Let's not kid ourselves that the YEC issue is purely a scientific or
theological one. It has become interwoven with various social and political
issues as various sides use it for political purposes. (BTW, I am not arguing
for or against any particular social stand--although I do have my opinions!).
This should not be surprising as the same was true in Darwin's day, as Jim
Moore, John H. Brooke, and David Livingstone (among many other historians)
We in the U.S. may be too close to the issue to see very clearly, but an
example from the Antipodes may help. I'm told that in Australia and New
Zealand there recently has been considerable support for YEC among the Maori.
One cannot say that this is only a political choice (as a protest against
the government), but surely there is a pre-existing sentiment which makes the
reception of YEC and the quest for its promulgation in state schools so much
easier for dissatisfied Maori. In the U.S. YEC can and is mixed up with
other issues (generally very conservative ones); thus an attack on YEC is an
attack on the Bible AND all the other social issues which have been woven
together into what is presented as the one-and-only "Christian position".
I'm not saying it's merely political; rather many issues are mixed together
and manipulated for reasons other than, or in addition to, scientific or
theological ones. To attack any part (such as the traditionally sensitive
issue of YEC) is to attack all the interwoven threads that make life
meaningful and interpretable for many Christians (i.e., an entire
"worldview"). This goes a long way to explaining why "rational" discussion
is so difficult. There is no such thing as a "view from nowhere"; we all
evaluate information and make decisions from a particular setting of place,
time, and circumstances. No individual decision is ever made completely
divorced from many other issues.
And at root there is an incredible theological shallowness in much of
American Evangelicalism today. Mark Noll wrote of the "scandal of the
Evangelical mind". It might also be called "the unbearable lightness of
Karl V. Evans
In a message dated 3/31/01 12:08:56 PM Mountain Standard Time,
<< The other day I noted that the young earth site, answersingenesis.org, is
receiving a reported 10,000 visitors a day.
I also note that the ASA web site has had about 80,000 visitors since
Assuming the answersingenesis reported number is inflated by a factor of
ten, and that the ASA site has been active for 3 years, that reduces to
80 /day for the ASA and 1,000/day for answersingenesis.
I could not find a visitor count at icr.org, but surely they must be
doing a comparable business.
I surmise we are being outgunned by a factor of at least 20 to 1. Very
likely a lot more.
At the occasion of the NTSE conference in Austin, in February 1997, ICR
put on a conference at a local Baptist church. There were 125 at the NTSE
-- the church was overflowing with a reported (this is from memory) 3,000
I surmise that although the YEC view has been thoroughly falsified
(unless one espouses the Gosse thesis), it is certainly not going away. I
had had visions of that happening as the Internet revolution began -- but
Gresham's law of $$ seems to apply even more so to rational discourse.
We can debate endlessly the amount of the beating we are taking; is it
"only" 20 to 1 or is it, perhaps, 100 to 1, but I think nobody here will
deny that rational discussions on origins ARE an uninteresting backwater
in current origins thinking in our country. We can also argue that this
does not matter because the academic / intellectual world is not so
polarized. Which may, or may not, be true.
Or those of us who care can try to do something about the current sorry
I don't have any magic bullets myself, but I have been discussing with
Jack Haas at least one fairly modest action we can take (I speak here to
ASA members) to work on the situation. That will be the subject of a post
I will make later.
In the meantime, comments anyone?
Burgy (John Burgeson)
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