Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Creation, Evolution, Lies and Truth

Over the weekend I read and then heard about the things that happened in Norway.

And things happening in Africa.

Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic about things.

I also watched some religious television. Dr Grady McMurtry was talking about Creation versus Evolution. There’s a clip of him here if you’re interested. It’s not the programme that I saw … but gives you a feel for the things he believes.


It’s worth checking out his background from other sources as well though … for example here.

I only caught part of the programme. He was reading from the New Testament – Romans Chapter 1 and seemed pretty much to be in the process of making a case against the idea of evolution and in favour of the idea of creation.

Once I would have agreed with some of what he was saying. But not all of it.

Right now, to me at any rate, his arguments seem to be somewhat disingenuous.

Why? And does what I think matter at all?

Well … it matters to me. And putting the thoughts into words helps me as well.

So here goes with some of Andreas thoughts on Creation, Evolution, Africa, Norway and Fundamentalism.

Some scientists are convinced that there is no God. Evolution is maybe then the only way the universe could have happened. Christians are enemies. Religion is the enemy.

Some Christians are convinced in the literal truth of the book of Genesis in the Bible. Creation is the only way the universe could have happened. Evolutionists are the enemy. Philosophies with roots outside of Christianity are the enemy.

And maybe the same is true of some of the followers of some of the other religions.

Myself. I think I am agnostic. I don’t know if God is there. If the level of my commitment to agnosticisms seems unconvincing … well that’s probably because I’m not convinced.

As an aside … did you hear about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac? He would lay awake all night wondering if there really was a dog.

Sorry. I heard that one at a Christian meeting I was at many tears ago,

In the days when I believed in God I was never in the camp of literal Bible Believers. I would say that I was a “creationist” … but not the kind that believes that the Earth is only thousands of years old. Which maybe means that I wasn’t actually a “creationist” at all.

Back to the letter that Paul the Apostle wrote to the Christians in Rome and to Grady McMurtry.

He seems to be firmly in the literal creationist and anti-evolutionist camp.

My Bible quotes are from the New International Version of the Bible (NIV). At the time that I’m writing this you can read the first chapter of Romans here. There are some Christians who view the NIV Bible as being a work of the Devil (take a look here for example) so here is the King James Version (KJV) of Romans Chapter 1 which some people believe to be the absolute literal Word of God.

Well … in the part of the TV programme that I saw, Grady seemed to be presenting the stuff in Romans chapter 1 verse 18 onwards as some kind of an attack on people that believe that evolution happens.

So where it says:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

he seemed to be saying that it was evolutionists that are suppressing the truth by their wickedness.

To me it all seems a lot more ambiguous than that.

I don’t think that it’s true that:

since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made

When I look at the world I see a whole mix of ambiguous messages. Beauty. Ugliness. Life. Death. Joy. Sorrow. Peace. War.

Another thing I watched at the Weekend was the movie The Invention of Lying. This scene expresses some of the ambiguity of it all. If you haven’t seen it then do watch it.


There was a time when I would have tried to understand good and bad as follows:

  • God made all the good things
  • we turned away from God and that resulted in all the bad things.

Now … maybe that is the case.

But either way … looking at the evidence around me … it’s not at all clear to see God’s invisible qualities in every aspect. You have to be picky. And that pickiness isn’t easy to do without some kind of faith.

It doesn’t seem reasonable to blame people for misinterpreting nature or misinterpreting some religious people.

And then, back in Romans we have:

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Which begins with an unfair kind of statement, because they didn’t really know God in the first place – so how could they knowingly exchange God for something else?

Grady chose to emphasise a few particular aspects of this stuff – giving the impression that the teaching of evolution is directly responsible for the following “facts”:

  • there are more gays and lesbians in the world
  • there are more murders – mainly because he views abortion as being murder – and because society at large allows abortion then it has legalised abortion … and this is a direct result of the teaching of evolution
  • more children disobey their parents

You know though? In my own heart when I read the words from Romans I also think about the way that religion – and that includes Christianity – has persecuted people. Mistreated women. Mistreated children. Accepted slavery. Subjugated entire nations. Used people. Abused them. Killed them.

