Why are some Christians Young Earth Creationists?

It baffles many people whether Christian or not why some Christians are Young Earth Creationist, with a belief in a 10,000 year old earth and rejection of evolution. It cannot be denied that Young Earth Creationism has caused bad relationships among Christians, influenced education and results in much mockery from some. A major reason for the friction is that YEC’s claim explicitly or implicitly that the majority of Christians who accept modern science with the vast age of the earth and evolution are at best naughty or heretical Christians.

With YEC making inroads into churches (including the Church of England) and trying to call the shots over education in all parts of the world, it is best to know what they believe and why they do as they go against all scientific teaching and what most churches actually believe.

WHAT YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM IS;

As YEC attracted so much more heat than light, it is best to start with a general summary of YEC beliefs, though YEC is not monolithic.

  • The earth and universe are no more than 10,000 years old and this is supported by the best modern science.
  • Most of the fossiliferous strata from the Cambrian (550m.y.) to the Pleistocene (10,000yrs) were laid down in the Noachian Deluge. (There is some variation on this.) Below is flippant mocking of this
  • 10389436_10203030956276827_2185931412440811414_n
  • Dinosaurs lived alongside humans. The first is an exhibit at Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and the other two from creationist books
  • edendinos51gBlHMEfwL__SS500_dinopica
  • Evolution from the primordial sludge (goo) to humans (you) did not happen and is contradicted by true science.
  • During the Creation Week, God originally created “kinds”, e.g., horse kind, which has evolved through “micro-evolution” into related species.
  • Standard “evolutionary-uniformitarian” geology, biological evolution and cosmology are flawed and based on false assumptions. Evolutionary ideas are pre-conceived assumptions rather than conclusions from the scientific data, which to a YEC point to a young earth.
  • “Evolution” and “evolutionary geology” are based on atheistic assumptions stemming from the Enlightenment, including an insistence on randomness and chance, which excludes the possibility of a Creator God. Geology, with its long ages, is based on the assumption of evolution.
  • When the Bible is read correctly, without atheistic and Enlightenment presuppositions, the Book of Genesis only makes sense when read literally with a Creation in six solar days, a Fall resulting in the introduction of pain and death to the animal world, and that there was a world-wide deluge lasting a year during the lifetime of Noah. Only Noah, his family and two of every “kind” survived the flood. (This is alleged to be the traditional view of Christians.)
  • There are many minor tenets. A few YECs are also geocentrists, for example Bouw and Bowden.
  • And lastly Evolution is ONLY a theory
  • 168946_477433586556_727651556_6500443_8206770_n

I could refute each one in turn, but a simple list makes the beliefs stand out starkly. (I have dealt with many in other blogs.) However those who defend the sincerity of YECs may be shocked at what they actually beleive and that it is nonsense.

You can even play Creationist Bingo as the same sorry arguments appear often

creationist binjgo

THE APPEAL OF YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM

When I first heard about Creationism when I read a review of The Genesis Flood while working as an exploration geologist in the Namib desert, I simply burst out laughing and wondered how anyone could even suggest it. I soon found it was not that simple.

Creationism cannot be understood without grasping the deeply–felt reasons for believing what many scientists think nonsense. YEC provides the “scientific” capping to a “biblical Worldview”. This Worldview provides an all-embracing outlook on life and integrates every aspect of their lives. It also enables one to oppose non-Christian Worldviews and to be confident in the “Culture Wars. Here are most of the various reasons;

  1. The most important reason for accepting YEC is not a literal Genesis, but a concern for salvation through Christ. The heart of evangelical faith is redemption through the death of Christ, expressed as Substitutionary Atonement in that Jesus’ death forgives sin and takes away the penalty of death. To some this is dependant on their being no death before the Fall. It is supported by citing Genesis 3 and Romans 8.19ff
  2. There can be no death before the Fall. e.physical death came in at the Fall (Gen 3) and before that no animal died or suffered. If T. Rex had actually attacked and killed herbivores 100 million years ago, then the whole Christian Faith will collapse like dominoes, hence the geological timescale MUST be false. Q.E.D.! This is at the heart of YEC arguments.
  3. The Bible says so,. Applied to Genesis, that means Creation in Six days and a worldwide flood. A Young Earth model supports this scientifically, so YEC is the ONLY valid interpretation
  4. The Sabbath and that is dependent on a six-day creation and thus “billions” of years is wrong.
  5. .Hence as these four arguments are seen as essential to evangelical belief then a Christian must be YEC.
  6. Moral concerns In his book The Genesis Solution Ham argues that evolution leads to a decrease in marriage, an increase of suicides, euthanasia, pornography, abortions, promiscuity, sexual abuse, homosexuality, theft, violence, racism etc. Hence evolution is contrary to family values.
  7. Anti-reductionism or Nothing-buttery as Donald Mackay called it. I. e. everything is nothing but physics and chemistry and there is nothing distinct about humans. Reductionism often stems from a scientific materialist philosophy. Opposition to reductionism is widespread. Arthur Peacocke, biochemist and clergyman has opposed reductionism from a liberal theological position and founded the Society of Ordained Scientists in 1986 to facilitate this. The same with John Polkinghorne and Donald Mackay, and many members of the CIS and ASA, who reject YEC. However YEC is extreme anti-reductionism.

