Thursday, January 18, 2007

FUNDAMENTALISTS ERODE GEOLOGY WHILE DISRESPECTING BIBLE

"In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under [the Bush administration's] orders to suspend its belief in geology." Thus declared Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, as quoted in Christian Century.

The effect of this anti-geology Bush edict is that employees at Grand Canyon National Park are not permitted to discuss the age of the canyon.

Of course, the Hebrew wording of the Genesis creation accounts (which most fundamentalists insist is a literal six, 24 hour day event) does NOT mandate a literal six day creation. In fact, in the original Hebrew, the wording clearly indicates that creation was an act of God over a very long period of time. Some Bible inerrantists have enough confidence in the Bible to admit as much, but many do not. Which means, ironically, that biblical fundamentalists are trying to force science to conform to something the Bible does not actually teach in the first place. Furthermore, only since the 17th century has the belief in a literal six-day creation become popular among Christians, and not until the 1870s and 1880s was "creationism" born.

That many fundamentalists disrespect and even abuse the Bible (even as they publicly claim to believe it) for their personal gain is nothing unusual. For President Bush to turn their disrespect of the Bible into public policy is inexcusable.

58 comments:

rc said...

I visited the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago, and walked out to 'Hermit's Rest.' On one of the pillars of the old lodge was a benign Bible verse, a psalm, a believe rejoicing in the beauty of God's creation.

Recently, all the verses have been ordered removed.

In the current climate, I can't imagine it remotely possible that Park Rangers are instructed to conceal the canyon's age from someone who asks. I call BS.

When I visited the canyon, I saw a mennonite couple there, looking at how the canyon was formed so quickly. I held my tongue. A polite park ranger should do the same.

But I don;t think that's the same as 'rangers being under orders.' That's crap. If you continue to believe this silly canard, I defy you to call the grand canyon park station and see first hand if it is true.

All my love :P,
rc

Jon L. Estes said...
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Jon L. Estes said...
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D.R. said...

Bruce,

I am not challenging your statement, but please, please use something better than Wikipedia to support your statements. Wikipedia is so weakly moderated that literally thousands of articles have been shown to contain incorrect information that has been challenged (and in some cases not changed). At least support a statement like you made with a link to a book or a recognized scholar.

And if you are doing your research from Wikipedia . . . well, I'll just say that I guess that explains a lot.

Bruce Gourley said...

Danny, I assume you are aware that a respected scholarly journal has determined that Wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Go to http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

In addition, some of us double-check a given Wikipedia entry before recommending it. I recommend you do the same.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I happen to know this story is true because I read the AP story when it first broke. Then my wife, who was a scientist working for the Forestry Dept. before she went to seminary, called and checked and the story is quite true.

HOWEVER, Bruce, I have to agree with D.R. on the unreliability of Wikipedia. I have even corrected a few things I knew to be false because of my own interests--adding the footnotes and other documentation for the changes--only to find my stuff removed and the false data put back the next week.

An online encyclopedia was a great idea. One that assumes everyone is equally expert is not.

D.R. said...

Brucey,

First, my name is D.R. or Daniel, not Danny, which is a childish attempt at disrespect, but I guess I shouldn't except much more from you after reading your articles on this site and Mainstream Baptists.

And after reading the article you posted, it sounds more like Britannica came out looking bad rather than Wikipedia looking good, though I thought that Britannica's president summed the difference between the two well:

"The (Nature) article is saying that Wikipedia has a third more errors".

I am assuming you know that statistically that's not too good.

And after all that I still await some scholarly affirmation of your thorough research.

Bruce Gourley said...

Michael, fyi the Wikipedia reference had nothing to do with the news story ... it was about background information on the history of creationism (which was accurate when I checked it; but you do make a good point that the entries can be hijacked; although I know of top historians in their respective fields who routinely refer to Wikipedia, your point is well taken).

Daniel, my apologies: for some reason I was under the impression your name was Danny. It was no show of disrespect, and was actually an attempt to address you by your real name rather than anonymous initials.

Signed,
Brucey

D.R. said...

