Why I Believe: Because the Bible is Difficult

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve still been thinking about a series of posts on “Why I Believe”. I’m not interested in posting the usual reasoned arguments (you can find 20 such arguments here), but I’d rather attack the accusation that Christians in general, and Catholics specifically, believe without any shred of evidence that God exists.

Roger Bacon, the father of the modern scientific method (and a Catholic priest), wrote about the need for evidence and how it gives us a knowledge that is more in depth. As I tried to point out in this post (but, frankly failed to point out effectively as it was often misinterpreted), my personal belief comes with evidence, validation, and confirmation. Frankly, the more I learn about my faith, the more it rings true.

Chesterton may have put it best (as he often does) when he said that ultimately he believes in God because it is true.  A quick dismissal of this statement may dismiss it as circular and unreasoned, but the statement is packed with implications of verification for that belief.

So it is with that said that I make my first argument, or present my first bit of evidence. This does not prove God, nor Christianity, nor Catholicism, but it does offer one shred of evidence in an entire sea of evidence pointing to the irrefutable truth that God exists.

I Believe Because the Bible isn’t Simple

In talking to @omgbiblequotes about how we read the bible, he responded with this:

Many atheists on Twitter (and other places, I suspect), love to point out apparent discrepancies and difficult passages in the bible. For example, Saul demanding the complete and total obliteration of an entire army. Or the Psalm which talks about bashing the heads of babies against a stone. Or laws which demand the stoning for seemingly minor offenses. Or passages which seem to promote misogyny and discrimination.

These passages can be difficult to understand if we approach the bible as simply a guidebook or simply a rule of life or set of morals. Fr. Baron (who reviews movies on his Youtube channel – you got to see his review of Quantam of Solace) talks about the irony and seeming discomfort of concluding the reading of Saul hacking King Agag to pieces with the standard closing “The Word of the Lord”.

Christians who do not have a basis in tradition or who do not have an understanding why we believe the Bible is inspired (and what that actually means) undoubtedly have to pivot and shift their arguments to account for these passages. Many of them fall into the heresy of Marcionism – a denial of the Old Testament being relevant or necessary in today’s world.

But I would challenge those Christians – and I will offer this challenge to atheists as well – to think about the indisputable fact that the Church in its early days not only accepted the Old Testament as inspired (difficult stories and all), but the Church doubled down on this position by ratifying the canon of books multiple times throughout its history (even as recent as the council of Trent).  These weren’t decisions that were made rashly or without thought. In fact, hundreds of years of thought and tradition went into these declarations. The difficult passages, the apparent discrepancies (for example, the apparent discrepancy of the ultimate fate of Judas Iscariot), were well known to those early church fathers. Modern day atheism, for as proud as it is to display and parade these apparent ‘deal breakers’, is hardly revealing anything new.

The Bible vs. Other Inspired Books

There are other books that claim divine inspiration. The book of Mormon (not the musical), the Koran, etc. But the Bible is unique to any other book that claims divine inspiration in infallibility.

What makes the Bible unique is that it claims one divine author (God) who inspired a multitude of co-authors, who give the Word of God voice and color within for us to experience. These co-authors did not come from one region and one time. They span centuries and vast geographical expanses. The bible is not made up of a single literary style – it is made up of allegory, of poetry, of historical account, of instruction, of legalism, of instruction, and so on.

Yet for as far reaching as the Bible is, for all the centuries that it’s authors span, and for the vast regions it’s co-authors called home, it is marvelously coherent.

This image showing apparent contradictions in the Bible made its rounds through social media:

mvq9Ax8

But this graph was inspired by another, similar graph which shows the cross-references within the bible:

BibleVizArc7mediumOrig

When we read the Bible recognizing that it was not written with one pen, does not have the voice of one human author, and spans such great distances and times, the coherence of the Bible is quite remarkable.

Digging further into the Bible we see remarkable events and prefigurements that would make the greatest novelists jealous. For example, the story of Abraham leading his son Isaac to be sacrificed. Rather than do this an injustice, listen to Fr. Barron (yes again) talk about the prefigurement and absolute wonder of this story which would be replayed in its fullness centuries later by Christ.

This Style Reflects Life

 I have run into several atheists who take exception to the Bible and the fact that it is difficult to understand. One may look at the charts above and immediately say that this is reason to dismiss the Bible as being inspired. I have talked to atheists who question why God couldn’t have written a book that is more clear and easy to understand, that doesn’t create such disagreements and require interpretation.

