I found myself once again engaged in that never-to-be-solved conversation with a creationist, commonly referred to as a YEC’er (young-earth creationist). That such conversations are tedious is obvious. I never sought it, rather the usual folks just have to respond when you make fun of their favorite belief.
The other day I posted a thing from Buzzfeed, which merely and perfectly objectively showed the “questions” that some YEC’ers would have asked Bill Nye after attending the “debate” at the Creation “Museum” run by Ken Ham. Ken Ham is either a silly lunatic who believes the nonsense that spews from his mouth, or he is a grifter. I’m not quite sure which.
Actually Buzzfeed, I now find, has answered these 22 questions, sometimes humorously, but always factually as far as my knowledge goes. My post was met by, not a reasoned response but the highly laughable video created by one Ray Comfort called Evolution vs God. In it Ray confronts a few professors but mostly students and demands that they produce a “change of kinds” that he can see, peppered with the now standard question, “were you there?” The upshot seems to be the rather bizarre notion that Ray has that if “you were not there, you can’t prove it happened.”
Now we already know Ray from his enormous boo-boo in the Banana Proof, calling it the “evolutionist’s nightmare. Here Ray tells us that the banana is clear evidence of something created by God just to fit the hand of the human being. We will skip his retraction when he learned about how the banana has been altered by humans and no longer resembles what it did originally and well, how monkeys of course seem to have hands that work pretty darn good too in eating bananas.
Now I did not watch the famous debate between Nye and Ham. Both sides undoubtedly have not changed their mind one whit nor anyone elses. Both sides will claim victory. That Ham, as I’ve been told, made lots of assertions without any proof such as “it is not proven that the earth is old”, when it clearly is, is par for the course.
The reality of all this is that the only real loser here was Intelligent Design. Actually I was a bit surprised to learn that the ID folks hate the YEC folk. See, the ID people actually in some cases are scientists, and they are trying mightily, though usually falling short, in bringing some actual science to the discussion. They, for instance, don’t believe at all in a young earth. They simply believe in a grand master God who created such things that they say are “irreducibly complex”–God is the designer of such things as the eye , and the blood clotting cascade. So Ham really screwed them in their longed for resurrection from the damned which occurred in the case of Tammy Kitzmiller, et al vs. Dover Area School District, et al. (400 F. Supp. 2d 707, Docket no. 4cv2688).
The meme above gives voice to the real problem with these fringe fundamentalists. And fringe is what I do mean. While Ham and his cohorts often tout the “fact” that nearly 50% of all Americans believe in creationism, that is not at all accurate. As with all polling, how the question is framed matters greatly. When you get to the extreme of a Ham–the earth is only a few thousand years old, ditto the universe, and Adam and Eve were the original humans, and the bible (usually only the KJV translation) is the literal word of God–we are talking about something less than 10% of the population.
The problem is this: faith is a matter of belief. People who assert (and it’s always these ultra uber “Christians” or extreme fundamentalists who do) that they are “positive” “sure” “absolutely certain” that what they belief is true, are deluded by their own arrogance. Faith is belief. More clearly it is belief in the face of doubt. Some of the most famous of saints struggled the most with their faith–languishing for years in doubts and questioning. Ironically, if God were as the uber fundies contend–a god of judgment, they would fail. It is no great thing to believe what is proven. Faith is believing in spite of doubt. I suspect a god of judgment would favor the one who believes in spite of doubt rather more than the one who believed because he was convinced the proof was complete. Don’t the atheists do as much?
Worse, the YEC’er likes to claim that they “follow the word of God”, in other words, they do the bidding of God which is clearly set out in their translation. But this is false. For the bible is not something that is capable of one and only one meaning, not in its sum or in its parts. It is an interpretive document, informed by many other disciplines. For instance the word na ‘ar in Hebrew literally means “youth”. The word zaqen literally means “old”. However it would be a mistake to conclude that a youth is younger than an old person. For from learning about the sociology of ancient Israel, we learn that the term youth is attached to any male not yet head of a household, while old is attached to any male who is head of a household. Thus a na ‘ar can be older than a zaquen. (From Method Matters: Essays on the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, “Sociological Approaches: Toward a Sociology of Childhood in the Hebrew Bible” pg. 262,[Society of Biblical Literature: Atlanta, 2009]
Fundamentalists will deny all this simply because they truck in being able to discern the meaning of scripture by reading it. In that way it is they who believe in the “their own vain thoughts”, not the scholar who knows that the texts are not literal in nature, and that translation and context mean everything to meaning. God is twisted in the fundamentalist mind to fit what the mind needs Her to be.
My fundamentalist opponent dropped her side of the conversation after I produced any number of critiques of Ray Comfort’s silly video. That is the way of all such people, for in the end, they have no facts that they can articulate beyond scraps of talking points that they essentially don’t understand in the first place. She left with this parting shot, from Matthew 7:6:
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Ironically, it is one of the more controversial passages from the Sermon on the Mount, and there is much disagreement of what it means. But I’m betting she is sure what it means. And that says it all.