Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Sun Aug 09 2009 - 21:09:47 EDT

Heya John,

First the points of agreement. I can agree that the origins question is
absolutely a "modern spiritual weapon". I have a tremendously negative view
of YECs who turn their version of the literal truth of Genesis (I won't call
it the plain 'literal truth', because I dispute what a "plain reading" of
Genesis indicates on that matter) into what makes or breaks Christianity, or
even the existence of God. I agree it's important to engage the topic at
least to some degree (rather than brush it off), and certainly that if it's
going to be engaged at all then a person should read up on the relevant
authors. And of course I'm not a YEC, or even an OEC really (unless someone
who believe in evolution and common descent is now an OEC by some technical

I'm not going to comment on how protestant churches should be run, or who
should be fired or not - out of my ballgame, so to speak. I will say this:
In my own church, I think there are better ways to approach this question
than writing off anyone (even someone in a leadership position) who
disagrees as some fundamentalist bible-thumper who needs to be attacked or
fired. In fact, even as a TE, I find the entire approach of treating YECs as
some cancer-like internal threat to Christianity as drastically mistaken. In
fact, I'd argue that getting pastors and Christians to reject YEC should be
a distant second goal. What should be paramount is showing how other views
of origins and creation are valid options for the believing (even orthodox)
Christian. If some pastor holds YEC views after examining the evidence, if
some church believes that's of the utmost importance, I disagree with them.
But what's vastly more important to me is finding a common ground with them,
rather than crushing their views, their influence, or their numbers at any

Yes, I believe knowledge of objective reality is important and paramount. I
also think it's not a subject which goes down quite as easily as you're
saying - and I say this as a member of a Church complete with those
"competent and qualified experts", generally more strict lines about what is
and is not an accepted belief, etc. And as someone who keeps casual tabs on
philosophical arguments and issues - and who just read about how
philosophers and art critics still argue about whether not doing art is,
itself, an art - I'd add that getting into questions of knowledge, truth,
and objective reality isn't going to be the sort of thing that "competent
and qualified experts" can roll in and settle anyway. If only it were that

One last comment, because it struck me.

You say: "There once was a day when church scholars were the thought leaders
for all of society and education and intelligence and applied Christian
theology were synonymous. That is how it should still be today as well."

Shortly thereafter: "The prescription is not a formula for what they should
be saying or doing but instead an honest, humble quest for Truth with the
willingness to repent of religious pride and tradition, status and self
identity, ego and all the other things that keep people locked in that
spiritual jail."

I used to regard this question as clear cut as well. YECs are damn morons,
they are embarrassments, they should be ridiculed, marginalized, gotten rid
of. End of story. I've since backed off dramatically from that, not just
because I believe that having a YEC belief doesn't automatically mean
they're stupid or worse. Pining for a culture where church scholars are
"thought leaders for all of society" and Christianity is somehow synonymous
with education, intelligence, and social standing - that doesn't fit well
with repenting of religious pride, tradition, status, self-identity, and
ego. In fact I can find those latter things in abundance on the TE side, and
have been guilty of as much myself. But it's particularly a problem because
it comprises what I think is a major mistake on the TE (and to a degree, ID)
side of things: If suddenly every Christian accepted evolution, it would not
solve that cultural problem. Coyne, Dawkins, Harris, and others could not
give a rat's behind about whether or not Christians accept evolution
(Indeed, if they did so, they would probably be mortified - their primary,
and possibly exclusive, weapon would be gone.) Just look at their reaction
to Collins' nomination. Social standing and perception is not a simple
product of being correct or educated - and the origins fight is not the real
point of contention. As you said, it's a weapon - and one employed in the
service of different causes and issues altogether.

I'll try to boil my view down: I think YECs are wrong. I abhor some of the
rhetoric that comes out of their camp, primarily the common line in the sand
about how either YEC is true or Christianity is false and God doesn't exist.
I think the origins question is very important, but it's not the single most
important issue in play by a longshot. And YECs are not the reason why
Christians are culturally mocked and derided. There are ways to educate
people and move forward on this question without sinking into hostile camps,
and TEs (and evolution-friendly theistic ID types) would be vastly better
served by defending the validity of their own views rather than attacking
YECs as incorrect fools. In fact, doing so strikes me as giving into inane
NA goading, which should raise warning flags.

