Monthly Archives: May 2008

Top 10 Reasons the Young-Earth Creationist Did Not Cross the Road to the “Other Side”

Inspired by Parchment and Pen‘s recent spate of Top 10 lists, I decided to create my own Top 10 reasons the young-earth creationist did not cross the road to the “other side.” Feel free to add your own to the list!

10. Bishop Ussher’s The Annals of the World never makes mention of God creating the other side before Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC.

9. The creation of an “other side” is just an inferior ancient Near Eastern myth.


8. A literal interpretation of Genesis does not support crossing to the other side.

7. He did not want to disturb what looked like human tracks crossing dinosaur tracks in the asphalt until representatives from ICR arrived to confirm the find.

6. Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers were on the other side.

5. Ben Stein’s money was on his side.

4. He did not want to be a monkey’s uncle.

3. He transferred from Calvin College before he could take one of Stephen Matheson‘s biology courses.

2. The street only has the appearance of an “other side.”

And (drum roll, please) …

1. Because an intelligent agency appeared to have designed the road, the other side did not warrant further scientific investigation.

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Blog Update

Today, 28 May 2008, marks the 6-monthiversary of The Creation of an Evolutionist! It’s been an extreme pleasure blogging about my journey, and it’s been an even greater pleasure interacting with my readers! Despite my intense language study program, I have your pokes, prods, and good-natured ribbing to thank for keeping my chin up and my keyboard warm.

On 17 January 2008, I started using Google Analytics to track just about everything under the sun related to my blog. Here are some stats I found interesting:

# of visits: 3,480
# unique visitors: 1,601
# of page views: 6,812
# pages/visit: 1.96

I’ve had visitors from 48 countries. The Top 10 are:

United States
Canada
United Kingdom
Australia
Germany
Singapore
New Zealand
South Africa
Brazil
Ireland

However, the Top 10 countries that surfed my blog the longest were:

Norway (average 30:13)
Guatemala (10:56)
Thailand (9:02)
Turkey (7:40)
Brazil (7:21)
Ireland (5:26)
Poland (5:00)
Australia (4:58)
United States (4:33)
Singapore (3:53)

62.7% of the visits to my blog came from referring blogs. I’d like to thank the Top 10:

Gordon J. Glover (Beyond the Firmament)
Stephen Matheson (Quintessence of Dust)
Steve Douglas (Undeception)
Timothy P. Martin and Dr. Jeff Vaughn (Beyond Creation Science)
James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)
Steve Martin (An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution)
Jim Lippard (The Lippard Blog)
Mike Gene (Telic Thoughts)
Cliff Martin (OutsideTheBox)
John Farrell (Farrell Media)

The Top 10 keywords or phrases Googled to reach my blog were:

“thank god for evolution”
“creation of an evolutionist”
“john walton genesis”
“beyond creation science”
“le bon dieu est dans le detail”
“tim martin evolution”
“creation evolutionist”
“evolutionist beliefs”
“continuous creation”
“evolutionary creationism theistic evolution”

The Top 10 pages were:

Thanks again to all who have helped make this blog a success (in my eyes, at least). It may not get a bazillion hits a day like some blogs I frequent, but it will have been worth it if I helped just one person overcome their fear of evolution and find continued solace in their faith.

God bless.

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The Problem of Evil

The problem of evil assumes the existence of a world-purpose. What, we are really asking, is the purpose of suffering? It seems purposeless. Our question of the why of evil assumes the view that the world has a purpose, and what we want to know is how suffering fits into and advances this purpose. The modern view is that suffering has no purpose because nothing that happens has any purpose: the world is run by causes, not by purposes.

