Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Do Creationists Deserve Abuse?

I saw an interesting article today, and even though I am writing to criticize it, I actually want to recommend it, too. By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, “The Errors of the Militant Atheist” is a good look at some of the basic flaws in the secularist worldview. It is worth the time to read it.

However, I find it necessary to point out a related fault on Gobry’s part, having to do with one comment made virtually out of nowhere. He says part way through the article, “Creationists deserve all the abuse they get.”

To be fair, he qualifies this statement and provides a link to another article that at least attempts to see creationists on their own terms (though still with a few shows of contempt along the way). But that is small comfort to me. And it is little different from his own charge against antitheist Lawrence Krauss: “He only needs to know what ‘religious’ people oppose to know what he’s for.” Replace “creationist” for “religious,” and you have the content of his criticism of my worldview.

Why is that? Why are creationists “stupid” when so many of us are so well educated? Why do we “deserve abuse” when we have done no wrong? Why are we told we have a “blind faith” merely because we have evaluated the evidence others refuse to see? It is unworthy of our critics, given the intellectual ability they have. But should I really “abuse” someone for disagreeing with me? Should they “abuse” me?

This dismissiveness and contempt for creationists seems to come from an inability to understand. It is easier to throw out attacks than it is to investigate things that make no sense to us. But that effort is necessary if we are actually to be able to communicate with one another. We ought to try to see how our opponents come to believe what they believe, even if we cannot join them. In that spirit, I want to share a brief explanation for why I can believe in six days of creation, a relatively young earth, and my unwillingness to accept neo-Darwinian macroevolution.

It all boils down to my filter for the world. I look at life through the lens of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some might not consider that very scientific, but it is at least forensic. It is beyond question Jesus was crucified to death. It is also beyond question that His body disappeared, since the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities would have produced it (as they could have if it was still in the tomb) once His followers started claiming He was alive again. It is furthermore evident that His followers believed the tomb was not only empty, but that they had seen Him again, since they gave their lives to defend the truth of what they had seen with their own eyes (1 Corinthians 15:3–8; 1 John 1:1–4; 1 Peter 5:1). No one dies for what he knows to be a lie. Such evidence as we have, along with the lack of evidence for an alternative, make it unreasonable to deny the resurrection.

Why does that matter? Because it offers validation. Since Jesus predicted and accomplished His own resurrection, it validates the rest of the things He did and said. When He said “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel,” He meant it (Mark 1:15). And He meant every part of it. The kingdom is made up of those who believe the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus died and rose to save us. And He saves us from the sins of which we have to repent. 

Which leads back to the question of creation. If all life developed from a single lower lifeform many eons ago, then mankind was not specially made with moral agency. He is just another animal. And over time, he is slowly improving. Nature can perfect him, or he can perfect himself. He does not need a savior.

Nor, in that case, would death be a punishment. Rather, it is a fundamental fact of the created order going back to before man’s appearance. Under the evolutionary theist perspective, there is no alternative but to believe that God created death.

In both cases, this means there is no need for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death is not a punishment to dread, and we are not responsible (incidentally, this “hope” is the driving force behind secularism).

But Jesus did die and rise again. That means there is sin, and death is the punishment for it (Romans 6:23). Which is exactly the account we see in Genesis 3 and Romans 8:18–25. Man was made for a perfect world, and a perfect world for man. There was no death before sin. If there had been, it would mean God called death “good” since He would had to have created it. There is no way to reconcile such a concept of death before sin with the message of the gospel. On the other hand, the idea of death resulting from sin is completely consistent with what has been revealed by God.

Obviously, this is not an argument from astrophysics, archaeology, or biology. It starts with God and moves back to the physical. But that is the whole idea. Christ’s resurrection validates Him. This in turn validates the Bible (and if you think that is circular reasoning, you haven’t been paying attention). If the Bible is therefore true in a special sense, then it needs to be the standard for truth.

When the observations of the physical sciences are placed into theories which contradict Scripture, then the choice between then should be easy. And again, it is not just a matter of blindly believing whatever the Bible says. It is about believing the Bible because it is the only thing which makes sense of the world as we find it. It is the only account that gives a context to the work of Jesus Christ, to His purposes, and to their implications.

As one final note, especially in these days of red Starbucks cups and university “safe spaces,” I want to make it clear I am not asking for freedom from offense. Gobry is free to think and write however he wants, and this article is not intended to force him or anyone else to stop. I am only pointing out why I think he is wrong to be so dismissive. You can disagree, but please, at least think it through. We believe what we do for a reason.

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