Friday, July 18, 2014
He isn't one anymore.
He explains, at length, how that came about at The Panda's Thumb.
In his last post, he makes an interesting observation:
Activists like Dawkins make the mistake of accepting fundamentalism's claims of validly representing the Bible in particular and religion in general. But fundamentalism's claims are simply false. As I stated before, creationism botches literary and biblical criticism just as badly as it botches science. Don't ever make the mistake of attacking a creationist's faith; if you do so, you're simply reinforcing their misconception that evolution is synonymous with atheism. Read the explanations given by theistic evolutionists. Ask questions like, "How do you know your interpretation of the Bible is correct? How do you know that Genesis should be treated as chronological narrative? How would the original audience have understood it? Why wasn't your interpretation a majority view throughout Christian history?" Be prepared to explain the history of creationism.OMG! Accommodationism!
Of course, this is anecdotal evidence. But that is all the anti-accommodationists offer to "show" that "accommodationism"* fails.
Neither side has demonstrated that it is the "best" way to approach YECs with science or that the other way should be abandoned.
* Depending on what definition of "accommodationism" is current.
Because it's the word of god and hence infallible;
Because it's the word of god and hence infallible;
The same as me as there is only one way to understand it;
It was always the majority view.
Ken Ham is sometimes an exceptions, but creationists don't debate each other. Thus they can pretend they all agree. Point out a difference and they refuse to discuss it, downplay it or shrug it off as irrelevant.
Creationism, no matter which variation, is about one thing only: Darwin was wrong. Because god.
Are we sure it wasn't? Augustine was an intelligent and open-minded man, and regarded some of the Bible as metaphorical, but even he thought the world was only a few thousand years old. And I sat through weekly Church in Wales sermons for years and heard no hint that Adam, Eve and Noah were not historic people.
Some do. Maybe not a lot but some. See the Todd Wood quote in MacMillan's article. Ken Ham vs. Kent Hovind was not really a debate on the issues of creationism against evolution, it was Ham being embarrassed by Hovind's utter cluelessness plus some jealousy over Hovine's popularity.
Augustine was an intelligent and open-minded man, and regarded some of the Bible as metaphorical, but even he thought the world was only a few thousand years old.
Given the state of science at the time, did he have any reason to think differently? The issue of how old the Earth was, beginning at least in the 17th Century, was scientifically in play and there wasn't all that much push back at that time. By Darwin's days, Christianity in western Europe and America had pretty well accepted an old Earth. One thing Inherit the Wind got wrong was that Bryan's followers were shocked that he admitted the possible of an old Earth. As Ronald Numbers has pointed out, the majority of Christians at the time ascribed to Day-Age or Gap Theology, which allowed for an old Earth. YEC was mostly a Seventh Day Adventist belief. As far as the supposed doctrine of the "immutability" of species, John Wilkins' book Species: A History of the Idea demonstrates that immutability was a relatively new idea to Christians.
It is a tangled history but one that, at least if put forward by one Christian to another, with non-theist scientists standing aside on the theological issues, can have an effect on some creationists.
Even today, the only reason that one should think of an interpretation of the Bible which is not geocentrist is because one accepts the authority of modern science. (And, I must mention, very few can give a good reason for heliocentrism. It's mostly just accepting science.)
I, for example, was raised an American Catholic. For some reason, I have a vivid memory of being taught by nuns about Adam & Eve in kindergarten or 1st grade, replete with a color flip chart showing them with a serpent and an apple. It was the first and only time I remember ever having it suggested that they were real people. A little over a decade later, when I lost whatever faith I had, there was no issue whatsoever about evolution or an old Earth involved because they were a given in my schooling. What got me to doubt was the question of evil and an omnipotent, omniscient god. The Catholic brothers who taught me at the time raised the issue themselves.
But that was a process that didn't happen overnight. I had to think about it long and hard. I can easily imagine someone who wouldn't think about it, or evolution, at all because of the way they were raised. Giving them the chance to think by simply stating that not all Christians are YECs seems to me about as pernicious as saying just because you're a Southern Baptist doesn't mean you still have to be a racist slaver.
Maybe not. I'm not concerned to blame him, but merely to suggest that YEC might well have been a majority opinion. There may have been arguments among the intelligentsia, but my guess is that down at the parish level the sermons were pretty literal-minded. As was my experience.
I shouldn't be a bit surprised. But, of course, MacMillan was appealing to the the views of the Christian intelligentsia, the theologians, not to the views of the "common man." Again, it is a tangled history but one that someone like MacMillan can fairly argue is not clear and unassailable "Christian doctrine" beyond dispute.
And I recommend this book to give you some idea of the freedom of interpretations of the Bible around the few centuries BC to the early AD:
James L. Kugel: The Bible As It Was. Belknap Press of Harvard U. Press, 1997, ISBN 0674069404
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