Molong cloudset, NSW 2011

"Christian" doesn't mean much either

"Christian" doesn't mean much either!

I thought this point needed making because many creation scientists present their view as the Christian view. That is, the only true Christian view.

But what is a Christian?

Let's look at what Christian might mean, and how the word relates to Creation Science. Christianity is a religion. It is based around the figure of Christ, who is the religion's key guide to God, or the divine. Beyond that there is enormous variation in religious practice, what people actually believe, and the way Christians relate to the world and culture around them. Some christian groups are admirable and heroic. Some are wacko. Some are simply disgusting. The point is, to claim to hold THE christian position or an issue is a bit rich In fact, it is more likely to indicate splinter position, or extreme position than anything else!

In all of this I am not meaning to suggest that what one believes as a christian is not important, or that all belief is equally correct. What we believe, and how we act is vitally important. But I do mean to suggest that although we each call ourselves Christian, it is unwise to assume that we think the same about very much. The same is true of any two christians.

Christians and Creation Science
Understandings of the how of creation are many. Eugenie Scott has an interesting scale of beliefs about the how of creation in her article Science, Religion and Evolution. I've pinched her headings, and added my own comments along with a few direct quotes.

Flat Earthers
This group doesn't have much to do with creation science, but are worth remembering later when we talk about the bible. They say the bible says the earth is flat, not a sphere, therefore the earth is flat.

Geocentrists
Geocentrists believe the earth is spherical, but based on the bible, that it is at the centre of the solar system, not the sun. Again, nothing much to do with creation science, but worth remembering later when we talk about the bible. You probably don't have to be a self confessed Christian to hold to these odd ideas. (I can hear my son saying, "But it helps!")

Young Earth Creationists
Based on the biblical texts, which are taken as authoritative and historically accurate, these people believe God created the earth, and life on it, relatively recently. We are talking thousands of years at most, not the millions of the geological and evolutionary epochs. Naturally, many of these people place high historical factual value on the story of Noah's ark.

Old Earth Creationists
There are several shades of old earth creationism, but all agree with the current scientific assessment that the earth is very old. They also have the understanding that God was very involved in the creation.
Gap Creationism allows for the old age of the earth by arguing there is a long break between the first verse of Genesis and the rest of the creation story.
Day Age Creationism argues that the six days of creation relate to six epochs of activity by God. These were sometimes many thousands, or even millions, of years in length.

Progressive Creationism. According to Scott, the view held by the majority of today's Old Earth Creationists... is some form of Progressive Creationism.... Many of these folk ...have no problems with scientific data concerning the age of the Earth, or the long period of time it has taken for the Earth to come to its current form. (However,) only parts of modern biological science are incorporated.... (God)... created kinds of animals sequentially; the fossil record is thus an accurate representation of history.. (But) ... kinds are separate creations: descent with modification does not occur.... (However, many)... accept that God created creatures containing at least as much genetic variation as a Family (such as Felidae, Canidae, etc). and then considerable evolution within a kind occurred. A created cat kind thus would have possessed sufficient genetic variability to differentiate into lions, tigers, leopards, pumas, bobcats, and house cats, through the normal microevolutionary processes of mutation and recombination, natural selection, genetic drift, and speciation.
This all adds up to mean that God is seen as acting through natural law (i.e., microevolutionary processes) but also as an active creator.

Intelligent Design Creationism basically says that the complexity of the creation shows there must have been a creator, i.e. God. In the USA there is currently a push for intelligent design to be given equal time with evolution in schools. Many people say it's a creation science via the back door.

Evolutionary Creationists and Theistic Evolutionists both understand that God works through the evolutionary process. In one form or another, TE is the view of creation taught at the majority of mainline Protestant seminaries, and it is the official position of the Catholic church.

Finally, there are Material Evolutionists. Materialist Evolutionists claim the laws of nature are not only sufficient to explain all of nature and evolution, but that the supernatural does not exist. Creation and evolution happened without God.

Summary
Creation Science is not the only understanding of the how of creation, even for christians. There is a wide range of attitudes, even among christians.

Posted April 24 2006


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