An excellent book which deals with all these issues and focussing on the Grand Canyon is;

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And more historically ;

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Not to mention many of my blogs

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19 thoughts on “Why are some Christians Young Earth Creationists?

  1. Paul Braterman

    Reblogged this on Primate's Progress and commented:
    Young Earth Creationism is not just a belief, but proof of allegiance to a very special group, the Real Christians (or, I now fear, Real Jews or Real Muslims). Once a belief assumes this function, rational criticism is counter-effective.

    (Of course you and I, dear reader, are not as others are, and would never allow our allegiances to shape our beliefs.)

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  2. John Wiltshire

    One of my YEC friends explained the order of the fossil record as follows:

    “The smaller mammals could run up-hill faster than the dinosaurs and survive for longer as the flood waters rose.”

    My response to “Evolution is ONLY a theory.” is “Yes but then, Christianity is ONLY a Religion.”

    This leads me to consider the integrity of science versus that of main-stream Christianity and I have the following questions that none of my Christian friends have been able to answer:

    Q1) How can you honestly assert that Jesus “died”. How could the Romans kill a God? As a God, the temporary human overcoat that was killed on the cross would have been a painful inconvenience and being rid of it would have been a welcome relief. A God would also have known that even the overcoat would be “alive” and free of pain or disability after an admittedly rough week-end during which, presumably the God would have remained alive. So what, exactly, do you mean when you say that Jesus “died” on the cross?

    Q2) Under what circumstances can the suffering of an innocent being be used as a currency in the payment of a debt? In any payment transaction the currency is of value to the entity receiving it. Why was the suffering of Jesus of value to God?

    Q3) Given that Eve didn’t have either parents or a formative childhood and had no experience of deception, isn’t it obvious that she was not her own person. Her, attitudes, standards, inclinations and knowledge would have been created for her – by God. God created Satan, gave him supernatural powers and allowed him to appear in the Garden of Eden. So that was an obvious set-up in which the supernatural powers of the Prince of Darkness were ranged against poor innocent little Eve who had never-ever encountered a fast-talking salesman of any kind.

    Q4) So the cosmic level of jealous retribution visited on the entire human race has to be an act of monumental injustice. God created the set-up and he created Eve’s mind-set. She was the ultimate scape-goat and the “sins” of the “artificial” parents were visited on all children from then on. As Darwin observed “… this is a damnable doctrine.”

    My point here is that main-stream Christianity is a feeder-chain for Creationism. If the standard myths of the Christian faith go unchallenged then they provide a widely accepted base-line platform offering support to even more dangerous extreme views.

    Any Christian who claims to be honest, truthful and of high intellectual integrity should be asked to answer the above questions.

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      1. David Lee

        The YECster would probably reply that the early sloth “kind” was lightning fast, the early velociraptor “kind” was sluggishly slow, but that subsequent exceedingly rapid and Godly “micro-evolution” then changed all that around. All of which is, of course, entirely “biblical”, isn’t it? Yeah, right.

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    1. Matt McClure

      John: Your statement (not a direct quote) of “Yes, Evolution is only a theory; but then Christianity is only a religion” really got my attention. It is a powerful statement. Its full applicability is that in reality, Evolution is not “only a theory” (as YECs view the word ‘theory’), and likewise Christianity is not “only a religion” as viewed by many non-Christians. Its applicability is that in context, both statements are wrong. Unfortunately, instead of applying your statement to the fullest applicable level, you appear to affirm the latter and deny the former by throwing bait to “any Christian who claims to be honest, truthful and of high intellectual integrity” in the form of four apparently unanswerable questions which have already been answered in some form or another within Christian apologetics for centuries.

      The four questions are based on a number of assumptions, but the two of most significance are: YEC is an accurate representation of Christianity, and Christianity is fundamentally no different from any other religious belief system. Obviously I don’t have hundreds of years of scholarly apologetics research at my fingertips to regurgitate onto an internet blog reply, so I will provide counterpoints to your four questions, albeit very briefly:

      Q1) Only an omnipotent God can pull this off. Jesus was both God and the Son of God as a human being. This was necessary in order for God to extend his Grace to humankind because humans are sinful due to free will, and the wages of sin is death.

      Q2) The reason why the suffering of an innocent (the person of Jesus) is of value for both God and humankind is that because that would be the only way to pay for the sins of the guilty. Otherwise, if Jesus were a sinner like the rest of us, then he would have died for his sins only and thus his death and resurrection would have no atoning effect whatsoever. Again, this was necessary in order for God to extend his Grace to humankind.