Bruce,

Sorry I jumped to conclusions. You have to know the story, but I grew up in Memphis and the porno king of the city during my development years was named Danny Owens. So, when I hear the name Danny I cringe. And I have had some who have used that to annoy and patronize me. Sorry that I projected that onto you. But, just so you know, D.R. isn't just my initials, I actually go by that (you know like J.R. or C.J. or other redneck nicknames). It was a sort of nickname my freshman college roomates gave me because my mom wrote my initials on all my towels. They told me they were going to get the whole school to call me that by the end of the year and they succeeded. Some of my fraternity brothers still don't know what my real first name is.

So, thanks for the apology. Sorry again I jumped to conclusions.

Bruce Gourley said...

D.R. I shall call you from now on therefore.

And I've never been to Memphis, oddly enough. Perhaps I have not missed a whole lot in some respects.

D.R. said...

Well, thankfully they closed all of Mr. Owens establishments and put him in jail for tax evasion. But there are plenty of those types of places all over these days. How sad that its a billion dollar business.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

I hold the Genesis account to be "true," as you well know. What I don't do is force modern definitions of "truth" upon an ancient manuscript.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

If you truly believe the Bible as truth, then you will seek to understand scripture within its context. The creation account is a theological statement, not a statement of scientific fact (as modernists try to force it to be).

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Only in modern times have some Christians, buying into the modern scientific mindset, tried to confine "truth" to factuality.

The Biblical writers were not beholden to modern views of truth. And God has never been confined to modern views of truth (much less your particular modern views of truth).

And you, with your modernistic mindset that insists on confining "truth" to "factuality," abuse and violate the Bible you claim to believe.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, you tell me why poetry can be "truth" even though is not factual. And what about Jesus' parables: they were not factual, but instead are make believe stories to illustrate a point.

By insisting that everything in the Bible must be "factual," you are showing your true colors: a modernistic view of truth that turns the Bible into nothing more than a reflection of your own opinions.

Speaking of Genesis, do you believe Adam was an actual individual man? In the original Hebrew in Genesis, the Bible does not speak of an individual man named Adam until chapter four. Instead, the original Hebrew speaks of God creating earthlings from earth, not one man and one woman (the "Adam" and "Eve" of the English translations). So, do you believe the Genesis creation account or not?

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Adam in Hebrew literally means "man" (or "human" or "earthling"). The more correct English translations use the phrase "the man" (rather than turning it into a proper person), and say that God created "man, male and female."

If you've taken an introductory Hebrew class, you know the above.

But my guess is you don't give a flying rip about what the Hebrew says ... because it is not what you want the Bible to say. Nor do you care that the ancient Hebrews viewed the creation account as narrative, not scientific fact ... because it is not what you want the Bible to be.

I am sorry that I cannot help you overcome your abusive relationship with the Bible. It is obvious you have a need to pummel the Bible into submitting to your will.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

I just posted a note to your blog, but since you only allow moderated comments, I'm copying it here for the world to see:

===================================

Dear Jon,

I challenge you to invite me to your church, Jackson Park Baptist Church, Kannapolis, N.C., to debate with you on the subject of the Bible, during a Sunday or Wednesday night service.

We'll let your congregation decide who has a higher view of the Bible.

And I assure you that you will not win the debate.

Put up or shut up.

Bruce Gourley

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Just as I suspected: you are fearful of face-to-face debate, even on your home turf in front of your own congregation.

As you should be.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, you had your chance at BL.com and was given lots of leeway, yet you blew it, and have never expressed remorse.

Now you don't have the guts to post my challenge to you on your blog.

And you know your own position on Scripture is too weak to withstand scrutiny in front of your own congregation.

I gave you a long opportunity, filled with much grace despite your mean-spiritedness, on the BL.Com site. You blew it. And now you refuse to extend to me that which I freely extended to you.

When you work up the courage to defend your beliefs in a debate in front of your own congregation, you let me know.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Unless everyone in your church agrees exactly like you, then you already allow non-truth (that is, truth that is opposed to Jon's truth) into your church. Or are you in the process of casting out any and all who disagree with you?

