by Helen Fryman
Question: So why is the Biblical creation myth right and the Hopi or Navajo creation myth wrong? Science doesn't have all the answers, but the scientific consensus overwhelmingly supports evolution. When you turn on the light switch, is it God or science that makes the light turn on? If you say God, then you are a fool. I'll take logic and reason any day to the myth and superstition that are the stuff of religion. Thanks to science, we now know that the earth is no longer flat. How much longer will the dogma of religion keep us bound in ignorance?
Response: There are a few points in this question that need a response: the author's attitude, the reference to the creation stories, electricity, logic and reason, the place of science, and evolution itself.
1. The author's attitude: We see this a lot. If creation is simply a myth and if religion is simply superstition, why the anger? Certainly real knowledge and reality itself would easily override them, would they not? No one is furious that some refuse to walk under a ladder. It is laughed off and tolerated. Nor is it "religion" that seems to provoke many to this kind of ire but rather Christianity itself--and, in particular, the Biblical Christianity that believes the Bible means what it says and says what it means. I don't think fantasy is threatening these people. I think their own rejection of God might be, however. It must be awfully hard to look at the whole of creation and attribute it to time and chance instead of intelligent design. It must be frightening, too, to have that point of view in and of itself: it gives man no hope, no meaning, no purpose, no outside reference point for his behavior or thoughts. It's every man for himself and "devil take the hindmost." That would frighten me, too.
2. The reference to the creation stories: mythology fascinates me. It is a personal hobby of mine to read as much as I can in this field. I have found there are certain elements which are "hallmarks" of a myth: superhuman humans, exaggerated events and personalities, a "god's eye view" of a situation, and buried in there somewhere is the event or person (or both) that the myth was created to remember. Because actually, myths are not spun out of whole cloth--they are memories couched in stories, legends if you will. And when you strip away the mythological elements of legends from around the world, you keep coming up with a few common things: a God who created from nothing, man after the animals, man choosing his own way, and painful consequences. Very few American Indian legends concern creation, however. Most legends from the American Indians have to do with re-creation after either the Flood or some other massive catastrophe. Looking seriously at these legends can be very interesting and perhaps even instructive if one is not carried away by the mythological elements. The Bible, however, does not have those mythological elements. Genesis itself is told as simple history from eyewitnesses. There are no super-heroes or exaggerated personalities. Even God is simply God. Those who argue that the Flood story of Genesis 6-9 is a myth--an exaggerated event--are arguing from incredulity, actually. They are contradicted by the similarity of massive flood stories from cultures around the world with the following elements in common: God is angry at man and destroys the world by a flood with the exception of either one couple or one family and a bunch of animals on a boat of some kind. The simple fact is that there are no mythological elements in Genesis. It is presented as straight history, and it needs to be looked at in that way whether for purposes of claiming it true or claiming it false. But it most certainly is not myth. The second reason--for a Christian--to consider Genesis as truthful history, start to finish, is that it is the foundation of every major doctrine in the Bible: creation, man in the image of God, sin, the promise of a Savior, world-wide catastrophes prestaging God's right and ability to judge, the creation of the Hebrew (Jewish) people and their place in the world. Genesis needs to be looked at very seriously.
3. Electricity: lights do not turn on because of science. Science means knowledge. We found out enough about electricity to learn how to harness it. Science did not invent electricity, and science does not turn on lights. A completed electrical connection turns on lights. Science discovered how to do it.There is a difference. If the electrons did not have the charge and the properties they do, science could never have done anything about learning how to fashion an electrical circuit. But the properties and charges within atoms are part of something that is intricately and intelligently designed. Science cannot take credit for doing anything but having scratched the surface of knowledge concerning this.
4. Logic and Reason: I don't suppose there has ever been an age in which people didn't think they had things pretty well figured out or were at least well on their way. In the process, it has been declared that four elements make up everything (earth, water, fire, and air) and that spontaneous generation was a fact and that the germ theory was bizarre foolishness--the list is really interminable. Each time, human logic and reason held sway, and each time the facts contradicted us. Have we learned nothing from history? Are we still so arrogant as to think we can actually depend on what we know as true today will not be contradicted by other facts tomorrow? To depend on logic and reason is to put one's faith in man's limited and fallible knowledge. That seems a dangerous proposition to me, especially when our Creator has given us some guidelines to work within if we want to discover scientific truths. His truths never change whereas ours do--and radically from generation to generation. (By the way, it was known that the earth was round thousands of years before Columbus. Suggest checking history).