      Q3) Given your parameters, it would not be obvious that Eve was not her own person. She was, however, a person with the freedom to disobey (as are all of us), thus making disobedience inevitable. God allowed Satan to appear in the Garden for the same reason he put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden and told them not to touch it. God wants free-will created beings to have eternal fellowship with him, but such fellowship requires holy standards matching God’s, and such standards are gauged by God’s given laws which created free-will beings cannot possible completely maintain because created free-will beings are not holy like God is. God gives a law, we break the law, we are convicted of sin, the wages of sin is death, God loves us so much that he paid the wages by His Grace to reconcile his created free-will beings unto himself. Salvation by Grace through faith in Christ was always the plan.

      Q4) Darwin’s “damnable doctrine” statement is a completely backwards view of the Gospel, and reflects a very common misconception about Christianity which assumes that we human beings are fundamentally good enough to achieve ultimate success (eternal life) on our own, but instead God rigs the game so that we wouldn’t make it without accepting his terms. If this were true, it would be a damnable doctrine indeed. However, this IS the aforementioned assumption that Christianity is “only a religion” that is fundamentally no different from all the others. With the sole exception of Christianity, every religious belief system in existence involves the achievement of ultimate success entirely through self effort. Only Christianity acknowledges that we are fundamentally flawed and cannot achieve God’s holy standards even on our best day, and thus rely on the mercy and Grace God extends to us out of his love for us (John 3). Therefore Christianity is not fundamentally the same as all the others, but instead is fundamentally different, and therefore is not “only a religion”.

      BTW, I didn’t yet expound on the other assumption (YEC serving as an accurate representation of Christianity) because Michael Roberts has already has done so. A major theological problem with YEC (which is related to your question Q3) is that within the YEC paradigm, salvation by Grace was not always the plan but instead was a subsequent decision made by God when Adam & Eve sinned. This is directly related to the YEC core doctrine of an original “perfect” creation that got screwed up by Adam and introduced the existence of animal death which did not previously exist. Not only is this core doctrine demonstrably unbiblical, it undermines the Gospel by reducing it to “God’s Plan B” and it is completely irreconcilable with 2 Timothy 1:9.

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      1. John Wiltshire

        Hi Matt,

        I agree that the validity of “Yes, evolution is only a theory” depends, fundamentally on what the word “theory” is to be taken to mean. I use the term in the scientific sense that science is a theoretical model of reality and there are no certainties. I can easily argue that evolutionary theory is supported by mountains of substantiating evidence but I see no need to refrain from calling it a theory that will always be subject to revision. So in that case, I argue that my statement is true. If the YEC meaning alludes to the notion that a “theory” is merely a matter of opinion devoid of any substantiating evidence, then you are correct. Evolution is NOT “ONLY a theory” in that case and the YEC assertion is false.

        I will amend my remark to read “Yes, evolution is ONLY a scientific theory.” To clarify the point via the exclusion of other uses of the term.

        Your case that Christianity is not “ONLY a religion” is curious.

        The context here is that of how to determine the true nature of reality. Science does not claim to know anything for certain. It claims only to have amassed mountains of substantiating evidence that point to probabilities of its theories being good models of reality.

        If Christianity is not “ONLY a religion” where a religion is a cultural belief system, then what is it? Is it a source of certainty about the nature of reality? If so then I would say this:

        “Any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest. This is so even if what is believed is actually true because it cannot be known to be true.”

        Let’s take a case in point:

        MATT: Q1) Only an omnipotent God can pull this off. Jesus was both God and the Son of God as a human being. This was necessary in order for God to extend his Grace to humankind because humans are sinful due to free will, and the wages of sin is death.

        That sure sounds to me like an assertion that reality must be as you believe it to be. Where is your credible evidence that what you say there is true?

        MATT: Q2) The reason why the suffering of an innocent (the person of Jesus) is of value for both God and humankind is that because that would be the only way to pay for the sins of the guilty. Otherwise, if Jesus were a sinner like the rest of us, then he would have died for his sins only and thus his death and resurrection would have no atoning effect whatsoever. Again, this was necessary in order for God to extend his Grace to humankind.

        Your response there is tautological. You are attempting to answer the currency question by saying that the suffering can be used as a currency to pay the debt because if that wasn’t the case then the debt could not be paid. Why isn’t that like telling your bank manager that you got beaten up by muggers on the way to that bank and he must accept your suffering as payment because there is no alternative. I doubt that the manager would agree to that.

        In short: You are saying that suffering is currency because if it isn’t then the debt cannot be paid.

        The logical flaw in that kind of argument is obvious.

        MATT: Q3) Given your parameters, it would not be obvious that Eve was not her own person. She was, however, a person with the freedom to disobey (as are all of us), thus making disobedience inevitable. God allowed Satan to appear in the Garden for the same reason he put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden and told them not to touch it. God wants free-will created beings to have eternal fellowship with him, but such fellowship requires holy standards matching God’s, and such standards are gauged by God’s given laws which created free-will beings cannot possible completely maintain because created free-will beings are not holy like God is. God gives a law, we break the law, we are convicted of sin, the wages of sin is death, God loves us so much that he paid the wages by His Grace to reconcile his created free-will beings unto himself. Salvation by Grace through faith in Christ was always the plan.