Indeed, if you allow any of your church members to disagree with you, then you are hypocritical in refusing to allow me into your church simply because I disagree with your view of the truth.

In falling back on the position that you are right and all who disagree with you are wrong and should not be allowed to speak, you've been exposed for who are you: one whose faith is too shallow to allow it to be questioned and debated in person.

Again, when you overcome your fear and work up the courage to defend your beliefs in a debate in front of your own congregation, you let me know.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

So, have you yet kicked out all your church members who do not agree with your truths?

And have you yet overcome your fears and mustered up the courage to defend your faith in person?

(A debate is not the same as speaking from the pulpit, my friend. And I assure you the Lord is not leading you in the attitude you are displaying in our online discourse.)

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Any Christian who claims he or she is always right, and those who disagree with him or her automatically wrong, is not speaking from the Lord.

(Have you yet kicked out all your church members who do not agree with your truths? Have you yet overcome your fears and mustered up the courage to defend your faith in person?)

David Flick said...

Bruce, may I enter the discussion? You say "yes?" Thank you. Here goes...

Jon Estes wrote: It has nothing to do with fear my friend but truth. I love you in Christ but when you take the road Ralph Elliott took concerning Genesis I must refuse to let that anti-scripture message to be presented as truth to the flock I am responsible over.

Jon, what do you know about Ralph Elliott? In what way is Bruce taking the road Ralph Elliott took? Is he one of those "bad professors" about whom loathed and criticized? Is he one of those godless liberals who does not believe the Bible? Have you read either of Elliott's books? Do you know what Elliott says about the creation story? Or are you just bluffing Bruce?

FWIW, Ralph Elliott was one of the finest OT professors ever to come into Baptist life. He understood the truth about the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Can you accurately state (in writing) what Elliott believes about the first 11 chapters of Genesis?

Why are you afraid to invite Bruce to debate with you on your turf? If you are so confident in your views, it should be a piece of cake. Or are you afraid you won't be able to handle Bruce’s arguments?

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, first you say you are a nobody, then in the next breath you are offering to arrange a debate between me and SBC "big boys." Hmmmm.

And you're the one who is 100% confident of your views ... yet you refuse to defend them in person? That is just a little bit odd.

As to why you would think I am anyone significant, I don't know. I'm just a country boy who believes the Bible and strives to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus. I'll bet you've got some folks in your congregation who would offer the same testimony.

Regardless, I'll debate any fundamentalist regarding the Bible, in the local church, seminary, wherever. Fundamentalism is a modernistic approach to the Bible which forces scripture to conform to modernistic views of truth. It is, in short, much too low a view of the Bible, for it refuses to allow the Bible to be the Bible.

I welcome the opportunity to out-Bible any fundamentalist.

(Do you still allow church members in your church to disagree with you, by the way?)

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

You are too much a product of modernism to understand the definition of myth in regards to ancient history, Jon. (Hint: in the ancient world, the concept was a common way of truth-telling.)

And you are clearly afraid to let the Bible be the Bible. Which is why you are fearful of publicly debating your faith person-to-person.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, get your act together. I've already stated the Genesis creation account is truth ... but not in the modernistic understanding of truth that you put your faith in.

Let me know when you overcome your fears and muster your courage to debate your faith person-to-person. I promise I will not even step behind your pulpit.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, show at least a little bit of respect for the Bible: among the ancient Hebrews, biblical truth was not confined to factualness. It is your modern, rationalistic, humanistic, scientifically-influenced mindset that attempts to confine truth to empirical facts.

You, my friend, are the one who is anti-Bible. I'll be glad to demonstrate this to your congregation ... but first you have to overcome your fears and muster up your courage. Do you need another day or two?

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

I am saddened that you insist on pummeling the Bible into submission to your own will, forcing the Word of God to submit to the Word of Jon.

Your congregation deserves someone who treats the Bible with respect.

And when you overcome your fears and muster the courage for a person-to-person debate, just let know.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

I am saddened that you insist on pummeling the Bible into submission to your own will, forcing the Word of God to submit to the Word of Jon.

