Thursday, 17 July 2014

Understanding creationism: An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist - 8

David MacMillan's final post in his series on how the YEC mind reacts to the evidence for evolution is up at Panda's Thumb. This time, he spends some time in outlining how he went from YEC to EC, and it makes fascinating reading. It also shows that some YECs can be reached, which is of course one of the reasons this blog exists, to help rescue Christadelphians from the flawed science and theology of YEC. 

His concluding words are excellent advice for those wanting to help rescue our community from YEC thinking, and prevent the loss of faith that often results when young believers finally realise they were misled, and abandon not just YEC but Christianity:
How do you reach creationists? Well, it can be difficult. There are a few things to keep in mind, though. 
Be patient. I do not think I would have ever made the switch if not for all the people who painstakingly pointed out my errors over and over, and forced me to look at the evidence for myself. It might seem futile, but you can make a difference. 
Know your enemy. And your enemy is not the person you’re talking to. Your enemy is the fundamentalist worldview telling the person how they are allowed to think. Understand how it works; understand where the beliefs and rhetoric are coming from. Ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more your opponent will be forced to investigate things for themselves. And that’s where the real progress is made. Read creationist literature and try to see where the arguments are coming from. 
Know your role. You’re the teacher. Understand the evidence and the arguments. Know your facts. Pseudoscience flourishes because real science does not. It’s a popular trope in fundamentalism that True Religion automatically displaces false religions, so the Christian doesn’t even need to study other worldviews as long as he’s secure in the Truth. That might not be a very good argument in a religious context, but it’s absolutely true of science. Real science displaces pseudoscience: tell a man about science and he might trust your authority, but teach a man how science works and he won’t need your authority at all. Do your best to instill confidence in the scientific process apart from the question of origins. 
Stick to the facts. Activists like Dawkins make the mistake of accepting fundamentalism’s claims of validly representing the Bible in particular and religion in general. But fundamentalism’s claims are simply false. As I stated before, creationism botches literary and biblical criticism just as badly as it botches science. Don’t ever make the mistake of attacking a creationist’s faith; if you do so, you’re simply reinforcing their misconception that evolution is synonymous with atheism. Read the explanations given by theistic evolutionists. Ask questions like, “How do you know your interpretation of the Bible is correct? How do you know that Genesis should be treated as chronological narrative? How would the original audience have understood it? Why wasn’t your interpretation a majority view throughout Christian history?” Be prepared to explain the history of creationism. 
Be generous. Creationists will often employ ad hominem attacks, confuse correlation with causation, and use numerous other gross fallacies. Recognize how these approaches come out of the worldview. Assume your opponent is sincere. Understand how difficult it is for a creationist to question deeply held views that he thinks have essential religious importance. 
Keep learning. The evidence continues to accumulate every single day. The strength of science is not that we know everything, but that we know how much we have left to learn.
Amen to that.