Gene Expression

This is faith!

Rock of Ages, Ages of Rock:

. To the young-earth creationists, this is both unscientific and dubiously religious. “We don’t subscribe to this idea of the ‘God of gaps,’ meaning if you can’t explain something, then blame God,” Whitmore told me before describing a method that hardly seemed more scientific. “Instead, we think: ‘Here’s what the Bible says. Now let’s go to the rocks and see if we find the evidence for it.’ ”


The whole story is a sad tale of a few credentialed geologists making their stand with their perception of a literal Bible against the consensus of their field. In Evolution: What the Fossils Say Donald Prothero points out that “Flood Geology” is totally useless for prosaic but necessary activities such as the discovery of oil fields. Geologists trained in the Creationist tradition never maintain their adherence if they are employed in industry because only standard models work and yield any predictive utility. But another issue I have to wonder is how broad the educations credentialed Creationist scientists are, I doubt that St. Augustine, John Calvin or even Martin Luther1 would stand by them in their quixotic rejection of the mainstream. Scholars fluent in the original languages of Christian scripture, whether it be Hebrew or Greek, are well aware that a naive literalism falls apart due to the critical importance of context and the translator’s choice of word and phrase. Literal interpretations are fine in theory, but when you are dependent on the translations of a human you introduce and element of inevitable distortion because you see the text through another’s subjective perceptions. And as it is there are obvious inferences one can make from passages in the Bible which are false (e.g., the implication that the world is flat in portions of the Hebrew Bible). Of course I know that many American fundamentalists hold that the King James Version of the Bible was translated with the aid of the Holy Ghost, eliminating human error. How convenient, no need to learn ancient languages! Plain English will suffice.

In any case, I do think it is important to remember that Protestantism fundamentalism of the current age is a product of the late 19th century. Flood Geology and the Young Earth Creationist movement emerged during the 1960s, and as Ronald Numbers has documented the central ideas are drawn from the works of Seventh Day Adventist thinkers. Not only do most Christian churches not believe that Creationism is a necessary implication of their religion, but the form of Creationism which some fundamentalists believe is a corollary of their Christian faith is itself of a child of recent generations, and of a marginal sect.

1 – Martin Luther did heap scorn on Copernicus’ heliocentric model, but do note that this was an new theory at the time.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave Briggs
    December 4, 2007

    This was a good post!
    I am new to science blogs.com. I came for the science and didn’t realize how much God was going to be mentioned here. I am a born again Christian and have been what we call, saved, for 30 years this next June.
    I also have been studying many scientific fields for over 30 years.
    I love God and Science and it disturbs me to see the tension between the two so much.
    I am a non denominational Christian and am thankful for that! I go to a Baptist church because it is the nicest local one but have been to many denominational churches and find that the majority of people know there are differences in ideas in Christianity, but the most important thing is that we love and respect other people and their right to have their opinions, even if we believe them to be diametrically opposed to the truth of a matter.
    I would love to see some kind of movement whereby Church and Science could agree to disagree, agreeably. I know it can be done since I have a number of friends who are fine Christians and also fine Scientists.
    There is so much that science can’t explain yet and so much in the bible that seems nebulous and up for the perfect interpretation. With two fields so dedicated and determined to work hard to get to the truth, here is hoping, (and praying), that somehow they can find the common ground to build a mutually beneficial foundation to build more understand and cooperation.
    End of speech! Thanks very much,
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 pconroy
    December 4, 2007

    Dave,

    But Religion and Science operate in different realms, and don’t have any way to reconcile that.
    Science offers a means to truth and enlightenment, Religion offers some consolation and community to those who give up their rights to truth and enlightenment – c’est la vie!

  3. #3 Dave Briggs
    December 4, 2007

    Hi PCONROY,
    I always like to start off with things that people agree on. It seems safe to say that we both agree that Science offers a means to truth and enlightenment!
    After 30 years of working on having a walk with God and also seeking the truths of science I don’t find them mutually exclusive.
    Organized religion can sometimes insist that you leave your searching at the door to indulge in their dogma, but I was talking about a personal walk with God and not Religion. Sorry if I was unclear.
    As far as Science and God not being able to exist in the same realm I find as an individual biological entity living in the realm of planet earth I live with both God and Science, therefore I feel they can live together in the same realm. Of course this is a subjective, not an empirical statement.
    I am sorry if my bringing this up has caused any concern. I have people that I care greatly about in both realms, and as I stated, some who feel as I do that you can live with one foot in God and one in science.
    Antagonism breeds antagonism. I know that the people on the side of God are not always the most diplomatic about science. This can lead Science to feel defensive, rather than being free to pursue the quest for truth and knowledge.
    Razib did such a good job with the post that I got excited and dove in, perhaps foolishly since this is a Science blog.
    Whatever your views are on all of this I respect them and your right to have them! I am also thankful that you were comfortable enough to bring it up!
    Thank you very much!
    Dave Briggs :~)

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