A myth by any other name

We are here.  No one but a solipsist or Matrix devotee would dispute our existence on planet Earth.  But how we got here and where we are going is another matter entirely.

God and AdamThe precise cause of our existence is an issue of perpetual debate among scientists, philosophers, and theologians.  Since our varying positions in this debate are determined entirely by the origin myths we choose, we should start any serious discussion on the subject of origins with an honest look at those myths.

 

 

Whether we are aware of it or not, every Darwinist as well as every Creationist has chosen a myth to interpret all data continuously gathered by diligent scientists all around the world.   Unfortunately, the difference between the two opposing viewpoints is almost always characterized as the difference between what is science and what is not.  Darwin's tree of life As everyone knows, the Darwinist gets the label of “scientific” and the creationist is called “religious.”   In reality, neither Darwinism nor Creationism is science.  Both are myth-dependent beliefs about the world.  And if we all learn to clearly articulate our myths for each other, then we will all find it much easier to distinguish actual data from our interpretations of data.  

This simple exercise will not end our arguments over origins, but it certainly will clarify them for us.  We will have greater hope of resolving our conflicts if it becomes clear to everyone involved that we are not arguing about physical data discovered through the methodological naturalism of science.  We are arguing about which myth should be used to interpret the data.  We are engaged in a philosophical debate, not a scientific one.  And it is past time for everyone concerned to honestly acknowledge that one basic fact.

Before I continue, I must make it clear that the word myth is only convenient shorthand for me; it does not mean a fictional story.  Throughout this discussion, I define myth as “a grand narrative of existence that forms the foundation of a worldview.”   I considered using GINOAW for Grand Interpretive Narrative Of A Worldview, so if you can’t separate the word “myth” from the concept of fiction, just copy and paste into a Word document, find myth, and replace with GINOAW.   I simply prefer the single-syllabled myth over an unfamiliar and rather clumsy acronym.

Of course I’m convinced that my own myth is truth.  That’s why I chose it.  And by choosing, I have obviously judged all other myths to be false on some level.  In telling you how I made my choice, my goal is not to convince you that I am right.  My goal is to convince you that it is important for us all to fully understand our own myths and the myths of others.   Once that is done, then we can talk about which myth gives us the best explanation of reality.

Before we look at our myth options, I want to pay tribute to Leonard Read, the man who taught me that consistency requires a premise, because I’ve interpreted that principle to conclude that understanding the creation/evolution debate requires articulated myths.

My Tyndalian Quest

William TyndaleI have finally returned to my long neglected blog with a renewed sense of direction and purpose thanks to Reasons To Believe’s online class Creation versus Evolution.  I expected to learn from the class, but I was also surprised and inspired.

To make very long story exquisitely short: I entered the class believing that there is no compelling scientific evidence that humanity and chimpanzees have been evolving for millions of years from a common ancestor, and the class thoroughly confirmed that belief.  However, the surprise and the inspiration came in my discovery that many (if not most) proponents of Darwinian evolution seem to be blissfully ignorant of the lack of concrete evidence to support the descent of man.  I came to that conclusion while reading Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells, and I would now call the book a must-read for every creationist with children enrolled in public school.

I finished the RTB class with a clear mission patterned after William Tyndale’s famous response to the priest who called it heresy to offer the word of God in English instead of Latin.

“If God spare my life, before very long I shall cause a plough boy to know the scriptures better than you do!”

I state my goal with less flare, but hopefully with just as much desire to please the Lord. 

By God’s grace, I will do all that I can to help creationists in grade school have a better understanding of our origin than many of the celebrated Darwinists in academia.  

Secure in the knowledge that God uses the weak things of the world to confound the strong, I am about to begin Gramma’s Guide to Origins, which will eventually tell you two things:

  1. How I chose the myth that undergirds my belief about life,
  2. How I choose the prophets who interpret God’s word and God’s world for me

I hope that as you read, you will recognize your own myth and become curious about the myths of others.  I hope to convince you that you are obligated to be aware of the myths of those who write textbooks and teach in public schools because those myths are being impressed on young minds around the nation.

Eventually, I plan to put this all in a single document that I can share easily.   So you could wait for my final edit, but God alone knows how long that will take.  Or you can just follow along, offering encouragement and/or critique, on my Tyndalian mission of translating the speech of creation into the language we all understand.

