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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

creationist infighting

Dr. Georgia Purdom of the young earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis (AiG) takes a look at "Intelligent Design" (ID):

The definition of ID can be best summarized as a theory that holds that “certain features” of living and nonliving things were designed by an “intelligent cause” as opposed to being formed through natural causes.1 The ID concept does not name the intelligent cause, nor does it claim that everything is designed, thus allowing for evolution/natural causes to play a role.

After acknowledging some things which, from the AiG perspective, are positives of ID, Dr. Purdom levels this criticism:

However, the major problem with the ID movement is a divorce of the Creator from creation. The Creator and His creation cannot be separated; they reflect on each other.

In today's culture, many are attracted to the ID movement because they can decide for themselves who the creator is—a Great Spirit, Brahman, Allah, God, etc. The current movement focuses more on what is designed, rather than who designed it.

And I agree. Well, I'm not so sure that anyone is drawn to ID because of the vagueness of its definition of God; my understanding is that the vast majority of ID proponents profess some form of Christianity.

But the ID movement does divorce the creator from creation. When ID proponents argue that the best evidence for a creator can be found in the organization of the bacterial flagellum, and not in the hearts of the followers of Christ, it becomes hard to imagine that they might be talking about a personal creator.

Dr. Purdom's next criticism is this:

Proponents of ID fail to understand that a belief in long ages for the earth formed the foundation of Darwinism. If God’s Word is not true concerning the age of the earth, then maybe it’s not true concerning other events of the Creation Week; and maybe God was not a necessary part of the equation for life after all.

On this one I have to side with the proponents of ID.

I see two fallacies here. First, the age of the earth — about 4.7 billion years according to the most accurate radiometric dating methods available today — is much greater than the age needed for Darwinian evolution. According to current estimates, life did not appear for more than a billion years after the planet was formed. What's more telescopic observations and background radiation measurements indicate that the universe existed for about nine billion years before our little solar system was formed. The ages of the earth and the universe have been continually refined as scientists have uncovered more precise methods of measuring them. These are not arbitrary numbers chosen for the benefit of Mr. Darwin.

Second, the book of Genesis was not written to provide us a simple historical timeline. Since ancient times, believers have applied allegorical interpretations to Bible stories to uncover deeper meanings. AiG's suggestion that we can't trust God if the earth is more than 6000 years old simply makes no sense. What's more, in staking out such a position the young earth creationists have placed themselves firmly in agreement with the new atheists. That's probably not the company you need if your goal is to promote the integrity of scripture. But I digress.

Dr. Purdom continues:

In addition, because the ID movement does not acknowledge God as Redeemer, there seems to be no final solution for the evil in this world; and by all appearances it will continue to reign supreme.

I'm not sure what is the basis for this criticism. As far as I can see, ID is not mutually exclusive with the idea of God as redeemer. And since many of the leading ID proponents claim to be Christians, they evidently don't see any contradiction between these two beliefs.

On the other hand, Dr. Purdom would be correct if she stated that ID does not require its adherents to believe in God as redeemer. In, fact it requires nothing at all in terms of belief in God.

And that, I think, is AiG's main concern with the ID movement. In their single-minded focus on sneaking their designer into science class, ID proponents have lost sight of the bigger picture. Young earth creationism, for all its flaws, at least ostensibly has the goal of glorifying God. The ID movement holds on to the creationism but cuts ties with God.

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At 11/22/2009 2:13 AM, Blogger James Higham said...

The creationists have done it very badly and it's almost as if they're working for the other side. That is the net result amongst the general populace, already assaulted by anti-Christian propaganda.

The ID thing was silly because one cannot scientifically prove the metaphysical. Ours is a faith based religion.


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