        Remember that you are attempting to show that Christianity is not “Just a Religion”. What you say there sure sounds like religion to me. Do you honestly take the view that the Genesis story is an accurate account of events that actually occurred? Where is your credible evidence for that?

        MATT: Q4) Darwin’s “damnable doctrine” statement is a completely backwards view of the Gospel, and reflects a very common misconception about Christianity which assumes that we human beings are fundamentally good enough to achieve ultimate success (eternal life) on our own, but instead God rigs the game so that we wouldn’t make it without accepting his terms. If this were true, it would be a damnable doctrine indeed. However, this IS the aforementioned assumption that Christianity is “only a religion” that is fundamentally no different from all the others. With the sole exception of Christianity, every religious belief system in existence involves the achievement of ultimate success entirely through self effort. Only Christianity acknowledges that we are fundamentally flawed and cannot achieve God’s holy standards even on our best day, and thus rely on the mercy and Grace God extends to us out of his love for us (John 3). Therefore Christianity is not fundamentally the same as all the others, but instead is fundamentally different, and therefore is not “only a religion”.

        That’s another curious argument. The existence of the many religions of history stands as a powerful testament to the obvious propensity that humans demonstrate for inventing imaginary supernatural beings to explain the world, believing that they really exist and then worshiping them for fear of incurring their wrath.

        Logic demands that, if there are ( n ) mutually incompatible religions then at least ( n – 1) of them must be wrong. Your case that they are not all wrong is simply that Christianity is different but of course, being different doesn’t make it true.

        The ( n – 1) statistic characterises “religion” as that which is very probably wrong. So you have an uphill struggle of the first order if you are to find credible evidence that Christianity is actually an accurate model of reality and not just another religion.

        So far, you seem to be confirming that Christianity is indeed “Only a religion.”

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      2. Matt McClure

        Hi John:

        Yes, the statement “evolution is only a theory” is true given the scientific usage of the word “theory” (just like Cell Theory and Plate Tectonic Theory), but false given the misconception that a scientific theory is an untested unsubstantiated guess. And since we don’t base scientific terms on pseudoscientific misconceptions, well, I think we are full agreement on this one.

        Concerning Q1, I answered your question “How can you honestly assert that Jesus died if Jesus was God?” Both your question and my answer operated off the same assertion of reality.

        Concerning Q2, The tautology you speak of is broken by what I said concerning what God wants, which is for free-will created beings to have eternal fellowship with him and what it would take to make it happen. My statements on Grace already explain this. The bank analogy doesn’t work because Grace is not factored into the analogy, but instead operates off the idea that I had the ability to pay the debt before getting mugged and that I can set the terms for the debt forgiveness because I was mugged.

        Concerning Q3 & Q4, My point was that the statement “Christianity is only a religion” is based on the assumption that all religious belief systems are fundamentally the same and there is nothing fundamentally different about Christianity. I explained why, doctrinally, that is not true. As far as “what you say sure sounds like religion to me”, bear in mind that atheism is a religious belief as well because it takes the religious position that God does not exist. When I said “with the sole exception of Christianity, every religious belief system”, I include atheism/secular humanism/agnosticism in that list. They take positions on religious belief and their criteria for success is self-effort, just like all the others. Thus based on your formula, either (n-1) religious belief systems are incorrect (making 1=Christianity), or (n) religious belief systems are incorrect, which makes atheism incorrect either way.

        Now you ask a new question “Where is your credible evidence…?” The doctrinal uniqueness of the Gospel among every other religious belief system should be sufficient for you. Another would be the unique ability of humans to ponder this question in the first place. But if you find this insufficient still, consider the following:
        The God of the Bible is described as a transcendent supernatural deity and not made of empirical matter and energy. Therefore the expectation that there must be empirical evidence to confirm the existence of a transcendent supernatural deity is a straw man. Likewise, the rejection of the existence of such a deity because the deity is not empirical is a tautology.
        You say that any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest. There is no credible empirical evidence that a transcendent supernatural deity does not exist, nor can there be. I express faith that God exists. If you find that dishonest, then how is having faith that God doesn’t exist any more credible? I do not wish to have an endless God-vs.-no-God debate. If you reject the existence of God, that is your choice. Just don’t tell me it is based on credible evidence.

        Take care,
        Matt

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      3. John Wiltshire

        Hi Matt,

        MATT: Concerning Q1, I answered your question “How can you honestly assert that Jesus died if Jesus was God?” Both your question and my answer operated off the same assertion of reality.

        I don’t understand what you mean by that? It seems to be a rather empty observation. You have not answered the question. I see no clarification of the sense in which Jesus “died”.

        MATT: Again, this was necessary in order for God to extend his Grace to humankind.

        My questions concern the nature of that necessity. Your response simply states that it IS a necessity thereby making it an interesting constraint on what God can do.

        So the general form of your response is still tautological. The suffering is necessary because it is necessary.

        The question remains unanswered. The notion that God would not be able to extend his grace to humankind without the suffering of his innocent son remains enigmatic in itself and inadequate as an explanation of why that suffering is necessary. The inability to extend Grace in the absence of the suffering is an interesting consequence and not and explanation of the mechanism by which the constraint operates.

