I am tired of the Creationist Straw-Man

This was part of a conversation late last night relating to my Ken Ham post. This is the same tired ole straw man which Creationists use to undermine any real conversation on the meaning of the bible. It is circular reasoning – not even spherical, really.

See, that’s a pun, because if you were truly a literalist, then you would have to have a flat earth. Just saying…

Anyway, I ‘believe Genesis’. I would charge that the person above, and Ham himself, actually do not. They instead believe that they think Genesis 1 says. They, of course, ignore Genesis 2 and the other creation accounts in the Old Testament. For them, if you do not believe in their interpretation of Genesis 1, then you are undermining the word of God. It is a straw man because their interpretation has been undermined by linguistic and other scholarly studies as well as real science. You don’t even have to believe in evolution to know that real science has utterly destroyed the idea of a 6000 year old universe/earth – unless, of course, you believe in a God Who lies.

If theological conservatism is that in which one takes the bible seriously, and believe that the meaning of the text hasn’t changed, then I charge that the real ‘biblical creationists’ are those who do not interpret Genesis 1 as Ham does. In all actually, if theological liberalism is that in which one reads their own interpretation into the text, then Ken Ham et al., are actually theological liberals.

And, as the book of Revelation says, all theological liberals are going to burn forever unless Rob Bell lets them out.

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54 Replies to “I am tired of the Creationist Straw-Man”

  1. I’m astonished that young-earth Creationists reject out-of-hand empirical science to support only the first of the bible’s SEVERAL openly conflicting accounts of how the universe came into being. They reject science as heresy before even fully comprehending it, and endorse only the first version because the second––only a chapter away––is just too thorny to address because it so openly undermines their tenuous position.

    1. What is equally laughable is that they reject science and yet try to rely upon science to back up their blasphemous and apostate views. I would like to know how many are KJV-Only or at least KJV-preferred. It would only make sense, actually….

      Not only is the second chapter different, but so too Isaiah and Psalms.

      Not only that, the only creation account in the New Testament, explicitly stated is,

      NASB Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

      NET Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.

      YLT Hebrews 11:3 by faith we understand the ages to have been prepared by a saying of God, in regard to the things seen not having come out of things appearing;

      BGT Hebrews 11:3 Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι.

      I note that the YLT is most likely correct – it is about the ages, although with Hebrew Cosmology, worlds is okay – as long as people understand that ages/worlds might be a successive event in Hebrew thought.

      But, that’s it. Creation consists of ordering, Robert – which is what the word in Genesis 1 for ‘create’ actually means. It is about ordering. The Hebrew thought was that nothing ‘existed’ until it was ordered or given a purpose.

      1. Joel, in my case, I trust science as much as I trust those that use it to answer their questions. I do not believe that science is done without bias in general. I’ve found that the hypothesis itself creates bias. An idea of what will be be found is there before the experiment is undergone. All the same, because creation cannot be reproduced it is outside the range of science in which tests can be applied and redone to assure the results. That science, in my opinion of course, relies upon the conversation of those “in the know” and their biases can have a much greater impact upon their findings.

        Kindly do not bundle all YEC in one tidy group. Not all of them use the “straw man” as a barometer for measuring faith. Most actually see it as a minor thing relying upon a person’s interests, not everyone is interested in everything.

        Finally, even YEC tend to believe that trust in Christ, belief in his death and resurrection, confession of him as Lord and Savior is what conveys salvation. Not a belief in a particular age of the Earth.

        1. Julie, I appreciate the tact that you are taking here. Let me note one thing, though. You say,

          even YEC tend to believe that trust in Christ, belief in his death and resurrection, confession of him as Lord and Savior is what conveys salvation. Not a belief in a particular age of the Earth.

          True. I know many fine YEC people who do not come anywhere close to questioning salvation. But look at Ham and Breedon state that the ‘faith once delivered’ included a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. They are adding to the Gospel, in my opinion.

          1. Yes Joel, but as you’ve seen in other posts I vehemently (as do many others and I’m sure YEC are in that group) disagree. Judgment is fine, condemnation is not. Want to say whomever’s opinion is wrong, fine, calling their salvation into question is not fine.

            I was speaking to the idea that all YEC (which became “they” by your post) would feel that way. That’s all 🙂

          2. True enough, Julie. I don’t see all YEC the same. I know plenty of them who are the salt of the earth, where we can disagree over this and still agree on the thing that matters Christ

  2. The real straw man argument is surely that there is any connection at all between proving YEC is true and the existence of God. Conversely there is no rational or logical connection between proving evolution true as a way of disproving the existence of God. Creationists and the “new atheists” have both got this badly wrong.

