Monday, August 11, 2014

David MacMillan: Understanding Creationism VIII

David MacMillan continues his series of posts on being a former young-earth creationist.  This part is personal history about his change of heart and, reading it, it gives me hope about others.  He writes:
All the while, I still maintained that even if evolution could work, it wasn’t fact, because the planet wasn’t old enough. Granted, I could see how the planet could be billions of years old – flood geology was wearing a little thin – but I was still constrained by religious belief to a 6,000-year-old universe. I think I really did know the truth at this point, deep down, but I didn’t feel like I could admit it.
Then I started learning about the history of creationism, and that’s where things started to crack. I learned that the age of the earth had never been a dividing issue in Christianity, not until Morris and Whitcomb plagiarized flood geology from the Seventh Day Adventists in the 1960s. I realized that not even the church fathers saw Genesis 1 as speaking of six actual days. Martin Luther was one of the only six-day creationists in church history, and he also believed geocentrism for the same reasons, so that wasn’t very encouraging. I began to see how there might be problems with the “historical-grammatical” approach to interpreting Genesis. If the creationist leaders were so far wrong about science, why should I expect their treatment of the Bible to be reliable?
This is an area that most young earth creationists don't know much about: the history of their own views.    Whitcomb and Morris' book is a near retread of the work of George MacReady Price and the views derive in large part from the works of Ellen White, the Seventh Day Adventist that lived in the late 1800s.  As Joshua Moritz wrote:
White and her Seventh Day Adventist followers harbored no doubts about the correct reading of the early chapters of Genesis because in a trancelike vision White was ‘‘carried back to the creation’’ by God himself, ‘‘and was shown that the first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six [24 hour] days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week.’’ White likewise saw that during Noah’s flood, God created all the various geological layers of sediment and fossils by burying the organic debris and causing ‘‘a powerful wind to pass over the some instances carrying away the tops of mountains like mighty avalanches...burying the dead bodies with trees, stones, and earth.’’ Thus, from the divine dreams of Ellen White young earth creationism was born and, ironically, it was conceived in stark opposition to the reigning biblical literalism of the day.
MacMillan closes with some very important tactics to remember, the first one at which I fail miserably.  He writes that we should be patient, but I find that hard to do as I encounter stubborn refusal on the part of creationists to address the evidence with any degree of honesty or integrity (for example, the recent posts on David Menton's human origins AiG article).

He writes that we are to know our enemy and that is not the person we are speaking with but the creationist viewpoint, itself.  This is also a point.  The problem here (and it relates to the previous paragraph) is that even if you can show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the YEC viewpoint is full of holes, the same viewpoint continues to be pressed by its purveyors (e.g. Ken Ham, John Morris). 

If I teach that all cats are red and you show me, categorically, that, no, some cats are red, some cats are blue and some cats are green, and yet I continue to teach that all cats are red, at some point, it becomes a lie.  It doesn't matter how sincere I am or that I tie it to a personal religious belief.  It is still a lie.  David Menton, when faced with mountains of evidence that did not fit his worldview, had two options: to adjust his worldview, or to try to twist the evidence to say things that it did not. He chose the latter. That is part-and-parcel of young earth creationism.


  1. I can confirm that you are not the only one who finds YECs infuriating. Though I need to remind myself that in many cases when I challenge them I am doing do so on THEIR blogs/websites (the few who ALLOW comments that is).

  2. I need some help. I'm an Evolutionary Creationist and I'm currently going to a Seventh Day Adventist church. I really like this place and all the people, and I find their methods of "evangelizing" very good. The problem is that I feel like If I open my mouth to say "I believe in evolution", everyone will start to look strange to me =/
    Do anyone have any advice?
    (PS: Sorry if I have a bad english. I'm from Brazil and all my english skills are from videogames =P)

  3. Wow. I have not been to a Seventh-day Adventist church in sometime. So I do not know if the denomination has changed its views on Evolution in the last hundred years. I do know that it walls from the Seventh-day Adventist movement from which modern creationism came. If you really like the church, then you should keep going there. Especially if you are being spiritually fed.

  4. I would, however, try to find a support group that will allow you to talk with other people about this. You might even find people within the congregation that actually subscribe to this view, as well. Evolutionary creationists pop up in the oddest places sometimes.

  5. I just want to speak up as a former YEC who came around to evolutionary creationism. In the faith community I was raised YEC was accepted as scientific fact, and I received plenty of materials as a kid that claimed to disprove evolution and an old earth. I believed it because it was the only side of the debate that I ever saw. But in graduate school, through the wonders of the internet, I started finding responses to YEC arguments, and within maybe a year I was convinced.

    So don't judge all YECs by what the professional YECs do. I'm sure a lot of the rank-and-file churchgoers aren't immune to the evidence, they've just never seen it.

  6. You are correct, AMW. I should have clarified that it is the leaders, like Ken Ham and David Menton for whom I am reserving my scorn. They know the evidence and twist it like a pretzel to serve their own ends. I ate breakfast with a friend of mine a few months back who had absolutely no idea that the theory of evolution was testable. That is because those who could have taught him honestly did not.