5. The place of science: Within its proper bounds, science can only deal with what can be tested and worked with in one way or another. Thus, it is properly bound to naturalism. We cannot work in a controlled way with the supernatural (this is the subject of witchcraft and shamanism), nor can we adequately test it. Science can only discover what already is, learn how to use it, take care of it, and appreciate it. Because science is not in possession of ALL the facts, science is in no position to make a final judgment on anything. This makes science a changing thing--and rightfully so. In any field, you only need one new contrary fact to force a rearrangement of thinking regarding the entire field. It also might be noted that changing things are not stable foundations. A good deal of what we consider fact today might not be fact tomorrow, and to presume this cannot happen is to be quite naive. Mankind must find something outside of his own limited knowledge and interpretations on which to base his life if he wants any security at all. Science cannot define meaning in life, nor was it meant to. And it is meaning--purpose--that must be found for a man to be satisfied and have a direction in his life.
6. And now, evolution: The writer, I am sure, is referring to the kind of evolution inferred from the fossil record. Contrary to evolutionists' claims, this is quite different from the sort of variation we see everyday: hair color, rose color, dog size, finches' beaks. No one disputes these sorts of variations because they do not change the sort of thing the organism is: the person remains a person, the rose a rose, the dog a dog, and the finch a finch. Evolution, as it is commonly referred to, demands much more than this. It demands that there have been enough directional mutations, one added to another through the ages, to change what was once a unicellular organism into the variety of life we see today. This kind of evolution is lacking a mechanism, however, as mutations are not known to do this. We see single mutations, such as antibiotic resistance, malarial resistance (which, in its homozygous form, confers the deadly sickle cell disease) and such, but we do not see mutations adding up anywhere to produce a new form or function. Instead, the vast majority of mutations we do see are negative, harming the organism involved. Those that do not harm, such as antibiotic resistance changes, have the effect of weakening the organism in any environment except the specific one in which that change helped it survive. Change the environment and the original form, if it still exists, proves strongest and takes over again. What we see, what we can work with, and what we see as the results of tests is called biological stasis. No matter how many generations of E.coli bacteria are worked with, they remain . . . E.coli. No matter how many generations of fruit flies are subjects of forced mutations, they remain . . . fruit flies. We can get different types of mice for our lab experiments until we run out of names for them. They remain mice. This is biological stasis. Variation seems to exist within what Genesis refers to as the "kind" and that is all. Does the scientific consensus overwhelmingly support evolution? Yes, it does. The question is, why? First of all, most areas of science don't concern themselves with evolution or creation. Science tends to be so incredibly technical today that it is the philosophers of science who have taken over the arguments concerning evolution and creation. The scientists in the labs and in the field are, with the exception of some geologists and paleontologists, not thinking about evolution. But that is what they were taught in university as true, and so they accept it. And they accept that anything else is some kind of weird religious doctrine. But if you ask the scientist to point to something in his own field which verifies the type of evolution that turns bacteria to bears or even supports it, you will get mostly silence. He may point to another field, but very few are willing to point to something in their own field of study which supports evolution, especially if you ask them to support evolution to the exclusion of creation.
Thus, to say that the majority of scientists accept evolution may be true on the surface but that is about as far as their acceptance goes anyway. If a person wants to really find out which is true, it is best to dig into the evidence and read what has been written on both sides. When one meets those who have done so, one just might find a few more creationists than one expected to find and an even greater number of anti-evolutionists. *Scientifically*, evolution is not something that has been shown to work. Yes, plants and animals change. They can vary in some possibly startling ways. But no breeder of horses or dogs or cattle and no parent when they hear, "there seems to be a mutation . . . " is going to excitedly ask, "Is it a good one?"
So I would humbly suggest that it is not the idea of creation which is keeping us in ignorance. It is, rather, the idea that evolution is proven and cannot be challenged that is begetting ignorance. It has not been proven in thousands upon thousands of generations of E.coli, nor has it been proven anywhere else. Remember, we are not talking about simple variations within kind or type but actual change away from that type--the type of change on which another change or mutation can build so that something new is produced. We have never seen that happen, and until students and researchers are freed from the nonsense that this idea cannot be challenged in the classroom or professional literature, we will remain bound in the kind of ignorance which has resulted in such low test scores for U.S. students, much to our embarrassment.