        So what causes the suffering to be necessary? Why is it a currency that can be used to pay a debt and result in the delivery of Grace?

        MATT: Concerning Q2, The tautology you speak of is broken by what I said concerning what God wants, which is for free-will created beings to have eternal fellowship with him and what it would take to make it happen. My statements on Grace already explain this.

        Your statements on Grace simply re-state that the suffering is necessary they do not explain why it IS necessary to remove a constraint on the actions of God extending his Grace.

        So the tautology remains.

        MATT: The bank analogy doesn’t work because Grace is not factored into the analogy, but instead operates off the idea that I had the ability to pay the debt before getting mugged and that I can set the terms for the debt forgiveness because I was mugged.

        The purpose of the analogy was to illuminate the concept of what is, and what is not, taken to be a currency. Your statements about Grace relate to the consequences of no-suffering resulting in a constraint on God’s ability to extend Grace. There is no explanation of why that constraint applies.

        So the tautology remains. Your response is of the form:

        “The suffering is necessary because it is necessary.”

        MATT: Concerning Q3 & Q4, My point was that the statement “Christianity is only a religion” is based on the assumption that all religious belief systems are fundamentally the same and there is nothing fundamentally different about Christianity. I explained why, doctrinally, that is not true.

        No, that is not so. The term “religion” is generic not specific. There is no implication that all religions are identical. As we did with “theory” we need to agree what we mean by the term. For me a “religion” is a belief system based on faith and standing in stark contrast to a science based on objective experiments and logical deductions.

        Clearly, Christianity is a religion. You are attempting to make the case that it is more than that and I am very interested in those attempts.

        MATT: As far as “what you say sure sounds like religion to me”, bear in mind that atheism is a religious belief as well because it takes the religious position that God does not exist.

        If that is what you mean by “atheism” then I agree. Proving that it is not possible to prove that God does not exist is a simple matter. We are mere mortals stumbling towards an understanding of our world. We cannot prove that supernatural entities or even super-aliens do not exist. We can however, look objectively for evidence that they do.

        MATT: When I said “with the sole exception of Christianity, every religious belief system”, I include atheism/secular humanism/agnosticism in that list.

        With that definition you exclude my alignment from your considerations because I can prove that it is not possible to prove that any god does not exist. I do not therefore assert that the non-existence of gods must be a feature of reality.

        MATT: They take positions on religious belief and their criteria for success is self-effort, just like all the others. Thus based on your formula, either (n-1) religious belief systems are incorrect (making 1=Christianity), or (n) religious belief systems are incorrect, which makes atheism incorrect either way.

        It is a matter of simple logic that if Christianity is true then atheism (as you define it) is false.

        You now seem to be trying to argue that you should be allowed to assert that Christianity is true because atheists (as you define them) assert that God does not exist.

        That’s the “You do it too” tactic and it doesn’t work on me because I do not do it too. As stated before, my position is this:

        “Any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest. This so even if what is believed is actually true because it cannot be known to be true.”

        So your atheist who asserts that reality must be such that no god exists is dishonest. Even Richard Dawkins would agree with that.

        MATT: Now you ask a new question “Where is your credible evidence…?” The doctrinal uniqueness of the Gospel among every other religious belief system should be sufficient for you. Another would be the unique ability of humans to ponder this question in the first place.

        So you cite what you consider to be credible evidence that supernatural intelligent entities exist as characterised by the Gospel and human consciousness.

        MATT: But if you find this insufficient still,

        I find it woefully insufficient. Many of the ( n – 1 ) religions have their sacred scriptures thereby reflecting the propensity for all human cultures to invent gods and adopt stories about them as cultural icons. The possibility that Christianity is not true cannot be discounted.

        MATT: consider the following:
        The God of the Bible is described as a transcendent supernatural deity and not made of empirical matter and energy. Therefore the expectation that there must be empirical evidence to confirm the existence of a transcendent supernatural deity is a straw man.

        You have just made an attempt to present empirical evidence? Now you argue that empirical evidence isn’t required. Why would anybody believe in Christianity if the Gospel didn’t exist?

        The “strawman” you describe there is the basis of all science. Before any conjecture about the nature of reality can move on to being a hypothesis and then a theory, there must be empirical evidence – feedback from reality.

        In the light of what it has achieved and how it has achieved it, your view that science is a “strawman” is unjust and rather misguided.

        MATT: Likewise, the rejection of the existence of such a deity because the deity is not empirical is a tautology.

        I can prove that it is not possible to prove that gods do not exist. So that tautology is not a component of my considerations. The important distinction is between “Not true” and “Not proven”.

        MATT: You say that any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest.

        Yes, indeed I do.

        MATT: There is no credible empirical evidence that a transcendent supernatural deity does not exist, nor can there be.

        As stated above, I can prove that it is not possible to prove that gods do not exist. However, the absence of credible evidence that they do is a powerful indicator that we should take account of in the regulation of our affairs.