And you know … there are gay men and lesbian women that love their partners in a way that is every bit as wholesome and “good” as partners in any heterosexual relationship. There are gay and lesbian relationships that are about love and not all about shameful lusts. There are people involved in heterosexual relationships … even religious people … even Christians … that have no fidelity, understanding, love or mercy.

And you know … there are people in churches that are gossips and slanderers. That believe that everyone who thinks evolution happens is foolish, futile darkened and given up by God.

And there are some who believe that evolution happens that think that all Christians are hypocrites.

Grady says that if you read the original Greek the words that Paul uses to describe these foolish people are actually much stronger than those that are used in most English translations of the New Testament. And he then uses the stronger words … the justification being that they are not his own words … but those of the Bible. So it’s ok to say them. Even if they are rude and offensive.

Some people would say that in the past, Religious control freaks have frightened people into a particular kind of behaviour. Frightened into heterosexuality. Born and destined to remain 100% male or 100% female. Some people believe that changes that are happening now are a result of freedom from a kind of tyranny. A freedom that allows people to be themselves.

Just today I had an email from someone that said:

I have been dressing in secret for as long as I can remember(probably since about 7 or 8 yrs old)

For most of that time I have felt that there was something wrong with me and that I was not a proper man, and have tried to stop dressing (even throwing away all the clothes!). However I am now starting to realise that it is part of me, part of who I am, and I now want to embrace and enjoy my newly discovered other side, and hope that by meeting with other people I my come to terms with everything more easily.

And I know exactly how he feels. And I know a lot of other people that feel the same way. And some of them go to Church. And there are churches that have no problem with it.

It’s this that makes me sure that I could never go back to the place that I used to be as part of the church. Having to hide my thoughts and feelings.

But maybe one day I could become involved again in a church that was more concerned with treating other people in the way that Jesus treated people rather than in discussing creation versus evolution and arguing over the infallibility of the Bible.

A few of the things that I am sure about:

  • Fundamentalist Christians that have an infallible view of the Bible and think that people who disagree with them are all fools are mistaken.
  • Fundamental evolutionists that think that all people involved in religion are idiots are mistaken.
  • I don’t know the answers.
  • I hardly know the questions

Dealing with the hatred and fear that seems to be evident in the acts carried out by a man in Norway.

Working out a way to allow people in Africa to eat and drink.

These issues matter more than the literal truth of the Genesis story.

The argument that not teaching Genesis as truth inevitably leads to teaching evolution which inevitably leads to wickedness which leads to hatred and fear and starvation and death doesn’t ring true to me.

People can be decent human beings and not believe in creation.

People can believe in creation and be inhumane.

Some people that are not Christians can be more like Christ than some people that are Christians.

In the end, though, to know what Paul the apostle really thought mattered most you could take a look at this … just to help restore the balance a little.

1 comment:

Pretty Sissy Dani said...

People I know and trust as being far more knowledgeable about ancient languages and cultures than I tell me that what Paul is denouncing in that infamous passage from Romans is not what we today would call homosexuality; if anything it is ritual temple sex (which often included pairings of all kinds) and the pederasty that was common among Greek and Roman cultures of the time. It certainly has nothing to do with long-term monogamous relationships between people of the same sex. (Also note that he never says anything about sex between two women?!)

In addition, some scholars are pretty convinced that Paul didn't write Romans anyway; that it is the work of what they call "pseudo-Paul", a later writer who used Paul's name to give his thoughts an authority they otherwise would not have.

As for creationism...well, you have to disregard huge amounts of biology and physics and geology to accept that--including things that are the very basis of modern medicine, nuclear energy, and understanding of things like fossil fuel creation and plate tectonics.