Re: Skepticism - its uses and abuses

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Sat Dec 17 2005 - 02:48:28 EST

Merv Bitikofer wrote:

"There may be many YEC who have intentionally used deceit and are deserving of the charge -- I don't question that either. But to imply that these false motives are universal to that camp is, I think, to make the accuser guilty of their own accusation."

The large majority of YECs are almost certainly YEC out of ignorance. I don't fault them--at least, not as long as they don't actively promote the YEC model--because I don't know everything either. I fault those who have scientific credentials, work with scientific data, claim that such data support a young Earth even after others point out their errors to them, and then claim to be authorities on matters of age. I don't know any such YECs personally, but there's been much reference to some of them in this forum, and I've read a bit of their literature. Such people appear largely responsible for the vitality of the YEC model in contemporary America.

In light of geologic, paleontologic and other data, arguments supporting a young Earth have no merit. The YEC model warrants no vitality.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Mervin Bitikofer<>
  Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2005 4:59 AM
  Subject: Re: Skepticism - its uses and abuses

  I write this as a continuation of the thread below -- but also as a response to Randy Isaac's ASA neutrality clarification.

  Snippet from Don Winterstein's post:
  "Jesus certainly seemed to encourage unquestioning faith. This aspect of his teaching continues to nag at me: If you have childlike faith in Jesus, aren't you likely also to have childlike faith in Joseph Smith, etc.? The Apostles, of course, quickly became aware and taught that you don't believe just anybody (e.g., I John 4:1). "

  I was not intending in my previous posts to attempt a resurrection of YEC scientific arguments. I think it quite possible that an organization such as the ASA in their neutral and impartial evaluation of evidence will draw a conclusion that could seem to outsiders a departure from neutrality. But how many impartial judges, when they become aware of a great body of evidence in a case (and scientists are aware of much evidence) are going to remain undecided? I wasn't trying to defend YEC science (or even necessarily their theology -- although I don't write off the all theological aspects of it as easily as some others here do.) I was only objecting to the blanket attribution of false motives and deceitful or (willful) ignorance to some in particular whom I think may be in honest disagreement. There may be many YEC who have intentionally used deceit and are deserving of the charge -- I don't question that either. But to imply that these false motives are universal to that camp is, I think, to make the accuser guilty of their own accusation.

  In light of the above, I'm afraid my continued thoughts below will be misconstrued as an attempt to throw more fuel on the YEC "scientific conspiracy" fire. So I will give this assurance up front, that my questions are here aimed more at the evolutionary "philosophy", and metaphysical conclusion that seems for many to follow so hard on the heals of (or perhaps precede?) their science. I am treading a fine line here -- freely throwing in my voice with that aspect of YEC argument that raises questions about where science stops and religion begins. I think this a very live and valid challenge, and certainly not one monopolized solely by YEC but by many other Christians. So, once again, I do accept (at least for myself) that young earth science has ceased to be a scientifically viable consideration.

  I agree with Don, that the Bible throws a lot of exhortation towards the "unquestioning acceptance" model of apprehending Truth, but it also does tell us to question and not accept just everything. And it 'nags' at me too that the former seems to 'win out' over the latter if one just attempts a 'proof-texting' approach to deciding an argument. One of the passages that ought to leave just about all of us squirming uncomfortably begins at II Timothy 4:3: "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." How many of us will hang around among a group of folks if we feel at significant odds with their teaching? And we may have valid reasons for finding a different church/discussion group/Bible study/whatever... Our Spirit-led intuitions may be telling us that the Truth is not being promoted among that group and we wish to find a different one where it is. But then how can we be so sure that we aren't just surrounding ourselves with people that will say what "our itching ears want to hear"? When this natural polarization happens, is it a harmful 'narrowing' of our vision that prevents us from seeing and hearing God's truth? Or is it the painful (but predicted) division predicted by Jesus himself where his word of Truth separates brother from brother and father against son? Religious conservatives will see the latter happening, while culturally sensitive pluralists (castigatingly called 'liberal') will adopt the former view. YEC will invoke this "itching ears" passage to attack the scientific establishment itself. And while (again!) I don't think their conspiracy message captures enough truth to convincingly bring down evolution, I do think that all establishments (including science) are well warned about our collective capacity for self-deceit. This is one aspect of this debate that ought to be appreciated as a positive contribution (yes -- even from those 'dreaded' YEC!) [Is there beginning to be some humor in my apparent need to frantically disassociate myself from 'them'?] When YEC accuse the keepers of scientific literature of shutting them out, and thus creating the self-fulfilling prophecy that YEC literature isn't to be found in peer-reviewed journals, I don't doubt that such "loose conspiracy" does happen -- on many fronts. Exceptions will probably prove the rule on this. Science probably has a slight bit more immunity to this problem than the associated philosophies and religions. I think the 'loose conspiracy' accusation begins to carry immense weight when addressing evolutionary philosophy in the guise of science that so permeates our educational system. And just because I think YEC or ID people may have their own 'itching ears' issues won't prevent me from acknowledging the valuable contributions they do make in the form of challenges to a vast establishment. (And yes -- positive contribution can come in the form of 'tearing down', even in the absence of presenting alternative or better hypotheses). Demolition workers earn their wages just like the builders do.

  My point is that this 'itching ears' possibility is a potential destabilizer for any kind of group commitment to a perceived Truth. Obviously we ultimately have to move beyond it to settle on the "Truth" that matches God's created reality. At some point we worship the Creator among and surrounded by those who, with us, acknowledge that Truth. My question is does that ever happen on this of the grave? Or are we assigned the lot of always doubting and suspecting our own itching ears while we are here?

Received on Sat Dec 17 02:45:37 2005

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