Discovering Reasons To Believe

How the latest scientific discoveries reveal God

I’m not sure exactly when I first heard Hugh Ross explain his old earth view in a radio interview, but I vividly remember his humble attitude, his gentle appeal for unity in the body of Christ, and his powerful testimony of meeting God as he studied the heavens. After I listened to him describe the glorious dimensions of the universe,  I couldn’t think that God had allowed light to paint a deceptive portrait of the age of stars and galaxies for us.  I just couldn’t believe that God would make a very young universe appear to be very old.  So I invented a very faulty origins position that made me comfortable with the speed of light.

From the time I heard Dr. Ross’s testimony until I studied creation in 2009, I lived in a doctrinal limbo, content to believe that even if the universe might be very old, the earth could still be just a few thousand years old.  Somewhere during that period, I actually bought the book Dr. Ross talked about in the interview.  But the issue wasn’t pressing, and the second edition of The Creator and the Cosmos sat on my bookshelf unread for over fifteen years.

It wasn’t until March of 2011 when I started listening addictively to I Didn’t Know That and Straight Thinking that I realized how I had completely misjudged RTB’s position on evolution, which I had assumed was a necessary component of Old Earth Creationism. Since it was immediately evident that RTB holds a high view of scripture and rejects evolution, I listened intently to everything the scholars had to say in the podcasts.  I was far from ready to abandon the young earth view I had held for so long, but I added two more books by Hugh Ross to my collection.  This time I read both within a week.

The Genesis Question is a careful integration of biblical study with scientific discovery.  A Matter of Days provides an extensive examination of the age of the earth controversy.  I recommend both books to anyone interested in an exhaustive study of creation.  The Genesis Question has an appendix that lists 53 scientific discoveries that support a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11.  A Matter of Days has an appendix that lists every creation passage in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  (Two lists of creation scriptures can be found here and here on the RTB website, so you can easily pursue a creation study without buying either book. You will also find hundreds of publications and podcasts that explain scientific discoveries that support the Bible).

After reading those two books I acknowledged that the old earth position held by Reasons To Believe was thoroughly biblical, but I did not forsake my long-held belief.  Instead, I reviewed materials from Vision Forum and Answers in Genesis, hoping to find a convincing rebuttal of the RTB position. It’s rather ironic that the first serious crack in my young earth foundation came as I listened to Dr. Jason Lisle explain why distant starlight is not a problem for YEC. But that’s the next leg of my journey out of the Young Earth Creationism camp and the subject of my next post.

Does the age of the earth really matter to Christians?

How old is our planet?

I have come to a turn in the road of my life that expands my vision far beyond the homes that we tend for ourselves to the home that God created and sustains for all humanity. Fortunately the title “Grammas’ Guide to the Universe” is broad enough to cover a shift from houses and gardens in the here and now to the very beginning of all matter, energy, and space-time.

What enlarged my focus?  It actually started in January 2009.  At that time I entered a quasi-serious study of science to better understand the impossible logistics of deep space travel for my novel about an unfallen planet.

To make a very long story extremely short—in the process I picked up my tent and moved from the Young Earth Creationism camp to the portion of the Old Earth Creationism camp staked out by the ministry of Reasons to Believe.  In discussing my change in perspective with friends and family, I have been repeatedly asked, “What difference does it make what anyone believes about the age of the earth?”  That’s the question I want to answer in the following series of posts.

All the Young Earth Creationists I know personally are obviously saved, clearly love the Lord, and definitely honor God’s word.  My ultimate goal is not to convince them that they are wrong or even to fully present the case that caused me to become OEC. Instead, I want to open a discussion of a needless controversy that divides members in the body of Christ.

As part of that discussion, I will share some things I have learned over the past four years because it’s a delight to see the heavens continuously reveal the glory of God through the amazing instruments that probe outer space. But more than anything, I want to encourage everyone who loves and honors the Lord to call a “cease-fire” in the battle over the age of the earth. Then Christians can work together in the unity of our faith for the glory of God in every field of science.

Since people are more likely to read short posts, I’ll end this one now with a list of five points I plan to cover in Grammas’ Guide.

  1. All Old Earth positions are NOT created equal!
  2. The words of the Bible and our interpretations of the words of the Bible can be two very different things.
  3. God speaks truthfully to sinful man through both His word and His world.
  4. The Big Bang is not at all analogous to an explosion in a junkyard producing a Boeing 747.
  5. Young Earth Creationism (by definition) can never be subjected to the scientific method.

