"Creationist" (was RE: Some Comments on Radiometric dating)

From: Robert Schneider (rjschn39@bellsouth.net)
Date: Sun Jan 12 2003 - 13:55:02 EST

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    Michael Roberts writes:
    > I f you want to read up on the whole nonsense on mis-dating the Grand
    > look up www.talkorigins.org and look for Grand Canyon dating on index. I
    > that doesn't persuade any of you then words fail me.
    > Yours as a biblical and scientific creationist , because I am
    > Michael

    Following up on Michael's sign-off, I should like to comment on the term
    "creationist"; some of my remarks are based on a conversation I had Friday
    with Jim Miller, whom many of you may know as co-director of the Program of
    Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion of the AAAS, and a long-time
    member of the Presbyterian Church USA's committee on Science, Technology and
    Christian Faith.

         Like Michael I consider myself a biblical and scientific creationist,
    and call myself an evolutionary creationist. I will soon be posting the
    first of a series of annotated essays on science and Christian faith, and I
    begin the first essay, "What the Bible Teaches about Creation," with these

           "There is a sense in which every Christian is a "creationist," for
    every Christian believes that he or she lives in a universe that is a
    creation, and that the Source of creation is the God who is revealed in the
    Bible as "maker of heaven and earth." This is true, whether the Christian
    is a young-earth creationist, an old earth creationist, an intelligent
    design creationist, or an evolutionary creationist. While these various
    creationists may strongly disagree among themselves about the "how" of
    creation, and subscribe to different portraits of creation, they do agree on
    certain essential beliefs or doctrines about creation, and these beliefs are
    anchored in the revelations of Holy Scripture. So, to look at creation from
    the perspective of Christian faith we begin with the Bible."

         The point Jim made in our conversation, and to which I heartily agree,
    is that persons who believe as Michael, Jim and I do need to rescue
    "creationist" from both the YECs and from those in the scientific community,
    whether they be believers or not, from implicitly confining "creationist" to
    the YECs, or more recently, categorizing the intelligent design group as
    "creationist." In a recently piece in "Research News.." Ted Davis objected
    to putting the LABEL "creationist" on the intelligent design group. I
    understand his objection, and agree with it in the sense that it is used as
    a pejorative label to objectify and dismiss the movement. But I suggest an
    alternative: that the TERM "creationist" be used, as I do in the opening
    paragraph of my essay quoted above, as a respectable term, one shared among
    all who believe in a creator and that the universe we live in is a creation.
    I assert that we who are believers need to insist that the term
    "creationist" should not be confined to a certain group of believers and
    used in a pejorative way. I hope we can find a way to change the dynamic of
    the discourse in the public arena in this respect. I think the task is a
    formidable one, but let us not shirk from it. If we make enough noise (a
    necessity, it seems, in our higher-decibel culture these days), then perhaps
    people will begin to listen.

         One thing we need to do, Jim and I agreed, is to ask the scientific
    community to consider this fact and not use the label "creationist" to
    characterize those who oppose the reigning evolutionary paradigm, but to
    recognize and assist faith communities who work to restore the term to its
    rightful place in both public discourse or within the conversations of our
    own faith communities. We also agreed that we need to begin at the same
    time within our own faith communities, to clarify these terms and both the
    theologies and sciences that lie behind the different groups.

         It is truly unfortunate in my view that "creationist" has acquired such
    a narrow, perjorative, and contentious meaning in our cultural discourse. I
    hope we recover this term for Christian theology. I shall as one of my
    contributions insist on calling myself an "evolutionary creationist."

    Grace and peace,

    Bob Schneider

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