Personal paradigm shifts

Wesley R. Elsberry (
Sun, 18 Jan 1998 02:05:05 -0600 (CST)

Scott Rauch writes:

SR>Well, let me tell you, the shift is absolutely devastating.
SR>I'm still struggling with all this. I still hold some anger
SR>because I believe the evangelical Christian community did not
SR>properly prepare me for the creation/evolution debate. They
SR>gave me a gun loaded with blanks, and sent me out. I was

I hold myself fortunate in that I was never told that belief
in evolution was incompatible with belief in Christ while
growing up. I attended an evangelical middle school and a
Catholic high school, and at neither did anyone try to make
belief in creationism a salvation issue. In fact, my teachers
at the middle school introduced me to the concept that I now
recognize as day-age theistic evolution, which is somewhat
surprising to me now when looking back on the other doctrinal
issues that they pushed. My viewpoint from fairly early on
has been that the evidence shows *how* God did things, and the
Bible is there to help us understand *why*.

I was spared the problems of attempting to "correct" benighted
biologists with SciCre irrefutable arguments, simply because I
had not been exposed to theistic anti-evolutionism until it was
too late. I got my first dose of SciCre argumentation after I
already had a BS in zoology, at a lecture held on campus (a
state university, no less). A person claiming a geology
background talked about how evolution had to be wrong due
to circularity of dating, moon dust, problems in radio-isotope
dating, and the like. I was impressed. It seemed to me that
the speaker was well-informed and had come up with some pretty
convincing arguments, although I still wanted to check out
what other geologists said. I talked to the speaker after
the lecture, indicating that I appreciated his approach and
wanted some more information. He gave me a small book by
Henry Morris, "The Scientific Case For Creation".

I started reading Morris' book, and started feeling very
uneasy. Within a couple of days, I had taken to using a
yellow highlighter to mark the statements from Morris that
I knew to be incorrect. When I finished the book, there were
perhaps a total of five pages that had no highlighter marks,
and that lack I attribute more to my ignorance than anything

It was at this point that I went from a stance of having a
minor interest in finding "reasons to believe" to having a
fairly major interest in combatting the anti-science activities
of the SciCre community. Surely God did not mean for His
followers to "lie for Christ", and yet the anti-evolutionary
literature is chock-a-block with careless denunciations,
misquotations via any of a number of methods, ad hominem,
strawmen, non sequiturs, and the odd ignoratio elenchi, all
employed without the least apparent twinge on the part of the
authors that they have not the slightest idea what evolutionary
biology really says.

I tend to think of SciCre argumentation, and even some of the
ID argumentation, as a search for a "magic bullet". By this, I
don't mean it in the sense that Ehrlich did when searching for
a cure for syphilis. I mean it in the sense of werewolf
movies. There, the magic bullet is simply a silver slug that
will destroy the lycanthrope on contact. Those wielding the
magic bullet need invest no other effort in dealing with the
lycanthrope, are not required to be pure in spirit, and
certainly have no need to *understand* lycanthropy in any deep
sesne. Similarly, the SciCre "professionals" are engaged in
the peddling of "magic bullets", which retain their magic only
so long as they aren't used on real lycanthropes. The magic
bullet users, as Scott relates, remain secure in their faith
that the evil lycanthropes can be held at bay or vanquished,
right up until the time the magic bullet is fired -- and is
found to have lost its virtue.

Instead of magic bullets like "too little moon dust" or
"materialistic philosophy", more good would come of trying to
understand what exactly evolutionary biology is. As it is,
creationist belief has tended more and more to resemble
evolutionary biology. In little more than a century and a
half, we have seen a change from general adherence to the
doctrine of special creation to a range of beliefs, at the most
different from evolutionary biology, creation of each separate
"kind" (which when defined at all, tends to be defined such
that the evolutionist term "clade" comes close to fitting the
concept), and at the least different, a belief in physical
common descent but separate imbuement of spirit.