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Creationists and Science
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Carl Sagan

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).

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Dr.Steve McSwain Foundation

Dr.Steve McSwain
Foundation for Excellence in Giving, Inc.
3105 Meadow Lark Ave.
Louisville, KY 40213
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Science and religion

Dr.Steve,
I have never understood all the hoopla about Creationism vs science! For me the two go together.when I read Genesis,and it speaks of god creating the world in six days,each day could have been millions or ever billions of years(after all God has always been and always will be.) The creationists narrow the power of god to the small minds of men.This is mind boggling to me,when one begins to study the universe and the billions of stars we can only see in our milky way,which is only a small part of the universe.I think the CReaton story was reduced to a form tht illiterte jews at the time could understand and realte to. Alot of things in the Bible are written to the culture of those times in which they were written. so I embrace both science and spirituality(not religion) believeing the universe wsas created by a force in ways that we are only beginning to guess at Gods wisdom and power are so far above us and that is the mystery.
The crreatonists are like the people back before Gallieo who thought the earth was flat and that the universe revolved aroubd the earth.each scientific discovery was persecuted,because small minds could not grasp the vastness of it. I just keep my mind open and find biblical archaeology fascinating.If I were younger I would go on a dig!
thanks for a good article!

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Creationism

The smartest guy I knew in High School said that he believed in creationism because 'you can't get something from nothing' Hard to argue with that. It's also pretty hard to argue with the huge body of evidence that has built up over the years indicating that not just the earth, but the universe itself, is billions of years old.
The sticking point for fundamentalist Christians seems to be trying to make the square peg of science fit into the round hole they have dug for themselves in insisting that every word in the Bible is literally true. It simply can't be done.
If you give up on trying to make a document that has been translated at least four times, not counting unwritten Hebrew sources, as still absolutely the literal truth, most of your problem disappears. I have no idea how God operates, and nobody else does either. Jimmy Carter used to say that the Bible is the revealed word of God, and that is not the same thing as saying it is the literal word of God. Humans can't be trusted to pass along a single sentence without somehow adding their own take to it-how could be possibly get a whole book through twenty-five hundred years and four translations?
Science is the search for objective truth and religion is the search for meaning. Faith is having a belief that cannot be supported by facts. I think all of that is pretty self evident. Just because my wife, a devout Baptist, finds strength and solace in the things written in the Bible does not mean she wants to silence anyone who has information to the contrary. If your faith is so unsure of itself that you can't allow assertions to the contrary to see the light of day, you really aren't a person of faith at all.

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David

 Thanks for your insights.  Agree with you thoroughly.

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Dr.Steve McSwain Foundation

Dr.Steve McSwain
Foundation for Excellence in Giving, Inc.
3105 Meadow Lark Ave.
Louisville, KY 40213
260-MCSWAIN
502-777-9426
www.stevemcswain.com