Young Earth, Old Earth & Vomiting on Live TV

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No matter how old it is, our universe is a marvel!

As a child, I thought Bill Nye, The Science Guy, was wonderful.  I used to love watching him blow things up and turn solids to gas and do all sorts of wonderful things.  No doubt, some of the random science trivia knocking around in my brain came from his show.

Last night, I got an email from Huffington Post, regarding a controversial video that Bill Nye had released.  In it, he’s asking parents to stop teaching Creationism to their children.

“I say, to the grownups, ‘If you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we’ve observed in the universe that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it.”

So Huffington Post says they want me to be a part of a discussion on the appropriateness of teaching your children Creationism.

Oiy.

It took me a long time to reply to the email.  I am honored that my humble little blog is “on the radar” over at the Goliath of H.P.  But that is a huge topic.

Frankly, I’ve often just stuck my head in the sand when it comes to talking about it, up to this point.  Why?  Well… I tend to avoid huge controversy and this is about as big as it gets.   According to multiple polls, nearly HALF of all Americans believe that the earth was miraculously created by God some time in the past 10,000 years.  That’s a lot of young-earth creationism!  Obviously, the other half believe the exact opposite.

Finally, I agreed.  I enjoyed being on HuffPost Live last time (even though I’m not crazy about talking in front of people and thought I might have some kind of gastrointestinal breakdown before it was all over).  And, while this topic is controversial and certain to get some harsh comments from those watching the live stream, I do think it’s important.

It’s important because it’s part of the ever-present conflict Christians are faced with in being “in the world, but not of it.”

Here’s where I’m coming from, so that you know the foundation I’m basing my stance upon.

I am NOT a scientist.

I did well in high school, I managed in college.  I got through all the requisite science classes.

My high school biology teacher was a staunch creationist who only taught evolution because the state required it of him.  He told us that.  Frequently.

My college biology professor was a devout evolutionist who refused to even discuss creationism.

Wrap your mind around the fact that I went to a public high school and a very conservative Christian college and you’ll see how weird that is.

Anyway…

In Michigan, third grade is when you first cover the subject of the origins of our species so, when we decided to take our daughter out of public school and keep her home for this, her third grade, year,  I read approximately 4, 642, 912 different science curriculum books.   I never did find one I felt good about purchasing.

So, I’m not a scientist, but I’d like to think I’m not a total ignoramus on the subject either.

I am a Christian.  I believe the Bible is true and “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So that’s who I am.

I’m going to skip the whole monstrously huge topic of public school curriculum and separation of church and state because Bill Nye wasn’t talking about that.  He was talking about what parents say to their own children.  So this isn’t about one group “forcing” another group to listen to their beliefs.  This is the conversation that happens at the dinner table.

It is my understanding that the vast majority of scientists accept the evolution of species as fact.  Through various methods, some of which I understand and some of which are quite beyond me, they agree that the evidence points very strongly in that direction.  This is true, even of most scientists who are devout Christians.  GeoChristian is a great website, created by Christian scientists (the biologist kind, not the Tom Cruise kind).

That said, not all young-earth creationists are drooling idiots.  These are educated people with a heart to understand the world that they believe was a gift from God.  The most die-hard young-earther I know is a dear friend with twice the education I have.  He’s not an unreasonable man.  He is not the kind of guy who would withhold medical treatment from his kids on the grounds that “God’s will be done.”  He has done a lot of research on this topic and he has drawn his conclusions.

If you’d like to see some of the science of a young earth for yourself, Creation.com offers 101 evidences for a young earth and universe.

So….

should parents teach creation to their children?

I think, first and foremost, parents have a moral obligation to teach their faith to their children.  If you believe that you know the truth about God (or gods, or the lack of a God), then why in the world wouldn’t you share your knowledge with those nearest to your heart?!  You wouldn’t send your kid into the world and say, “they need to figure out math for themselves.”  You teach them! Likewise, children need some sort of philosophical foundation in life and, as parents, it is our duty to provide that.

