Creationist Wisdom #626: Evolution Is a Myth

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Castlegar News of Castlegar, British Columbia. The title is Where we came from makes a difference. The newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. But today we’ve got a preacher, Pastor Tom Kline, of the Castlegar Baptist Church. Excerpts from the rev’s letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

The Bible begins with a statement of great importance and meaning. Man has grappled with the question of his origin for centuries and has come up with some pretty outlandish theories.

The rev mentions the creation myths of the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks — but not Genesis — after which he says:

The most recent of these myths is of course is evolution.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

The interesting thing is that none of this theorizing is necessary because we have a direct statement from the One who created the universe. The first two chapters of Genesis give us many details about God’s creative process.

Yes, of course. The rev continues:

When we understand that we are not just a product of a series of random accidents over billions of years, we can begin to understand the meaning and purpose of life. We are not just intelligent animals that live 80 or so years whose sole goal is to be as happy as we can be. Your creator has a great interest in and purpose for your life and desires a relationship with you. When life is lived in concert with the way God designed there is wonderful fulfillment and blessing.

Indeed. There’s a lot to be said for a life of drool. Here’s more:

I know there are many who would argue with my classification of evolution as myth. We all have been told that evolution is a conclusion of sound science. Nevertheless it is at best unproven science.

It’s unproven! Who knew? Moving along:

When I attended school it was referred to as a theory. Somewhere over the years it was promoted to fact without any more real proof. Furthermore, in a world bent on becoming more secular, evolution was crowned the absolute monarch of science silencing all nonconformists.

The rev is a brave man — he won’t be silenced! Another excerpt:

There are many good scientists who see no contradiction between true science and the Biblical account of creation. However, they are never given a voice in secular academies or media.

Ah yes — true science doesn’t conflict with Genesis. On with the rev’s letter:

Logic alone raises serious doubt about the vast universe coming from nothing or that our highly complex, beautifully engineered world came about by random chance.

Yes, oh yes! Then he declares:

It is absolutely impossible to get life from non-life.

The rev is no fool! And now we come to the end:

The truth of the matter is that man wants to reject any accountability or responsibility to God. If you knew the Creator and how He loves you, you would not want theories that deny Him.

The people of Castlegar are fortunate to have the spiritual guidance of a brilliant man like Pastor Kline. Great letter!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #626: Evolution Is a Myth

  1. I want to comment only on the representation of what the Bible says.
    1) The Bible does not say that Genesis 1 is the testimony of God. It does not have any claim of authorship. There is an ancient tradition that it was written by Moses, but we know what people other than Catholics and Orthodox think of tradition.
    2) The opening words of the Bible are probably not best rendered by the famous KJV. Perhaps it is better “When in beginning God’s creation of the heavens and the earth …”
    3) The Bible describes there being wind blowing over water and a chaos as the given at the beginning of God’s creation. (Elsewhere there are hints about some troublesome entities that God had to deal with.) It doesn’t say anything about where or when the water, etc., came from.
    4) The Bible shows no concern about taxonomy (species or other taxa, let alone their relationships), biogeography, paleontology, ecology (e.g., the ecology of the animals during and after the Flood), microbiology.

  2. michaelfugate

    No wonder; he went to some hick Bible college in Indiana offering the following degrees only: Biblical Studies, Church Music Ministry, Missions, Pastoral Studies, and Elementary, Music & Secondary Education and claims “[We believe in] six creation days of twenty-four hours each.”

    Pity the poor students who get a teacher with a degree from there – especially if Kline is a typical alumnus.

  3. If evolution is a myth what category does one put the Bible in? Fanciful Brronze Age silliness?

  4. “We are not just intelligent animals that live 80 or so years whose sole goal is to be as happy as we can be.”
    Scary. This goal is difficult enough, if not too difficult, for those 80 years. This rev wants to make my life even harder!

  5. Guess the rev forgot to mention that the creation myths of the Israelite sheep herders were largely copied from other myths, with a couple of fanciful additions that I’m sure a real biblical scholar could detail.

  6. ‘life of drool’

    fricking hilarious, Curm.

  7. As TomS mentions, Genesis 1:1 presents the readers with some ambiguities right from the beginning (no pun intended but pun certainly convenient.) Pinning down the temporal implications of the first word, BARASHIT, is complicated by the fact that our English language and culture makes us obsessed with the temporal considerations but Hebrew language and culture doesn’t give it all that much thought. So what seems like an obvious question to us probably wasn’t to most of the original audience.

