Two weeks ago, I wrote my response to a booklet I found in my church called Questions for Evolutionists from the Creation Research Society and edited by Theodore J. Siek. This is part #2 from that post as I write my reflection to the other creationist booklet I found that day, Questions for Creationists: Must Christians Choose Between Science and the Bible? (Click here to follow along in the booklet or read it on your own. This PDF has been shared with the permission of the Creation Research Society.)
As an atheist, it can probably go without saying that I disagree with the claims about origins made by creationists. While reading these booklets, there were many times when I found myself questioning what was said and remembering what I’ve learned about evolution in order to refute the claims made. I obviously don’t share most of the beliefs of the Creation Research Society, but my biggest problems with these booklets wasn’t even what was told in them, but rather the way in which the information was presented.
You may recall from my other post that I was intrigued by the way that both booklets, Questions for Evolutionists and Questions for Creationists, were both written by creationists. At the very least, it would have been fair to allow evolutionists’ best responses to their questions to be included within the booklet of questions for evolutionists. After reading both booklets, however, I realized that it was even less fair to evolutionists that I had initially realized.
The booklet Questions for Evolutionists was published in 2012, and Questions for Creationists was published in 2017. As you can see here, Questions for Evolutionists is composed of questions aimed at evolutionists that they supposedly have no coherent answers to; it was written with a condescending “gotcha!” tone. No answers, or even best guesses from evolutionists, for the questions, are included or mentioned.
What bothers me is that Questions for Creationists is written by the same people who are upset by the “gotcha” questions that evolutionists are presenting to them about their own beliefs, except this booklet, rather than leaving the questions unanswered as the other one did, is filled with creationists’ best answers (and excuses). If these booklets had been written fairly, then Questions for Creationists would be written by creationists and contain responses to their hardest and most frequently asked questions, and Questions for Evolutionists would have answers from evolutionists to their own frequently asked questions.
This unfairness upset me, but I’ll leave it at that and get into what I thought of the booklet itself.
The deceiving names and contents of the booklets wasn’t the only hypocritical thing about them. Questions for Creationists is filled with accusations of evolutionists as close-minded and cherry-picking information that supports what they already believe, but throughout the booklet (starting on the first page) is the confession that all its authors have a prior commitment in believing the Bible and a literal interpretation of Genesis. They go on to discuss the “cosmic scroll” model of the universe as their starting point of studying the universe, because any scientific hypothesis they make must follow presupposed biblical criteria (see page 8).
Although not a conflict of belief, one thing that irked me is the way that the authors referred to the big bang theory and evolution. Rather than calling them by their names, the big bang theory was referred to as the BB theory and the theory of evolution was abbreviated as the TOE. As I’ve never seen anyone abbreviate these terms this way before, I saw it as a subtle and unnecessary way of disrespecting these groundbreaking scientific theories.
Questions for Creationists is split into four parts:
1. Scientific evidence on the age of the earth and universe
2. The flood of Noah as to historicity, extent, and post-flood events
3. The biological evidence for evolution
4. The compatibility of the bible and the theory of evolution
The booklet talks extensively about dating methods and how we can use distant starlight to estimate the age of the universe. As they cherry-picked the dating methods that they believe point to a young earth, such as C-14 dating, they accused evolutionists of cherry-picking dating methods that point to an old earth such as radioisotope dating. The booklet was extremely hypocritical, if nothing else.
When faced with young-earth challenges such as a universe and earth that appears to be older than 6,000 years, the authors suggested again and again the idea that God created the universe in a mature state (in the same way that he created Adam and Eve as full-grown adults), so it appears to be older than it actually is. If anyone finds this to be a plausible justification for a literal Genesis creation, of course the question comes up of whether a perfect God would be so deceptive as to age the universe in this way. The authors more or less say that, no, God is not deceptive, because He’s God, and as Genesis was told from the perspective of someone standing on the Earth looking at the heavens and seeing the stars, the stars must have been old enough for their light to reach the naked eye on Earth.
Most of my most pressing person objections to this booklet end here. The rest of it addresses the other questions I mentioned earlier, but it gets into some technical biology- and DNA-related discussions that as a non-biologist, I don’t feel qualified to comment on (although my roommate tried to help me understand how biology and evolution work, for which I’m grateful). Please feel free, however, to read the booklet for yourself and give your thoughts and responses below!