Questions (and Answers) for Creationists

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.

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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!

13 Replies to “Questions (and Answers) for Creationists”

  1. If we are not careful, we tend to surround ourselves with people who think about things in similar ways. It is true in politics, religion and a host of other things. I think it is great that you read books from authors you disagree with. More of us should do that. I have always tried to do this, but typically read to find the holes in the argument. As I have gotten older, I now try to read articles and books by writers I disagree with AND try to give their arguments a fair hearing, without my pre-conceived bias closing my mind to their point.

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  2. As Thalia Wheatley says, ‘Science can never disprove God. It’s just not a falsifiable question.” How can you disprove an omnipotent creator? Whatever science you come up with the comeback is; Ya, God made it like that. And I’m still completely absorbed in Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series. I’m on lecture VIII. These creationist stories in Genesis, maybe, can be interpreted as psychological instructions for living and not to be taken literally.

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  3. This is fascinating. I didn’t grow up in a young-earth creationist community so I’m still a bit baffled that this ideology persists, (it feels to me almost as crazy as the flat earth folks) but you make excellent points here. Why would an all knowing, all powerful, omnibenevolent creator choose to deceive people using things like fossils and like–the apparent age of the planet? Wouldn’t he know that would make people doubt him?

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  4. 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.

    I keep a link handy for when this issue comes up: The word of God. It has the refrain “Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.”

    Creationist make out their God to be a great deceiver, a deliberate liar. For, according to creationists, the rocks that God wrote are a lie, and only the writings of humans (the Bible) can be believed.

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  5. My objection to any and all “questions for Atheists” vs. “Questions for Christians” is the transparency and stupidity of the questions, which basically attempt to wrap themselves coyly around the atheist neck and strangle him in some bizarre way.

    I suspect that there were no recorded responses from Atheists because no Atheist worth his salt would even bother.

    I sense that they are waiting for a non-believer to be so aghast at What He Has Done when the Truth is shown to him, that he will repent, immediately.

    Er. Not gonna happen.

    I love the aged rocks stories. First time I encountered that was when my neighbor and I got into a discussion about glaciers and how they shaped the land and mountains here, and she said, “there are no such things as glaciers.”

    “what. Those rocks are millions of years old–”

    “no, no. God put those rocks there.”

    “but but but… carbon dating…”

    “No, no. He put those rocks there and aged them, to fool us.”

    I don’t know too many (professed) atheists, but the ones I have encountered seem pretty loose about religion–use it, don’t use it, it’s all the same to them, just don’t invite them to church on Sunday.

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    1. You said “I sense that they are waiting for a non-believer to be so aghast at What He Has Done when the Truth is shown to him, that he will repent, immediately.”

      Actually, I don’t think apologetics like this were meant to ever persuade any atheists. As Closet Atheist points out, that fact that they never give a voice to any actual atheists is blatantly unfair – not the kind of thing you’d do if you wanted to change someone’s mind. My hunch is that this was written for very young kids with doubts, or adults who had already committed to the Creationism standpoint. The purpose is to stroke the ego of people who already agree, not change minds.

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  6. Typical. If you haven’t already heard the history-based arguments for the bodily resurrection of Jesus in your Christian school, you’ll probably get to those soon. Although I stopped believing in “Creationism” when I was in high school, it wasn’t until college when I started to have questions about Jesus, and soon found myself reading resurrection apologists. As with the bookleteers you’ve discovered, the “we can totally prove the resurrection of Jesus using history!” crowd assume an answer to their question (in this case, “what happened to Jesus in history?”) from the get-go, then they try to find evidence to support their belief. They end up with arguments that generally only convince people who already agree with them.

    I’d be interested, though, to know if you’ve encountered any atheist apologists like this. Just as some Christians feel so invested in their beliefs that they end up making unpersuasive arguments to rationalize them, I’d imagine that some atheists are pretty existentially committed to their beliefs (or lack thereof), too. Do you feel like you’ve ever come across an atheist thinker who would likely be unpersuasive to people who weren’t already committed to their views? I don’t have any in mind; I’m just curious.

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    1. From the atheists I’ve seen and talked to, on a daily basis few of them obsess about “being” an atheist. And I have never seen anyone try to persuade a committed believer to come over to the ‘other side”. It’s more a live and let live thing, and if someone wants to believe in Obi Wan or the FSM or Jesus, that’s cool, as long as they don’t track mud all over my beliefs, or lack thereof.

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  7. Trying to get the Bible to match up with science is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

    Creationists need to understand that 1) Science isn’t evil, and 2) Some aspects of life ultimately need to be taken on faith.

    I never understood this effort by Christians to use science, reason and logic to justify every aspect of their faith.

    Because: Faith, being faith, is about taking a blind leap into the void; assuring oneself of what one hopes for, not assuring oneself of what is known with certainty. (Hebrews 11:1)

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    1. Faith as “taking a blind leap into the void” sounds more like a bad reading of Kierkegaard (probably through the lens of Enlightenment and Reformation, with their faith in Facts and Beliefs). Most bible scholars take the “faith” in Scripture to mean something more like “faithfulness”. It actually doesn’t have anything directly to do with “belief” (as we define that word) at all!

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        1. I actually agree with that – I would just transpose faith from the key of Belief into the key of Relationship. Gambling seems to me like an unwise approach to beliefs, anyway.

          Like deciding to get married, I think faith always involves trust and a gamble – no matter how much history and reason goes into it. But the gamble (as in marriage) is not the gamble to believe a propositional truth-claim despite a lack of evidence; it is a commitment to a way of living, and a witness to something that has moved (and continues to move) you. No one mistakes the trust-gamble of marriage for Belief despite evidence, yet somehow we tend make that exact mistake when it comes to religion.

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          1. Good points.

            To give my thoughts on one aspect of your comment:

            “…the gamble…is not the gamble to believe a propositional truth-claim despite a lack of evidence; it is a commitment to a way of living, and a witness to something that has moved (and continues to move) you.”

            A religious person commits themselves to a way of living, and is a witness to what has moved them, despite the lack of evidence for what they believe.

            When I say there is a “lack of evidence for what they believe,” I mean this:

            I can’t prove the existence of God like I can prove that, for example, Earth orbits around the Sun; the existence of God is not a natural phenomena that can be proven though observation, calculation, and/or experimentation.

            And even if God could be proven to exist through means such as reason, logic, and/or the scientific method, there is no guarantee that people would believe in God.

            One example of belief despite evidence showing the falsity of that belief:

            Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, there are still people who believe the world is flat. All the evidence showing their belief to false has not swayed them.

            Which, I believe, is where faith comes in:

            If evidence (reason, logic, science, etc.) does not cause a person to commit their life to a higher power (i.e., God), just like it won’t convince a person that the Earth isn’t flat, than what will? Faith — being willing to say “God, I have doubts about you, but I’ll trust that you are who you say you are.”

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