[asa] YEC the default Christian belief? (was: (aliens) November Newsletter from Reasonable Faith)

From: Cameron Wybrow <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>
Date: Wed Nov 18 2009 - 16:59:37 EST


I hesitate to contest your generalization about Americans, not being one, but I do know quite a few Americans (including friends and family), and I do read a lot of things written by Americans, and I wonder if your account doesn't skew things a bit, based on your Southern location and your original denomination. I wonder if you would characterize American religion in the way that you do if you had grown up in Chicago, Boston, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Ohio, or California, or among the Eastern European settlers of some of the prairie states. And I wonder how much contact you had growing up with Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, who exist in the USA, even in parts of the South, in fairly large numbers.

I wonder if it wouldn't be more accurate if you had written that YEC is the default *Protestant* belief in the USA. (The tendency of people on this list to implicitly leave Catholicism out of the picture never ceases to amaze me -- it's something a Canadian Protestant writing about religious matters would never do.) And even within Protestantism, I suspect that your statement would not be true for the urban parts of the north-east and parts of California and for large mid-western urban areas such as Chicago.

It would be interesting to hear from Ted Davis, George Murphy, and several of the others here who appear to be from "mainstream" denominations, and find out whether or not they were raised as YECs. However, I don't doubt your claim that there are more former YECs here than I am aware of; in fact, that would just strengthen the point I was making.

The comments made by you and Gordon about the Scofield reference Bible were interesting. I grew up in a city where 80-90% of churchgoers were Catholic, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Orthodox or Lutheran. I would never have heard of the Scofield Bible if I hadn't happened to be in a class with a friend from the lone Associated Gospel church in town. If you asked most of the churchgoing people in my city who Scofield was, they wouldn't have had a clue. Nor would they know what was meant by day-age theory, gap theory, YEC, OEC, or Creation Science. I never had an Anglican sermon or Sunday school lesson regarding evolution. We still had Bible readings in the public schools in my day, and evolution was never discussed. YEC was certainly not the default version of Christianity, or even of Protestantism, in my part of Canada.

But even among the small YEC constituency in Canada, there is little concern regarding the teaching of evolution in the schools, because of the way it's handled. In most jurisdictions in the USA, apparently, evolutionary theory is a mandated part of 9th-grade science, and 9th-grade science is a compulsory subject. In Canada, at least in Ontario, evolutionary theory isn't taught until Grade 11 or 12, by which time everyone has met the basic two-year science requirement and is therefore free to drop science. So no one has to hear about evolution who doesn't want to. The American insistence that evolution must be taught in ninth grade -- completely unnecessary from the point of view of science pedagogy, as the Canadian experience proves (our universities produce darned good biologists) -- is a big part of the problem down there. Move the evolution unit up to eleventh or twelfth grade biology! Then only those aiming to be life science majors will have to take it. Everyone else can just skip upper-level biology in favour of chemistry, physics, math and the humanities subjects, if they want to protect their innocent ears from hearing "the E-word". Adopt this prudent Canadian policy and you have no more Dovers. Why this common-sense solution hasn't presented itself to American educators is beyond me. Why dig in your heels over a 50-year-old policy that isn't necessary, has generated endless lawsuits and school board battles, and creates damaging religious and social friction? Don't American science educators have more imagination than this? Don't they ever look beyond the U.S. borders for curriculum ideas?


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: John Walley
  To: Dave Wallace
  Cc: ASA
  Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 8:50 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Fw: (aliens) November Newsletter from Reasonable Faith

  Good one. You forgot Michael Roberts and Don Nield.

  But down South, we have an even more restrictive definition of alien, we consider anyone further North than Kentucky and Virginia and further West than Texas to be suspect. CA and NY and MA are definitely extraplanetary.

  To be honest, I am surprised that this is such a discussion point. I think gets to a much deeper distinction than just the age of the earth. YEC is just the symptom of a concordist, literalist theology usually associated with very conservative politics and a deep distrust of anything liberal (i.e. alien). Growing up, I never even heard of any other distinction of the age of the earth that anyone considered to be a true Christian faith. You were either Christian and believed the Bible or you were an evolutionist and never the twain shall meet. There existed some gray areas in between (Presbyterians) but most people just felt sorry for them.

  The first time I ever heard the terms YEC and OEC, I was 36 years old and living in New Zealand and that was when I read my first Hugh Ross book. My first thought was how scandalous this was that he believed the earth was old but still believed in the inerrancy of the scriptures. I had never imagined that such a position could even remotely be seriously considered. It really did change my life.

  By force of reason, it is one thing to have your literalist and concordist views of the scripture pried away from your cold dead fingers (nearly) but that doesn't necessarily mean that all the rest of their worldviews will automatically go along with it. In fact I have personally witnessed the conversions from YEC to OEC of hundreds of people with stories similar to mine above here through our RTB chapter and I think I would be hard pressed to find more than just a few who would seriously entertain the prospect of alien existence. It is just not in the evangelical and conservative Christian narrative. I don't know what planet you guys are from.

  In fact Hugh Ross has a book out about UFO's and he basically takes this position that all UFO sightings are either bunk or spiritual deceptions. I don't recall how he deals with the question of the existence of alien life specifically but I am sure he would load up the possibility with plenty of caveats of them all being subject to sin and the gospel constraints on earth which is almost the same as saying they don't exist. And he hails from Canada too which is Dave and Cameron's neck of the galaxy.

  Finally, from another thread it is humorous to hear Cameron finally understanding what many have told him along. YEC is the default Christian belief in the US. Many if not most on this list came from that although only a few will admit it. He acts surprised when he finds a former one. He should be surprised instead to find someone who grew up in a church in the US that was not YEC,. To my knowledge, I don't even know of any one like that. Most non-YEC testimonies are from people who grew up in secular non-religious homes like Hugh Ross for instance. To be totally honest I don't know of any church anywhere that openly teaches the universe was created at the Big Bang 14BYA still today. The best you can find is one that is open to it but they still keep it secret like talking about politics.



  From: Dave Wallace <wmdavid.wallace@gmail.com>
  Cc: ASA <asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Wed, November 18, 2009 8:01:52 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Fw: (aliens) November Newsletter from Reasonable Faith

  David Campbell wrote:
I have heard of rejection of the possibility of aliens by non-YEC, but not with direct evidence on details. C. S. Lewis has discussion on the possibility of aliens; unfortunately I think the essays have received different titles. At any rate, he quite thoroughly refutes the claim that the gospel doesn't make sense in light of aliens. For that matter, Mark Twain recognized the error of that claim. To be pedantic, I assume you mean extraterrestrials as the USofA government considers Cameron, Murray, Gregory, Iain S, Steve Martin and myself all to be aliens and we all do need Christ at least I do. Appologies if I got anybodies nationality wrong.

  Dave W :)

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Received on Wed Nov 18 17:00:35 2009

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