Creationist Wisdom #816: Teach the Children

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s titled God is creator of heaven and earth, and 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. It’s Pastor Tom Walker of the Heritage Lutheran Church. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

The letter begins with a bible quote, which sets the tone for what follows:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).

Then the rev says:

Our Christian children have it easy. That is, they have it easy when it comes to life’s biggest question. Where did creation come from? Our children do not need to wonder about this. There are no complex myths to swallow. There is no pantheon of gods to learn about. There is really nothing mysterious or complex about the answer to this question. The answer is simply, “God made it.” Nothing could be simpler.

Yup — that’s the answer. After that he tells us:

Now, the world will try to pry this understanding out of our children’s hands in any way possible. Chiefly it will try to discredit God’s Word in scripture. Children who know scripture, those who learn to read it and study it, will hear God’s voice in their lives, and they will know that God is the father almighty who created heaven and earth.

The world is evil! The rev continues:

The world will also try to use twisted logic to confuse our children about how God our father almighty made all of creation. For this reason we must bend every effort to teach our children to think clearly and logically. They must know how to find truth in language and to detect falsehood. We must teach them to think and reason for themselves so that they are not defenseless in the face of the world’s untruth about God.

It’s difficult to teach children “to think clearly and logically” and “to think and reason for themselves,” and at the same time to know that Genesis is correct, but that’s the task the rev imposes on his church. Let’s read on:

The world will also try to use false interpretations of science and technology to undercut our children’s faith.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] The children must beware of science. And yet, in what seems like a contradiction, the rev also says:

Children must learn that science is a wholesome enterprise ordained by God for truth-seeking. They must not fear its findings because our almighty father wants to lay bare the underpinnings of creation for his children. He wants us to know and understand science so that we can better know and understand him.

Ah, we think we understand. It’s creation science that the rev wants children to learn. He makes that clear in one of his sermons which we found at his church’s website: Faith in a Scientific Era, where he declares:

There are many members of the scientific community who are also people of faith. …. Some of these scientists have begun inquiry into a set of theories that are collectively called “Intelligent Design.” These scientists engage in the of scientific study of things that suggest a divine intelligence behind creation. … For instance, Intelligent Design studies evolution and the fossil records concluding that careful research shows that origin of life in evolution is not accidental. In fact, the repeated failure to scientifically substantiate a random beginning for life and the fossil record itself raises critical issues that point toward an intelligent designer behind evolution, not random chance.

Okay, back to the rev’s letter:

God preserves our bodies and souls, our minds, our reasoning and our senses. He works minute by minute to shape us according to his unique design.

It’s so wonderful! Here’s more:

God did not just create heaven and earth, but he created them for us. This is the most important point to teach our children. We are placed inside creation in order to sense it and to receive it as a gift from our almighty father’s hand.

Yes — creation is all about us! And now we come to the end:

Our role in all of this is to thank, praise, serve and obey him. This is the only proper way to respond to God who is our Father Almighty. In this way we truly become what we are meant to be now and in eternity.

Very inspirational. Great letter, rev!

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #816: Teach the Children

  1. “For this reason we must bend every effort to teach our children to think clearly and logically. They must know how to find truth in language and to detect falsehood. We must teach them to think and reason for themselves …”

    This idiot reverend doesn’t even know what those words mean, so he uses them in a totally counterfactual manner.

  2. ‘There is no pantheon of gods to learn about.’ Rev doesn`t even know his guidebook. Deut 32:8 talks of a pantheon. Although apologists do their best to hide or ignore it.

  3. Religion … trying its best to keep its children stoopid!

  4. “God did not just create heaven and earth, but he created them for us.”

    Humans have messed up the earth quite nicely, causing mass extinction and possibly polluting our species out of existence as well. Some stewardship!

  5. The Rev is following Lutheran tradition here. Well, pretty much. Underneath Lutheranism there was always a common-sense attachment to reality that wasn’t necessarily to be found in high-flown intellectual Calvinism, and even less so in the Evangelicals and later sects. They tended towards ecstasy and dismissal of the intellect altogether. We have many times encountered creationists who are completely uninterested in the facts. They know what they feel and they know that what they feel is real.

    So the Rev says to educate the children. He’s sure that education will reveal the true nature of creation. The thing is, he’s right.

    Education will reveal the fact that natural means neatly account for practically everything in the Universe,leaving a residuum that is merely unknown; and learning logic will instill the necessary understanding that the burden of proof lies on the proposer. Taken together, the two are devastating to “God made it”.