But what is the alternative? A book that reads like installation instructions for a stereo? A book of simple laws filled with “do’s and don’ts”?

The Bible most perfectly reflects real humanity. We know that life is not made up of black and white decisions. It is not just happy or sad, but there are all sorts of colors and shades that make up life. Human existence is complex. We are forced to try and interpret the events in our own lives and the lives of our loved ones to try and make sense of it.

The Bible tells multiple stories. We see the overarching story of salvation, but this overarching narrative is quilted together with books that fit and match the complexities of our every day lives. I stated earlier that the bible is not just one literary style – this is one of the beautiful things about this complex book. It allows us to pick up on subtleties between books, verses, and passages. We can see the bible tied together by Christ himself (and thus we must always read the Bible through the prism of Christ’s mission) and we can see how even those difficult passages in the bible color and give us deeper meaning on how to approach our very own lives.

Not a Proof, but One of Many Pieces of Evidence

As I mentioned in my opening, this is not intended to be a proof, but rather one drop among a sea of evidence that supports my faith.  As a Catholic, I don’t throw away the Old Testament, I embrace it. I read the Old Testament in light of Christ.  The reason the Old Testament is important is because of Christ – without Him the books simply do not make sense.

I understand this will likely fall short among atheists, but I have been asked for my evidence, my proof, the reasons for my belief. Frankly, if the Bible was more ‘straightforward’, it would lead me to be more inclined to deny its place as the Word of God. But the very fact that it mirrors and reflects the myriad of conditions we can find ourselves in through authors that wrote in different styles, different voices, different times, and different locations seems far more appropriate than a single book with one author, one purpose, one pen, and one application provides additional validation to the claim that it is the inspired word of God.

Atheists, Help: Why I Believe

I am looking for help from skeptics and atheists. This is a genuine request – not a sarcastic request. I have been thinking about an analogy the past few days, but have not been able to vet it out. I figure what better way than to put it out to atheists as fair game to criticize. So if you are game, read on and feel free to comment here or on Twitter. I don’t mind criticism, so have at it.

The Setup: The Problem

I have been asked a few times on Twitter both “why do I believe” and also to provide evidence that God exists. I have been, admittedly, reluctant to respond. You may assume this is because I have no such evidence, but that isn’t the case. The problem is, the answer to “why do I believe” is not the same answer I would give to why you should believe. Frustratingly enough, I think that no matter how strongly I can present evidence of why you should believe, final confirmation rests in more than external evidence.

https://twitter.com/iraqvet1980/status/383311374316625920

The fact is, I didn’t come to believe because I saw external evidence, although my faith has since been confirmed. I see that evidence now, but I never needed it to come to believe. I was raised Catholic. As a teenager and an adult I challenged my faith, investigated, and tried to seek out its truth (or lack of truth). What I found makes it utterly unreasonable for me to deny my faith.

This, however, is admittedly insufficient for anyone external to myself. So I want to provide an analogy and ask you, the skeptic, to respond. Does this make sense? I do not expect (nor am I trying) to convince you of God’s existence, just to explain why my faith is reasonable.

The Analogy: Proving Fire Causes Pain

I thought of this analogy when looking at all of the Catholic cleric scientists that have existed throughout the ages. I was reading quotes from Roger Bacon – father of the modern scientific method. I found this:

“Argument is conclusive… but… it does not remove doubt, so that the mind may never rest in the sure knowledge of the truth, unless it finds it by the method of experiment. For if any man who never saw fire proved by satisfactory arguments that fire burns, his hearer’s mind would never be satisfied, nor would he avoid the fire until he put his hand in it that he might learn by experiment what argument taught.”

This sounds so much like many of the atheists I have had the fortune of talking with. I see some atheists talk about how faith in God is unreasonable, but for someone like myself who has ‘had their hand in the fire’, lack of faith in God would be to deny the reality of the burn.

In essence, yes, I do believe there is plenty of external evidence that fire burns and that God exists. But it isn’t until one places their hand in the fire that their conviction would be complete and their belief would be solid.

The Breakdown of the Analogy

The analogy breaks down for me in the differences between the experience of burning and the experience of God. The fact is, the experience of God is not a passing moment intense in its moment but diminishing with time. The experience of God fundamentally changes who we are as a person if we allow it to do so.