    1. They both read/argue from the same playbook of literalism.

      They have to, otherwise their claims fall flat. Both sides crumble under scrutiny when you remove literalism from the picture. At that point they both argue that you’re simply “making up” your faith.

      1. Um…are you saying that scientists’ arguments are faulted because they argue from a “literalist” point of view? Surely not, right? Because science establishes facts that are measurable and repeatable, and therefore not “literalist”, but truth to the greatest extent of understanding at the time.

  3. Joel,

    You’ve proven by your low view of Scripture that you only take portions of Scripture seriously. Where it is disputed by men in lab coats and liberal theologians, you re-interpret the Bible. What else are we to make of your conjecture that Genesis was just a man-made polemic against Babylonian myths? Oh, but we can derive truth from this fable, right…. You are not far from apostasy, sir. Examine yourself to see if you are really of the faith… or of unbelief making scholastic excuses for itself.

    Ken Ham [and myself] are reading the Bible as the apostles and NT authors understood it. You’ve interpreted it otherwise.

    Rev Tony Breeden
    http://DefendingGenesis.org

    1. Tony, by your low view of Scripture, you have proven that you only take the bible liberally. You no longer believe in a flat earth, or a stationary planet. You are not far from out right lies, blasphemy of God and Scripture, and shame. Examine yourself to see if you are really in the faith of the Apostles which you only think you have. You are lying about them, as you did about me as well. Shamelessly – when you need humility and shame – you see the text as your own creation. Disgusting.

      Ken Ham is a hack and anyone who follows him is a disgrace to Christianity.

    2. Tony, do you take Revelation to be literal or symbolic. Presumably you treat it as being symbolic, but still containing truth. Is that a low view of the bible? Maybe, maybe not but its the right way to interpret it. The same with Jesus statement “This is my body”. I assume you don’t take that literally?

      YEC is central to the argument about the separation of church and state in the USA and it has not made the mainstream amongst evangelicals in other countries. Here in the UK its about 30% of evangelicals who believe it and the proportion has not increased in the past ten years.

      Where YEC people have gone badly wrong is to tie the existence of God tightly to being able to prove their theory of what Genesis means – if Genesis is true then, then the bible is true, therefore God exists and the gospel is the only way. The new atheists just reversed that argument and said “look, we can prove that evolution is a likely explanation, therefore genesis is not true, therfore neither is the bible so there is obviously no God.

      In both cases these arguments are not logical and are indeed false. I am not saying this is what you beleive, but it does come across as a main part of the message of many prominent YEC people I see on TV here in the UK. It seems to be a petard by which many Christians have found themselves hoisted.

    3. Rev Breeden,

      I do accept a literal interpretation of the Bible, I believe that the Bible is the innerant word of God. I also believe that judgment is necessary that a lack of judgment is cruelty to others. I trust Isaiah when he says that we need to judge each other.

      However, I do not believe we are meant to judge each other’s faith. Judge their actions, even disagree with them if you believe they are off base. Taking that judgment and turning it into a judgement upon their salvation, a judgement upon their faith, a condemnation, goes too far. Only God can judge our hearts. Only God can truly judge who is a Christian and who is not. Someone that is questioning the word needs guidance, not condemnation.

      Frankly, Ham’s condemnations of people that have little to nothing to do with his dissertation on creation had lost him at least one listener, myself. The continued use of condemnation, rather than discussion or guidance will only lead to more and more listeners closing their ears.

      For you both, I highly recommend James MacDonald’s, “Lord, Change my Attitude.” It is eye opening and clarifies how our attitudes can be signs of rebellions against God’s will.

      Judge and lead. Do not condemn.

      1. Julie, for me, I believe in a literal Genesis 1 – and in that, I mean that how and why it was first delivered is the literal context.

        But, well said all around.

    4. Mr. Breeden, your comment is rife with profound hubris. There is no conceivable way of knowing how “the apostles and NT authors understood” the bible, except through thorough and fearless exegesis, which apparently scares you.

      You embarrass yourself with your failure of forethought and display of superiority where the bible clearly calls for humility.

      Examine yourself sir, and find yourself wanting.

  4. It’s further astonishing how few YEC’s have actually deigned to READ the writings of evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins (i.e., The Blind Watchmaker, The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene, et al) or even quantum cosmologists like Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos and a new book whose title I don’t recall at present.

    Their scholarship, enquiry and the conclusions achieved without this information are incomplete at best and purposely isolationist at worst.

    Before you condemn Dawkins for his unabashed atheism, read what he actually wrote rather than what your clearly willfully ignorant church leaders say he wrote.