    Genesis 1:1 presents a broader ambiguity: Is it a first event or it is a summary of what follows? Accordingly, some read it as God creating the heavens and the earth [I prefer “the sky and the land”, especially when considering that the Hebrews had no concept of “planet earth”; either way it is an idiom for “everything” or “the universe”] and some consider it to be a summary of what follows. If it is a summary of what follows, then we have the odd situation when God is moving over the face of the waters before he has created anything. Indeed, a lot of Christians who will say “Let there be light!” never stop to consider where the just mentioned waters came from. So if Genesis 1:1 is the creation of the universe itself and the atoms within it, then what follows in Genesis 1:2 makes a lot more sense—because the reader can know how the waters got there.

    Even though Young Earth Creationists insist that Genesis 1 is a God’s-eye-view chronological account of how everything got started—but nothing in the Bible rules out the hymn-like pericope being similar to the hymns we see in the Psalms. Indeed, if Genesis 1 were just another chapter in the Psalms, far fewer people would be insisting it is an actual chronological history of planet earth and commentators would be focusing entirely on the obvious poetic structures. After all, each verse neatly corresponds with a day of the week and always includes the chorus:“And the evening and the morning was the Nth YOM/day.” They would also notice the 3+3 chiasmic structures and parallelisms.

    Those who have made the effort to learn how various cultures approach such topics and reflect upon the nature of their deity/deities realize that a poet may decide to imagine the Creator’s work stretched out over a single week in order to make a statement about the deity’s power: “People may plow fields and plant their crops in a single week but in that same period of time, Elohim can build a universe!” And in order to emphasize that God did his creating—which set everything in motion, just as it is today—and then stopped, God is said to have created a pattern for human work: six days of doing and then a day of not doing. (Those who foolishly complain, “Why did God rest? Was he tired?”, must have similar confusion in the courtroom and need to consult an English dictionary. Does the defense rest because the lawyer got tired? Or does the word “rest” mean “to cease, because something has been completed?” Yes, a lot of Bible critics aren’t all that sharp at their own language, let alone ancient Hebrew.)

    I predict that what I just explained and summarized will be among the hermeneutical conclusions of the Templeton Project at Trinity International University. Their efforts will be focused on explaining to Young Earth Creationists and others that interpretations like the above can be considered without abandoning or belittling the Biblical texts. They will make clear that a rigidly literal interpretation is no more required in Genesis 1 than in the Psalms or in the Apocalyptic literature. Only the power of tradition and the simplicity of literalism makes their interpretations seem so “obvious” and “absolutely necessary.”

  8. Traditional Young Earth Creationist also fail to understand that Moses could have heard an oral account of “Creation week” and decided to adapt it as part of the preface to the history of the descendents of Abraham. Writing it down in Hebrew after translating it from some other language would in no way undermine or cheapen its literary merits.

    Yes, the very structured, poetic hymn might have been passed down through many languages and ancient cultures. Perhaps scholars will eventually discover amazing precursors and later derivative works. Surprising? Perhaps. Distressing? I see no reason why it has to be! Only a rigid “divine dictation view of scripture” need be undermined by such a common phenomenon.

  9. Derek Freyberg

    So what is it about Pastor Kline that makes it appropriate to diss all the origin scenarios of the Egyptians and the “ancient Babylonians, Greeks and other cultures”, pass over (literally and metaphorically) those of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, ignore the assorted origin scenarios of the various Eastern religions, and proceed to diss evolution? Could it be that the man has a preconception that the only true word is that of the Bibble, and all else is to be ignored if contradictory (and internal contradictions also to be ignored)?
    Why yes, because “none of this theorizing is necessary because we have a direct statement from the One who created the universe.”
    OK, game’s over, forget science, divine revelation (at least the divine revelation of Pastor Kline) trumps all.
    “There are many good scientists who see no contradiction between true science and the Biblical account of creation.” Names, please.

  10. I thought the newspaper comment by Ken Phelps was very good:

    It’s hard to suppress a giggle when reading the Rev’s breathless accounting of the “outlandish theories” of the great civilizations of Babylon, Egypt, and Greece, only to have him then inexplicably ordain the stories of a small group of Palestinian sheep-herders as the petrified truth.

    So let’s see if we have this straight:

    Sun God has four children = outlandish.

    The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree = detailed story about the creative process.

    They say self-awareness and a sense of irony are the first to go….