Second, I think that Christians who believe that the earth is young, and have no ear to hear the reasoning offered by scientists who believe otherwise,  should keep in mind that, in the past, the church executed, in the name of God, those who said the earth was round and the sun was in the middle of the solar system.    Whoops.  Awkward!

Third, I think that those who believe, with a near-religious fervor, that evolution is true “as proven by the facts,” should keep in mind that scientists told us, not so long ago, that smoking tobacco was a road to healing for asthmatics and tubercular patients.  There was a day when science “conclusively proved” that the earth was flat.  Our understanding of science is in its infancy and, already, the theory of evolution has changed a great deal from Darwin’s original thesis on the subject.

What do I teach my child on this subject?

I teach her that the Bible tells us that God created the whole universe and everything in it, and it tells us that she is created, a special, unique person and she is loved by God (and her family).

I teach her that, as Augustine* said, all truth is God’s truth.  Therefore, if science shows us something with great certainty (ie. the earth is round and moves in orbit around the sun), that’s the way God made it and we have nothing to fear from discovering the wonders of God’s universe.

I teach her that science uses the evidence at hand to draw conclusions, and sometimes, when new evidence presents itself, those conclusions change.  (Remember the good old days, when Pluto was a planet and Oleo was good for you?)

And, yes, (sorry if this offends you) I teach her that, at this time, all evidence points toward the idea of a very old universe, with an extraordinary precision of design.

Above all else, I teach her that she has a good, strong, beautiful brain and she should never, ever, EVER stop asking questions.  Only in questioning EVERYTHING does science ever move forward.  Consider if quantum theorists had never questioned Newtonian physics.  Half of what we accept as fact these days would have been nothing more than voodoo.

And I think that’s where the problem with this whole debate lay.  Not in the fact that half the people believe one thing and half believe something else.  The problem is that each half is terrified of the other half questioning their belief system.

If what you know is truth… relax.

“As the Americans say, ‘Truth will out!'”

(Arthur Weasley, in Harry Potter)

* As a little side note, Saint Augustine was outspoken in his belief that the Genesis “days” were NOT literal 24 hour periods some 1,400 years before Darwin wrote The Origin of Species.  This is not a new debate.

So, that’s where I’m coming from.  I feel better having written it all down.  One of the things I love about blogging is the opportunity to proof-read myself and make sure that I’m saying what I mean.  I don’t get that chance when I’m speaking live, which is why it makes me dreadfully nervous.  But at least now, even if I drool like an idiot today on live (internet) TV, a few of you will know what I was TRYING to say.

If you’d like to see the conversation and/or join in the streaming discussion, check it out at: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/503d9f522b8c2a0c5e0003c8

You can watch it live around 11:40am (eastern time) Friday, or watch the video any time after that by clicking the link.  If you choose to comment, feel free to disagree with me, but please be nice.  If I totally freak out and vomit on live TV (internet) please don’t comment.

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17 responses »

  1. Well said. Prayers go with you today for wisdom, grace, and no vomit on TV (I think we can all get on board with that one!). There’s an article in the July/August issue of Christianity Today examining two Christian scientists (right, not the Tom Cruise kind) who have come to two different conclusions about what happened “in the beginning” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/july-august/a-tale-of-two-scientists.html). Love that you’re teaching your daughter to keep asking questions – that’s a great approach to take on a lot of topics! Prayers and kudos to you!

  2. “The problem is that each half is terrified of the other half questioning their belief system.” Well said. This is truly the big issue. God DID give us a brain and we should have no fear of using it. Perhaps we will never know in this life, but we can question God when we see Him face to face.

  3. Stick to your guns. BTW, I just read recently the the Big Bang Theory was first proposed by a Catholic priest! I thought that was pretty wild. He was a highly intelligent man, but I kind of wish he had just kept that one to himself.

