Creationist Wisdom #301: No Fairy Tale

Today’s letter-to-the-editor (like the last two or three) appears at the website TC Palm, which hosts several Florida newspapers and doesn’t bother to identify any of them, but their weather reports are for places like Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, and Stuart, Florida. It’s titled God’s gifts to humankind included sharp minds. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do, we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:

Wayne Shepard (Jan. 16 letter) erred when he wrote that God gave ancient Israel the book of Genesis as a child’s tale to fulfill certain societal needs at a time when the human race was more simple-minded.

This is the earlier letter that caused today’s response: Genesis story lovingly shared by God; just don’t believe it. We think it’s a respectful way to deal with the scientific inaccuracies in Genesis. Here’s an example of what it says:

God loves you. But God tells you what you need to know when you need to know it, and not before. When your 4-year-old daughter comes to you and asks, “Where do babies come from?” you don’t tell her about coitus and sperm and the missionary position. Now is not the time for that.

So, people make up a story to put the question to bed for a while. “The stork brings them,” or, “When mommies and daddies fall in love, babies happen.” We tell our children the stories out of love, confident that they will learn the truth in due time.

Your Curmudgeon never studied theology, but that seems like a useful and non-offensive way to deal with naïve creationists. Alas, sometimes diplomacy doesn’t work. If someone wants to be offended, then by golly he will be offended, and today’s letter-writer is offended.

What we’re dealing with here isn’t specifically about Darwin and evolution and such, but it’s about the literal accuracy of Genesis, without which creationism as we know it (young Earth, Noah’s Ark, etc.) wouldn’t exist, so this is really where it all begins. Is Genesis just a bed-time story, or is it a detailed account of actual history?

The letter offers us several reasons for rejecting the bed-time story explanation:

First, that would make God a liar, which is an impossibility.

We don’t like that argument at all. A mortal should never say that something is impossible for a deity. The gods don’t like it when a mere men attempt to limit their abilities. Let’s read on:

Second, when God first created people, those people had better minds than we have today, since their minds had not undergone the degradation caused by sin after Adam’s disobedience.

All too often, this is what happens when you try to help someone out by giving him an acceptable, face-saving reason to put aside his creationism. He shuts his eyes, digs in his heels, puts his fingers in his ears, and hauls out yet another fairy tale to support his position. But the letter-writer has only given us his first two reasons for believing in the scientific accuracy of Genesis. He’s just getting started:

God assigned Adam the task of naming all the air-breathing land animals, and Adam undoubtedly recorded those names. So Adam, the first human, was literate and intelligent.

Yeah — Adam was a smart guy! There was no need to tell him a child’s tale. He was ready for the truth — all of it — and that’s exactly what he got in Genesis. Here’s more:

Third, the Scriptures tell us (Genesis 1:27) that God created man in his own image. This means that God gave man personhood; that is, he created us with a will, a mind, and the ability to communicate. Since communication with us was necessary for God to carry out his purposes for us, those purposes would be thwarted if God communicated lies.

That seems a little bit fuzzy, but it’s only one of several reasons. Here’s the letter-writer’s final reason, and it’s a good one:

Lastly, if God at one point spoke simplistic lies to us, how would we know when he was speaking truth?

He’s got a point there! Who among you has ever been able to believe your mother about anything after learning that she lied about Santa Claus? The letter’s final paragraph is very powerful. He totally rebuts the earlier letter that claimed Genesis is a child’s tale:

A view like Shepard’s makes silly putty out of truth, so that one can make it whatever suits him. People will believe anything that excuses them from accepting God’s clear communication of himself to us, because if they did, they would have to observe God’s laws. They prefer to change the message than obey it.

There’s no way to get around it. When it comes to the bible, it’s all or nothing. Maybe you can’t handle the truth, but Adam could, and so can today’s letter-writer.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #301: No Fairy Tale

  1. So, of course, he also believes in a flat earth, the dome of heaven, animal husbandry through strategic bark-peeling, and that pi is a round number.

  2. Wow. Affirmation that someone who closes their ears to anything that does not affirm their world view is usually unreachable, even when attempts at bridge building are made. Walking into the office this morning, I visualized coarse home spun and dirt on the faces of the people walking by me.
    Its a little scary(or alot) to see the same level of understanding of science and the scientific method among the modern, as those who wore such clothing in the 12th century. Those using science’s contributions are standing on the shoulders of giants. Not realizing daily that this is so,
    and how that comes to be, among such a large perentage of America’s population, makes me worry for mankind’s prospects.
    Incidentally,SC, the news this morning says polar bear decreases are because of a peak in population related to post 1973 hunting bans and then a relapse, countermanding the finding that no scientific organization of merit nationally or internationally dissents from the finding that fossil fuels are driving unprecedented levels of temperature rise worldwide and that its a 90% probability that that is caused by man’s activities.
    One hypothesis then overturns a vast body of knowledge and work.
    Amazing play on lack of knowledge by people who themselves don’t grasp scinces basic tenets and continually choose to attempt to deny its findings on spurious arguments with low merit.

  3. First, that would make God a liar, which is an impossibility.

    Umm … Jesus told parables … stories with (supposed) moral truths but which were not actually true accounts. Since it is impossible for god to do that, Jesus must not be god.

    Second, when God first created people, those people had better minds than we have today, since their minds had not undergone the degradation caused by sin after Adam’s disobedience.

    Yeah, but that didn’t last long. By the time Moses (supposedly) wrote down Genesis, god was dealing with the “degraded” minds of Moses and the rest of the Israelites. Anyway, he’s missing the point of the original metaphor. No one is saying a 4 year old’s mind is “degraded” compared to her parents’, just that she lacks the background information necessary to understand the full facts.

    Lastly, if God at one point spoke simplistic lies to us, how would we know when he was speaking truth”

    Now, that’s a bitch. But, then again, how do you know god “wrote” the Bible in the first place?

  4. Whether God could lie or not, humans certainly can. And we have never found a shred of the bible, no matter how ancient, that was not written by a human.

  5. johnpieret says:

    No one is saying a 4 year old’s mind is “degraded” compared to her parents’, just that she lacks the background information necessary to understand the full facts.

    Well then, we should treat her the way Adam was treated in Genesis — tell her the whole truth. As the earlier letter-writer says, coitus, missionary position, all of it. (I’ve always meant to try out the missionary position. Maybe one of these days …)

  6. Jim “So, of course, he also believes … that pi is a round number.”

    Did you really say that? Of course pi is a round number! Sounds like circular logic.

  7. retiredsciguy says: “Of course pi is a round number!”

    You’ve heard the old joke. A teacher writes the formula for the area of a circle on the blackboard and says: “Pi r squared.” Little Johnny raises his hand and says: “Teacher, you’re wrong! Pi are round. Cornbread are square!”

  8. The Curmudgeon said: “(I’ve always meant to try out the missionary position. Maybe one of these days …)”

    It’s quite easy really, just put on your best suite and position yourself directly in front of the doorbell button at your neighbor’s house. Foreplay consists of using a semi rigid pointer finger to activate your neighbor’s bell. I’m sure you know what to do once the door swings open. ;=)

    Cheers

  9. “when God first created people, those people had better minds than we have today”
    “… Adam undoubtedly recorded those names. So Adam, the first human, was literate …”
    Adam would have had a better memory than we have today, so he wouldn’t need to write them down, there can’t be more than a few hundred thousand.

  10. SC, I’m relieved. I feared you might put me on pun moderation.

  11. retiredsciguy, you are always on the thin edge.

  12. In Titus chapter 1 God is described as he who cannot lie.