There are certain experiences in our lives that force a change in who we are as people. On the negative side we see this in soldiers who experience gruesome warfare, or people who endure extreme suffering. On the positive side we may see this when someone reaches a significant accomplishment or when a person finds a mate that they truly love. The experience of God is like that- just far more intense.

For myself personally, the confirmation of God comes with the great beauty that opens up before me. Humanity makes sense. Love makes sense. Our desires for acceptance, for love, for purpose, for the good of others and ourselves make sense. The logical disciplines of philosophy and the sciences fit into theology in a way that I imagine they could not possibly do for the atheist. They do so in a way that is more beautiful than can be possibly described. Just as the sensation of burn can’t be described adequately to someone who has never been burned, the beauty that Catholicism opens up for me as well as the indescribable shaping of my being towards God, is something that can’t be described, but hopefully it’s effects can be observed.

A Quick Frustration: The Unscientific Approach to God

I know many atheists hear this sort of an answer when they ask why someone believes: it’s personal, or “I’ve had an experience”, or something similar. I understand the frustration – it is why I am frustrated in trying to answer it. It is, of course, the best answer for reasons I explained above and reasons that Bacon would have agreed to: confirmation of God’s existence – that firm confirmation every atheist is asking for – requires that we put our hand in the fire.

Yet when I talk to many atheists (not all, mind you), I find that they never actually have tested the hypothesis of God’s existence.

The objection I hear is “why pray when I don’t believe or would be praying to nothing?” The answer to this is to simply pray to the vagueness, to the emptiness, to the nothingness.  Reasonable men have done crazier things in the privacy of their minds.

As an atheist, you can deny that God exists, but you cannot deny the hypothesis of God. And it’s existence isn’t minimal either. Humanity is unmistakably shaped by it, and despite reports of religion’s death, we see evidence of it growing in many modern societies.  Many atheists have looked for evidence and dismissed that which is given to them as ‘unscientific’ and ‘not objective or verifiable’. Yet the problem is that they are bringing their biases into the experiment. Their approach defines God first, then denies that biased definition based on what is offered as evidence.

Rather than take that approach, why not take the most basic approach to the question: “Does God exist?”. We know that Christianity teaches above all that God is love, God is personal, and that God is the creator of all things. So why not start here and keep all other biases out?

I would be genuinely interested in this experiment. I started from a position of belief and have had that belief confirmed by putting my hand into the flame. I would be interested if any atheist would ever be willing to, for some time, say a prayer without bias, with true curiosity and willingness to discover: “I do not know, but if you exist, make it known in your way and help me to recognize it”.

But I digress.

Your Thoughts on the Analogy

So I am interested in your thoughts in that analogy to explain why I believe. As I stated earlier, I do not expect this to convince anyone of God’s existence.

I do hope to effectively communicate, however, why reasonable people believe.  I guess my hope is that the skeptic can look at the saints who lead lives extraordinary out of a love of God and recognize that if it wasn’t God, these saints had something that moved them to live incredible lives. That if fire doesn’t burn, it does something to cause necessary reaction to the person who puts their hand in the fire.

So go ahead and critique. This is not a fully thought out idea, so I may have just wasted 1300 words…

Theist in a Hizzy Response

Yesterday I wrote a quick post on the Logical Impossibility of Proving God which was based on a conversation with Dark Poet. Fortunately for me, he took the time to respond here:

Theist in the Hizzy

I love this stuff. 🙂 Here’s my response to his post.

I was happy to read your definitions of your god. These are very common attributes of a god used by theists and all I was asking for.

I know you had asked me to define God, and you thanked me for defining God, however, I wasn’t defining God. My argument rests on the fact that defining God is in fact a logical impossibility.  To define means to describe exactly the meaning or scope of something, to make out the boundaries of something – a task which is impossible with an infinite being.

Your second sentence here is more correct – I identified attributes of God. But this goes into the larger point I was trying to make: the theist doesn’t identify God and then come to believe, the theist is in a process of discovering God. But more on that later.

The heart of the point you were making seemed to be here (and correct me if I missed the actual main point):

If these are part of your definition of your god I’m not sure how you square one other attribute you used to define your god.

Unfathomable.

How do you claim all those other attributes? This is a huge problem I run into with theists often. This is similar to the square circle an all powerful god is unable to accomplish. It’s a major contradiction. You can’t claim on one hand god is all loving and on the other hand claim god is unfathomable.