    1. I must have missed something. Robert, what does this post have to do with the one you’re commenting on? Or is this just a fun free-for-all bash the YEC post?

      1. If one chooses to reject out-of-hand the scientific studies that overwhelmingly disprove YEC and a literal interpretation of Genesis, then one’s scholarly review is incomplete. You can’t read only those books which support your hypothesis, you have to consider opposing alternatives and draw conclusions from a more rounded view. That’s why I reference the writings of Dawkins and Greene.

        1. You assume that they are rejected out of hand. I rejected Dawkins after I heard a few interviews and did a minimum of background research. He has an obvious axe to grind. His bias could not be more clear and my pastor has never mentioned the man 😉

          FYI, I don’t know how old the earth is and it doesn’t worry me. As far as I can tell as of yet, nothing in my life is missing due to that lack of knowledge. I appreciated what Ham had to say on creation, but his assumptions and bias against those that disagree has turned me off from him and his teachings.

          Ironically, Ham is now with Dawkins on my list of people whose opinions mean very little to me, because of their obvious axes.

          1. Acknowledge his bias and read his books. Even the most common gossip is often rooted in truth… In this case, I recommend Dawkins over Hitchens because Hitch can be unnecessarily nasty. But for the conversation at hand, there are certain scientific principles that are important to consider.

            It would be worth your time to read “The Blind Watchmaker” if not “The God Delusion”.

            Just a suggestion. 🙂 When the options are stagnation or intellectual development, always choose the latter.

  5. Oh . . . so much hatred . . . and primarily from the side of the enlightened!
    What amazes me is how little difference there really lies between the evolutionist and the creationist.

  6. Dear Robert,

    It appears we’ve run out room! I appreciate your concern, but let me assure you I will not stagnate without Dawkins. He is one of many and I find others be more edifying and less offensive.

    ~Julie

    1. I have read Dawkins and listened to many of his lectures and debates (I was an agnostic for most of my life, he was required reading).

      I can assure you, you’re not missing much. If you’re curious, pick up Bertrand Russel or Neitzche for something more challenging and a bit more novel. Dawkins just tends to angrily rehash a lot of old scholarship with an updated slant.

      Unfortunately, a lot of the anger and anti-theism gets in the way of the sound science for which they’re proponents. So to those ends I don’t think not reading Dawkins is a loss.

      Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer the inclusion of Francis Collins in any science reading list. Francis is one of the leading researchers involved in the Human Genome Project and former head of BioLogos. He’s seen the fabric of life and determined that there is a God. I’m not entirely certain but I’m inclined to say that he splits his scholarship accordingly between faith works and science works, rather than conflating the two at all times and making them inextricable. In that regard he’s very different than Dawkins and Ham who are, albeit unwilling, bedfellows.

      1. To be fair, Sean, I haven’t read Dawkin. I don’t like Hitchens – he is a Republican and all 🙂 – but I would like too. I have promised Robert that he is on my reading list, and once i get to a free spot, he is on the list.

        The good thing about read stuff – even if you like some of it, you don’t have to agree with all of it! 🙂

        1. FWIW, Dawkins is a pre-eminent scientist who routinely routs Creationists in debates because he’s absurdly intelligent and charming as all heck. As a matter of course, if one hasn’t read Dawkins, one is just asking to have their rear end handed to them in a logical debate. That’s axiomatic.

          The idea that one must agree with everything one reads carves the narrowest of niches for notions, no?

          1. There’s no doubting Dawkins’ credibility in the scientific arena (although, I realize my comment could be read that way). Although, I don’t think I’d call him charming. I think you’re just taken by that accent. 😉

            However, from a theological standpoint I think his arguments leave a lot to be desired. Which isn’t that far off from the opinion I held when I shared his atheism. I just found the “angry” on overload. It’s a turn off to a lot of folks and makes it hard to see the merit in his science. It’s an unnecessary obstacle IMO.

          2. LOL @ Sean!!! Have we met? You’ve got me on the accent thing… 🙂

            Dawkins is not a theologian, and doesn’t claim to be. He simply destroys arguments from all of the basic precepts of Creationism with a surgical precision and a jolly demeanor.

            I went through the “angry atheist” phase, and I still get riled up occasionally… When you observe the complete absurdity of what is allowed to pass for Christianity, it’s very easy to become angry. Sizable swaths of Christendom regularly assert that I am less human and prone to all manner of vile criminal behaviors purely on the basis of my sexual orientation. It’s not a far leap from contentment to seething rage when someone who’s not supposed to bear false witness against their brother calls you a pedophile… But that’s perhaps a tangent for another time…

            Dawkins is more mellow than Hitchens and Sam Harris. Daniel Dennett is perhaps the mildest of the “Four Horsemen” in terms of tact.