    I think that it is likely that the Rev is getting on in years, and such scientific education as he had is a little hazy now. But he’s not necessarily an adversary. All his letter to the paper proposes is a theistic assumption underpinning the natural processes of the Universe. As LaPlace remarked, he doesn’t need that hypothesis, but I have no objection to his holding it, so long as he doesn’t distort or omit the facts that are known.

    When he endorses “Intelligent Design”, he is, alas, doing just that. He has naively accepted the DI’s description of it as “science”, when it is nothing but hot air and voodoo. His pastoral letter on the church’s website, “Faith in a scientific era”, is a collection of lies he’s been told, as well. Perhaps it is not directly his fault that he has believed apparently credible falsehoods, but anyone who publicizes a proposition has a duty to check the facts. The Rev has dismally failed in that duty.

  6. Pastor Walker:
    Where did creation come from? … The answer is simply, “God made it.”

    Now, the world will try … to discredit God’s Word in scripture.

    The Pastor errs when he thinks science is out to discredit God’s Word. Science’s goal is not to discredit God. A goal of science is to explain how “God made it”, if we define “God” as simply the force that is responsible for the formation of the universe.

    In broad terms, science is the tool we use to understand reality. Science is neutral on religion — unless a religion makes claims about reality that are demonstrably false. As Galileo found out, defending the truth is a risky business.

  7. Ross Cameron, you sent me back to my Tanakh. Deut 32:8 refers to ‘elyon, correctly translated in KJV as “most high”, but this could well mean most high above all creatures or all things, and need not necessarily imply, as I think you would have it, “most high among the gods”.

    FWIW, I think the Rev is well-meaning but muddled. He believes his religion is valid. He also thinks science is valid. And if both are valid, then science and religion must be consistent. And yet he does not realise that his appeal to “God made it” as the answer to our questions undermines the very concept of science.

  8. @Dave Luckett
    Very fine essay.
    I would only point out that saying “God did it” does not address the questions that sciences attempt to answer. You say that the burden of proof lies on the proposer, and that “God did it” does not meet that burden of proof. I, rather, suggest that “God did it” – that an agency which is equally consistent with any outcome does not distinguish between any outcomes, and therefore does not address the questions that sciences attempt to answer. It is not a matter of the burden of proof. It is that there is not a proposition which is awaiting proof.
    In one expansion of the encounter between Laplace and Napoleon, Napoleon is supposed to have responded about the God hypothesis:
    “Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains many things.” But it does not attempt to explain any this. It is not an hypothesis at all. It does not tell us why or how it turns out that the sky is blue, rather than being a green and purple paisley.
    It does not tell us why the eye is designed to fit the laws of optics, or why God would see fit to constrain himself by any design.
    Why does the Mona Lisa have that smile? It is not an answer to say, “because Leonardo designed it”. It is true that L. designed it (and not only designed it, but followed up on the design by painting it – but that’s another issue). But the fact that L. designed the ML does not answer the question.
    It isn’t that there isn’t enough proof of his desgn.
    “Why do humans have the typical vertebrate eye?” We can accept the theist thesis that God is the creator of all things, and still be left without an answer to the question. And the answer that humans share common ancestry with other vertebrates does not reject the proposition that all of the vertebrates are creatures of God.

  9. @Tom S: A bit OT, but Laplace seems to be generally misunderstood. What he thought he had done was to show that, contrary to Newton’s concern, the mutual interaction of the planets would not destabilise the solar system, so that there would be no need for God to make minor corrections, as Newton had suggested, to keep things running smoothly.

    For what it’s worth, he was right in the short run, but some calculations suggest that a couple of billion years or so from now, tthe system will become chaotic and Mercury will be slingshot outwards, with unpredictable consequences.

  10. Pastor Walker saith:

    For instance, Intelligent Design studies evolution and the fossil records concluding that careful research shows that origin of life in evolution is not accidental. In fact, the repeated failure to scientifically substantiate a random beginning for life and the fossil record itself raises critical issues that point toward an intelligent designer behind evolution, not random chance.

    Pastor Walker had better watch his step. It sounds as though he’s okay with evolution, as long as it’s not “random” but rather guided by God. Doesn’t he know that if unequivocal creationists ever got the power they crave, he could be sent to prison, or perhaps the chair, for that?

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