Creationists are always at war with science. Carl Sagan once said, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” Apparently, it is not for Christians, however. They seem to know more than science; they have the scriptures! While the Bible may look and read as if it was a book on spirituality, but do not be misled. Christians regard it as a textbook on science. Or, so goes the assumptions of many Christians.
Why do Christians continue to wage war with science? Instead of embracing science for what it may tell us about this mysterious universe, the church is becoming narrower in its thinking toward everything...science and astronomy notwithstanding. It is judgmental of virtually anyone who disagrees with its beliefs and values and has sought to use whatever means necessary, including the legislative branch of U.S. government, to impose its morality and social agenda, as well as its world-view, on others. More and more, the church is isolated from the real world and has created a make-believe one instead, a world that has little or no connection to life on this planet.
In my home state of Kentucky, for example, we have become the hosts to the twenty-seven million dollar, high tech, special effects Creation Museum. It’s our own Disney World, so to speak, similar to the fantasy kingdom outside Orlando, and equally as unreal. Conceived first by Creationists themselves, its supporters believe it provides people with the “correct” explanation on the origins of the universe.
In spite of the fact that virtually every reputable scientist believes the universe is many billions of years old, Creationists believe it is only about 6,000 years old. According to Creationists, the Genesis story of creation must be regarded as a scientific description of the origins of the universe. What they do not tell you, however, perhaps because they do not know, is that many devout scripture scholars do not believe this is the purpose of the Book of Genesis at all. Instead, they would suggest that the Genesis story of creation is a sacred but mythical story, portions of which may have been a poetic hymn sung in worship. Its purpose was simply to affirm that God, or Universal Intelligence, created all that is.
This explanation will not suffice for Creationists, however. They believe Genesis teaches the earth was fashioned in six, twenty-four hour days, even though the word translated “day” in our English Bibles could just as well mean “a vast expanse of time.” While this would be more consistent with what science has taught us about the actual age of the universe, Creationists insist that the word “day” must be taken literally—that is, as a twenty-four hour period. Their minds are fixed on this idea and there is no disagreeing with them.
Further, creationists believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted together. Whatever caused the extinction of dinosaurs, Creationists explain the presence of fossils, many of which carbon dating traces to millions of years ago, by maintaining that God placed the fossils in the earth with the mere “appearance of age.”
Appearance of age? Since when did God take up the art of deception, an art humans themselves perfected long ago? Why would God deceive people into thinking the earth is much older than it is, if it really isn’t? Who’s she trying to fool and why? Or, is this whole thing a cosmic joke and it is I who has missed the punch-line? Why would God, whom Creationists agree is a God who wishes to be known, make it all the more complicated to know her or him? If this is not insane, then what is?
I was raised among Creationists and once espoused the same narrow views held by most of them today. When I experienced a profound spiritual transformation in my own life, however, I suddenly realized, Creationists are afraid. They are frightened at the thought, if the creation story is not taken literally, the rest of the Bible might not be taken literally, either. And, if the Bible is not taken literally—or, so their reasoning goes—then the authority of the Bible is up for grabs, too. Moreover, if the Bible holds no authority over people’s lives, the end result is moral collapse, social chaos, and, ultimately, the end of the world—which is, ironically, the very thing for which many of them are praying almost daily. It is a convoluted and insane belief system.
Fear motivates the insanity of Creationists. They wage a religious and cultural war with science because they’re scared. They do not know this, and so would vigorously disagree with my perspective, but look for yourself. Creationists do everything in their power to defend their understanding of truth. What they do not know, however, is that spiritual truth never needs defending. It is only ever a weak, unexamined faith that needs defending.
So, why do many people have a weak and uncertain faith? Precisely because they haven’t examined it, questioned it. That is, they survive on what might be called, a “borrowed” faith, a belief system someone has passed on to them with the fallacious promise, if they just believe the beliefs, they will be “saved,” as they put it. Rather than questioning the beliefs, and searching for the truth themselves, they mistakenly think, it would be wrong to question or disagree with any of the beliefs. Consequently, they exist by clustering in groups of likeminded believers where they can reinforce for each other their untested assumptions and inherited beliefs. As a consequence, they live a sub-par existence in an environment divorced from the real world.
My own experience has taught me that, until you question your faith, look closely at its suppositions and assumptions, your faith will always feel under attack by something or someone. You may attempt to disguise a weak faith with religious pronouncements and actions that appear to others as if you are full of certainty about everything. But, you can be sure, beneath surface pretense hides a frightened and threatened little person.
Those who argue for God’s existence do so, not because they know he does, but because they’re afraid she doesn’t. Thomas Jefferson purportedly said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
There’s one other thing Creationists do not seem to understand. The battles they wage against what they see as challenges to their worldview will never—and, I repeat—never give them the victory they seek. Sure, they will win a few skirmishes here and there. But, in the end, they will lose the war. Waging war with anyone makes losers of everyone, which is, ironically, what their spiritual master, Jesus himself said. “All who use swords are destroyed by swords.” A contemporary spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, said the same essential thing, although in different words: “Whatever you fight, you strengthen. What you resist, persists.”
It is time for Christians to end this insanity. Let science, on one hand, tell us what it is designed to tell us and let sacred scripture, on the other, do what it is designed to do—provide a spiritual path to guide all who wish to know the Ineffable Reality we call God who is behind, beneath, and beyond science, creation, and scripture. I have found personal freedom in this approach, sanity in the midst of so much insanity.
I’ve written a book about this and other spiritual matters: The Enoch Factor: Sacred Art of Knowing God (TBR, Spring 2010).