Take off one afternoon to drive to the next village for a haircut and come
back to find the electronic mailbox full with correspondence on a new topic!
I'm not all that surprised to see the numbers that John cites, nor am I
surprised to learn that YEC is alive and well and that this is reflected,
among other, in comparing numbers of visitors to ASA and YEC-based sites or
numbers of attendees at various meetings.
I don't see any particular mystery in the support that the YEC-based views
are receiving in the evangelical arena. If one holds to a literal (or
near-literal) interpretation and ignores the geological record, a YEC-based
view makes perfectly good sense. Since there are many more Bible-reading
Christians than Christian geologists, a YEC-based view will no doubt
Over the last few years since I started "lurking" on (in?) this forum I've
noticed a marked decrease in the YEC-OEC debate. Rather than thinking that
this means that the YEC-based supporters have "lost" the argument, it's more
likely that many of the YEC adherents have simply given up.
I want to pose another question: how many of "you out there" grew up with a
literal interpretation of the Biblical narrative and when, and what caused
you to change your views to your current view?
With "literal interpretation" I mean an actual Adam and Eve, walking and
communing with God in a lush garden, surrounded by an impenetrable wall
(remember the angels with flaming swords at the gates), a factual murder of
Abel by Cain, the flooding of the entire world, an honest-to-goodness
floating axe head, the collapse of the walls of Jericho, etc.
What changed your views from this interpretation? Was it a pastor?
catechism classes? the results of a Bible study? a friend? a geology course?
Now picture a typical parishioner: he or she grew up with the same Bible
stories, underwent the same type of instruction in catechism class, and may
have participated in many Bible studies. He or she may not have had the
benefit of a geology course, though.
My gut reaction is not to make too much of the spectacular success that the
YEC supporters appear to have (at least in the US). The worst may be that
it puts evangelical Christianity in a less favourable light to the
non-believer; it certainly won't affect one's ultimate destiny.
I've been teaching science and math courses on a part-time basis at a
fundamental / evangelical Christian college for almost four years now. When
I deal with the age of the earth, I cite geological evidence for an old
earth and leave it at that. I don't get into arguments about 24-hour days.
I tell my students that, scientifically, an old earth makes more sense but
soften that by saying that, in the final analysis, we all extrapolate back
in time. Time and time again, I've had students come to me at the end of
the course and telling me that they had never thought about this in this
My advice is to discuss the geological record and the flaws in the logic
of(some of the )YEC-adherent but not to make too big of a deal of it.
Finally, a word of caution: beware of the "domino theory:" some vulnerable
Christians may not see a "middle road" between a literal interpretation of
the Bible and total unbelief. Let's be careful that we don't make any
From: John W Burgeson [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday March 31, 2001 12:00 PM
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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