Sunday, April 19, 2009

Out Of A Closet

My fake Internet name is Zirbert, and I... am a creationist.

Time to actually go back and follow through on something I once mentioned. Sometimes this blog makes me feel like Chris Claremont. (Nerdly reference explanation for those with lives: Chris Claremont was a longtime writer of the Uncanny X-Men and related titles, and was notorious for setting up subplots then apparently getting bored with them or forgetting about them, leaving them dangling for years, or forever.)

Back in this entry, I mentioned that I would be leading a Bible study series on a controversial topic. I'm halfway through it by this point, and it's going quite well. The group is currently taking a break from my series to do the Fireproof series, after which we'll return to finish off this series before breaking for the summer.

My series is on creationism. Specifically, young-Earth creationism. It's based on the Answers With Ken Ham video series, from the people at Answers In Genesis. Each week we watch one of the videos, then discuss.

I was happy to find that the study guide, with discussion questions, and more importantly, the answer key for those questions (or suggested answers, in the case of the more thoughtful questions) were readily available from AIG's website.

When we started out, I assumed I'd be preparing my own discussion materials. I was ready to do that, but having something precooked to work with is a lot easier. In fact, for the first week, I had already prepared my own material before finding out about the AIG resources.

Here's the handout I prepared for the first week, when I gave a little background on the topic and we watched the first video, with URLs converted to links. The handout is pretty much about the background, not the video. Answers to the blanks and commentary follow.

Being a creationist is one of the two things that upsets nonbelievers the most. (The other is pointing out that atheists have no objective basis for _______________.)

Stockwell Day was publicly ridiculed. Also consider this 2008 quote: “I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago. That's an important - I want to know that, I really do, because she's going to have the nuclear codes. You know, I want to know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago... we can't, we can't have that.” -_____________, talking about ________________________.

A comment on my blog, in response to an article that wasn't even about creationism, said: “Do us all a favor, and home-school the kid so you can convince him the Earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are a trick the Devil played to make us believe in evolution.”

Even within the Church, many people will oppose creationism (or at least “young-earth creationism”). Many others just haven't thought about it, or may not think it matters.

These videos emphasize the importance of understanding your own ________________ (the way you look at the world and interpret evidence). Everyone has biases and preconceptions, and all evidence is interpreted within some framework.
“There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.”
The three best-known major creationist ministries are:

• 1. Answers in Genesis – producers of these videos, publishers of Answers magazine and the Answers Research Journal (highly technical).

• 2. Creation Ministries International – publishers of Creation magazine and the Journal of Creation (highly technical). Producers of Creation Magazine Live, a video series that can be freely streamed or downloaded from their website.

• 3. Kent Hovind – excellent debater. Many books and videos produced, with explicit permission to copy freely.

(After watching the video) - Ken Ham talked about a person who told him that they're open to all points of view - except a point of view that says others are wrong. This is called ___________________. It's one of the most common worldviews / philosophies of life in the world today. It's also illogical and self-refuting.

Key Verses:

Genesis 1:1 (KJV): In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Psalm 11:3 (KJV): If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

John 3:12 (NIV): I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

The words to fill in the blanks are, in order: morality, Matt Damon, Sarah Palin, worldview, relativism.

This handout was, of course, just a framework for discussion. Whether I'm the teacher or a student, I always like to have a handout with some blanks to fill in. Reading and writing engage different parts of the brain than just listening, making it more likely that the material will be retained.

I wanted to open week one by discussing the controversial nature of the creationist position in modern society. There's no shortage of arrogant evolutionists who will happily name-call, ostracize, and generally abuse anyone who doesn't believe their religious orthodoxy - and yes, that's what it is - which states that their great-great-great-(insert several thousand "greats")-grandfather was slime on a rock.

In addition to the above, my two-page handout included a cartoon. Pretty much any handout I prepare does. I can generally find something to fit the subject. In this case, I used a Doonesbury, by Garry Trudeau, in which a doctor threatens to withhold treatment from a creationist patient. Of course, the doctor is meant to be an enlightened, intelligent man of science, and the patient a backwards fundamentalist who doesn't deserve to live. Ho, ho. Why, yes, letting people die because they don't share my religion is funny, isn't it, Mr. Trudeau? You can see the cartoon here.

Stockwell Day is a prominent Canadian politician. He's also an admitted Christian. A few years back some of his liberal (and Liberal) opponents decided it would be a good idea to make fun of that, making quips along the lines of "someone needs to explain to him that the Flintstones was not a documentary", and holding up toy dinosaurs as props at press conferences.

Interestingly, many of the opponents who were so threatened by him are professing Roman Catholics, but nobody made fun of their beliefs in a similar manner. I wonder why? It's not like it would be difficult. "Hey, here's a picture of an unbroken hymen! My opponent thinks Mary had one!"

Matt Damon's quote about Palin was included just because it demonstrates how low the secular world will sink to mock creationism, a belief that has negligible effect on day-to-day living and decision-making. Why would anyone care what Matt Freaking Damon thinks about complex political matters? However, since he was bashing the correct side, Damon's quote got media attention. Don't get me wrong, Damon may be a nice guy, and I hear he was OK in the Bourne movies (I haven't seen them), but I'll give heavier weight to the geopolitical opinions of someone who wasn't in a Jay and Silent Bob movie, thanks.

The classic "10 kinds of people" joke was included to illustrate the point that data (evidence, or symbols like "10") have meaning only within a framework. Change the framework, and the meaning of the data also changes. Your worldview is the framework you use. We all have one, and the better you understand yours, the better your thinking will be.

The "relativism" bit was included so I could tell the group a story (remember, these notes were just that, and were only a springboard) from my university days. One day I was sitting in a class, across the table from a relativist who had just proclaimed that all philosophical viewpoints are equally valid. "You're sure about that?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied confidently.

"OK, then, what do you do with my viewpoint, which is that your belief is self-refuting nonsense? If my viewpoint is valid, and you just said that it is, then your viewpoint is not."

I wish I could say that her brain fried like a computer that Captain Kirk told a paradox, but I don't remember her response. It may have involved shoving her stuff into her bookbag and stomping out of class, slamming the door behind her; I can remember a couple of other occasions when that was her answer to one of my questions. No one, including the professor, objected.

Time for my second confession (the first was the opening line of this entry), this one destined to upset the exact opposite group of people from the first: Although I'm unequivocally a creationist, I'm not nearly as convinced about the age of the Earth. Maybe it's only several thousand years old, maybe not. If I were to be convinced tomorrow that the Earth really is millions of years old (although I honestly can't think of anything that would convince me), it wouldn't disturb my belief system overmuch. I lean toward a young-Earth position, but not very strongly. Anyone who wants to argue with me about the age of the Earth, from either side, is bound for disappointment as I shrug and wander off.

Perhaps more about all of this another time, perhaps not. Unlike Claremont, I'm not actively looking to set up more threads to which I may never return.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of some computers that are in my kitchen, waiting for me to finish working on them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The age of the earth question is really a non-issue. Paul would probably call it a foolish controversy. The real question is how serious does a person take the Biblical creation account which is spread throughout the whole Bible. It is either naturalistic evolution or some form of Intelligent Design. You can't have both, regardless of what these liberal churches try to slide past you. Kent Hovind said that a God that had to use evolution to create was not worth worshipping.

Speaking of Kent Hovind, I have seen all his materials a couple of times. He is the most entertaining speaker you will ever see, but some of his arguments are specious. Not his theology, but some of his theories don't really hold up. He is on a sabbatical now, so he should have some great works when he gets back.