Reader testimony: Of Santa and young-earth creationism

Photo by Jon Sullivan. via Wikimedia Commons.

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, whom I met through my work on this site. His name is Jake.

jake-hughes

Yeah, he’s pretty cool.

Anyway, Jake sent me a Facebook message a couple weeks ago, and with his permission, I’m sharing it with you. It’s essentially a message to young-earth creationism proponents, and the (negative) impact they have on other believers.

Perhaps you’ve felt the same way Jake does. I know I have.

Now, I recently remembered something from my childhood that strikes a disturbingly similar chord to arguing with Banana Ray and Hambone.

I was a somewhat precocious child. I can’t remember how many times my snarky sense of humor got me in trouble, since people don’t expect to hear a preteen using sarcasm.

I think I was about 7 when I stopped believing in Santa Claus. I bring that up because I actually once had a conversation with my parents, me trying to convince them that there was no such person. But they kept trying to convince me.

(They would later tell me that they did so because they wanted to keep using that as a ploy to get me to behave. Ask them how that worked out.)

I went over everything my little mind could think of: that there was no way he could fit down our chimney, that there was no way he could visit every kid on the planet, that he couldn’t possibly see everything I do all year-round, that we have been to the North Pole and there is nothing there.

Oh, they tried to use the “Magic! *snort snort*” line at first, but when I kept pressing, they said, “Jake, sometimes you just have to stop asking questions and believe!” Eventually, they dropped the infamous parent line, “Because I said so, now stop asking questions.” Finally, they actually said, “Well, then, I guess you won’t be getting any presents this year, will you?” To a 7-year-old, that’s tantamount to saying you were going to cut off my arm.

Needless to say, I dropped it.

Now, I tell you this because that is precisely what AiG and the Institute for Creation Research are doing. We bring up things like why would God make this universe billions of light-years across just to populate only one planet, why would He make stars billions of light-years away but make the light have already reached us, why would He leave so much evidence for an ancient Earth if it weren’t true?

And what do they do? When confronted by this strong contrary evidence, what do they say? “Oh, well we mere humans couldn’t possibly hope to comprehend God!Now, that’s patently false, since, you know, the entire point of the Bible is to reveal His plan for us and help us understand His nature, right?

When that fails, they say, “Stop asking these pointless questions! Just have faith.” That right ticks me off. I refuse to believe that God would give us these huge, beautiful brains, only to have us not use them.

quote-i-do-not-feel-obliged-to-believe-that-the-same-god-who-has-endowed-us-with-sense-reason-and-galileo-galilei-67634 (1)

Finally, they will say, “Well then, I guess you’re just going to go to hell, aren’t you?”

And then I quit.

See, this is my biggest problem with YECs. It’s not the abuse of science or making us level-headed Christians look dumb. It’s that they make God seem arbitrary, pointless. According to Hambone and his ilk, God is this undependable flake who changes things on the fly, who contradicts Himself, who does seemingly insane things just because reasons. That is borderline offensive to me, and it really, really stretches my ability to love them as Christian brothers and sisters.

Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • One thing that stood out to me in this very relatable story is the fact that, when the presents were threatened, the questioning stopped.

    I wonder how many pastors, teachers, theologians, etc. would lose their positions, relationships, credentials, or standing if they continued to press their questions and doubts on this issue, especially in America.

    I’ll have to find who said it originally (not me), but it’s hard to make someone understand something when their salary depends upon their not understanding it.

    • So true. And all indications are that this problem, and the environment you allude to, is getting worse — not better. See the debacle at Bryan College last year (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/05/bryan-college-and-evolution-maybe-the-board-and-president-should-listen-to-the-faculty-and-students-on-this-one/), the firing of Tom Oord by Northwest Nazarene earlier this year (http://ricshewell.com/why-is-tom-oord-getting-fired/) (which may not have been entirely about evolution, but that was certainly a big part of it), and the most recent issue at Bryan College, which I just posted about this morning: http://www.godofevolution.com/unity-at-bethel-college-its-dead-jim/.

      The common denominator in all three cases, and what makes the situation even more dire, is that all of the teachers affected by these changes were ones that had already been open about expressing their acceptance of evolution and alternate beliefs about Genesis. So the unseen many who harbor doubts (as you allude to, Phil) have even less reason to come forward.

      It’s just not a healthy environment, for thought or truth, and certainly not for unity.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        The common denominator in all three cases, and what makes the situation even more dire, is that all of the teachers affected by these changes were ones that had already been open about expressing their acceptance of evolution and alternate beliefs about Genesis. So the unseen many who harbor doubts (as you allude to, Phil) have even less reason to come forward.

        Make an Example of one and you silence a hundred.

  • Timothy Swanson

    I definitely resonate with this. My own parents were *strongly* opposed to telling us about Santa. We never believed he was real. Why? Because my parents believed that if they told us a “lie” about Santa, we wouldn’t believe them about God. And yet, the Santa myth is in most cases fairly harmless, because children aren’t stupid, and can tell the difference between a myth told for fun and chuckles and truth. And really, in most families, everyone knows Santa isn’t *really* real, and there is nothing wrong about not believing in him.

    But, for YEC, our parents (my mother included, at least) believe strongly in YEC, and believed that our eternal souls were at stake if we disbelieved. And when some of us decided that YEC couldn’t be reconciled with actual evidence, it was a terrifying thing for our parents.

    And so, it wasn’t the Santa myth that imperiled our faith after all. It was the things our parents believed to be true that weren’t that were the problem…

    • Straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel… I’m sorry to hear about that, Timothy, but thanks for sharing some of your story. It’s a very common one, unfortunately 🙁