I don’t intend to harp on the whole Creationism thing (really, this isn’t my typical rant-until-they-relent tactic), but I’ve been asked and I’ve seen comments that ask, “What difference does it make?” I’ve seen people express incredulity that these ideas could be taught in public schools. “That doesn’t happen in America!”
Why do I think it’s such a big deal? Because I was taught these ideas.
I was around 9 when we started (occasionally) attending a rural Methodist church. I was sitting outside with my dad one afternoon telling him all about how God created the world in 6 days. He turned to me and said, “Well, actually, there’s this thing call evolution that makes a lot more sense…” Being a kid, I figured, “Why would God put a lie into the Bible? Obviously the Bible is correct.” I mean, why would they teach lies in Sunday School? I had no idea that Genesis could be true without being literally true.
Credit: Photo Fiend
When I was 12, I had an awesome science teacher. His class was fun and I love science anyway, so he was probably my favorite teacher that year. (He was the first person I saw play the nose flute…which started my life-long obsession with nose flutes.) He told us that ‘Lucy’ was a fraud (something about how they found a jaw and then a long way away they found some other bones and just claimed it was all one skeleton). He also said some stuff about the book of Job proving that dinosaurs and humans co-existed.
When I was 15, I stood in church and watched a group of kids sing that the theory of evolution was “self contradictory and dumb…DUMB!” (I politely, but firmly refused to participate. It’s not OK to call someone ‘dumb’ over a disagreement.)
By the time I was 18, I would up with the idea that if you didn’t take Genesis literally you weren’t actually a Christian. I thought having faith meant believing everything in the Bible was literally 100% factually true. There were people I really admired and cared about who were hardcore Creationists. So, I could be a closet “Evolutionist” or I could lose the religion that largely defined me and the respect of my “church family”.
That’s not the reason I walked (OK, OK, stormed) away from Christianity, but it’s a big reason why it took me so long to reconnect. I had never heard that a non-literal reading of Genesis was valid. I was told that was “picking and choosing”. It took a bit of reading and study to find out that the fundamentalist view of creation is a NEW idea. Historically, Christianity has supported a non-literal interpretation.
How much more faithful to the Bible can I get than reading the text in the way it was meant to be read? (So, if we really want to play that “which view is more Christian game”…)
I don’t have a problem with people who believe in a 6-day creation and 6,000-year-old earth. I have a problem when these people claim their view is the Christian view. It’s not. In the context of history and the world’s Christian population, it’s a belief that a minority of Christians happen to have.
I have a problem with teachers influencing their students by shrugging off evolution as “just a theory” (seriously, aren’t we all on the same page about what a scientific theory means yet?) I have a problem with teachers using the Bible as scientific evidence.
I have a problem with the other people I’ve come across who left Christianity because they, like me, thought it was impossible to be a Christian and not accept Genesis as historical fact. I have a problem with the people who lied to us and told us there was no other option.
Christians are supposed to judge other Christians “by their fruit”.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:15-20
Where is the “good fruit” in running people out of Christianity? Where is the “good fruit” in insisting people reject science, reason, and basic common sense? I believe that a literal interpretation of Genesis is damaging. It alienates people who might otherwise embrace the gospel. It chases out people who do believe the gospel, but think they don’t qualify for the Christian Club.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” – Matthew 18:6-9
From where I sit, literal Creationism is the foot that causes others to stumble. I feel it’s important for me to distance myself from those beliefs. I hope that other Christians, especially those who have come from a more fundamentalist background, will do the same.
I’m not trying to condemn Creationists for believing what they believe. It’s not their fault that they were taught these things. However, when they start insisting on these beliefs, that’s when the line gets crossed.
During the Ham/Nye debate, Ken Ham accused secularists of hijacking science.
In many ways, Creationists have hijacked Christianity and that has to stop.