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Monday, March 14, 2016

If you are a young-earth creationist, I am totally 100% okay with that. Well. Sort of.

A scene with primitive people and dinosaurs. Image source.
I used to be a young-earth creationist. I'm not anymore- now I trust that the majority of the world's scientists know their science better than I do, so, evolution it is.

[And here's a bit of advice for the non-creationists: if you're ever arguing with a young-earth creationist, you won't get anywhere by talking about how radioactive dating is very much a real thing and there's no way the earth is 6000 years old. The problem isn't the scientific facts- the problem is they've been taught that to follow God correctly, they need to believe in young-earth creationism. That's the point you want to attack. When I found Christians who "believed in" evolution, and got to know them enough to realize they were in no way "bad Christians" or "rejecting the bible" or anything like that, that's when I accepted the idea that as a Christian, I didn't need to be a young-earth creationist. At that point, I no longer had a dog in the fight, so to speak, so I quickly switched over to "yeah if scientists think it's evolution, then sure, whatever, I believe them."]

I'm not okay with how creationists are mocked. If you're a young-earth creationist, I don't think you're "stupid" or anything like that. I'm smart, and I was smart back then, when I was a creationist. I love science now, and I loved science back then. I did a ton of research- but only from creationist-approved sources. I was all about logic and science, and I could totally make all kinds of arguments about it (though I now believe that the creationist view on the nature of "science" is, uh, not really right).

So, maybe I disagree with you, but it's fine. I'm not too concerned with what people believe, I'm concerned with the effects of those beliefs on the real world. Do your beliefs lead you to do good or evil? That's the important thing, not the actual content of the beliefs. (And this is why I don't believe that faith in the correct set of facts about Jesus is what gets people into heaven.) It is unclear how believing that God created the world 6000 years ago would affect a person's actions. It's a pretty morally neutral belief, in my opinion. So I'm fine with it. (Not all beliefs are morally neutral- perhaps you believe a certain group of people is inferior. I'm not okay with that, because that WILL lead to you treating people badly.)

Perhaps, because you are a young-earth creationist, you believe that all people are created in God's image, and therefore you need to treat everyone with respect. This includes people who agree with you, and people who disagree with you. Everyone deserves love and respect. Including people who "believe in" evolution.

Great! I wholeheartedly approve of this approach to morality.

Or perhaps, because you are a young-earth creationist, you think that everybody who is not a young-earth creationist is willfully ignoring the evidence. The majority of scientists are dishonest- they are involved in a cover-up, to hide the truth from us. They KNOW that creationism is true, but they just don't want to follow God. They're selfish. They love sin. And it's not just scientists- it's everyone who accepts evolution. They're all a bunch of arrogant jerks who think they don't need God.

So then you go around spreading nasty lies on the internet about how "evolutionists" hate God, how they're teaching children that life is meaningless, etc. You hate. You confidently point out the character flaws of complete strangers.

Yeah, I have a problem with that.

And, ironically, Answers in Genesis claims to be taking the first approach, while channeling all their energy into the second approach. Go take a look at Ken Ham's twitter. I guarantee you will find a ton of tweets about how people who disagree with him are terrible people who are destroying society. And here's a fun article about how creationism leads to valuing people, and evolution leads to school shootings. Umm, hello? Do you not see that, by writing an article like this, which promotes stereotypes about atheists being immoral, you are NOT treating them as valuable image-bearers? This article's very existence literally disproves the point it's trying to make.

I care about the results of your beliefs. I care about how those beliefs influence your behavior toward other people. As Jesus said, by their fruit you will know them.

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One more thing: Okay, so I realize that, when I say beliefs should be judged on whether or not they lead to treating people well, my understanding of "treating people well" is based in my own beliefs, and that when someone treats other badly because of their beliefs, it is very possible that, in their belief system, they are actually treating people well.

For example: If you believe everyone who doesn't hold specific beliefs about Jesus goes to hell, and you want to help them, then logically you need to do everything in your power to coerce people into believing those things that will save them. In the past, I participated in this kind of evangelism, and I now believe it is unloving. But at the time, I did it because I really did love people and wanted to help them.

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