Tag Archives: Young Earth Creationists

Plains, Rocks & Cosmos

In anticipation of a summer touring the Great Plains, I took some time off from the blog to immerse myself in a surprisingly rich literature on the subject, which of course has nothing to do with religion. I will say, however, that anyone who has yet to discover this richness or is thinking about exploring the Plains should consider reading some of the books listed at the end of this post. Having just read each in succession, the immersive effect is pronounced and I’m ready to go but the weather is not yet cooperating. While waiting, and in anticipation of the anthropology of religion course I will be teaching in the middle of the summer, it’s time to round back toward religion.

The good news is that in doing so, I won’t run the risk of being brutally murdered. For the third time this year, a “secular” Bangladeshi blogger has been hacked to death by irate religionists. These three blasphemous bloggers were writing on subjects and topics similar to those that appear here, but were doing so knowing they would be targeted. Talk about courage.

Here in the United States, we fortunately do not have to confront this sort of thing, though we do have young earth Creationists who are relatively harmless. While I have never paid them much mind because arguing with them is futile, a geology professor thinks that the rocks disprove creationism. He apparently does not know that young earth Creationists have considered his argument and flatly rejected it. They are not interested in science and accept it only when it suits their psychological needs or religious purposes. But having said this, I was a bit shocked to encounter the following sentence in the professor’s piece:

“Embracing young Earth creationism means you have to abandon faith in the story told by the rocks themselves.”

This is an unfortunate choice of words. Why should we have faith in a story told by rocks? Rocks don’t tell stories. Geologists provide us with theory and data based narratives about rocks. These “stories” are subject to challenge, revision, and reversal. This method has nothing to do with faith.

From rocks to the cosmos, which is timely for anyone who has recently seen “Interstellar,” a movie with some brilliant science marred by metaphysical speculations about trans-dimensional love tunnels. It was marred even further by Matthew McConaughey’s overwrought acting, but that is another story. The main story here is the science based on Kip Thorne’s work and book, Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy. Though I am only about halfway through and not sure I understand everything, it is great for bending the mind. The cosmos is stranger than fiction and perhaps even myth.

Finally, the cosmos — and cosmological theories — are the subject of this dense piece by Ross Andersen over at Aeon. Cosmology, it appears, is in crisis and may stay that way for quite some time, perhaps forever. While this may unsettle some, I find it invigorating. When it comes to large and perhaps intractable subjects like this, I always find it helpful to read a good history of the field, so thanks to Andersen for recommending Helge Kragh’s Conceptions of Cosmos: From Myths to the Accelerating Universe: A History of Cosmology. It’s next on my list.

And speaking of lists, here is the one I promised at the beginning of this post, for all lovers of the Great Plains:

Great Plains by Ian Frazier
The Great Plains by Walter Prescott Webb
Love Song to the Plains by Mari Sandoz
Prehistoric Man on the Great Plains by Waldo Wedel
The Last Prairie: A Sandhills Journal by Stephen R. Jones
Ogallala Blue: Water and Life on the Great Plains by William Ashworth
Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains by Jack Brink

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Ark Park & Missionary Lizards

Back in 2010 I posted on the Creation Museum in Kentucky and the grandiose plan to build a Noah’s Ark Amusement Park nearby. It was supposed to open in 2014 but it seems that fund-raising hasn’t gone as planned. If the state of Kentucky would go beyond the tax-breaks it has already given and just provide direct funding, in the secular interest of promoting “commerce,” perhaps the $126 million ark park could get built.

For those wondering how things are going, FT’s Barney Jopson provides an in-depth look at the project and talks with those involved. You have to read it to believe it (the slideshow is good too). While talking to one of principals Jopson asks a poignant, albeit impertinent, question:

I asked whether the Ark Encounter did not risk undermining the Bible, particularly in the minds of children, by associating it with the fairy tales behind other theme parks. No, he said. It will be fun, but it will be clear that it is a “historical” park. “They are real accounts of real history – and if so, you may begin to think that, gee, evolution is a bunch of hogwash.”

Setting aside for a moment the issue of “real history,” I’m not sure this park will be all that much fun for the kids. Here is the park designer discussing themes:

He said he had watched humans “become more sensual, more dangerous, more self-centred” – just as they did in the licentious society punished by the biblical flood. As a reminder, before park visitors reach the ark they will walk through a stucco-walled sin city filled with the evils of pre-flood society, which he has decided will include prostitution, torture and cage fighting. On the other side will be a Tower of Babel and a ride themed on the plagues unleashed on Egypt, among them a river of blood and swarms of locusts. “We basically have retribution through this whole thing,” Marsh said.

Sounds like good times! There is nothing like a bit of retribution to go along with cotton candy and water slides. Tubing the river of blood should be special.

What was I saying the other day about the myth of mythopoeic eras? Creationist Christians never cease to amaze or amuse.

If the park is all about retribution, they should consider building two arks — one for mammals and another for dinosaurs or what creationists call “missionary lizards”:

Ark-Battleships-Bizarro

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Universe Permeated with “Original Sin”?

Physicists having difficulty with the elusive Higgs boson and mysterious dark matter may wish to look for an alternative explanation: the effect that Adam and Eve’s original sin had on the universe.  Whatever this hypothesis lacks in plausibility it makes up for with childish parsimony.

As Karl Giberson explains in Christianity and Extraterrestrial Life, there are more than a few literalist Christians who believe that the eating of an apple by two people on earth some 7,000 years ago altered the workings of the entire universe and impacted whatever life exists within it:

In the Creationist worldview on display in the Creation Museum, sin inaugurated sickness, disease, and the decay associated with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Prior to Adam’s sin, the laws of physics were different, since there could be no decay. So, according to the Answers in Genesis website, “another compensating restorative process may have prevented any net decay of the universe.” This restorative process ended with Adam’s sin, and now the Second Law of Thermodynamics was unbalanced, and the entire universe began to run down.

The creative interpretative scheme used by the Young Earth Creationists leads them to find biblical support for claims about laws that science discovered centuries later. Other Young Earth Creationists suggest that the Second Law of Thermodynamics actually appeared for the first time as the scientific consequence of sin.

In this view, the sin of the first human affected everything, even stars trillions of miles away.

This is not simply geocentrism — it is Homocentrism writ universally large.  Talk about presumptuous.   It reminds me, however, of the reaction many Native Americans had to missionary teachings about Christianity.

Aside from having difficulties understanding what they considered to be the dubious magic of the faith, they were most shocked by the claim that two white people eating a perfectly natural and nutritious piece of fruit — provided for humans by bounteous Mother Earth — brought wholesale condemnation on humanity.

In the native view, people were naturally inclined to right living and only things that people learned or did during their lives could divert them from this path.  It was a naturally optimistic view of human nature as opposed to the pessimistic and sinful view that is characteristic of Christianity.

That pessimism is on full display in Giberson’s article, in which he quotes Ken Ham — mastermind of the (would be funny were it not so harmful) Creation Museum — who without compassion asserts that alien life cannot have salvation:

“The Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe,” says Ham. “This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin.”

And, adding insult to injury, even though human sin on a distant Earth wrecked their planet, [aliens] “can’t have salvation,” says Ham. “Only descendants of Adam can be saved.” To even “suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong,” he says.

Ham apparently reads Romans differently than I do:

I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God. — Romans 8:38-39

I sense neither exclusion nor entropy in this verse.

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