In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth
many have questioned whether this was a good idea in the first place… (apologies to Douglas Adams…)
But in all seriousness, those first few words of the book of Genesis have become a point of contention among many in the Christian community and has spawned an entire sub-culture with Christianity that is referred to as Creation Science. It’s one of the most insane things…
The idea is that there was a literal 6-day creation as recorded in Genesis. That the literal 6-day creation can be, and is, proven through real scientific methods.
But the danger of this sub-culture is the idea that unless you can trust every word of the Bible as 100% literal and historical, if any part of it is false, then you can’t trust any of it because then none of it is true. All or nothing.
In other words, if you don’t believe in a literal 6-day creation, then you can’t be ‘saved’ because you can’t believe in Jesus either.
Right? I mean, seriously…
This sub-culture, or whatever you want to call it, I’ll keep calling that because I feel that’s the best description, is huge. So huge, in fact, that they built themselves a true-to-life replica of Noah’s ark. (Or so they claim, pictures of it being constructed clearly show modern materials and construction techniques.) Inside is a museum dedicated to creation science and it’s ‘proof’ of a literal 6-day creation.
I haven’t been there personally, nor do I plan to go (I don’t travel much, and even if I were to go to that area at some point, I wouldn’t give them my money.) But from the photos I’ve seen of the displays from others’ visits, it’s… odd to say the least, and dangerously insane in many places.
The museum is the brainchild of author and Creation Science celebrity Ken Ham. Ham, with his staff, runs the ‘ministry’ “Answers In Genesis”. I’m not going to link to their website or anything, but feel free to look them up. Be prepared to go down the rabbit hole, though, because like any sub-culture or cult (*cough* Scientology *cough*) they want to bury you with their writings and unquestioned all-or-nothing acceptance of what they teach. They confuse and muddy the water and make some things sound so plausible that you don’t bother to look things up yourself and soon you find yourself thinking “hey, wait… that could be… right?”
I recently encountered a member of the creation science sub-culture on our Facebook page. The original post was a quote about the Bible and the “ancient stories”. It didn’t specify which stories, but the assumption is the author is talking about Genesis and the other stories from the Old Testament. The quote goes on to say that the ancient people saw them as symbolic and therefore so should we.
And then comes Creation guy in the comments. I won’t share the thread, nor will I call the individual out by name. And with full, heartfelt respect, I don’t doubt his faith and I cannot say this individual is mentally ill or anything because I fully feel he’s very intelligent.
But he’s also fully misguided.
Like Ken Ham, and Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and others who are very sincere in their belief, Creation guy walked the same line and almost word for word from those authors’ writings debated me over the course of a week on why you HAVE to believe in a literal 6-day creation because if you don’t you can’t believe in Jesus.
And honestly, to me and most others, that’s just plain silly.
Silly, and honestly, childish.
I’m going to dig in here and just ramble. So buckle in.
Once upon a time, I was Creation guy. Maybe you were too. Many years ago in my new-found faith, I dug into the Bible. I took one with me to work and read it on my breaks and trips to the bathroom. I devoured it. I read it cover to cover. Twice. Over the course of about 6 months. I read nothing else. I didn’t watch much TV. I straight up just packed it into my brain. I still have that Bible. It’s kind of beat up, but thanks to its patent leather cover and the nylon outer cover (with extra pockets and space for a notebook and pen) it’s still in one piece. I don’t use that NIV Life Application Study Bible anymore, having moved on to electronic versions that are freely available thanks to the Internet.
But I was so zealous in those early days of my faith that I felt I had to do that, I had to read the Bible and I had to believe it word for word.
Literally days after I was baptized we moved from Iowa to Colorado. We took the recommendation of our pastor in Iowa and looked up a church in Littleton. Like our ‘home’ church in Iowa, it was a non-denominational Christian church of the Restoration Movement tradition. (A denomination that doesn’t call itself a denomination.) While there is a broad spectrum within that tradition, our new Colorado church was of the strict Biblical literalist variety. All the Bible is true, it’s all history, it’s all literal.
And so I just accepted that view. And I too was Creation Guy.
I took to the Internet and I shared that point of view and I debated people in online forums and chat rooms (these were the days before Facebook and Twitter) and I felt I was doing God’s work by telling people that if they didn’t believe as I did then they weren’t really saved.
There’s something about that position, that feeling, that you have this inside information that only a few people have, and therefore you and those few are the only ones that God really likes. And it’s therefore your mission to save everyone else with your inside knowledge.
And for that time, for those actions, I am truly very sorry. I doubt anyone will truly remember talking to me specifically, but I was really, truly, an a**hole during that time.
I wrote all that just to tell you that I understand Creation Guy’s point of view. And I can’t fault him for doing what he thinks is God’s work. I don’t blame him for buying into the Ken Ham creation science worldview. With hindsight being 20/20 I feel nothing but respect for him. He’s just been sucked into the cult and all I can do is hope he can get out.
I did. I moved beyond a face-value reading of the Bible and started to really dig into it. Into the original languages, the culture and politics of the original audiences of the writings. The archaeology and anthropology of the region of Israel and Babylon and Egypt and Rome.
I started to get a real sense of what the Bible really says. There is so much that can only be understood through the lens of the history of it’s time of writing. Genesis was ‘written’ by bronze age people with no concept of our 21st century. You can’t use modern eyes to understand 4000 BCE writings. Especially when the language was so very different from today’s languages (even modern Hebrew is different from ancient Hebrew). So you also have to look into translations and the techniques used to create them.
Only then did I get it. Or start to get it, I don’t think anyone will ever fully get it. And I began to move past being Creation guy to being Thinking guy. And thinking guy knows that God gave us brains for a reason. We aren’t meant to take the entirety of scripture at face value and throw out everything we can see and observe in the world we live in. God never intended for us to reject science and data in favor of stories about talking snakes and giant boats. Jesus told parables to teach lessons. This was a language the Israelites of the first century would understand. Likewise earlier Israelites told stories.
And the thing about stories? They don’t have to be actual, historical events to be true. There probably wasn’t an actual prodigal son. There probably wasn’t an actual Good Samaritan. There probably wasn’t a mustard seed or lost coin or Rich Man entrusting his Talents to his servants. They are fictional stories that tell real truths.
If Jesus told stories, why would it be such a stretch to believe God the Father tells stories? The tales of forbidden fruit and a boat full of animals don’t have to be historical and literal to be true.
The Bible is true. Every word of it. But not every word is history. And the Bible contains the word of God, but not every word is the word of God. It tells the story of God’s dealings with the humans He created, from the point of view of the humans. Every word is inspired, but not every word is meant to be taken as inspiration. Every event is an example, but not every example is a good one.
The Bible exists in this world, but the Bible doesn’t define it. Don’t check your brains at the church door.