It almost goes without saying that the American church is in a sad state of affairs. Even the necessity of the existence of this website is evidence that certain things are out of sorts. And I do not believe that the sole reason for this situation is “evolution vs. creationism.” In fact, I don’t believe our decline is due to a sole reason at all, unless you were to say that the sole reason is “the religious right.”
For it is under the broad umbrella of the religious right that 1,000 problems of the church take shelter: the modesty/purity movement that is rife with chauvinistic rhetoric that blames and shames women, suspicion and hatred of the outside world especially toward those of other faiths, “muddying the waters” in regards to social issues, using horrific national and global tragedies to blame secularism and other “hobgoblins,” and yes, the evolution/creationism battle, which I will now discuss.
It is understandable that those who lived in the 1920s and 30s hadn’t the best of educations or opportunities, and we certainly cannot blame those in our past who knew not the things we have knowledge of now. They were not exposed to the amount of information you and I surround ourselves with each day. There was of course, no internet or smartphones — the television being that era’s object of wonder (and only for the rich). For many people living in that time, their “outside world” extended maybe 20 miles, and if whatever it was didn’t happen within those 20 miles, it didn’t really matter.
As the Depression began and went on, it became more the concern of the average family to survive day-by-day, rather than to sit and debate the origin of species. So I can see why so many people simply took “The New Geology” at its word. “Opposing viewpoints” are much more important to us today than they were back then, when books in the home were few and scarce, and food was precious. It would not surprise me if, for many people back then — especially in rural areas — “The New Geology” was the only “science” book they ever came into contact with.
But now there is no excuse. The year is 2013, and we find ourselves in a much different (and better!) world. As we, and the times we live in, grow increasingly colorful, complex, technologically advanced and indeed, scientific, it is astonishing that Christians like myself and countless others have to worry about what will become of our lives and reputations if we openly stand up and refuse to believe in the rot known as young-earth creationism. For us to still be taught, in this day and age, that in order to believe in God, that we have souls and that we are to love others as we have been loved, we must also believe the earth and the universes were made in six literal 24-hour days, and that mankind once saddled the dinosaurs and that there was once a big boat that held all the animals while the world flooded, is insulting to our intelligence and repugnant to our intellectual dignity.
How pathetic it is, indeed, that we Christians in the “outside workforce” who are called to to be doctors, lab workers, zoologists, archaeologists, anthropology professors, high school physics teachers, etc., are expected to be such from Monday to Friday, but on Sunday we are to turn all of that off, and listen to a man behind a pulpit “educate” us on the sciences in which many of us are trained. And what is worse, we are silent about our objections because we are conditioned to fear the consequences: Being cut off. Being alone. This is the year 2013. Why is this controversy still our reality?
In light of the rest of Christian teaching, creationism is just strange. It’s like a man going over to meet his girlfriend’s family, finding the caring father, the kind, hospitable mother, a brother or sister — everything normal, a typical familial unit. But then, sitting in a shadowed corner to the right side of the living room, you have weird Uncle Ned who wants to show you his 15 toes and how gifted he is at rolling his belly: That’s creationism in relation to the rest of Christianity. History says so, science says so, proper biblical scholarship says so. The family is begging Uncle Ned to stop. To. Just. Stop. The only question remaining is if he will listen to reason.
I write under a pseudonym. Sad to say, as it is, in many Christian circles in America, creationism is the dominant view. I know I’m not the only theistic evolutionist. In fact, I think there are many of us. But most of us just prefer to be silent for now. Perhaps, because we value our peace. We walk through the double doors on Sunday morning, sing the archaic, centuries-old songs whose meanings are lost in monotony and repetition and let the conspiracy theories and right-wing agendas enter one ear and out the other, as we close our eyes, bow our heads and ask God, “Why can’t I forsake the assembly? The assembly has clearly forsaken the rational.”
You may take this as ranting. Maybe it is. But I echo Jeremiah’s sentiment: “Like a fire in my bones, I can no longer hold it in.” There will come a day, as more and more voices inevitably join ours, and as new generations arise to replace old ones, that we will no longer have to fear for our relationships and quality of life because of our scientific views.
I will leave you with this: For those who have reconciled to themselves what never really needed to be “reconciled” — science and faith; for those people, there is grandeur in this view of life.
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