    Furthermore, it’s interesting that fundamentalists take literally a translation of the books of the bible as ordered by an English king to be accurate down to every word. Yet it’s well acknowledged that the ‘books’ that comprise the bible have been edited and translated in different languages over the centuries as well as whole portions of ‘books’ have been thrown out for various reasons.

  11. Pastor Tom Kline says,
    “The truth of the matter is that man wants to reject any accountability or responsibility to God.”

    Well, yeah, Rev. Tom, that may be true, but just how does that falsify evolution?

  12. Furthermore, it’s interesting that fundamentalists take literally a translation of the books of the bible as ordered by an English king to be accurate down to every word.

    Only a small percentage of fundamentalists have that opinion of the King James Bible. In fact, most fundamentalist churches emphasize in their Statements of Faith that the “accurate down to every word” only applies to the “original autographs” of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts.

    As so often happens, the extremes and the exceptions often get the most attention and so the general public tends to develop inaccurate generalizations in terms of attributes which are not necessarily all that common. We see the same tendency in the other directions: e.g., Young Earth Creationist fundamentalists often speak as if all scientists are angry anti-theists based on what they hear from Richard Dawkins. Accordingly, they speak of “atheistic evolution” even though evolution is neither “atheistic” or “theistic” because evolution is a label applied to various natural processes.

    Yet it’s well acknowledged that the ‘books’ that comprise the bible have been edited and translated in different languages over the centuries….”

    Yes. That’s because most Fundamentalists consider the ideas to be what is of ultimate importance, not just the words alone. And that is why Fundamentalists would tell you that there are Christians throughout the world who have no Bible translated into their own language but are, nevertheless, genuine Christians—because the ideas which are central to the Gospel message taught by Jesus Christ can be articulated in every language. Indeed, Euclid’s geometry and Pythagoras’ theorem have been translated into countless languages (though much fewer than the Bible) but nobody ignores them for that reason.

    Even just about every KJV-only-ist fundamentalist in the world would either say the same thing or come close to it, although I have no doubt that some of the most extremely KJV-only-ists I’ve observed on-line would insist on objecting just so they could give a lecture on why their version of KJV-ism is superior, and that it also has special implications for people whose languages have no KJV-like Bible that they can call an inerrant translation. (I won’t even try to summarize some of those variations of KJV-ism. I’m not entirely sure I can figure them out. When I try to understand them by asking questions, I usually get damned to hell two or three times, and then blocked and declared a Son of Satin [sic]. In fact, I’ve been given that label so many times in the average week that I’m thinking of putting it on my business cards and letterhead just like it was another academic title.)

    ….as well as whole portions of ‘books’ have been thrown out for various reasons.

    I’m not sure why that would matter. Virtually every ancient author and text has gone through a process of determining what readings are to be considered genuine and consistent with the original corpus versus those which are later emendations, marginal notes, etc. Thus, determinations of the original corpus and careful textual criticism are what we would expect of every ancient text, especially if the text is considered important.

    The Apocrypha is a collection of books which appear in most Roman Catholic Bibles and was also included as “supplementary” texts of historical and cultural insights in the KJV Bible. Because they were written in Greek after the Hebrew Tanakh (the Old Testament) was already established, Protestants will tell you that they don’t consider them Holy Scripture because the ancient Hebrews didn’t. Roman Catholics would say that they got “thrown out” while most Protestants and Jewish rabbis would tell you that they were never included so they couldn’t be considered “thrown out”.

    The story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 is an example of a pericope missing from many of the oldest manuscripts, yet because the Latin Fathers of early centuries mentioned it within their texts, most scholars consider it to deserve inclusion. Even if it wasn’t in the original text of the Gospel of John, if it was considered to have been an event which Jesus’ disciples had witnessed, most Christians are in favor of seeing it included immediately after a context which fits it well.

  13. ….as well as whole portions of ‘books’ have been thrown out for various reasons.

    By the way, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel have done a great job of using sensational titles which mislead:

    Banned from the Bible! (Yes, too much sex and violence led to an NC-17.)

    The Forbidden Gospels (You know, the more they were forbidden, the more popular they became.)

    The Lost Books of the Bible (I know I saw them here just a minute ago. I’m checkin’ the car again.)

    The Last Books of the Bible (Their titles were “Weights & Measures” and the ever-popular “Concordance”, a plea for peace in our time.)

