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.
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