Lesson 1: They are both religions

As part of my ongoing quest to learn everything I can, I am now posting the discussion questions, and my answers, to the final paper in lesson 1 of my Young Earth Creationist course. Lesson 1 is titled “They are Both Religions”, and compares the faith required to accept religion to the faith required to accept evolution. That is a little bit of a misrepresentation; they accept micro evolution (which they term, staunchly, adaptation, for fear of the “e” word), so what this course really considers a religion is the idea of abiogenesis (life from non-life, ie: how the first life form came into being).

To that end, below are the discussion questions at the end of lesson one, the answers provided by the course leaders, and my answers to the questions.

Question 1: What are the four basic questions of man? Are they still relevant in our society today? If so, why?

Answer provided by the textbook: The four questions are Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going when I die?
The way we answer these questions is related to our worldviews, which have ramifications in any culture or society.

My answers to the questions:

Who am I? I am a homo sapiens, a primate that is the result of thousands of millions of years of evolution. I am a member of the caucasian race, though I do not believe that the color of my skin in any way reflects my feelings towards other members of homo sapiens. I am the son of farmers, who themselves were the son and daughter of farmers, but I have chosen to break the chain and go into an alternate profession.

Where did I come from? I do not know the origin of life, but I also do not know if the origin of life has any bearing on my personal ethics or morals.

Why am I here? This is a personal statement, and does not reflect the general view of homo sapiens, but my own life goal, the whole reason I feel that I am here, is to bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it. I think it is important to discuss why I feel that way, because the point of this course is to cover why, without God, we have no morals or ethics.

I believe that other people are important. Perhaps they would feel, without God to tell them otherwise, that they are the most important person in the universe, but I do not feel that in any way. I want to help others achieve their goals, I want to help others because that is how we create a legacy and be remembered. I won’t be remembered by history, that is a loftier goal than mine, but I will hopefully be remembered by friends and family as someone who was always welcome.

Where do we go when we die? I believe I will enter an oblivion of blackness. To quote Mark Twain, “I did not exist for millions of years before I was born, and I was not inconvenienced by it in the slightest.” I will follow some 60 billion homo sapiens who went before me, and for the hundreds of billions who will come after. History may not recall my name, but why should it? Why would I be so arrogant as to believe that, because I don’t want to die, I will clearly live forever after I die? That seems like it shows the ego that is too common in the human race.

Are these questions still relevant in our society today?

Certainly, I believe that these questions are still important, aside from the “Where we go when we die,” question. I believe using the excuse of “I am a good person because I don’t want to go to hell”, is both dangerous and terrifying. But understanding your place in the universe helps you understand true humility, and the human race requires more humility.

Question 2: Do you believe that your view of the age of the earth affects your everyday life?

Their answer: If someone holds the evolutionistic worldview, he must live his life according to his own will. If someone holds the worldview of Creationism, God is the final authority, and he must conform to God’s will.

My Answer: I do not believe that the age of the Earth is anything worth fighting over. While I do believe that it is painfully ignorant of science to believe the world is 6,000 years old, I do not believe that those that hold this view are in any way inferior to those that agree with science. Even science does not know the exact age of the Earth, of course, and the number even within the last 60 days was modified. Perhaps this is, again, my feeling of humility at work; I do not know the age of the world or the age of the universe, but I have an idea. I am open to the idea that I could be wrong, and I think this tells you more about me than could possibly be revealed in most other sentences. “I know all of the answers, I have at my hands the true words of the Creator, and the world is 6,000 years old,” speaks to an arrogance of belief that I could never hold.

Question 3: Do you believe evolution is scientific or religious?

Their answer: Evolutionism contradicts fundamental science and is supported only by faith – not by evidence.

My answer: The constant response from the religious opponents of evolution that it is a science of faith is disturbing to me. It both ignores what science is (Science is not defined by “Only things we can see exist”) and ignores the mountains of evidence that show the idea of evolution. YEC science often takes a single case and applies it to all instances; multi-strata petrified trees prove that all of geology is wrong, they will tell you. There is an alternate way that the grand canyon *could* have formed that jives with the Bible, and since we already know geologists are wrong about everything, it is safe to write off their guesses. Carbon 14 has easy error conditions (anything that has been underwater tends to get erroneously dated, and C14 dating has limited date ranges for which it is effective). Because of this, we can also throw out radiometric dating, according to YEC science (They will throw out ALL forms of radiometric dating because of flaws with a single element). Tree ring counting? Ice core dating? We can throw those out because we weren’t there to see the rings/ice layers form, so who knows if they’ve always formed at a rate of one per year?

The reason that YECs believe that evolution is a religion is that they are so quick to throw out an excuse for why it might not work that there is no way that scientists can come up with evidence faster than YECs can ignore it (that sentence felt odd to write). In any case, I certainly believe that evolution is sufficiently supported by evidence.

Challenge Question:

I wasn’t going to include the challenge questions, but I found this question so royally offensive I had to mention it in this post or else I would have felt like I was letting something truly dark walk by me without warning those around me.

The Challenge: Ask an elementary school-age child if he knows where everything in the world came from. If his answer involved the Big Bang, ask him where the original matter came from. If he doesn’t know where this original matter came from, consider sharing the Biblical account with him to explain how everything came into being.

What the actual what.

Ask someone who is 5-10 a question that scientists are still currently working on, that people who have spent some 25 years in school, and some 25 years studying this exact question, and expect this child to have the answer?

This speaks to an intellectual dishonesty that really makes me sad. I honestly just … To tell a 5-10 year old child that, if they don’t have ALL of the answers, that they must accept religion… That…

I am sorry, I think I have to step back, rethink, and start over. I am just so sad that this is considered a valid tactic. I support science taught in the classroom, and I support teaching evolution, but I would never, ever, ever be so morally barren as to walk up to a 6 year old and say “Your God is a lie, now listen to me talk about my atheism at you.”

No. That is horrible. That is evil. That is so… AUGH! I can’t even talk about it. Suffice it to say, I find this tactic deplorable. That is all I can say.

ON TO LESSON TWO, TITLED “HOW OLD IS IT?”

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