Saturday, December 18, 2010

Villainous Confessions

Recently I had the pleasure of stumbling upon an excellent piece of literature:

The Villainous Confessions of a Young Earth Creationist by Jim Owen, an historican at The Master's College. It is a well-written response to evangelical Darwinists, especially Francis Collins' book The Language of God and Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Owen presents a penetrating critique of Collins and Noll--and a corresponding defense of the plain reading of Scripture. He does so, moreover, with great style, making this short book (104 pages on a downloadable pdf file) a very worthwhile  read.

To give you a taste, here is his introduction:

"Authors that undermine a scientific approach to the past are thus the poster villains of Noll’s book. For those of us who are Christian anthropologists, they are “Exhibit A” of the “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.”  Dean E. Arnold

I am a villainous man. The reader of this lengthy essay needs to be aware of this. It was not my intent to become such when I became a born-again, evangelical Christian in late 1970. However, somehow, in some way, along the way (sometime in the 1990s, I believe), I became a villain. And in the minds of an increasing number of evangelicals— not to mention assorted other Protestants, Catholics from the pope on down, unnumbered Orthodox, and grim, unsmiling Rationalists (are not all rationalists grim and unsmiling?) –there is an imaginary wanted poster with my face firmly implanted on it.

What have I done, what is my crime, what shocking heresy have I embraced to earn such notoriety? I am—but wait—if I confess you must promise, good reader, to hear me out, to read every page that follows, and not turn away in intellectual incredulity at my crime. It is only fair. Not that I am ashamed, you understand, but if I am going to confess to villainy, the least the reader can do is indulge me, yield me an hour or two in order that I might be thorough and you well informed, even if reluctantly.

And please, rest assured, although I suppose it doesn‘t matter considering the nature of my villainy, I have not denied any of the great doctrines of biblical/historical Christianity. The Trinity and the two natures of Christ are still secure in my presence. The vicarious nature of the atonement is a non-negotiable. I still adhere to those great Reformation principles of Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide. With Paul, Augustine, Luther, and a host of others, I, too, believe that man is justified by faith alone apart from works. I am even old fashioned enough to still believe that the Bible, from the first word until the last, is the Word of God, inerrant and infallible in the original autographs, although I will admit these terms have fallen on hard times among even evangelicals, especially among many evangelical academics, who no doubt frown impatiently at my anachronism.

I am villainous because I am a Young Earth Creationist. Yes, a Young Earth Creationist! I believe Genesis 1-11 is true, actual, factual history, that this is what the author intended to convey and the reader to understand. I believe in six, 24 hour days of creation, the special, unique, direct creation of Adam and Eve by God, the garden , the fall, the introduction of death thereby, man‘s rapid decline into unmitigated wickedness, the ark, the universal flood, the dispersion of the nations—whatever is recorded in Genesis 1-11—I believe happened as recorded.

When I became a Christian in 1970 I exchanged my humanism for Christ and with it evolution for creationism, a move I have never regretted. I also rejected day-age theories, gap theories, old earth-young creation theories, and those theories that tried to combine some evolution and some creation. They simply weren‘t convincing because they seemed disloyal to the text, that authorial intent was being deliberately ignored. To be honest, they seemed like desperately evasive maneuvers to avoid an impending doom, and reminded me of a cynical old adage that the truth is always to be found half-way between God and the Devil.

Soon, though, I was mingling with the wrong crowd. I started reading the literature of the early Young Earth Creationists, those who organized the Creation Research Society and later the Institute for Creation Research. I began corresponding with some of them, attending their lectures, and even becoming friends with some of them. Obviously, over the years, I took on the mannerisms and appearance of a YEC villain, one who was a dangerous roll model for callowed Christian youth...

Another excerpt, a few pages further, indulging in some futuristic fiction:

The last unincarcerated Young Earth Creation scientist, F. Orr Shure...was found guilty of violating the federal law against the dissemination of Young Earth Creation literature and sent to a re-education camp on June 23, 2024, where, it is speculated, he will spend a great many years being "cleansed" of any loyalty to Young Earth Creationism and a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11. (The whole incident is almost too traumatic to write about.) With Dr. Shure‘s internment it would seem the Young Earth Creation movement is all but over. At least one can fervently hope so. Optimism has proved premature to date. There are a few stray believers to hunt down but it is only a matter of time...

To celebrate the occasion, Christianity Today, published a lengthy essay detailing the harm the Young Earth Creation movement had done since its inception in the early 1960s, especially in misleading young Christians into believing evolution could be refuted and that Genesis 1-11 was true history not mythical allegory. The Pope, Darwin 1st, issued a letter expressing relief that the fires of such a notorious heresy was being extinguished so to speak, and asserting that there was no conflict between evolution and Scripture rightly interpreted. He also took the occasion to blame the Protestant Reformation, with its literal hermeneutic and belief that anyone could rightly understand the Bible, for making possible the rise of such a heresy as Young Earth Creationism in the first place.