W. T. Stace (b. 1886), Religion and the Modern Mind [1953]

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The Evolution of Creationism

HT to Panda’s Thumb for alerting me to a recent video produced by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) which summarizes their findings regarding the high school biology textbook Of Pandas and People. NCSE’s research uncovers proof that this particular textbook was edited heavily (and just a little sloppily) in order to bypass the 1987 Supreme Court decision (Edwards v. Aguillard) that declared the unconstitutionality of teaching of creationism in public schools. If you think it’s inconceivable that “intelligent design” equals “creationism,” I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

View the evidence for yourself:

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Indiana Jones, Star Wars, ET, and the Origin of Sin

If you’ve visitied this blog at any time over the past several months, you know I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. When I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night, I was “as giddy as a school boy.” It suffices to say, I was extremely impressed with all aspects of the movie, from the technical art of movie-making to the intriguing storyline to unforgettable performances. This blog post won’t contain any major spoilers, but you can’t help but take note of the movie’s extra-terrestrial overtones, as it’s central in both the title of the movie as well as the official movie poster.

So what does the latest Indiana Jones flick have to do with the creation/evolution debate? Plenty.

As reported by Catholic News Agency last week, Fr. José Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican’s Observatory, told the Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that Catholic doctrine allowed for the belief in the possible existence of extraterrestrial life. Fr. Funes, who tentatively believes in the Big Bang theory for lack of a “more complete and precise explanation of the origin of the universe,” posits that the hypothesis that extraterrestrial life exists should not and cannot be discounted, especially when one considers the size of our universe. I agree with Fr. Funes.

Even when I was a young-earth creationist, I never fell for the common YEC argument that extraterrestrial life didn’t exist soley because God’s redemptive focus was on our blue and green ball alone. (Be sure to read Answers in Genesis’ full response to the ET question, in which they claim that “the thrust of the biblical testimony [and] the purpose of creation is uniquely centred on this earth.”) Maybe it was because I had been immersed in science fiction (“Star Trek,” Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, “Battlestar Galactica,” etc.) from an early age that I could theorize beyond my YEC shackles. Regardless of the intellectual contradiction, the question always simmered on my mind’s backburner. After reading C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, I began to think more seriously about the possibilities, both scientific and theological. Fr. Funes certainly has:

“I think there isn’t [a contradiction]. Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures over the earth, so there could be other beings, even intelligent [beings], created by God. This is not in contradiction with our faith, because we cannot establish limits to God’s creative freedom. To say it with St. Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’, why could we not speak of a ‘brother alien’? He would also belong to the creation.”

What if? What if intelligent, self-aware beings existed on some distant star? Would God have made provisions for their salvation? Would the Logos have also humbled Himself by taking on alien flesh, ready to guide their civilization toward spiritual wholeness? Why not?

And what would alien scriptures look like? I’m sure they would read completely differently. God would have accomodated Himself to their history, their myths, their traditions, and demonstrate His love for them in a way that may be completely lost on us. This, of course, begs a completely different but intimately related question: Was there a Fall of Spock? Is an alien “fall” inevitable?

And this is where I disagree with Fr. Funes’ assertion that “[the alien race] could have remained in full friendship with the Creator.” Granted, we don’t know how long it took for mankind to go from an guiltless covenantal state to one of estrangement from the Creator, but I’m not so sure that any finite being, however intelligent, could stay in God’s good graces long. Last September, I pondered the origin of sin while finishing up a 19-novel Star Wars series titled “The New Jedi Order,” which takes place 25-30 years after 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope. What is most unique about this series (and this novel in particular) is its emphasis on the nature of the Force, the philosophy of its use, and the origin of the dark side. The following extract from the hardcover version of Star Wars: The New Jedi Order—The Unifying Force (p. 268) features Jedi Master Luke Skywalker speaking with his nephew Jedi Knight Jacen Solo, son of Han Solo and Princess Leia:

“… the dark side is real, because evil actions are real. Sentience gave rise to the dark side. Does [the dark side] exist in nature? No. Left to itself, nature maintains the balance. But we’ve changed that. We [sentient beings] are a new order of consciousness that has an impact on all life. The Force now contains light and dark because of what thinking beings have brought to it. That’s why balance has become something that must be maintained—because our actions have the power to tip the scales.” [emphasis in original]

What do you think about the possibility of ETs, God’s provision for their salvation (assuming intelligent ETs exist), and the true origin of sin?

(I was hoping to save questions like these for a special series on the theological ramifications of evolutionary creationism, but the timing of Fr. Funes interview and the release of the latest Indiana Jones flick was too tempting. I apologize for jumping the gun!)