  4. We need people like you .I can’t speak or even stand to sit in the front of the church I get so scared that is why I like writing because I can read before I push the button.I so admire you and thank you for voicing what so many of us feel……..

    • Thank you! I totally understand where you are coming from. I am not a big fan of speaking in front of groups but it seems God is pushing me out of my comfort zone these past few months as I keep finding myself on stage with a microphone or on the screen discussing one thing or another. The last time I honestly thought I would be sick. It was a little easier this time. A little. Sort of. LOL. All of the loving support of kind folks like yourself makes a world of difference!

  5. Sorry to hear that Ken Ham is dubbed a non -scientist and evolutionists see themselves as having all the perfect answers. Jerry say that most every fact he was taught in Physics class 50 years ago is now Provence false. And as you said, Elizabeth, truth will stand all scrutiny and rise to the top.

    • I couldn’t agree more with Jerry! I think that scientists often forget how fluid their findings are. I can think of a thousand examples! “Vaccines will save the world from disease! No…. wait… vaccines are causing brain damage.” “Antibiotics sill save the world from disease! No… wait… antibiotics are creating super-bugs.” “Everything that exists is solid, liquid or gas. No… wait… everything that exists is energy, vibrating at a specific frequency.”
      I think that Christians sometimes reject science out-of-hand because they want to hold on to a specific interpretation of a certain passage of scripture when it may or may not have been intended to say that.
      At the same time, scientists FAR too often say they have all the facts when, really, they have only begun to scratch the surface of knowing all that is out there!

  6. I once proved to my son that Dinosaurs where in the Bible and thus part of Creationism. I also used Augustine as a part of our philosophical education though my son was not home schooled he was home supplemented.

    Good luck.

    • Yes… not only in the Bible, but in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian writings as well! I have often wondered (hope this doesn’t make me sound too crazy) about legends such as the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot. Maybe there is something to it! Maybe the dinosaurs and other “prehistoric” creatures didn’t ALL pass away at once. Maybe… maybe…. who knows?!? I can remember several instances where science declared an animal to have been extinct for a very long time and, later, found that they still existed in some remote location. A personal friend once photographed a certain breed of woodpecker (a whole family of them!) that was thought to have been extinct for over 200 years. We were told as school children that a breed of wolves, native to our area, was gone forever. Now, just 30 years later, farmers are shooting them because there are so many they’re becoming a threat to the livestock.
      There are more things in heaven and earth….. 🙂
      Thank you for the good wishes! They mean a great deal.

    • Thank you! I like yours, as well!
      “Lazy” is a reference to how hard it is, sometimes, to be healthy and environmentally-friendly. It’s a lot of work to grow an organic garden, cook all your own meals, compost your trash, etc. I think sometimes the hard work scares people away from a “green” lifestyle. So I look for “lazy” ways to be healthy and live naturally and try to share my tips… like refusing the extra napkins offered at the drive thru restaurant, choosing locally-grown produce or timing your showers. I think if everyone in the world made some of these little, tiny, changes we would see a major shift in the state of the earth and our health.

  7. LHM…I just finished watching the HuffPost stream. I would like to say that it was a fairly cordial discussion. I also found that the scientists who were on the panel, while doing their best to stay civil, were not as successful as the others. The host was probably the most abrasive along with the man on the phone (forgot his name…sorry). Because I consider myself an educated person, and with some considerable life experience, I found the attitudes taken by the “scientists” to be more than just a little condescending. While I subscribe to scientific theory, and agree with mainstream scientific thought on a lot of things, I always allow for the possibility that science can be wrong. It’s happened in the past and it will happen again.

    From the perspective of a believer watching from the outside, I think there were some opportunities that were not fully explored. Sometimes things that are not carefully scripted can move in directions that we do not expect. And, of course, time is never your friend…

    BTW, I think you did a good job expressing your ideas and motivations. I read your blog before watching the stream and thought you managed to get your points across well without “bible thumping”!! I appreciate that you were willing and able to pull it off!! 🙂

    Be well,
    Howard

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