            Creationists who refuse to do at least opposition research and think in an echo-chamber do so at their own peril.

          3. I understand that Dawkins is well-educated. As far as charming, that’s in the eye of the beholder, I find he makes my skin crawl. Missing one person amongst the plethora of “authorities” of any subject is hardly going to cause issues with logical debate. However, hinging all arguments upon the writings of one person would, axiomatically, leave you open for ridicule.

            It’s not a matter of disagreeing with him. I’ve read Darwin and I don’t agree with him. I read and hear many things from Obama and don’t feel the need to agree with it all. I’ve even heard Rush Limbaugh before and walked away still finding him to be a blow hard. It’s a matter of choice. I would not READ Rush Limbaugh, regardless of who would hike him up onto a pedestal, because I find him repellant and his opinions mean nothing to me. I would find that reading time spent better with a trash novel (and more likely to be personally edifying). I do not like Dawkins. I do not trust him and find him to be repellent. I choose not to waste any my reading time on him. Hawkins, though, is on my list.

          4. Julie wins!

            I’ve even heard Rush Limbaugh before and walked away still finding him to be a blow hard.

            Sorry for the short comment, all, and I am glad to see it continuing. I am out of town, with sporadic internet service.

          5. Aaaand, we’ve run out of room…LOL!

            @Robert, dude, I have a theory that even the worst of news is palatable when delivered by a Brit. My wife does a solid “faux brit” and it never ceases to make me weak.

            Damn Brits!

            With regards to the torment you’ve received at the hands of Christians for your sexual-orientation, allow me to apologize.

            That too is another area where turning a blind eye to scientific facts places certain sects on the wrong side of history, clinging desperately to conservative models simply for the sake of resisting change. However, I digress as well. Suffice to say, I do not share that belief either.

        2. Ugh, I cannot stand Hitchens’ delivery. Although, I admit to chuckling when I’m certain he’s drunk during a debate.

          He just comes off so arrogant that I can’t stomach it. I’ve determined that anyone who is THAT sure of being “right” usually is neither sure nor right. This goes for all sides of the discussion. I find Tony (from this thread), Ham and Mohler to all be equally distasteful.

          Of course, I’m a libertarian, so we are hated by most everyone. =)

          1. I voted for Paul in the primaries 😉

            I’m a registered Republican, conservative fundamentalist Christian.

            I teach my children at home.

            It almost seems like I hunted down everything I could to make me a target to nearly every group, roflol.

      2. Thank you. I’ll look into those authors.

        I was going to point out that “Hawkins” was a joke, but can’t seem to respond over there, lol.

        Joke people. Joke.

        1. Julie, let me also recommend – and far, far from science – is John Walton’s book, The Lost World of Genesis 1. For me, it is not about science first, but about the Text. Walton shows that the Hebrew of the Text is something a little different than the YEC position.

    2. Oh, just start over, Julie!!!!

      BTW, Collins and Giberson have a great intro to science from a Christian perspective. I would be happy to send you a copy, if you want. I’ve been reading through it on my blog. The one thing I like about these guys is that science is not tied up in one’s faith.

      Christ and Christ alone.

      1. Science and faith are in no way equivocal… This idea that we can’t validate scientific findings until we get comment from some half-wit with a certificate from a for-profit Pastor Mill is a distressing holdover from centuries of religious persecution of inquiry.

        Without making a value judgement, science is purely the study of what is; faith is…something else entirely.

        1. While it might sound trite, I’m fond of saying that faith helps us answer “why” (well, more specifically, philosophy does, but I consider faith a philosophical endeaver) while science tells us “how.”

          1. I agree with you on your philosophical point.

            Science answers the who, what, when, where, why and the how, provided your experimentation methodology is sound and your results properly recorded. There’s no such standard for religious inquiry.

            I’d be willing to wager that 99% of religious people have no clue what exegesis is. Most halfway educated people have a reasonable idea what the technical terms “theory” and “hypothesis” mean.

            Even in seminaries, it’s routine for classmates to refer to those who ask interesting questions as “apostates” and “heretics”. Am I right, Joel? …

          2. Oh yeah, I agree with you entirely.

            I tackled the whole “theory/hypothesis” quagmire myself (http://www.badchristian.org/2011/02/15/once-and-for-all/)

            It’s painful how willfully ignorant some folks are, particularly regarding scientific matters.

