To begin, let us pause for a moment to bask in the superiority of our own understanding.
Wasn’t that fun?
Now, can we put aside the ridicule? Young Earth Creationists have been enduring such mockery since the Scopes Monkey Trial almost a century ago. If you have paid attention, you might have noticed that it accomplishes nothing. It just makes them feel persecuted, and they love that.
And this noise about genocide and incest in the Noah story is also pointless. Yes there are plenty of horrible things in the Bible. Try taking a look at the book of Judges for example. But I don’t believe you care about that.
Another question: what is the harm? People have the right to believe whatever they want. Here, however, you have a point. In a democracy, people have power, and if a large number of us are misguided, it effects the whole society. In a world as dependent on technology as ours, where our collective actions impact the environment of the entire planet, we absolutely need for the public to have a certain basic scientific literacy. Instead, we put in power congressmen who think large chunks of the current scientific consensus are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Because of the success of groups like Answers In Genesis in this country, both our politics and our science education are a mess.
Their dogma also poisons religion. They take this beautiful gift, the Bible, full of the wisdom of the ancients, especially the teachings of Jesus, and bury it in a mountain of idolatry and ignorance. They hide the insights and beauty in the scriptures with this elaborate pseudo science. They present God as deceitful: using our God given gifts of observation, we can see the world appears to be billions of year old, but the Young Earth crowd insists that this is illusion. They make it appear that Christ is opposed to Truth. Just what kind of God are they serving?
There is in this an emotional whirlpool that Answers in Genesis and its predecessors have long relied on, and one that the free thinkers are easily caught up in. Creationists see their literal reading of the Bible as essential to true Christianity, and everything else falls into a tarpit of secular humanism or, worse, outright atheism. Many have felt what they consider to be God’s presence in their lives. They have witnessed people transform from selfishness to service, from disorder to discipline, and from despair to hope. They are not about to give that up. They will grasp at any straw to maintain a hold, no matter how tenuous, on the beliefs of their forefathers. What you might see as a choice between logic and faith, they see as choice between heaven and hell. Answers in Genesis wants this to be the choice that its followers face, so they are happy to have free thinkers protesting their new theme park.
It is this mindset among Creationists that needs to change. I believe that this can be accomplished by acknowledging the authenticity of their experience, perhaps even approaching them with enough humility that we admit the possibility of learning something from that experience. However, validating their experience does not require adhering to obviously false doctrine. Getting them to this point is the key to helping them separate from what is false and make peace with modern science.
I believe (there’s that word again) that no matter how far science progresses, we will still be faced with the reality of living in society as semi-rational beings. In this, the teachings of Jesus and the message of redemption at the heart of Christianity and are a good place to start.
So, there is great harm in Young Earth Creationism, and this theme park means that the harm will continue for some time. It is important that we register our opposition to it. Eventually, we need to put Answers In Genesis where it belongs, along side the Flat Earth Society, a small, and mostly harmless anachronism.
I plan to join you in protest. I will bring a Bible, a few local Ordovician fossils, and my sign:
the Bible in
See you there.