Thursday, October 11, 2012

Creationism Conspiracy?

Andrew Maxwell gathers some companions to take them on a Conspiracy Road Trip to crack the nuts. In the first episodes he attempts to persuade his travellers that 7/7 happened. In episode two he turns to Creationists.

Watch at BBC iPlayer until 22nd October.

I'm intrigued on a number of levels - not least that holding to a young earth view of the world is in the category of crazy conspiracy theorists! Gulp...

I don't want to be harsh on the believers, who knows how much or how little they've been edited to tell a story... but the Creationists don't exactly come across well.

Some of them keep quiet and some are definitely stronger than others - I was most impressed with Sam, who I've subsequently discovered is a CU Leader. Phew! Perhaps they've submitted themselves to something of a fools errand and some seem not to be particularly well equipped for the challenge. Why no one suggests (in the clip we're shown) that whales wouldn't have been in the ark because they'd be in the water defies reason...   Its strange that Maxwell things 6000+ years isn't enough to grow a large population...  even a fairly low birth rate produces huge multiplication quite quickly...  but it's easy to pick holes in anyone elses arguement when you're not in the room eh!

The big frustration is seeing unnecessary dichotomies set up. The suggestion that if you can't hold to Young Earth Creationism you might have to bin Christianity is annoying... it's really not the make or break issue.

Andrew Wilson is ably showing that the question is complex and needs careful consideration... offering 10 evangelical approaches.

Not all questions are equal...   did God create is more important than the process and date of creation... a historical Adam is vital to the good news about Jesus more than determining his date of birth...   It matters that there was a flood but there is room in the literature of Genesis for a number of possible readings about exactly what happened. The text of Genesis 1 is less concerned with dates than it is with showing the character and personality of a relational God of spreading goodness...

I'm glad that this TV show exists and it provokes me to make sure we - the church - equip people well to engage with issues and questions that matter. Questions that can be stumbling blocks but need not always be so. Serious evangelicals hold to a range of views on how to read Genesis and answer questions.

Personally there are some questions on which I have a strong answer, some where I don't know and some where I'm really ambivalent. I don't mean it doesn't matter - I mean there are questions on which a lot hangs and there are questions whose answers don't necessarily make much difference.

Ultimately the resurrection of Jesus is more important than exactly when the world came into being. The resurrection is the chief article of the faith, and I'd love to see Andrew Maxwell run a Conspiracy Road Trip on the suppression of the evidence about the Resurrection, though reading Acts would uncover most of that.

I'm really interested by Andrew Maxwell himself. He's funny and thoughtful, and shows his hand at the end of this programme "My idea of God is a giant eternal loving being who must be in all the texts or none of the texts." (Now there's a 21st Century conspiracy...) Everyone has commitments and beliefs about the world and about God... Maxwell included. And he wants to win people to his viewpoint, why is that? Where does Maxwell's idea come from - and what stops that just being a crazy conspiracy theory too? I'd love to hear Maxwell more. How has he got to where he is? Why does he care about this issue? Why does he passionately care about truth? (He should!) And why does anyone believe what they believe (whether in the 7/7 or Creationism episode)?

And I have to say I quite like the concept of a road trip in which big questions about life are asked. We need more of that!

Did you watch it? What did you think?

8 comments:

  1. Rebekah watched some of it in her RS lesson. She too was confused by the whale point, and felt that the creationists did not come off well, but it did not change her viewpoint on creation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey bish.

    1) re: "conspiracy" Young Earth Creationism is committed to a form of postmodern suspicion/critique of scientific realism as a function of the (ideological/atheological) agendas of the scientific community. As a christian I do believe in truth supression, which is why I'm actually quite open to postmodern critiques (and for that matter have a lot of respect for creatiniosm), but I'm just not sufficiently postmodern to be a creationist myself. I note a deep irony here: that those christians who are most resistant to postmodernism in the realm of biblical truth (eg "the bible doesn't tell us truth, it's just the result power agendas of the church community") are the most postmodern when it comes to suspicion/conspiracy of the consensus of the scientific community (hence the discussion centres on "who belongs to the community? who's in? who's out?" etc). NB suspicion doubts the motives of propositions not their content. This show is playing with people, highly contrived and an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    2) what often goes on in terms of "scientific" accounts is a cartoony-filling-in-the-gaps account - what Schaeffer warned against as asking "what is the most Genesis 1-11 could mean?" rather than "what is the least Genesis 1-11 must mean?". It's obvious that those who had thought least about things had found christian redemption, moral meaning, values, jesus christ as the last adam, love and hope, a God who speaks to and loves them personally in the same bill/community as views on sexuality, the age of the universe and even the grand canyon. These ought obviously be untangled & in some cases untied. The bible says nothing about all sorts of things. In Schaeffer's words, "it is a highly efficient book" - a book to make one wise for salvation through jesus christ (2 tim 3); which throws far more interesting questions up about the flood or the days or the light - which centre on Jesus and not on geology.

    3) I noticed to that extent that Jojo had a very salutary remark - "none of that argument up there is what Jesus was about". By contrast, Phil was caught between a rock and a hard place, and in the name of passion for the truth, seemed to have no good news for the unbelievers (in creation not christ). I felt for Sam.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Will check it out on iplayer!

    I don't know Andrew Wilson, but did read the article you linked to. I disagree that he 'ably shows the question is complex':

    He just contrasts Ken Ham against Richard Dawkins :/ Maybe this is also 'something of a fools errand'?!

    Anyway, may I also suggest http://biologos.org/ as a stop off on our road trip.


    ReplyDelete
  4. @Steve. I linked to a series by Andrew - who fwiw I think is basically on the same sort of page as biologos, certainly pretty close to Keller. He examines 10 models here: 10 models on creation and science

    ReplyDelete
  5. They asked me onto the show with about three weeks notice (to go to US for a fortnight). I'm such a ridiculous human being I actually considered doing it for about 30 seconds. For half a minute I imagined that I'd survive the editing process as a sane and credible human being.

    I was not told it would be part of a conspiracy theories series. And I imagined (but perhaps I'd misunderstood their pitch) that the programme would hear from theistic evolutionists too.

    In the end it was really, really poor television.

    And Maxwell's thing at the end was cringily dogmatic - though obviously he'd hate that assessment.

    Glen

    ReplyDelete
  6. Here's a little video for a body called Trinity Institute, discussing that they combine "fundamentalist" approach to the truth of Scripture with a focus on the form of the literature. Its a thoughtful approach I appreciate. Which ever way we conclude as we observe this world, we have to let the Bible speak and say what it's saying in the way it's saying it - and wrestle with that... A New Adventure

    ReplyDelete
  7. I saw the programme but intentionally avoided it as I thought it might lead me to anger...probably a good job I did, I clicked through the iPlayer episode and was frustrated pretty quickly by the arrogance of the 'scientists' who seemed to all take the same line: 'we know the Bible account's a fairytale, so we're going to laugh at your foolishness, then everyone who watches this will know what an idiot you are'...I think I'll be sticking with the Dawkins-Lennox debates and Andrew Wilson's blog for the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you haven't seen it already, "Horizon: What happened before the big bang?" is worth a watch (it's on iPlayer for a few more days). Loads of cosmologists try to answer the question, but the debate's wide open. It makes you want to jump into the screen and join the discussion; the use of words like creation throughout the program cries out for a response. This is fascinating branch of science that Christians can speak into in a really helpful way.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vdkmj/Horizon_20102011_What_Happened_Before_the_Big_Bang/

    ReplyDelete