Sunday, 27 October 2013

The best of Young Earth Creationism? part 3 of 3

A Review of “Theistic Evolution: A Sinful Compromise” by John M. Otis.

See part 1 here. See part 2 here.

Here are some actual quotes from the book which might be the best reasons I have yet seen why moderate Christians and churches should have nothing to do with YECs;
"Those that I am really addressing, are those who do advocate an evolutionary view, who do believe that man did evolve from lower forms of life, who do teach that God used this means to "create". These men are the ones who must be silenced; they are disturbing families."
"My fellow elders, we must not keep silent, but we must silence those who would assault the glory of God in the doctrine of creation."
Anyone who thinks women have equal rights with men is put in their place;
"The male has authority over the female because,as I Timothy 2:13 States, Adam was created first, then Eve. And secondly Eve was deceived by the devil, not Adam . . ."
The fact that both Paul and Jesus talk about the creation story means they agree with his literal interpretation of it because . . . Oh sorry they just do.

He suggests a new area for scientific investigation with this question, currently unanswered by modern biology;
"By the way, from an evolutionary perspective, just how did angels come into being? How did they evolve, these incorporeal ( not physical ) unique creatures?  How did the demons come into existence?"
He does enumerate reasons why we should all read the text the way he chooses to and why it can’t be a piece of allegory or poetry which I summarise here;

  1. It says "day" in genesis and where it says this elsewhere in the bible it also means what he means it means. By the way, if you want to look at where the text in his version of the bible came from and how it has changed over the centuries and the various alternative ways such words are used you are just a tool of the devil.
  2. Genesis talks about evening and morning, words which have obviously never appeared in any poetry or metaphor since the dawn of the world (oops).
  3. Genesis talks about the first day, second day etc.  when the bible does this elsewhere about other things it means 24 hr days (he says it does) and so it must mean the same here because . . . Oh sorry it just does.
  4. The day of rest is a day isn't it?
Seriously, that is it.

That is why he and his YEC followers must subscribe to a worldwide, multigenerational, multidisciplinary scientific conspiracy of many hundreds of thousands of researchers of many different faiths. It is why the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church need to be silenced.

Otis’ own ability to read the plain meaning of text is demonstrated to be sadly lacking when he uses this quote from Bill Gates talking about the global human population;
"That's headed up to about 9 billion. Now of we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent"
He claims this means that Bill Gates is "engaging in eugenics where new vaccines will be used to limit population growth".  At best this is a gross distortion but at worst this is deliberate lying about what was said and meant.  How can anyone take Otis’ word on the plain interpretation of the written word?

Otis then indulges in some of the most blatant quote mining I have seen in modern writing.  He uses the classic Darwin Creationist quote. The one where Darwin poses a question for literary effect before going on to provide a comprehensive and convincing answer to the question. You guessed correctly, Otis simply quotes the question as a way to demonstrate that Darwin had no answer and presumably just prays that no one checks up on the actual text. Behaviour like this is unpleasant. In a court of law it would result in a contempt of court ruling.

He also quotes Stephen J. Gould in a similarly dishonest fashion although he does refer to him as Jay Gould, presumably to reduce the chances of him being caught out by any curious readers doing some fact checking.

If you are a YEC or are dabbling with it, perhaps because a YEC group want to come and talk at your church or local school, then I hope this review has given you some pause for thought simply on the basis of the way YECs behave. Remember that John M. Otis is held up as an example of an honest and persuasive advocate of fundamentalism. Honest he is not, and I hope this in itself reduces his persuasiveness if morality is important to you.

Please download his book. Have a good think and carefully weigh the fact that you don't have to give up your faith to give up the nonsense theology outlined above.

Fundamentalism combined with this kind of behaviour is neither necessary nor sufficient to being a Christian.

Most of Otis’ arguments are predicated on the assumption that if you accept the science you must give up belief.  He therefore actually agrees with some vocal atheists that argue the same point.  Bear in mind that the vast majority of Christians in the UK know this is simply untrue for them.

A large part of the book is dedicated to getting named members of the church expelled or to censor or silence them.  You can judge for yourself if you want to be a part of this.

If you want more on the theology than I have had time for here then you can’t do better than to look at the resources Otis dedicates whole chapters to attacking.  Biologos is here.

The "science" content is in fact the same old standard YEC arguments they have been making since the 19070’s when this really started and they can be debunked by a basic grasp of science. If you think you are uncomfortable with his extremist theology and want to check out his claims about the science before doing anything then fair enough. Once you have decided that following a man like this isn’t what you think being a Christian is about, you will be free start to get to grips with the actual science and to glory in the wonder of the natural world without being laughed at by those with actual knowledge of it. Here is a good place to start that part of your journey.

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