Your congregation deserves someone who treats the Bible with respect.

And when you overcome your fears and muster the courage for a person-to-person debate, just let know.

Jon L. Estes said...
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JRW said...

Bruce:
I have been reading the interplay between you and Jon with great interest. It illustrates the great difficulty that reality based viewpoints have in breaking through the irrational defenses erected by fundamentalists. There is a new fundamentalist "Creation Museum" that has opened, I believe, in Tennessee. It depicts dinosaurs and humans living at the same time. It even shows baby dinosaurs, male and female, being taken aboard Noah's ark. The fossil evidence that dinosaurs disapeared from the earth about sixty million years ago is ignored.

Ralph Elliot recognized that Southern Baptists were caught in a cul de sac that they could never escape if they continued to insist that the earth was created about six thousand years ago. He offered a way out by recognizing the geologic and scientific discoveries of the past three hundred years, and showing how the truth of Scripture could be retained while recognizing the irrefutable evidence that has been uncovered in the earth sciences. Unfortunately, Southern Baptists, figuratively, stoned him. Far from protecting the Bible, their continuing insistence on the literal reading of the first few chapters of Genesis, only insures that the great heritage of Baptists as fishers of men will be increasingly diminished as the fishing waters become more and more shallow.

But there is even a more distressing consequence to this irrational stand. I refer to the inevitable conflict that arises when their sons and daughters are forced to choose between what they learn in their geology and other science classes and what they were taught by their pastors. Increasing numbers are choosing the reality based findings and leaving their churches. What a tragedy.

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, you are not protecting the Bible, but rather continue to preserve your own (modernistic) views by trying to force the Word of God to submit to the Word of Jon.

The Genesis creation account was not written to conform to modern 21st century definitions of scientific, rationalistic and humanistic truth. You abuse the Word of God by trying to make it so.

Have you yet mustered up the courage to debate the Bible face-to-face?

Bruce Gourley said...

jrw,

It is indeed sad that some Christians today, in the name of defending the Bible, force it to conform to the very scientific principles (rationalistic, empirical, factual truth) they claim to disdain ... without ever realizing the gross irony of their position.

Creation fundamentalists are nothing more than liberals (modernists) in their position on Scripture, while so-called liberals seek to conserve the original context and meaning of the text.

And why any Christian would bank his salvation, and the veracity of the Bible, on a theory of biblical interpretation (the literal approach) that was largely absent from Christian history until the 16th century (and a biblical theory of the earth's age being 6000 years old that was not popularized until the 17th century or even later) ... is beyond me.

Bruce

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

When you overcome your fears and muster the courage for a face-to-face debate, just let me know. (If the Spirit were with you, you would have no fear, my friend.)

Jon L. Estes said...
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Bruce Gourley said...

Jon, you were given a chance to freely air your views at "my place," you blew it, and want another chance ... yet you flatly refuse to allow me to air my views at "your place."

Let me know when you whip up a little courage on your end.

jrw said...

jon:

It is interesting to me that fundamentalist Baptists are quick to seize on emperical evidence that tends to bolster their position but utterly reject any emperical evidence that is at odds with their belief system. For instance, when it became known that DNA science had proven that native indians of America were in no way related to Jews, some were quick to call attention to this as evidence that the Book of Mormon could not be true because of its claim that American indians were descendants of the "lost tribe of Israel."

However, when the evangelical scientist, Francis Collins in his new book, "The Language of God", calls on fellow evangelicals to accept the evidence of evolution found in his exhaustive study of DNA, (he was the lead government scientist who coordinated the project that resulted in decoding the entire human genome),He was met with stony silence.

Dr.Collins concern that evanglicals risk losing all credibility because of their refusal to accept emperical data, is very real and is inevitible if fundamentalism continues to flourish. Dr Collins is convinced that the future of evangelical Christianity rests on the recognition that scientific discoveries cannot be suppressed indefinitely and the artificial construct of fundamentalism threatens the life-changing power of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

419256882

Anonymous said...

the creation museum is in KY not TN