Re: [asa] YEC social dynamics

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Wed Sep 06 2006 - 03:27:37 EDT

Gregory wrote: "...TE compatibility arguments may or may not be acceptable all the time. There may be room for TEs to become ECs (evolutionary creationists) or non-evolutionary theists (NETs), especially outside of natural sciences...."

I suspect lack of acceptance is related to the speculative nature of the compatibility arguments. That is, the TE, etc., argument (as I see it) is that discoveries of science do not preclude God's involvement, so let's assert that God was involved [in any of a number of ways]. From the YEC perspective such assertions do not compellingly rule out what they see as apparent underlying atheism. In any event the case for theism is much less compelling from such compatibility arguments than from a literal reading of Genesis.

I'm trying to recall my thinking back when I was a fanatical YEC. At that time I recall saying I didn't care what the evidence was, I was going to stick with Scripture. And that meant a fairly literal interpretation throughout. To this day I firmly believe my motives were above reproach. My hold on God was tenuous, and I absolutely required a firm anchor. Scripture served as the anchor, and I came to see science as evil.

Are YECs now like I was then? To a degree, I think. Some believe that, if you start interpreting away biblical teachings for this or that reason, you open the whole Bible to challenge. They're right. We who are no longer YECs accept that challenge, but they can't. They require a higher degree of certainty--a degree of certainty, in fact, that no book can really give. They're extracting their feeling of certainty out of the Book by force and in the process doing it violence.

But that's what I used to do also--and I can't criticize myself for it. That's what I had to do at the time.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Gregory Arago<>
  To: Don Winterstein<> ; asa<> ; Randy Isaac<>
  Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 3:32 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] YEC social dynamics

  In attempt to open up the question of 'what does it take?' perhaps it would help to try internationalizing the discussion and this could shed light on what is particular about the phenomenon of YEC belief in the United States. There are people from other countries who visit this list, and surely many of those who dialogue here have colleagues in other countries. Why not ask them, especially scientifically minded or scholarly Christians, how YEC beliefs differ in their respective countries, where traditions of science and religion discourse are uniquely non-American.

  This suggestion follows from the idea of media ecologist Neil Postman (Amer), who, following the work of Marshall McLuhan (Cdn) and Eric Havelock (Cdn), claims that the United States in the most literal country (nation-state) in the world. That is, the USA is based on the written word (e.g. Declarations, Proclamations, legal documentation) more than any other country. The written word is a visual phenomena, whereas the spoken word is an aural phenomena. Thus, in America the expression 'seeing is believing,' turns into reading is supreme.

  Following this logic, it is no wonder that so many American Christians are believers in a literal Genesis and YEC. They confuse their theology and their science because they read Genesis literally instead of properly balancing what should be read literally and what should not be read literally.

  Does anyone agree this could be a factor?

  I am sympathetic to Randy's transformation from YEC to whatever he is today. Perhaps a church that doesn't put as much emphasis on the Word, but on Christian tradition is more welcoming to non-YEC's?

  Otoh, TE compatibility arguments may or may not be acceptable all the time. There may be room for TEs to become ECs (evolutionary creationists) or non-evolutionary theists (NETs), especially outside of natural sciences. But there seems a fine line from what Don says, before which 'without reference to God' one cannot understand the world or their scholarly/scientific work.


  p.s. was it P. Sorokin's massive work "Social and Cultural Dynamics" (1937-1941) that perhaps inspired the thread's title?

    "Those of us who claim to find compatibility between the doctrine of creation and an old earth, let alone evolution, are simply turncoats and can't be trusted.
    I rejected YEC intellectually many years before I could reject it psychologically and emotionally. Then I had to deal with the emotional backlash I felt.
    But it isn't enough to help the ordinary churchgoer believe that such a large segment of the church is caught up in a fantastic tale of science fiction. What else does it take?"


    "At the root of the problem seems to be deep discomfort with a world whose workings and origins can be largely understood without reference to God. If you don't need to explicitly involve God, maybe he doesn't exist. Because of this discomfort, the TE kinds of arguments for compatibility between God and science are not acceptable. The comforting solution is to assert that the scientific view of the world is false." - Don Winterstein

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Received on Wed Sep 6 03:18:57 2006

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