        MATT: I express faith that God exists.

        You expression there is of a religious kind. The followers of all ( n ) religions express similar beliefs. Such is their right. I classify them all as being religious.

        MATT: If you find that dishonest, then how is having faith that God doesn’t exist any more credible?

        We have yet to reach an agreement on what “faith” is to be taken to mean. My statement about dishonesty is quite clear:

        “Any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest. This so even if what is believed is actually true because it cannot be known to be true.”

        I make no assertion that reality must be such that gods do not exist. So I cannot be hoisted by my own petard on that further use of the “You do it too” tactic.

        MATT: I do not wish to have an endless God-vs.-no-God debate. If you reject the existence of God, that is your choice. Just don’t tell me it is based on credible evidence.

        I cite the success of the scientific model of reality as a testament to the ability of humans to understand the reality of their world. Gods do not figure in that model and “faith” is explicitly prohibited by the scientific method.

        Science can prove that it cannot prove that gods do not exist.

        If you assert that the Christian God exists and all of the other gods do not then you add weight to the notion that Christianity is “ONLY a religion”.

        Regards
        John

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      4. John Wiltshire

        As so often happens, my “seemingly unanswerable questions” have not been answered?
        Does this matter?
        Yes it does and here is why…
        The reason why relates to the concept of “feeder chains”.
        Both religion and science are “conditioning systems” to which intelligent young minds are exposed with the intention of pointing them in a direction.
        There is only one valid direction.
        The one that points to the truth.
        The truth has a crucial characteristic.
        It cannot, by dint of a valid argument, be shown to be false.
        However, truth seeking comes with an obligation.
        That obligation is a willingness to respond to interrogation and challenge.
        Only the truth can, in the limit, survive all challenges.

        Let the truth prevail.

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      5. Matt McClure

        John, I am not saying that Christianity is not a religion, but am arguing with your premise that Christianity is “only” a religion in the sense that it is fundamentally no different from any other religious belief. Grace is a concept unique to Christianity and is diametrically opposed to the achievement of ultimate success by self effort present that is present in every other religious belief system. Therefore if one argues against the basic tenets of Christianity under the paradigm of success through self-effort, which you are apparently doing, then Christianity will not make sense to you. Thus you continue to claim that your “unanswerable questions” remain unanswered, when in actuality I have addressed them, but we’ve been through this already.

        “I cite the success of the scientific model of reality as a testament to the ability of humans to understand the reality of their world. Gods do not figure in that model and ‘faith’ is explicitly prohibited by the scientific method.”
        The scientific method is a methodology to understand the realities of the natural world, but you take it a step further in asserting that the scientific method is a model of reality in total. In other words, you have made a faith decision that all of reality is under the reach of the reach of the scientific method and then cite the scientific method as “proof” of it. That is a tautology. The scientific method cannot “prohibit” faith because faith is not empirically testable.

        “I can prove that it is not possible to prove that any god does not exist. I do not therefore assert that the non-existence of gods must be a feature of reality.”
        But you have asserted it. You have claimed that belief in God is a result of “the obvious propensity that humans demonstrate for inventing imaginary supernatural beings” for the expressed purpose of explaining the unexplainable, thereby asserting that this is not the result of an actual existence of God which placed such a propensity into humanity in order to get us to search for God.

        It seems that you are trying to exempt yourself from the demands you place on others.

        “I can prove that it is not possible to prove that gods do not exist. So that tautology is not a component of my considerations. The important distinction is between ‘Not true’ and ‘Not proven’.”
        Again, you base your acceptance of the entirety of reality on what science can prove, and science is not supposed to do that. You have made a faith-based decision concerning claims of reality.

        “Science can prove that it cannot prove that gods do not exist.” Actually, science cannot even do that. In order for science to “prove” anything, it must test hypotheses with data; and in order to do that, there must be an empirically-testable hypothesis to begin with. Instead, you have made an affirmative statement based on zero empirical evidence. The presence or absence of a transcendent supernatural deity is completely unapproachable by the scientific method, and by extension so is your claim. Then based on your claim, you refer to anyone who believes in the existence of God as dishonest. By basing your beliefs on this claim, are you not doing the same thing based on your own criteria? By trying to make it sound that everyone who doesn’t believe as you do is “dishonest”, how is that any different from any other judgmental dogmatically-religious person?

        Note that I have not called you dishonest. My point is that you are not exempt. Everyone who has ever thought about the existence of a deity and has decided on what to believe has made a religious decision and has a religious belief. There is no such thing as absence of belief once the thought has crossed your mind.

        Science is a natural way of knowing nature, nothing more and nothing less. Science is science. The difference here is that the scientific community (or at least most of it) acknowledges that matters of faith are not ascertained by the scientific method, and therefore accept that the scientific method does not determine belief in the existence of a transcendent supernatural deity or deities. Conversely, to accept as “reality” only what science can prove involves placing faith in science as a “model of reality”, despite zero credible evidence that science can do that.

        In other words, what you believe is “only a religion”.

        Cheers.