If I understand you correctly, the problem here would rest on the definition of “unfathomable”. A quick search on Google shows the following definition: “incapable of being fully explored or understood.”  This is the sense in which I am using the word.

It is not that God can’t be discovered – He can and He invites us to discover Him – it is that the depths of God will never be fully comprehended or understood.

I think a parallel could be man’s exploration in space (which I alluded to in my previous post).  The size of the universe is quite unfathomable by the human mind. We can explore the universe, we can learn a surprising amount about the universe from our tiny spec of a planet, but despite all of this we will never, as a human race, be able to fully explore and know the Universe, all of its stars, all of its planets, all of its mysteries, all of its idiosyncrasies, and all of its incredible beauty (can you imagine a waterfall on some distant planet in a solar system located in a galaxy cluster that we have not even discovered? I’m sure it exists, but will we ever experience it?). It is unfathomable in its nature.

You mentioned that theists often share similar attributes and qualities of God – these are the attributes that we have come to know and experience as God has revealed them to us, but as any person who is on the journey to discover God more fully will tell you, these attributes merely gloss over the reality that is found once you invest in discovering God.

Moving on to the next point…

 I thought your present story was poor. You claimed there was a present in the physical world and instructed your son to test that claim by reaching in and finding the present. One could demonstrate it. Test it. Falsify it. Define it. It was not faith which is what you were attempting to demonstrate. You demonstrated the opposite of faith. Your son was not using faith. He trusted in you because you’re his parent, however, he then tested your claim.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to read this portion of your post, because this is almost exactly what I was trying to describe! Most analogies fail at some point – I just hope they hold up long enough to make the main point.

In the example of the present, faith was present in my son when he listened to his parents and agreed to look in the bag. His only reason for looking in the bag was in response to our calling him to do so. His faith was rewarded with confirmation of that faith in the present.

Faith isn’t a perpetual suspension of skepticism – it is taking that first step, which is usually only in response to that faint call from God, and then asking God to reveal Himself to us. If there was no response from God, pursing him would be an aimless pursuit and without purpose. But if you ask most theists who are genuine in their search to discover God you’ll find that they talk about having a purposeful life, a life with direction. This is because God does respond – He doesn’t ask us to live lives entirely blind.

In the example I gave, my son’s faith was rewarded with the tangible evidence of the present. This is where the analogy breaks down. In the theist life, our faith – our first steps – are rewarded with a response from God which often is quite personal, but absolutely unmistakable. And that response is usually accompanied by a stronger calling from God to go deeper.

We need good reasons for the things we believe because our beliefs inform our actions and our actions effect ourselves and others. If faith isn’t why you believe in your god please correct me. You hinted at evidence of your god. Why didn’t you share that? I value evidence. I’m guessing you’ve shared your evidence with other atheists before. If so, why not this time? Is it rejected as evidence?

I love the first line of that quoted paragraph. “We need good reasons for the things we believe because our beliefs inform our actions and our actions effect ourselves and others.”

So often faith is equivocated with blindness or without reasons, but the opposite is quite true. Faith isn’t blindness – faith creates vision.

In my last post I linked over to a blog post from a former atheist who became Catholic. I hope that you read it, but if you didn’t, I’ll pull this extremely relevant paragraph from what she wrote:

The more I went through the motions of believing in God, the more the world made sense to me; the more human history made sense to me; the more I started to make sense to me. The picture of human life that I’d formed based on science alone now seemed incomplete. I still believed everything I’d learned through the lens of science, but I now saw a whole other dimension to the world around me. It was like the difference between looking at a picture of a double-fudge chocolate cake and having one in front of me to smell, touch, and taste: everything I knew before was still there, but I was now experiencing it in a much more intense and vivid way.

Contrary to your guess, I have not shared specific evidence with other atheists. Sure, there is the realization that evidence I present will be turned away as explainable or merely subjective. But more importantly, we don’t come to know God by means of evidence first. Rather, our belief in God is confirmed by God with evidence.

St. Augustine said it best when he said “Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand”

I know that for most atheists this won’t be sufficient – most atheists see only one way of knowing reality and discard any other approach.  This is why in engaging atheists like yourself on Twitter I have no agenda of converting or convincing – I know that I can’t cause that, it requires a response from you. I certainly hope that you and others will respond to that call to look inside the bag, because the evidence you are looking for is there, but you need to believe the call is worth following first.