    Admittedly, even some scholars have found ways to get more attention for their favorite ancient text by naming The Gospel of ______ even the tiniest fragment of an ancient papyrus which happens to mention Jesus. My personal favorite is The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. It’s a single rectangular, little piece of papyrus, about 1 1/2 inches by 3 inches. The front and back of it show anything from a word or two per line to some partial sentences. (There’s not a complete sentence anywhere on it.) The title succeeded in getting it LOTS of media attention—and plenty of media exposure for the scholar who “discovered” it—but just about everybody with expertise in ancient Coptic texts considers it a modern forgery written on a fragment which has been carbon dated from medieval times.

    Even so, lots of people think if “Gospel” is in the title, then it must have been a book-length text which was unfairly left out of the well-known quartet (i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.) Even the well-known Gospel of Thomas is not a “typical” Gospel because it isn’t a narrative. But I’ve found it interesting how just the titles of various sensationalized cable-TV documentaries have molded the “everybody knows that…” folk-wisdom of what the general public thinks they know about Christian canon. (If it floats your boat, knock yourself out. Just don’t be surprised if you see a lot of yawns.)

  14. When I attended school it was referred to as a theory. Somewhere over the years it was promoted to fact without any more real proof.

    Groan. Not this moldy oldie again.

    Creationists never seem to know the relationship between fact, theory, hypothesis and guess.

    If course, professional creationists, bent as much on fleecing their flock as on discrediting evolution, don’t care. As for their grass-roots sheep, like Pastor Kline, their ignorance is testimony to the dreadful state of U.S. science education.

    Furthermore, in a world bent on becoming more secular, evolution was crowned the absolute monarch of science silencing all nonconformists.

    Okay, so which is worse in the good pastor’s view: the “crowning” of evolution or that we live in “a world bent on becoming more secular”? Even supposedly science-driven “intelligent design” crackpots, er, that is, researchers often seem to be even more offended by secularism in general than by evolution in particular.

  15. When life is lived in concert with the way God designed there is wonderful fulfillment and blessing.

    And, given that the human body is most similar, among all of today’s forms of life, to the bodies of chimps and other apes …

    We are being told that we ought to act like apes.

  16. If one looks at the etymology of “myth” it is noted that it is related to “mouth” as in word of mouth. So a myth is a story that is passed down through generations by word of mouth. Of course each retelling the heros and monsters get a little bit bigger. While the word “Bible” refers to book and the written word, I suspect even Pastor Tom Kline would acknowledge that the Bible was once transfered by word of mouth until someone decided to write it down, such is the pattern of all myths. When a society becomes literate it writes its myths down on paper, so the Bible isn’t special at all. What’s the difference between Pastor Tom’s myth and a Greek or Egyptian myth? Well, the Bible is taken on faith: From Pastor Tom’s web site’s statement of faith, ” That the Bible is the Word of God, given by direct inspiration; and is infallible and inerrant.” Now thereis a tortuous journey through history that explains why Pastor Tom believes that, mostly because Christianity was the state religion of the Roman Empire. If the “12 Olympican gods” was the state religion of the Roman Empire I suspect Pastor Tom’s website would have a statement of faith to them.
    The context of “Myth” as being a story that is untrue is mostly due to the fact that they can’t all be true. We still enjoy telling them because they are good stories with many allusions in writing and culture (so they still have value) but we know they aren’t strictly speaking literally true. Since I haven’t drank the kool-aid of Pastor Tom’s statement of faith so I include Christian myths in with the others.
    As for evolution and Pastor Tom’s attempt to throw it in with other discarded myths: strictly speaking evolution isn’t a myth. It began as a scholarly book. It has not giants, gods, demons, or heros. Just lots of time and nature picking the winners. Really evolution would seem to be rather boring, but its results and the insight into ourselves are much more exciting than any myth.

  17. Troy, of course you’re right that the narrative of evolution does not technically qualify as a myth, for the reasons you mention. No origin in oral tradition, no gods or heroes in the cast of characters, no expectation that people should interpret it symbolically, and so on.

    However, creationists are onto something when they fuse it with Big Bang cosmology and hold it up next to their creation myth. The two narratives perform the same function: to explain how the universe arose, where humankind came from, and how we fit into the big picture. Because the modern scientific narrative does what creation myths have always done, I would say to my students (in a class exploring how texts of various kinds shape our views of the world), “Okay, then, we can consider the scientists’ story beginning with the Big Bang to be a creation myth. But here’s the thing: It’s the best damn creation myth our species has ever come up with.”

  18. Calling something a “myth” need not mean that it is false.