FOR your weekend contemplation, dear reader, we present a letter-to-the-editor which is much more than the usual “maniac in a shack” job. This one appears in the Orange County Register, our biggest source of information about the plight of Dr. James Corbett. Our last post on that topic was here, about a letter written by one of Corbett’s lawyers and two of his students.
Today’s letter-writer is responding to that letter, so this is in the nature of a follow-up. This morning’s gem is titled Debunking myths seculars spin against creation.
We’ll copy most of today’s letter, omitting the writer’s name and city, and adding our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. The bold font was added for emphasis. Here we go:
My rebuttal is not related to the specifics of Dr. James Corbett’s case, but to the lack of scientific scholarship from writers Hannah Block, Michele Tyler and J. Craig Johnson [AP teacher challenges untenable views” Commentary, Nov. 15].
Ah, so this isn’t a follow-up about Corbett — it was inspired by the Corbett imbroglio, but it’s all about “lack of scientific scholarship.” Okay, now that know what we’re getting, let’s read on:
These scholars are not trained in theology or in its relationship to science. Otherwise, they would not make misleading statements about the Bible’s position on the placement of the Earth in our solar system, and its account of creation. Their understanding of evolutionary theory is also faulty.
We sense that a massive load of something will soon be showing up. The letter continues:
As a computer scientist who has completed all M.A. requirements in Science and Religion, and who is working toward a Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, I believe I’m on solid ground when I say that these writers may understand a few things about their respective domains, but they honestly need to avoid making public comments on the relationship between science and religion. Masters in education or a law degree does not qualify one to be a theologian, though some may think it does because they don’t view theology as representing a legitimate form of knowledge. As a result differing creation views are treated as equivalent regardless of the level of effort it takes to understand them.
Now we are confirmed in our suspicions. According to the Salem hypothesis, engineering types — and that often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint. Today’s letter-writer has taken that to the next level by seeking an additional degree of a religious nature. We’re in for a treat, so hang on!
There are two key falsehoods in this article that must be addressed: the belief that the Bible 1) endorses a geocentric model that the Earth is at the center of the universe and 2) specifically advocates a Young Earth Creation view.
This guy can’t be serious! Or can he be?
The view that the Earth is at the center of the universe is the original work of Aristotle, who considered the Earth an imperfect place where heavy and corrupt things fell. Copernicus introduced the heliocentric model, but his observations were not accurate enough to be verified, and his intent was never to challenge “untenable religious views,” since geocentricism had been the prevailing scientific view since Aristotle. It was the observations of Galileo along with Kepler’s laws of planetary motion that verified heliocentrism. Far from demoting the status of the Earth, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler saw the new scheme as exalting it. Newton was not a part of the story. So clearly, the writers of this article didn’t do their homework.
There’s more! The letter-writer continues into his next paragraph to further exonerate the bible from the “false” accusation of being geocentric:
The Genesis account in the Old Testament was produced well before the Greeks, and the Bible never mentions the Earth was at the center of our solar system or the universe. So this cannot be a flaw in the Bible when such a claim doesn’t even exist.
No flaws in the bible! How could there be? It was written before Aristotle, who was an idiot, and all that goofy geocentric nonsense came from him. This is great stuff!
Alas for the letter-writer, the bible is beyond question a geocentric book. At Galileo’s heresy trial, which the letter-writer conveniently fails to mention, the Church’s prosecutors weren’t acting on behalf of Aristotle. They used two specific scriptural passages against Galileo — they might have used more, but we know of two that were actually used by the Inquisition at the trial. One was the account of Joshua’s ordering the sun to stand still, and the other was Ecclesiastes 1:5
The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
After crudely attempting to dump all the blame for geocrentrism on Aristotle, and after ignoring the role of the Inquisition in the Galileo affair, the letter-writer goes on to claim that — get this! — the bible doesn’t support young earth creationism (YEC) either:
Second, in the Old Testament it is hotly debated what the Hebrew word for day (yom) means. It can be interpreted as a literal 24-hour day in some contexts and as a long period of time in others. Most who hold the Old Earth Creationist model, such as myself, are of the latter view with respect to creation.
It’s not the bible’s fault; there’s nothing but good science in there. All of those silly YECs are misinterpreting the bible. Incredible, isn’t it?
Never mind the fact that all young-earth-creationists get their data from scripture, and their technique was probably perfected in constructing the Ussher chronology. Today’s “computer scientist” letter-writer has exonerated the bible from any blame for the YEC position.
To counter one of the article’s essential points, “religion” is not in a position of “catching up” in the case of Young Earth Creationism because, Young Earth Creationism has never believed in geocentrism, and second, doesn’t accept standard evolutionary theory. The Old Earth Creationist view accepts an old Earth, but does not accept the standard evolutionary view either.
We think the letter-writer is wildly slipping & sliding here in order to achieve a very dubious and morally shady reconstruction of history. No rational historian doubts that before Galileo, probably everyone believed in both YEC and geocentrism. The letter-writer seems to rely on the fact that the “modern” YEC movement is relatively recent, and by the time it came along almost everyone had accepted the solar system. Thus, YEC “never” believed in geocentrism. Yeah, right. Moving along:
As for “denominations” reconciling their account of creation with evolution and an old Earth, that is the Theistic Evolution position, which has nothing to do with denominations. I don’t understand why these writers avoided seeking out people that are knowledgeable in this area.
Knowledgeable. Right. Another excerpt:
Finally, regarding evolutionary biology, I want to make the key point that Young Earth Creation proponents do believe in natural selection within species (i.e., microevolution). What they don’t believe, in common with the Old Earth Creationists, is in macroevolution. Macroevolution refers to evolutionary change at or above the level of species.
Micro-yes, macro-no. We’ve been there before. On with the letter:
While I do agree with the writers that the Young Earth Creation view should not be taught as a generally accepted view, it should be acknowledged as an alternative with arguments for and against, since it does have some merits (I say this as an Old Earth Creation proponent).
We never yet encountered an OEC who didn’t have a great deal in common with the YECs. Here’s more:
The problem is that evolutionary theory presents macroevolution as fact, without any weaknesses. Evolutionary theory also does not address the origin of life, which continues to defy explanation, even for the best researchers. And even though evolutionary theorists argue that the evidence for macroevolution is “overwhelming,” there are few examples of transitional species, and there is no detailed evolutionary path for any species.
Nice little medley of oldie-goldies. It’s good to see them still being recycled. And now we come to the end:
Finally, and I know this is controversial, the scientific community rules out theistic approaches a priori, as if no theistic view could have any truth content. I believe the Old Earth Creation view best accords with the evidence. Is this a “god of the gaps” argument given what we don’t know? Hardly. It has merit and deserves serious consideration as a viable alternative to macroevolutionary theory, which has serious explanatory gaps.
That conclusion had some great flourishes, displaying zero knowledge of the scientific method, the meaning of a God of the gaps argument, or the meaning of the word “theory” in a scientific context. All in all, a great letter!
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