You closed with additional questions which, if you don’t mind, I’ll pass on for now as they feel like good topics to discuss in their own context in an orderly manner. For this post I wanted to focus on faith – not being blind – and on the notion that the atheist looking for evidence to believe will never find it, but that the person who begins from a standpoint of belief, the evidence is unmistakable. 

Yes, My Faith is Foolish

It has been an incredible and fascinating week.  I started this blog and my twitter account on a whim and both will most likely be ended some day on a similar whim. I don’t know exactly where I will go with this blog and the twitter account, but after my first week of talking with various atheists on a variety of subjects (albeit mostly on the creation stories) I have reached a few conclusions:

  1. This is really time consuming
  2. This is really fun
  3. If we get past the typical “I believe this”, “I don’t believe that”, “Well you’re stupid and going to hell”, “Well, you’re the one that believes in fairy tales” track that most atheist/theist conversations tend to take, there is interesting and fascinating conversation to be had
  4. Although it can be scary to do, it is good to challenge what we believe (or say that we do not believe). Challenging it can only serve two purposes: either our belief or non-belief is sharpened, or we realize we were wrong.
  5. It is necessary to laugh at our own blunders and mistakes. It makes honest conversation much easier to have

As I said, this week has been fascinating and incredible. I have a handful of hat tips to give out (at the end of this post), but I thought I would give my first “Question of the Week” award out. It goes to @moritzkooistra:

We can get so caught up in the X’s and O’s of theism and atheism. I’ve thought about this question all week and I came back to a conclusion I reached a long time ago:

Yes, My Faith is Foolish

Reason, logic, evidence aside, my faith is foolish and I have no problem admitting it. I worship a man who was abused, destroyed, crucified as a common criminal.  I have crucifixes hanging in my house portraying this man:

crucifixionNo, not Jim Caviezel, but the man he represented. This bloodied and humiliated man is my king of kings, the greatest human to ever walk the face of the earth.

Yes, my faith is foolish.

I believe that Eucharist is Christ. Not just figuratively, but literally. Every week I spend time adoring Christ in the Eucharist.

On the surface, I should be considered a mad man.

And I’m not alone in realizing my faith is foolish. St. Paul recognized this as well in 1 Cor 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

As with any conclusion that we reach, however, my foolishness is not based on mere wishful thinking, pure hope, and hopeful speculation. It is based on the foundation of tenets that I believe and accept wholeheartedly. With a firm belief in these tenets I have no choice by the bounds of logic except to reach the conclusions of my faith that I have reached. These tenets are where atheists and I differ and where both an atheist and I are able to be in the same (virtual) room and claim reasonable conclusions.

It is not that my faith is without evidence. I challenge my faith. I challenge my beliefs. I challenge the evidence that I see. I am subject to the same doubts and considerations as any other human. These challenges have helped me to understand what I believe and why I believe. And that is why I want to continue to challenge my beliefs.

It is for this reason that I thank those who have taken the time to challenge my faith this week. To engage in sometimes drifting conversation and winding debates.

So with that:

@moritzkooistra – you still need to explain to me how saying “all truth is relative” isn’t making an objective statement of truth, and thus nullifying the statement itself. Let’s keep talking.

@kevinjsteward – thanks for inviting me over to Atheist Debate forum. I have a few topics started there, hopefully others will pick up the conversation.

@prophetatheist – you win the award for the longest conversation of the week. I still owe you an answer on this tweet:

although as I said on Twitter this may be one that we punt on until we discuss other more foundational items

@moinedeisme – Sorry for punting on that question. I owe you a response as well.

theirishatheist – I didn’t know you lived in Minnesota for a time! I tip my hat to you for the best comment of the week. I hope we can have conversations in the future…

There are others as well, but I don’t want this to become ridiculous (too late?)…

Why Can’t Atheists Read Genesis Like Other Historical Texts?

I firmly believe that if the Bible were not the Bible, and if atheists did not have so much contact with fundamentalist Christians who take a literalist view of the bible (or, conversely, liberal Christians who take a far more allegorical view of the bible), that the books of the Bible would be read with much more care and study. But as it is, many atheists seem to fall into the camp of treating the bible only through a modern lens.

Pope Pius XII discussed reading and understanding the early texts of the Bible:

What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use. For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East (Divino Afflante Spiritu 35–36).

