Saturday, August 20, 2005

Still In The Middle-Ages

Why are some Christians painting themselves into a corner that will, eventually, exclude both God and science?

I read a story today about a dinosaur exhibit that is part of a "creationist" museum.

It is designed to bring kids in - because of the dinosaurs - and then tell them that dinosaurs did not live 65 million years ago as radio carbon dating shows, but lived less than 10,000 years ago, a figure arrived at by creationists as being consistent with what they have interpreted as Earth's "biblical age."

Creationists further assert that dinosaurs were present on Noah's ark even though the discovery of the existence of dinosaurs occurred around 1820 and there is absolutely no reference to them in ancient times or in the Bible.

The logic justifying this literal interpretation of the Bible is rooted in this premise put forth by the museum's founder, G.T. Sharp who said: "If we lose Genesis as a legitimate scientific and historical explanation for man, then we lose the validity of Christianity. Period."
That statement, to me, is astonishing.

It compares with the position of the Catholic church at the time when Copernicus (1473-1543) offered his theory that the earth revolved around the sun as opposed to the theory that had been proposed by Ptolemy (ca. 100 - ca. 170) fifteen hundred years earlier - which was endorsed by the Pope as being consistent with the Bible - that the sun revolved around the earth.

Because of the power of the church to suppress, Copernicus published his work anonymously at first and circulated it just among colleagues and friends. A later publication contained an introduction stating his work was "just" a mathematical theory which enabled the calculation of the positions of the heavenly bodies to be made more simply as opposed to being an actual description of physical reality.

It is speculated that had he come out and said he was describing physical reality, the work would never have been read. The Pope was a Biblical literalist and biblical interpretations claimed that man - and therefore the earth - was the center of the universe.

Copernicus himself knew there would be critics. In De revolutionibus orbium coelestium he writes:

Perhaps there will be babblers who, although completely ignorant of mathematics, nevertheless take it upon themselves to pass judgment on mathematical questions and, badly distorting some passages of Scripture to their purpose, will dare find fault with my undertaking and censure it.

He was correct.

Galileo (1564-1642), who embraced Copernican views of the universe, was put under house arrest and forced to recant them. (Misner, C. W.; Thorne, K. S.; and Wheeler, J. A. Gravitation. San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman, 1973, p. 38)

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) who refused to recant the truth was arrested by ecclesiastical authorities during The Inquisition and put on trial for his Copernican and other "real world" beliefs. After a seven year trial, he was put to death by burning.

Despite denials, torture and murder by scriptural literalists, today we enjoy amazing improvements to our lives through medicine and technology based upon the new ground charted by these early scientists.

It is ironic, therefore, that while Christians readily accept the mathematical science that gives them all the benefits of modern medicine and technology, they deny that same science when it is used in support of the theory of evolution.

However, denial did not stop truth in the Middle Ages and, God willing, it will not stop truth now.

Radio Carbon Dating, which proves that dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago - and not 10,000 years ago - cannot be denied, just as we cannot deny that the earth revolves around the sun.

To refuse to accept the truth is to embrace the same mindset of those who lived five hundred years ago and lacked our sophisticated technologies and testing.

In all fairness to those who are having trouble accepting a new paradigm for God's method of creation, just as Copernicus' theories completely changed humanity's world view of itself, so does carbon dating require a complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species. And large changes in human consciousness require time for transition.

However, it is troubling that some Christians cannot conceive of a God that creates through evolution, being ready to reject Him unless He has created magically like some Wizard in the sky.

This brings Jesus' words from Mark 12 24-27 to mind:

Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? He is not the God of the dead, [the ancient scriptures are in the past and about the dead, stop arguing about them] but the God of the living [who can help you be your best and most loving self today]. You are therefore greatly mistaken [in arguing about such things].

How God created the world is irrelevant. We know He created it because it exists and we feel Him. We see His hand in our lives.

So what is relevant?


Treating our fellow human beings as we would have God treat us. Continuing to evolve emotionally and spiritually because we still have a long way to go if we are going to fulfill God's desire for us and see peace on earth. Having a faith that requires no "facts" because we feel God in our lives. Taking time to seek silence each day and feel the Presence of God within us. Giving God's love instead of withholding it. Alleviating suffering and spreading joy.

That is what is important, not arguing that dinosaurs walked the earth ten thousand years ago when radio carbon dating has given us a timeline for the earth that spans hundreds of millions of years.

We can never win by making science and God mutually exclusive.

God created everything, including science. Why be afraid of it?

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29

If Jesus were here he would again ask us:

Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? Mark 4: 40

Scientists are getting very close to giving us proof of the existence of God. Once they do, like it or not, Christians will have to come out of the dark ages and accept that God created us through nature, through process and over a very long time. This is why pursuing peace is so critical.

It has taken millions of years for God to create us and bring us to this point. He means for us to be love incarnated on earth. We still have a long way to go.

Originally you were clay. From being mineral, you became vegetable. From vegetable, you became animal, and from animal, man. During these periods man did not know where he was going, but he was being taken on a long journey nonetheless. And you have to go through a hundred different worlds yet. There are a thousand forms of mind.

- Jallaludin Rumi

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! Acts 14:11

Do we really want to throw away His painstaking work - and our time here on earth - arguing about dinosaurs?


At 8/27/2005 7:25 PM, Blogger Jay Denari said...

Hi, Clyo,

I agree completely. The problem, however, is that these "christians" are so concerned with seeming to know and control their environment that they cannot deal with the possibility that they might be wrong about anything, so they simply ignore (or shout down) any evidence that opposes them. By using distorted and outdated ideas to argue over these things, they simply make themselves and, unfortunately, more rational Christians look foolish. They want to oppose a culture that asks questions, because such questioning ultimately challenges their influence and might eventually reveal how hypocritical, uncurious, and often criminal they themselves are.

Their views would be hilarious if they weren't so numerous and so serious about corrupting genuine discourse with them.


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