Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Creationism vs Evolution

(I wrote these comments in the comment section of an article about Michael Gove in the Guardian: here)

The debate about creationism vs science is a very bizarre one because it seems to me to be a red herring. This is shown when you try and answer the question as to why it matters in any real sense if one person or a whole group of people believe that God made the world in 6 days a few thousand years ago, or if our evolution from lower life forms took millions of years. In terms of most of our relationships, our ability to make good choices, our careers, and so on it makes no difference at all. Why then is there all this fuss?

It is because such belief is, either way, indicative of a general stance towards things that effect us in the here and now. This is the point of contention. Creationist beliefs suggest and support (in a very poor way, granted) the view that our human dignity and fundamental equality is something inalienable and given by divine fiat. Evolutionary beliefs stand in, not for evolution in particular, but for the whole panoply of scientific achievement, which the opposing view appears to challenge. It is only from this perspective that the hot air generated by a debate about origins makes any contemporary sense to me. They are arguments about and for different things.

In both cases, evolution and creationism stand in for what they are not, which is general arguments about separate issues (our preciousness and equality versus our hard won achievements as a species), and as such ought not be opposed to one another since they both speak of different things. Moreover, proponents of evolution misunderstand that creationists are responding to the logical conclusion towards which a purely evolutionary account tends (that humans are fundamentally unequal); whereas creationists misunderstand that one does not need to oppose evolutionary science to uphold the idea that God made and loves us. The fact that virtually non one intellectually assented to the idea that Genesis 1-3 was historically/scientifically "true" before the rise of science in the 17th Century, to which creationism itself rose in misguided response, suggests that this debate lacks any self-awareness.

It is a pointless debate.

It's not even a debate....


  1. I saw more of myself in that section than I normally care to acknowledge.

  2. Oops! Just realised that I'd commented on the wrong blog post.


  3. Hi David, I enjoyed your guest post @ emmascrivener.net so thought I'd have a nosey around your other posts (all best to you in your adopting a child! Beautiful!)

    This one caught my attention as I'm a Creationist and a teacher or science.

    By way of brief background, I trained as a doctor for 8 years (including A-Levels) but failed my finals so transferred to Physiology. In all that time, I never questioned my evolutionist tutors. Then I heard a talk from a Creationist scientist and was impressed by his analytical integrity. More than this, though, I was overjoyed to learn that God wants us to know him so much that he has made everything in all creation to point to him, and the bible to be a completely truthful account accessible to all, past, present, and future.

    My passion for Creationism, then, is all about the joy of getting to know God better, having what I know confirmed throughout his work of Creation, and sharing these joys with others, and I have continued to enjoy this throughout the decade or so since hearing that initial presentation.

    It's silly to think that anyone who does not love Jesus would want anything but to demolish or twist his self-proclaiming work in creation so I have no real argument with evolutionists ... until they impose the restriction on me that I may not share the joy of seeing God and his gospel throughout creation with others.

    The reasons, then, that I get involved in the debate are: to present hitherto unheard evidence in the hope that eyes will be open and hearts freed to trust God and his bible; and to protect my own career and the freedom to teach about Jesus and his self-revelation that forms my raison d'ĂȘtre as a teacher.

    If you are interested in learning more about the science (and are happy enough to wade through the inevitable "hot air" of writers, weary of the vitriole, lashing back!), Creation Ministries International have some good articles. I also heard a very helpful explanation as to why evolutionary theory (particularly all the deaths that had to occur before Man appeared) opposes the work of Christ's death on the cross by Australian John McKay, of Creation Research (dot net).

    Every blessing to you,


  4. Hi Nick
    Thanks for getting in touch. Am really sorry that I haven't replied earlier - I didn't see your comment till my brother mentioned that someone other than him had commented!

    I don't really have an issue as such with creationism, though I would always query a reading of the Bible that requires a literalist hermeneutic at all times, which I suspect creationism does. I'm more interested in the struggle that creationism and evolutionism seem to be engaged in, and how the struggle frames the terms of the debate between the two. Both strike me as oddly complicit in a (false) Enlightenment view of the universe that treats scientific fact as somehow having a greater access to truth than myth. In this sense, I personally don't think that whether or not the story of Adam and Eve is in every sense an historically accurate account makes it in any way more compelling or truthful. That is, the historical veracity of the story is (for me) the least interesting thing about it. I don't think the same applies to the gospels, although they are so artfully written that the layers of meaning and thoughtful engagement require a greater degree of attention than a normal biographical account normally would.

    What I liked about your comment though was that you made every effort to frame your creationist views wholly within your relationship to Christ. My main problem with creationism is that it seems to tend towards "belief" in the scientific veracity of Genesis 1-3, as though such belief were qualitatively equal to "belief" in Christ, which it certainly isn't. That said, I don't "believe" in evolution either, but mainly because evolutionists are so boringly predictable in their conclusions.

    By the way, Mike Reeves wrote an excellent defense of an historical Adam here (http://www.reformation21.org/articles/adam-and-eve.php).