triage (was Re: YEC Lecture notes -- part 2)

From: George Murphy (
Date: Thu Sep 25 2003 - 09:44:25 EDT

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    John W Burgeson wrote:

    > George wrote, in part: "We have to do whatever is possible to keep the
    > Sebenys from infecting others but
    > the chance of getting them to think is slight and efforts are better
    > spent elsewhere."
    > If I really thought that, I'd desist from this exercise. But that would
    > be (although silent) a mark of disrespect to Joe and his cohorts,
    > ignoring them because I thought them unworthy.
    > I do not accuse YECers of "not thinking." I do challenge many of the
    > results of their thinking, for I suspect that in many cases that have
    > violated rule #2 of science "consider ALL the evidence." If one only
    > reads ICR and AIG literature, that is not hard to do. It is like letting
    > the prosecution present its case and holding the defense mute.
    > Most of my "efforts" are, of course, spent elsewhere; confronting YEC
    > nonsense is really only a small part. I am sure that in the past year I
    > have spent 100 times as much time and effort on Habitat for Humanity as I
    > have on arguing against the YEC fallacies. But I understand your point.
    > I really hope that Joe, Roger and Mike will join these discussions. But
    > so far they have chosen to stand mute. That seems to be a key YEC
    > strategy, BTW, as I've seen the same thing on my Compuserve RELIGION
    > forum. It is an all too frequent thing for a new member to show up, make
    > the YEC arguments, cite a few proof texts frm the Bible, and disappear. I
    > am sure they see themselves as "witnessing." Some witnesses are worse
    > than none.

            Of course I don't mean that YEC spokesperson (who I would distinguish - Walt,
    take note - from those who more or less passively accept it) literally "don't think."
    If nothing else, the rhetorical strategies they come up with would belie that. But they
    seem unwilling to think through critical questions at issue & really to consider the
    possibilities. Or if they do, they hide it pretty well.

            The larger issue involves how to respond to the threat that they pose to the
    credibility of Christianity - something whose seriousness I think we agree on. There
    are limited resources with which to deal with this problem - i.e., a limited number of
    people with adequate scientific and theological sophistication who think it's important
    to keep the church from getting trapped in the YEC dead end, & those who do have limited
    amounts of time, energy &c.

             As with other situations in which there are limited resources, this can be
    dealt with on a triage basis. We can put patients in 3 categories.

            1) Those whose injuries are so severe that they are probably going to die
    regardless of our efforts.
            2) Those whose injuries are life-threatening but who can be saved by prompt
    medical attention.
            3) Those whose injuries are relatively mild and who can, without danger, wait
    for treatment.

    In emergency situations with limited medical resources you try to keep Categories 1 & 3
    comfortable but focus attention on 2.

            Category 1 corresponds to the hard-core YECs who are unlikely ever to be
    persuaded that an old earth & evolution can be compatible with Christianity. Admittedly
    there are some (as Glenn's history witnesses) who are open to real arguments & may come
    around, but the likelihood of this happening is slight. We should be civil to them, try
    to keep them from infecting others & otherwise leave them to their illusions. (& no,
    I'm not saying that they're spiritually dead or dying. This is an analogy!)

            Category 3 corresponds to Christians who have relatively sensible ideas about
    creation & evolution. Perhaps some of their views are unsophisticated (e.g., day-age
    schemes to "reconcile" Genesis 1 & evolution) but there is no urgency about correcting

            Category 2 is where efforts should be focussed. These are Christians who are
    not deeply committed to YEC but who are susceptible to YEC arguments & in danger of
    moving to category 1. We need to do what is possible to raise their level of
    biblical-theological maturity and, to some extent, scientific literacy. This may
    involve engagement with YEC spokespersons but only where there is a real possibility of
    discrediting their claims. (For myself I can see no value in going to hear one of them
    speak to show respect for them. I don't respect their _ideas_, it simply would raise my
    blood pressure, & it does my spiritual state no good to be in a situation that would
    tempt me to be contemptuous of them.)

            To the extent that this is _not_ done there will be another generation of
    Christians raised with goofy ideas that make them susceptible to apostasy when they get
    out into the real world and find that the earth is old and that evolution has happened.
    & Christianity will continue to be an inviting target for those who want to portray it
    as benighted mythology.


    George L. Murphy

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