            FWIW, I originally left Christianity 20 years ago because I was told not to ask questions. I’m a Christian now but I’m not sure that many of those earlier voices have quieted.

  7. Willful ignorance where science is concerned…

    Not everyone cares. Really. Many people have lives and jobs that have nothing to do with origins. My husband, for instance, is all about physics. He loves learning how things work, how they’ll respond to each other &tc. Try to get him talking about origins and he gets a glazed look, turns vague and basically tunes out. It does not interest him.

    I only started looking when I was expected to start teaching biology to my children. At that point, I had a dog in the race, but only to the extent of what I would put in their heads.

    I think we forget that what means the world to us isn’t even a blip on most people’s radars.

    1. You’re 100% right about that.

      I’m a major Type A personality who requires and revels in the order provided by The Scientific Method. For me, that’s one of the most important elements of inquiry.

      But I can also appreciate that most people couldn’t give a crap about it in general.

      The problem is that these are the voters who approve ridiculous measures to require Creationism to be taught in public schools at taxpayer expense. That’s where I start to have a serious problem. Think about the ramifications of an atheist teaching your kids Creationism because he/she is required to by law… Is that REALLY what Creationist activists want? Yikes…

      Besides, the story where the Earth rides on the back of a turtle that sits on the back of some elephants is a way more fun story. I like the turtle.

      1. I think the push is more for “Intelligent Design” than actual “Creationism.” And many an ID supporter will tell you they aren’t Christian. I teach my children at home, so my opinion is tainted, haha. My classes are whatever I want them to be (chilling, I know). If there was any bone I wanted to pick with public education it would be how they cover history, because that means much more to me than the day they use to cover origins. In my experience, it’s not even a whole chapter. It’s the first page of a chapter that goes on to describe dinosaurs and &tc. It doesn’t hold the weight that many imagine it to. Which is why, in reality, we just use plain old texts instead of buying YEC or OEC or Christian specific biology texts. It’s a paragraph. I can compete with a paragraph 😉

        Really though, the uneducated voter is just another strawman. Who among us is fully knowledgable of every single issue? It goes back to things that are important to the individual. Some vote on looks, some vote on color (blue or red), some vote based on abortion beliefs. I vote for smaller Fed government, I’m sure that drives some people CRAZY.

        I guess I just don’t think the sky will fall if the paragraph on the Big Bang gets an addition that says, “Some think this was started by an intelligence greater than our own.”

        Oh, and we like Kipling’s versions for how things started. He doesn’t have a creation story, but he does have plenty on evolution :roflol:

        1. Ugh, ID is almost worse than flat out YEC. At least, it’s less intellectually dishonest. ID can basically be summed up as “we really don’t know and we don’t want to bother looking, something supernatural did it!” It’s intellectually empty if not downright vapid.

          If it was just a line in a textbook saying “some argue that a supernatural being pulled the trigger on the big bang” (a deistic argument) it would be one thing. But it’s not. It’s a game-ender because it claims that we can’t know the answer so the answer must be supernatural. It’s bogus.

          Of course, if we ended federal education entirely, I wouldn’t give much of a rat’s behind what was taught in schools. However, since they take my tax money (and I don’t even have kids!) I’d prefer that it be used for sound science than some made up garbage.

          BTW, for a great take on the ID “debate” check out the documentary “Flock of Dodos.” You could probably use it in your homeschool classroom. I know I totally would/will (when we have children).

  8. I’m a YEC, because I believe Jesus was one. 🙂 He mentioned Adam, etc.
    But I don’t get into debates. Persoanlly I would find it hard to believe in Christ myself if I believed in an evolutionary world view. (That’s wy I was an atheist until after college) Just to point out, I learned that Genesis 1 was a summary, and Genesis 2 was more detailed. That’s used throughout Revelations as well.John will give a synopsis, and then what will seem to jump out of the time line, a more detailed description.

    1. Ha! If only we really knew what Christ taught about Creation – but I would suspect that it didn’t matter to Him. (Paul mentioned Adam, btw, not Christ).

      See, for me, regardless of how it happened, Christ is still real. Anthony, if we examined Genesis 2 and held it to the same literalism of Genesis 1, then we would see a vastly different understand of the creative acts. God speaks in one, and He acts in another. Humans are last in the first, but in the second, the man is first and the woman last. Pretty different. Of course, I do not think that Genesis 1 is supposed to be understood as a scientific ‘how-to’. The language is different and points to something else.

    2. Genesis 2 directly contradicts Genesis 1.

      Gen. 1 doesn’t summarize Gen. 2, it alters the order of when things happened. That’s not a more detailed description, dude, that’s…something else…

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