Easy targets

File:Michelangelo Buonarroti 023.jpgIf I refute New-Earth Creationism, do I thereby refute Christianity?

New-Earth Creationism (NEC), the notion that God created the Earth, or even the Universe, less than ten thousand years ago in six days, is clearly untrue. It is even untrue from a Christian perspective: either all those academics, who claim to be seeking the truth, and say the planet is 4.5 billion years old, are part of a Satanic conspiracy or they are deluded by God or Satan: either Satan has more power than Christianity would claim, or God is deliberately deluding people with false evidence, a mean and destructive thing God would not do. NEC is unChristian, and deeply irrational, involving denying large amounts of evidence and the honest perceptions of millions.

How many people believe it? According to a British Council survey, 43% of people in the US believe that all life on Earth was created by a God and has always existed in its current form. 53% agreed it was possible to believe in Evolution and still believe in God. 41% of those who know something of the theory denied that there is sufficient evidence to support it.

Christian pastors, educated people for the most part, need to stop demanding that people believe toxic rubbish and thereby leaving an open goal for anti-theists.

Between 587 and 538 BC, the Jews were captive in exile in Babylon, and were there exposed to Mesopotamian creation myths. It is likely that the first ten chapters of Genesis arise from that experience. The Flood is a story from the epic of Gilgamesh. The stories are rewritten in Genesis chapters 1-10 to give the God of the Jews-Ā called Yahweh or Elohim- a central and causative role.

Genesis 1 contradicts Genesis 2. In chapter 1, human beings are created last, on the sixth day, both male and female, and God is referred to as “God”, a translation of “Elohim”, literally “Gods”. In chapter 2, Yahweh, translated “The Lord”, created a man, then plants, then animals, and finally a woman. The use of the words Yahweh or Elohim indicateĀ different authors, commonly referred to as J for Jahwist and E for Elohist.Ā Those who compiled Genesis, and those who decided that it was Holy Scripture, were not concerned by the contradiction, and so were clearly not giving a report on what had happened before the first human beings. Belief in NEC and denial of DarwinismĀ means false belief about what the Bible actually is, or was ever intended to be. Some of it was written down before the Babylonian exile, some in the second century AD, by different authors with different intentions and even different beliefs, and different experiences of God. Possibly, some of Isaiah is written by a school of prophets seen as false prophets in Jeremiah.

I see Christianity asĀ a Way: Spiritual path, Tao, whatever. What I believe is less important than who I am and what I do. Even Original Sin is a doctrine created by Augustine of Hippo, from a particular interpretation of the Bible and what texts are most important in it. Paradoxically, New-Earth Creationism arises from Enlightenment patterns of thought: what is true, and what logical deductions may be made from it? What should I believe, rather than how should I act? I value the Bible primarily to show me how I should act- no, not break babies’ heads open with stones, as in Psalm 137:9, or even toĀ sell all I have and give the moneyĀ to the poor, a direct command from Jesus, Matthew 19:21. It is more complex than that. Also, the question is always, What should I do Now? Not, how may IĀ find the comprehensiveĀ moralĀ belief system, from which I may always know what to do, because that is impossible.

Some people claim to be “spiritual but not religious”- that is an inadequate view of religion, or of Christianity, seeing it as primarily a matter of belief not of the Path. Unfortunately, Christians give ample support to that view. ButĀ Quakers say “Christianity is not a notion, but a way” (Advices and Queries 2) andĀ in the Bible, it is a Way, and God shall come to teach God’s people Godself (Isaiah 30:21):

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ā€˜This is the way; walk in it.ā€™

Jesus (John 14:6):

ā€˜I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

Early Christians (Acts 19:9):

But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them.

7 thoughts on “Easy targets

  1. Well thought-out and compelling post, Clare. “What I believe is less important than who I am and what I do.” I like that. I see it as the choices I make in the moment – from a place of response (choosing) vs. reaction. Cathy

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  2. Clare, this is very well written.
    However, I do think the Christians who would agree with your view especially on interpretation of the bible and especially the first chapters of Genesis are in the minority. Looking at the Chicago declaration on Inerrancy of the bible, it has to be taken both as true and having been inspired by God. You and me agree that this can’t be the case if there are one contradictory stories in successive chapters, authorship being in question among many other things.
    But if you were to trust the bible on how to act, there would be a difficulty there as well unless you become very selective on what to apply.

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    • I do not think you can trust the Bible on how to act, if you mean act like people do in the Bible- they murder, they rape, they lie and cheat, they act like people. David murdered Uriah the Hittite in order to steal his wife Bathsheba, and her son was Solomon, and he was the great King of Israel and Judah united- if he ever lived.

      I read the Bible for wisdom on what the World is like, and, well, yes, how to act. Matthew chapters 5-7, for example. Not for a set of rules, but for how people can live together.

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      • But I think you really do not need the bible for such rules on how to live together. I notice a contradiction, you just said in the beginning of your response that you can’t trust the bible on how to act, but in the second paragraph you say you read it for wisdom of how to act, which is your correct position? To use the bible as a guide comes with a moral dilemma of where to draw the line. First either you have to accept that it is wholly the word of God and will be compelled to follow it as is[ where a woman should be purified after every menses and such other laws] or you take is at the word of men and thus chose those parts that would be applicable to your particular situation.
        And as you say correctly we can’t trust the bible on how to act, why then place it on a high pedestal? Why not place it in fiction[I honestly think it belongs there] sections in libraries and bookstores?
        For what the world is like, is observable without the use of a bible and a lot can be found in science books.

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