        Like

      6. John Wiltshire

        Hi Matt,

        You seem to be having a fascinating argument with a strawman.

        In part, that could be because I have not stated my position sufficiently clearly so, in addition to other issues, I’ll indicate where and why your strawman does not correspond to my position.

        1) GRACE

        You say “Grace is a concept unique to Christianity” and that is not true. Many religions embrace the concept of Divine Grace, for example:

        HINDUISM: The ancient sage Vasistha, in his classical work Yoga Vasistha, considered Grace to be the only way to transcend the bondage of lifetimes of karma. “Lord, though by your grace I have reached the state of self-fulfilment”.

        ISLAM: Prophet Muhammad once said that “None amongst you can get into Paradise by virtue of his deeds alone … not even I, but that Allah should wrap me in his grace and mercy.”[27]

        I agree that Christianity does not make sense to me even though I was exposed to intense indoctrination for 15 years from the cradle to the dawning of my enlightenment. Hence my questions to those who claim to understand it.

        You say that you have “addressed” these questions and your response centres around Grace as the feature that makes Christianity more than “just a religion”.

        As stated above, Grace is not unique to Christianity and even if it was, it remains a religious concept that cannot therefore make Christianity more than “just a religion”.

        So yes, you have addressed my questions but you have not delivered any credible answers to them. You have not explained how Jesus could have “died” and you have not explained the mechanism by which the suffering of an innocent man can me used as a currency in the payment of a debt.

        2) THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD

        You say “… but you take it a step further in asserting that the scientific method is a model of reality in total.”

        I make no such assertion, that is your strawman speaking not me. I concur with the famous remark by J B S Haldane: “Not only is the Universe queerer than we suppose, it may well be queerer than we CAN suppose.” That is hardly a proclamation of “faith” that science can ever be all encompassing and there is no tautology there.

        You say “The scientific method cannot “prohibit” faith because faith is not empirically testable”.

        That looks like a misconception to me. Ever since Galileo pointed it out, human subjectivity in all its forms has been seen as having no place in objective scientific endeavour. A good example is the protocol of “Double Blind” testing of medicines. Even the experimenter is not permitted to know which pill is the medicine and which is the placebo because his “faith” in either direction can affect the results obtained.

        In short “Faith is prohibited by the Scientific Method”.

        Of course faith can be studied scientifically. Even your posts are evidence that you have a religious faith in the Christian God.

        You say “You have claimed that belief in God is a result of “the obvious propensity that humans demonstrate for inventing imaginary supernatural beings”

        If you spell “God” as “god” then I have no problem with that. The point is that the ( n – 1 ) false gods are necessarily imaginary and clear evidence of the propensity.

        If there is a one true God who “placed such a propensity into humanity in order to get us to search for God” then that doesn’t seem like a good move to me. Even the Duke of Edinburgh is worshiped as a God and the Cargo Cults build wooden model aeroplanes as offerings to the spirit in the sky who once ( during WWII) dropped valuable cargo onto their remote island homes. So it seems that only old god will do.

        The explanation coming from Evolutionary Psychology is far more compelling than your “God did it” supposition.

        So, unlike your strawman, I am not attempting to exempt myself from anything. I am a Truthseeker with a maxim:

        Falsehood abhors inquiry
        The Truth invites it.

        So I go further than merely not claiming exemption. I invite inquiry.

        2) SCIENCE PROOFS

        You say “’Science can prove that it cannot prove that gods do not exist.’ Actually, science cannot even do that.’

        Your strawman may not be able to do that but I, and any Haldane inspired scientist can.

        There are many questions that science is currently unable to answer, for example, “Why is there something rather than nothing” or “How is human conscious awareness generated?” Consequently, science is able to prove that it cannot currently answer these questions. That doesn’t mean that it never will be able to but Haldane cautions us against having “faith” that it will be able to. So, unlike your strawman, we have no such faith.

        However, the current issue is not about real things it is about all those imaginary ( n – 1 ) gods. Because they are imaginary, we can indulge in “attribute saturation” and imagine that they exist outside the reality that science can ever have access to. Under those circumstances science can logically deduce that it will never be able to prove that such gods do not exist. Easy really.

        QED

        3) DISHONESTY

        You say “Then based on your claim, you refer to anyone who believes in the existence of God as dishonest. By basing your beliefs on this claim, are you not doing the same thing based on your own criteria? By trying to make it sound that everyone who doesn’t believe as you do is “dishonest”, how is that any different from any other judgmental dogmatically-religious person?”

        That may well be how your strawman states it. I state it as follows:

        “Any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest. That is so even if what is believed is actually true because it cannot be known to be true.”

        That statement is a defining principle of the scientific method. So it isn’t just me.

        You say “The difference here is that the scientific community (or at least most of it) acknowledges that matters of faith are not ascertained by the scientific method, and therefore accept that the scientific method does not determine belief in the existence of a transcendent supernatural deity or deities.”

        For once I am in agreement with your strawman. Belief in deities is religion not science which has been unable to confirm their existence.

