A few of Dr. Steve Poole’s thoughts from a Facebook “Evolution vs. Creationism” discussion

Dr. Poole has been a great help to me, especially for writing the vision-assistance software which has kept me reasonably productive when I thought it impossible. He has also edited some of hastingly drafted ramblings to where they are free of my homonym errors and occasional dropped words (which he always manages to supply so flawlessly.) But I also enjoy his debate forum insights when he’s in discussions with both the hardened YEC and the hardened atheist. (I use the word “hardened” honestly. I don’t consider all YECs hardened nor all atheists hardened. In neither case do I apply it as a pejorative. I suppose someday I should write an article on what I mean by it.) Rather than include the complete thread, I’ve extracted three of his comments as they appeared in series and without a summary of what others in the thread were saying. The reader can discern which remarks are directed to the Young Earth Creationist poster and which are to the atheist. I always appreciate Dr. Poole’s perspective, especially when he speaks from a scientific background which far exceeds mine. So, with his permission, I’ve included them here. Their original and casual nature has been preserved without editing and the usual proofreading touch-ups one would expect for a formal publication. The following is off-the-cuff, seat-of-the-pants, Facebook banter, yet in a style that is obviously quite well done for what is truly an impromptu draft of impromptu thoughts. — Professor Tertius

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Steve Poole: Facebook Comments about Young Earth Creationists & the Origins Debate

I’m certainly friends with Mr. Jesus…and I also would have loved to make friends with Mr. Darwin and Dr. Lemaitre. Moreover, I would congratulate Jesus for the amazing processes we observe in the universe he created, especially the results of the Big Bang and the spectacular ways that evolutionary processes adapt life to new environments and diversify life in incredible ways. Moreover, nothing science discovers bothers me because (1) I understand the difference between what the Bible describes and what some sectarian TRADITIONS tries to IMPOSE upon the Bible (e.g., a GLOBAL flood when the text only describes a regional flood.) (2) science isn’t a threat to me or anything I find in the scriptures.

A minority of the world’s Christians foolishly get distracted from the REAL agenda that Jesus set for us [HINT: the Great Commission was not an anti-Darwin campaign] and, unfortunately, the least knowledgeable and most embarrassing of our ranks get the most attention because (1) they have the loudest voices, and (2) their leaders are the most comical and entertain us with their ignorance and antics. We aren’t at all surprised that they must resort to silly cartoons and slogans. They lack EVIDENCE and credibility, so what else can they do?

I’m not trying to be nasty or insincerely condescending when I say that I feel sorry for them. Indeed, I myself come from a young earth creationist church background. So my perspective is a personal one and laced with sympathy. I know what it is like to assume that people you trusted and admired and eventually discover that THEY were lied to by “creation scientists” and have been used by others. Many have been told from an early age that “evolution=atheism” and even “scientist=atheist” in many cases. Cherished TRADITIONS combined with peer pressure dynamics can be very hard to overcome.

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This format makes it very difficult to tackle big issues in a small space. But I at least wanted to point out for you that while it may be an “argument from ignorance” for some, it certainly isn’t for me and a great many other Christians down through history. I’m a scientist as well as a humanities scholar. (I made an usual career shift a few years ago….but I still think of myself as a scientist by temperament and by research approach.) Moreover, despite the uninformed like Dawkins and Krause who assume that “FAITH=belief without evidence”, that is not the description found in the Bible. If I had no evidence, I wouldn’t be a Christ-follower.

Yes, Young Earth Creationism has been led for about a half century now by a relatively small group of leaders (the most power and more recent crop are all millionaire entrepreneurs who are masterful manipulators of the gullible.) I have experience from that heritage but even I can scarcely believe the……well…..the illogical, mind-numbing stupidity which has largely taken over among the leaders and the activists. [I also stress that the MAJORITY of the rank and file average YEC doesn’t obsess on origins issues and most are fine people and sincerely living out the teachings of Jesus and not ranting against Science all the time.] The activists push a lot of unbiblical craziness which I hate to see attributed to the majority of good people to be found in those churches…..although their gullibility and naive passivity makes them easy to mislead.

Anyway, I’m fine with labeling the folly where it appears. But the Christian world suffers badly from Dunning-Kruger…..and it always seems to be that lowest quartile YEC that always seems to be out front talking about pseudo-science…..and even ends up the spokesperson for ALL evangelical Christianity (to our horror.)

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By the way, I think you will admit that you have no background in the exposition of ancient languages and their literature and a lot of your posts above make me cringe just as much as what the creationists post—-because you show just as much ignorance of linguistics and how cultures express themselves. These are mostly 101 course fundamentals, but I find a lot of non-Christians as well as Christians are certain that they don’t need any professor to tell them what various expressions and passages mean. But you do. In a university classroom, there is no ambiguity or uncertainty about who knows what they are talking about—but the rise of the Internet has brought an interesting wave of Dunning-Kruger to EVERY academic discipline, it seems. And when someone finds that someone here is a professor of religious studies, there are idi0ts who actually think that means “religious people who invade universities to teach their religion.” Accordingly, they refuse to believe the Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages & Literature who teaches the Intro to Old Testament 101 might be just as likely to be an atheist or agnostic as a Jew or a Christian. They don’t understand that it is an academic discipline and has nothing to do with apologetics, recruitment or “faith”.

Indeed, one of the differences between teaching such a course in the USA versus Germany or France, for example is that American monolingualism encourages even more ignorance of how students read the Bible in translation. And I saw examples of that in your treatment of ends of the earth and the ends of the earth. But before you conclude I”m some sort of “concordist”, I also anger the YECs because I tell them that the ancient Hebrews including most of the scripture authors most likely held to their culture’s cosmology—-which wasn’t so much “wrong” or “non-scientific” as it was just plain “different” because it was just “call ’em like we see ’em.” Accordingly, a lot of classic passages cited by idi0tic websites like Skeptics Annotated Bible are not “scientifically flawed”, they are simply NOT TRYING to be scientific and what they were saying was and still is 100% true if you understand what they are saying and don’t try to BE ANACHRONISTIC—-a logic error which is ubiquitous among BOTH skeptics and Young Earth Creationists.

In other words, most of the time neither side knows what they are talking about….so it gets quite painful to watch. And that is why I’m saying goodnight.

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