Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Science of Denial

My perspective may be different than most because I was a young-earth creationist for a good part of my adult life. Sadly, I wasn't much for hunting the truth, I was happy to accept my faith and trust in God.

To be honest, I didn't really think about it much until later but was a fairly fundamentalist Christian, accepting the Bible as inerrant, special creation, and even "speaking in tongues" which is also part of scripture. So when presented with the argument that we must believe Genesis literally, including that the Earth is young, that seemed like a natural. I had nothing vested in evolution or the age of stuff so it wasn't a big deal. In fact, it was fairly easy to accept the arguments presented by religious sources and look no farther.

That changed when a series of events led me to first doubt my beliefs about creationism then discover that they were pure and utter fantasy. Through the help of an Australian friend who answered some of my questions with specific examples, and the "Evolution 101" podcast of Zachary Moore, I realized that I'd been hoodwinked.

I was pissed.

It turns out that the scientific evidence for an old earth, for an evolutionary progression of life, and the validity of dating methods, is extremely well understood and well accepted by essentially everyone outside of religion. It says a lot that 95% of all working biologists accept evolution and an old earth, but it says even more that the remaining 5% are almost exclusively defending their religion. That's not science.

Geologists are another group that overwhelmingly accepts a billion+ year old earth. It's telling that even most Christian Geologists accept this as apparent by looking at the Affiliation of Christian Geologists website. Here's their statement about an old earth.

Since tossing the "god glasses" I've been thrilled to discover an incredible world of science that, as a method, has advanced our capability in everything from feeding a growing population to making really cool stuff like cars and powered paragliders. I've also learned that there's quite a science behind belief.

When someone has lots of social connections they are looking for ways to reinforce their core beliefs. That makes sense, of course, nobody wants to think of themselves as "close minded"; we want to think that we have good reason for those beliefs. So we seek out "supporting" evidence which is exactly what I did.

Answers in Genesis was where I turned for those questions that seemed intractable. And frequently their non-answer was disappointing but I always chalked it up simply not knowing the mind of god. "We'll find out in heaven" was a common refrain. It wasn't until my social circle changed that I was able to finally start looking elsewhere. When my Australian friend questioned my blind belief in a friendly but direct way, and I had no good answers, I started looking at other evidence.

Wow. That evidence is truly overwhelming for those who are interested in knowing, not just believing. It takes a lot but the trappings of reality are worth the journey.

Happy hunting.

2 comments:

  1. Honestly, I'm disappointed that the "young earth worldview" is the only plausible account from the creation perspective in your opinion. I encourage you to do a little research about the fact that when God mentions his day-to-day creations in the Book of Genesis, the literal meaning of a day may not necessarily be 24 hours. In fact, many Christians believe that a day to God could be any other amount of time; yes, even a period of millions or even billions of years. This of course, would match with the scientific view that the world is indeed much, much older than a mere 6 thousand years.

    I commend you for trying to look for the truth. I too have not simply accepted either evolution or Bible as truth merely because I was told to. However, I encourage you to look deeper into this matter. Please don't "debunk" people's faith unnecesarily.

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  2. Realizing that the young earth "theory" is complete nonsense prompted me to look at all my beliefs. I'd already had doubts but here I became committed to using the most reliable tools we have to gain knowledge. It turns out that if you really want to know anything, you must make measurements. Whether its measuring a crime scene or measuring carbon in dead material, or measuring the spread of DNA errors, it relies on measurement. That means science.

    Science is humanity's most successful tool for reliable knowledge. I gained an appreciation for this fact. It doesn't take much to see this in action -- just think of every single advance we've made. It's come through science. Someone may propose a theory but not until others validate it, figure out what works and what doesn't, do we actually start putting that theory to work.

    Whatever you believe in, ask yourself if it passes basic scientific muster. If you say that science can't answer questions about the supernatural then consider that the supernatural is irrelevant. You could make up any force and have the same argument. Lets concentrate on what works.

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