I pray that my Young Earth brothers and sisters will see that even if we continue to disagree about the age of the earth, we are still one in both our love for the Lord and in our respect for His word.

Gramma’s long journey into cyberspace

Last year at this time, I would have thought I was more likely to swim the English Channel than to open a Twitter account.   But God does indeed move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Recently I realized that the Lord has been relentlessly leading me into cyberspace for the past twenty-five years.

It started one day in the 80s.  I was just thinking about Adam and Eve, wondering how they would have understood God’s warning: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Since the first humans did not know any other persons who had actually died, what would “die” have meant to them?

From that point, I continued to think how completely our vocabulary has been ravaged by sin.  It seemed to me that words like death, pain, sorrow, and even words like remember and forget would have no meaning for perfect people in a perfect world. My mental exercise did not disturb me until I realized that sinless people could never understand mercy, forgiveness, or salvation.

These ideas came to me about the same time I abandoned my own books for other women’s brooms, so I spent many hours vacuuming, dusting, scouring, and visiting the unfallen planet in the universe of my imagination. I actually talked to several friends about turning my fantasy into a novel, and they were unanimously encouraging. But, as the reigning Queen of the Procrasti-nation, I just planned to start writing tomorrow for over two decades.

Then in January of 2009, I found myself in Lubbock, Texas. What I thought would be a six- week visit with my sisters turned into two and a half years of disabling cancer treatments.  I was far from home, unable to work, and equipped with a laptop.  Tomorrow had arrived with a vengeance, and I began the hard labor of translating fleeting ideas into a story on a printed page.

In the fall of 2010, I finished World Without Mercy, and I immediately started to look for a publisher. (What else can one do with a completed manuscript?)  It was then that I learned of the Catch 22 in 21st century publishing: editors only look at books represented by agents, and agents only accept authors who have already published.

It is true that many small publishers will accept proposals directly from the author.  Alas, with the notable exception of Marcher Lord Press, it seems that small Christian publishing houses have very little interest in science fiction. To tell you the truth, I’m not much interested in science fiction myself, but my story about life on another planet fits in no other genre.

During those first few months of publisher/agent hunting, I also learned that it is my duty as a 21st century author to attend writer’s conferences, establish a website, create a Facebook page, and fully exploit the social media to build a platform that will impress agents, editors, and/or publishers whenever I describe it in a book proposal. In other words, I had to line up potential buyers for my book before I could ever convince anyone that it might be worth publishing.

I attended my first writer’s workshop in Amarillo in April, joined Facebook in May, and started this blog (on Blogspot) in June of 2011. But absolutely nothing could motivate me to begin deliberate self-promotion of a book that only one of my eight siblings had taken the time to read.  (Just to be accurate, even if they all had read it and loved it, I still would never have promoted it online because I would have been dead from shock.)

In July of 2011, I came home to Pennsylvania and attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. There I met media expert and avid gardener Daniel Gasteiger.  He told us that Twitter was at the top of his list of social media tools, but…..and this is a wonderful but….it would be very annoying if all we did was tweet about our books.  He encouraged us all to go online to meet like-minded people and have fun. He gave us three rules: be yourself, be kind, and be helpful.   I thought, “I can do that!  I can go online to promote the ministry that I helped to incorporate in 2008.”

So in November of 2011, I finally set up a Twitter account, but it wasn’t until a few short weeks ago when I found #mkbiblechat that I really began to enjoy myself.  A whole new range of retweets began to appear in my home stream by way of #mkbiblechat (ters) that I happily follow.  I quickly discovered that many profiles were dedicated entirely to sharing Bible verses, prayer requests, and quotes from the saints both living and dead.

I’ve placed those accounts on my “Retweetable” list, where I now go for quick inspiration.  It was just that type of account that inspired me to begin my own “TIP” (Twitter Intercession Project).  On March 6, I started daily tweeting from Andrew Murray’s “Helps to Intercession” with the hashtag #amintercessionhelp.

I pray that God will use this post (and the next one) to connect me with intercessors to join in daily prayer in one accord.  Now that I have blogged about my TIP, I will switch to #amhti to conserve thirteen precious characters.

May the Lord abundantly bless my effort to tweet for His glory.