On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 7:40 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

> First of all I would say that all pastors should be required to be educated
> about science. They should all be conversant and fluent about all the
> science faith issues that comprise the modern day ideological battlefield
> including age of the earth and evolution. They should be familiar with all
> the facts of science on both of these issues including dating methods and
> pseudogenes and have read all the popular authors on the subject like Ross,
> Collins, Miler, Falk, McGrath etc. I think all pastors should be as educated
> on these issues as the average member of this list who is just an avid truth
> seeker and not a professional minister excepting George and Michael and
> maybe a couple of others. We have come to accept stupidity and excuses from
> our church leadership and we are just ok with that. Well I for one am not.
> If I was in charge of a denomination they would all be fired. This is one of
> the most foundational issues of the faith and not only is it the modern
> spiritual weapon that the enemy is using to marginalize and criminalize
> Christianity, it also gets to the core issue of objective reality and how we
> know anything. Without a desire to have this understanding, to me
> Christianity is certainly impotent and almost meaningless. It is hard for me
> to accept the spiritual authority of any pastor who doesn't show at least an
> interest or a desire to press through to understand these issues. I can
> accept disagreement from those that are on the journey and trying to
> understand but not from those who just write it off and dismiss it out of
> hand, which are most from my experience.
> There once was a day when church scholars were the thought leaders for all
> of society and education and intelligence and applied Christian theology
> were synonymous. That is how it should still be today as well. Collins and
> the above are bright spots that give me hope that it may be that way again
> but first we have to get all the fundamentalist ignorant Bible thumpers out
> of the way first. The prescription is not a formula for what they should be
> saying or doing but instead an honest, humble quest for Truth with the
> willingness to repent of religious pride and tradition, status and self
> identity, ego and all the other things that keep people locked in that
> spiritual jail. Once they encounter the true God that aligns with the record
> of nature and that they worship in spirit in truth instead of the idol they
> make for themselves from their over literal and over concordist finite
> understanding of the Bible, then they will know what to say and do and
> things will start changing.
> We have had the discussion before on this list that the Reformation did a
> lot of good for the church but one of the not so good things it did was to
> create an anything goes theological free-for-all. Every church's doctrine is
> as good as any other and you can find a denomination for whatever
> combination of subjective pet beliefs and doctrines you care to cherish.
> What is now missing from prostestantism is the concept of the Magisterium
> where there really is a right and wrong that is decided by competent and
> qualified experts with a rationale that serves all. I have a feeling that
> this is where God is trying to bring the protestant church back to but I
> shudder to think of what it might take to get the church from here to there.
> Thanks
> John
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Schwarzwald <>
> *To:*
> *Sent:* Sunday, August 9, 2009 2:25:54 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth
> If that's the case, John, then what do you think the course of action
> should be for pastors and church leaders when it comes to this question?
> What should they be saying, how should they be saying it, etc?
> On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 1:21 PM, John Walley <> wrote:
>> The problem with this is that if we can't do any better than three
>> mutually exclusive datasets in a world where their choice will make or break
>> their career, then I agree with them in their decision to leave the church.
>> If pastors and the church can't figure this out then I don't blame anyone
>> for not having any respect for them and not trusting them.
>> They are not only not relevant but actually counterproductive by
>> obfuscating what should be a cut and dried issue.
>> I count myself among these you are lamenting and I put the onus on the
>> church to be the solution.
>> Thanks
>> John
>> On Sat Aug 8th, 2009 10:39 PM EDT James Patterson wrote:
>> >It seems to me that this baby/bathwater problem is even more serious
>> right
>> >now because of a seemingly growing inclination among many of the young to
>> >instantly turn off the voice of (respect for) anyone who self-compromises
>> >their message by uttering something that immediately registers as untrue,
>> is
>> >accompanied by an unwelcome (to the hearer) agenda, or fails to connect
>> >however tenuously with the questions floating around in the hearer's
>> >recently discovered and dynamically growing internal worldview.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >Jim, agreed.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >One thing my wife has mentioned several times, with which I agree, and
>> that
>> >gets back to the "are they really a Christian if they leave the Church"
>> >issue. Many of these young adults go and taste the world, and find it
>> >distasteful. It does not sit well with what is written on their hearts.
>> They
>> >gain perspective, insight, learn to see that man and the Church are not
>> >perfect. Some also learn in time that, despite its problems, the Church
>> is
>> >(vastly) better in an imperfect form than no Church at all.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >I know that's what happened with me.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >Despite all our debate about how God did it, we agree that God created
>> us.
>> >We really should be able to figure out a way to provide to young people
>> >convincing evidence that - despite the fact that we can't agree on HOW -
>> he
>> >DID create us. The problem is that they (the "average" college student)
>> need
>> >evidence.and we have (at least) three different datasets.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >James Patterson
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
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Received on Sun Aug 9 21:10:40 2009

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