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R. C. Sproul: Young-Earth Creationist?

R. C. Sproul, Sr., who was extremely influential in my break from futurist eschatology, appears to have finally taken a stance on creationism. Ironically, in interpreting the early chapters of Genesis, he abandons the historico-grammatical method that he utilized so well in examining portions of Scripture that deal with the Second Coming of Christ (see Sproul’s The Last Days according to Jesus, as well as James Stuart Russell’s The Parousia).
Read about it at Parchment and Pen and participate in the discussion!

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Making (r)Evolutionary Waves in Creationist Ponds

Steve Martin (Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution) has begun a multi-essay series written by some heavy hitters in the theistic evolution/evolutionary creationist movement. First up is “Creation, Evolution and the Nature of Science” by Kansas State University geology professor Keith B. Miller, editor of Perspectives on an Evolving Creation. Equally outstanding is the discussion that follows, which sparked Steve Douglas’ thoughtful blog post at Undeception.

Gordon J. Glover, author of Beyond the Firmament, has been blogging on science and education, several posts of which contain outstanding historical anecdotes detailing the conflict between mankind’s expanding knowledge base and faulty scriptural interpretive methods (i.e., hermeneutics). Check out the first one here and keep on reading!

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Nonoverlapping Magisteria: Gould’s NOMA Principle

About the same time that I was introduced to the work of Howard J. Van Till, I was also introduced to the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002). I must confess that, until I read Gould’s outstanding essay “Nonoverlapping Magisteria,” I had never (and still have not) read a shred of Gould’s other works. I plan to remedy that down the road.

Gould was not, by any means, a theist. However, Gould respected the role of religion—a role that had the potential of giving mankind a sense of purpose and providing human beings with a method by which we could make contextual sense of the world around us. These were facets of our existence to which science could not speak. Like Van Till, Gould believed that the scientific method and the various religio-philosophical pursuits provided appropriate answers to different questions regarding identical phenomena, both of which were equally valid ways of understanding the universe which need not conflict—as long as each discipline respected the other’s domain.

Here are some highlights from Gould’s essay that I find extremely profound:

The lack of conflict between science and religion arises from a lack of overlap between their respective domains of professional expertise—science in the empirical constitution of the universe, and religion in the search for proper ethical values and the spiritual meaning of our lives. The attainment of wisdom in a full life requires extensive attention to both domains—for a great book tells us that the truth can make us free and that we will live in optimal harmony with our fellows when we learn to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. [bold emphasis mine]

Thus, it stands to reason that any conflict between science and religion which arises does so from an overlap between their respective domains of expertise. Moreover, any existing overlap can have its origin in either domain. Gould continues:

No such conflict should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority—and these magisteria do not overlap (the principle that I would like to designate as NOMA, or “nonoverlapping magisteria“). . . . The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry . . . . This resolution might remain all neat and clean if the nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA) of science and religion were separated by an extensive no man’s land. But, in fact, the two magisteria bump right up against each other, interdigitating in wondrously complex ways along their joint border. Many of our deepest questions call upon aspects of both for different parts of a full answer. . . . NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance. NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions. [bold emphasis mine]

It never occurred to me until reading Van Till and Gould that both science and religion had their limitations in regard to the questions that they were able to answer. While science could tell us how the cosmos evolved over the aeons since the Big Bang, only religion could posit a possible solution to the ultimate cause of the Big Bang. Science could seek to tell us what natural laws govern our universe, but only religion could posit Who created and sustains those laws, as well as provide mankind with possible answers regarding the “why” question that is begged by the cosmos’ very existence. I felt at peace knowing that my faith and scientific observation needn’t conflict with each other. I was now free to examine the scientific evidence for myself without being distracted by a misguided (albeit well-intentioned) “witch hunt” for contradictions between the two magisteria.

Since I began this blog, many have applauded me for finally reconciling my faith with the findings of science. In response, I tell them that I don’t need the applause. The perception that a reconciliation was required is really a false one, for there was no real conflict to begin with. The only conflict that existed was a product of my own misunderstanding of both science and religion.

Having taken the “red pill,” I was ready to see how far evolution’s rabbit hole really went . . .

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