The Evangelical Theological Society, which had declared in 2015 that anyone believing that Genesis 1-11 was real history was a heretic and banished from the ETS, agreed with the Pope and published an open letter in the fall edition of its journal bemoaning the intellectual embarrassment that the Young Earth Creation movement had brought upon the evangelical academic community. Two months after Dr. Shure‘s internment, IVP published Mork Nall‘s widely praised, An Evangelical Mind Scandalized No More, which Christianity Today promptly declared the book of the decade and is now in its 15th edition.

Dr. F. Orr "Moses II" Shure is a perfect, if tragic, example of why creationist literature was banned by the U. S. Congress in 2018. Dr Shure had been hired by The Master‘s College in 2017 to bring its Science department, and the college as a whole, into compliance with the California Department of Education, the United States Department of Education, the regional accrediting agency, WASC, and the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities, which had declared in 2015 that any Christian college teaching a literal, historical interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and Young Earth Creationism could no longer be a member of the Consortium. Such was necessary, its director intoned, "to protect the intellectual integrity and respectability of the Christian academic community before other academics."

Dr. Shure‘s credentials had been impeccable. He was a card carrying member of the American Scientific Affiliation and a noted theistic evolutionists who went so far as to deny that one could see, or needed to see, any direct evidence of God‘s hand in any aspect of evolution—he had only contempt for those who "preached" a God of the Gaps..

Few were more qualified than he to ferret out the last vestiges of Young Earth Creationism from The Master‘s College and bring it in line with all other evangelical colleges and universities. The Master‘s College was the last evangelical college to banish even mentioning, let alone teaching, Young Earth Creationism. Other evangelical schools began "cleaning house" as it were as early as 2012 in order, they claimed, to take their rightful place at the table of the broader and more open academic community. Fundamentalism with its entrenched commitment to Young Earth Creation was a barrier to such participation.

By 2011 house cleaning had become a juggernaut. First these evangelical schools "fired or retired" any Young Earth Creation professors. Next, they removed any professors who even presented Young Earth Creationism as an alternative possibility. Only professors who held to a theistic evolutionary position were retained or hired. Even professors who held to an "intrusive" form of Intelligent Design but were still evolutionists, were discharged or denied tenure, perhaps an unfair consequence of making sure any vestige of creationism as understood was eliminated...

Thus evangelical colleges and universities had by and large cleansed themselves of this plague, this fundamentalist "separatist" irrationality and anti-intellectualism by the time enormous pressure both secular and Christian was brought to bear on The Master‘s College in 2017.

Under increasing public pressure, a few state legislatures, from 2015 on, began passing various types of laws to curb if not abolish the spread of Young Earth Creationism. Home schooling was abolished and home-schooled students who had used any text that promoted direct intelligent design, let alone Young Earth Creation, were forbidden entrance into public colleges and universities. Young Earth Creation and Intelligent Design organizations were declared illegal and closed down, despite the protest of Intelligent Design organizations such as the Institute of Recently Discovered Design which declared that it abhorred Young Earth Creationism and believed in evolution.

In 2018, Congress passed what a few hyper-sensitive civil-rights types, such as the ACLU, labeled a "draconian" law labeling Young Earth Creationism hate speech and dangerous to the intellectual well-being and psychological self-esteem of American citizens, especially the children. This meant all Young Earth Creation material of any sort—books, monographs, CDs, internet sites, public talks—were banned and anyone using such material or advocating such material, or even supporting the right of people to possess and read such material, was at first to be cited and if they persisted, arrested, tried, and if found guilty interned in a re-education camp until cured of their delusion. It was amazing how quickly support for a Young Earth Creation and a literal Genesis evaporated, particularly after a few dozen leading Young Earth Creation "scientists", such as the notorious Dr. Joe Francis and Dr. Ross Anderson, and Old Testament scholars, such as the "wooden" literalist Dr. Stephen Boyd, were found guilty and sent off to re-education camps.

By 2020 Young Earth Creationism was becoming a forgotten bit of scandalous historical theology and a disgraced pseudo-science. Evolution was accepted and acknowledged and taught every place by everyone, every time. How sweet the victory.

Then Dr. F. Orr Shure turned traitor, became an enemy of sound academic learning, and a seducer of callowed youth.

How did it happen, how did a brilliant and well-respected theistic evolutionist, even, one might say, a theistic rationalist of Dr. Shure‘s stature fall to such a low estate, falling further, if you will, than the mythical biblical Adam he now proclaimed as real and historical?...

( read more at The Villainous Confessions of a Young Earth Creationist)


Robert Hagedorn said...

Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

Anonymous said...

all i can say is wow - sure glad i'm no yec fundie type

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there may be a new movement with in YEC. People like Todd C. Wood have stopped doing only polemics, and actually started doing research. The best way to accomplish the task ahead of us is to 1) know the philosophy of science 2) do original research in areas of science.

Scientific theories work according to paradigms, and until the prevailing paradigm is given up all other paradigms tend to be ridiculed.