        But then you say . “Conversely, to accept as “reality” only what science can prove involves placing faith in science as a “model of reality”, despite zero credible evidence that science can do that.
        In other words, what you believe is “only a religion”.”

        Your strawman is clearly confused. No scientist would ever assert that the only things that exist are those that have been proven to exist by science. Science has not proved that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe and it would never dream of asserting that therefore it doesn’t.

        Haldane reminds us that there is no inherent reason to suppose that we will ever be able to understand everything. So there are no “religious beliefs” involved.

        So your continued attempts to use the “You do it too” tactic have failed. I do not do it too and your strawman misrepresentations of my position should be reconsidered. You have no moral right to misrepresent my position.

        Your failure to answer my questions has added further weight to the notion that “Christianity is only a religion”.

        Regards

        John.

        Like

    2. Darrin Hunter

      1) In the Incarnation, a single divine Person assumed or took on human Nature. Everything this one divine agent does, he does in either his divine Nature or his human Nature. So God dies, but only in his humanity, his divinity doesn’t cease to live. And at the exact same time, Christ is immutable in his divinity but not his humanity.

      2) The western church, especially Protestants have pushed to a preeminant place the image of paying for salvation as a legal or financial transaction, yet this is quite novel from the church of the first millennium and more. The Father is not sending his divine Son because he is so pissed off at men and needs someone to assuage his anger and pay reparations. He so loved the world that he became man because we had become enslaved to sin and death and this had to be destroyed from the inside. It’s an ontological rescue operation, not a juridical plea bargain. In Orthodoxy, we say Christ trampled down death by his death, taking it captive and freeing those who were held thereby. He has joined man and God IN HIMSELF, therefore he can present back to the Father the glory of the creature far exceeding what “Adam” was and failed to become.

      3) If you read Genesis like a fundamentalist, you will only see absurdities.

      4) Again, the eastern and ancient church doesn’t hold to original guilt but calls it ancestral sin. As Romans 5 states, it’s not sin that is transferred father to son, but death is passed on. Mortality and corruption, not sins and guilt. Persons sin, Natures do not. Christ takes on our mortal, corrupted (not sinful) Nature and heals it.

      In an Evolutionary creation view, Adam and Eve may or may not be literal persons. If they were, they likely were two from among a population. In accordance with Israel’s proximity and even captivity in the Ancient Near East, they told their own creation story in distinction from those around them, albeit with many of the same ideas and cosmic geography.

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      Reply
      1. John Wiltshire

        Hi Darrin,

        DARRIN: 1) In the Incarnation, a single divine Person assumed or took on human Nature. Everything this one divine agent does, he does in either his divine Nature or his human Nature. So God dies, but only in his humanity, his divinity doesn’t cease to live. And at the exact same time, Christ is immutable in his divinity but not his humanity.

        Are you talking about reality or the tenets of a religious belief system?

        You seem to be confirming that Jesus didn’t die?

        DARRIN: 2) The western church, especially Protestants have pushed to a preeminant place the image of paying for salvation as a legal or financial transaction, yet this is quite novel from the church of the first millennium and more. The Father is not sending his divine Son because he is so pissed off at men and needs someone to assuage his anger and pay reparations. He so loved the world that he became man because we had become enslaved to sin and death and this had to be destroyed from the inside. It’s an ontological rescue operation, not a juridical plea bargain. In Orthodoxy, we say Christ trampled down death by his death, taking it captive and freeing those who were held thereby. He has joined man and God IN HIMSELF, therefore he can present back to the Father the glory of the creature far exceeding what “Adam” was and failed to become.

        You seem to be skirting around the currency question there but I see no answer to it?

        DARRIN: 3) If you read Genesis like a fundamentalist, you will only see absurdities.

        Indeed so.

        DARRIN: 4) Again, the eastern and ancient church doesn’t hold to original guilt but calls it ancestral sin. As Romans 5 states, it’s not sin that is transferred father to son, but death is passed on. Mortality and corruption, not sins and guilt. Persons sin, Natures do not. Christ takes on our mortal, corrupted (not sinful) Nature and heals it.
        In an Evolutionary creation view, Adam and Eve may or may not be literal persons. If they were, they likely were two from among a population. In accordance with Israel’s proximity and even captivity in the Ancient Near East, they told their own creation story in distinction from those around them, albeit with many of the same ideas and cosmic geography.

        But the currency question remains unanswered:

        “Under what circumstances can the suffering of an innocent being be used as a currency in the payment of a debt?”

        Like

  3. phuzz

    I was brought up in a Church of England environment, and I don’t think any priest or teacher ever told me that the Bible was literally true in every word. The more scientifically unlikely parts, such as the creation story, were thought of in the same was as the parables in the new testament, ie, the message was more important than the literal truth.
    I’m not religious now, but I remember when I first properly ‘got’ evolution thinking that it made much more sense to me that an omnipotent god who invented evolution, and set the starting conditions just right to eventually produce humans, was more impressive than version in the bible.

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  4. Pingback: Why are some Christians Young Earth Creationists? | Letters to Creationists

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