, it is a massive assumption. However, without that belief experimentation would be a waste of time. I also believe that science is a worthwhile adventure -> science itself can not provide direct evidence for that because what is “worthwhile” has no objective scientific standard.

    That “religious thought … values belief without evidence” is a statement with which I have some sympathy because I myself do not value belief without evidence. My religious thoughts are based on historical evidence – developed much the same way as our courts deal with evidence for events happening in the past. They are not based on experimentation, but then it would be absurd to think that we could retrospectively apply experiments to historical events.
    In summary, it boggles my mind (:)) that you can see into my mind and make the judgment that is it compartmentalized in the way you describe it. In my mind, this is a classic case of argument from the particular to the general (or of transference) – you’ve taken somewhere, someone’s, statement of belief and managed to apply it to all religious thought (except, of course, your own thought about religion).

  • I have to say, it is a bugger having two bloggers using the same title of their post!!!! I thought I was (going?) nuts.

  • Hi John
    Boggling on…

    We’re getting off topic – and the discussion seems mostly pointless, so I’ll keep it short.

    ”I believe that the scientific laws apply the same today, yesterday, forever and in all parts of the universe “

    I don’t believe so. But I accept that it probably is so. But, my acceptance is based on evidence. The various conservation laws of physics (look up Noether’s theorem) lend support to the hypothesis, as do astronomical observations of star spectra extending to near the edge of the universe and back in time to close to the birth of the universe.

    “My religious thoughts are based on historical evidence – developed much the same way as our courts deal with evidence for events happening in the past.”

    Really? That’s wonderful news.

    best wishes John