I tried to make this point in this post here, although my attempt was admittedly feeble and lacked depth. I added on a video from Fr. Baron who does a much better job describing the “ham handed approach” atheists often take towards these ancient texts. That video is below (and highly recommended):

It is in light of this that I easily get pulled into discussions on the Bible when I see tweets like this:

https://twitter.com/Mattwaggy14/status/374975820693258240

Ok, so let’s ignore the obvious fact that the Genesis account never says that Adam and Eve had just 2 sons (poor Seth, always the forgotten one).  Let’s also ignore the fact that Gen 5:4 explicitly says that Adam had “sons and daughters”@prophetAtheist, a person who I consider to be one of the good guys on Twitter (and who has shown me just how clumsy I can be in debate), more explicitly pointed out what @mattwaggy14 was trying to say:

What baffled me here was why the assumption was that Adam and Eve didn’t have any daughters.

This reply actually made me stop for a minute: was he actually advocating for more than a literalist reading of Genesis? It is one thing to argue that Genesis should be read in a literalist fashion (although that is, as Fr. Baron states, “a ham-handed approach”), but to imply that if Genesis omitted something that therefore we should believe it didn’t occur?

The possibilities of a reductio ad absurdum argument here are just too plentiful. Do we believe that Adam and Eve went to the bathroom? Never says so in Genesis. We don’t have an account of Eve dying – is she supposedly immortal according to Genesis?

I have a certain affinity for atheists. I respect their call to logic and reason and using the human intellect, but, on the whole, their approach to ancient texts like Genesis is thoroughly clumsy and not thought out. In discussing these early texts with a few different atheists, and in viewing countless other conversations and opinions, most atheists seem to approach these texts through the prism of modern expectations. There is little to no effort whatsoever to understand the context, the philology, common literary forms of the day, culture, etc.

Atheists seem to want to put Genesis, and those who believe it to be the word of God, into two buckets: “literalist reading” and “allegorical” reading (akin to legend). What they dismiss is the literal (not literalist) reading that accounts for the style of historical writing. From Catholic.com:

It is impossible to dismiss the events of Genesis 1 as a mere legend. They are accounts of real history, even if they are told in a style of historical writing that Westerners do not typically use.

This doesn’t seem so hard to accept and understand. In academics we frequently cite the period, the civilization, the culture, the philology and cultural norms to understand texts, especially when those texts are more foreign to our modern way of writing and doing things. Why can’t we do these with the ancient texts of Genesis?  Keep in mind that Pope Pius XII advocates for more than just context and philology. Why can’t we use that reason, logic, and critical thinking to understand that the texts deserve, at a minimum, a fair reading before they are dismissed as pure fraud?

And just in case you didn’t click on that link above, I would recommend reading this on Catholic.com. Much better stated than I could ever hope to say.

Atheists’ Fascination with Creationism

Atheists seem to have a fascination with creationists. They seem to look at creationists as some strange creatures – kind of like those cave insects that never see the light of day – and wonder how they could ever wake up in the morning without being completely shame faced for their beliefs.

I guess I can’t blame them for picking on creationists as it is really quite low hanging fruit. But I fear atheists are making two mistakes by attacking creationists: 1) atheists tend to lump all theists into the creationist camp (not true), and 2), they are missing the entire bloody point of the creation story.

I am a theist and I believe evolution is a sound theory. I also believe that the creation story is entirely compatible with evolution. The two are not mutually exclusive. Why? Because the creation story isn’t trying to make a statement as to the scientific origins of the earth or the chronological events that lead up to the existence of man.

Anyone who reads the creation stories will hopefully see that there is a problem if you are trying to get an order of events accounting of the creation of man.  (In Genesis 1:24-27 God makes animals and then man while in Genesis 2:5-7 we see that God makes man “when no plant of the field was yet in the earth…”). From my understanding, most biblical scholars will explain that there are two biblical creation stories. In fact, it is highly likely that the stories came from other traditions as there are ample examples of similar creation stories (Epic of Gilgamesh and so on).

Despite this obvious fact, atheists love to pick on creationists to point out that creation didn’t happen in the way the Bible describes it. It’s as if they want to say

Ha! The world was not created in 7 days! The bible is wrong!!!

…therefore atheism.

But ultimately atheists, you look a bit silly when you do this. In fact, you look as silly as the creationists! While you are busy disproving creationism in order to debunk Christianity, why don’t we point out how Huck Finn never actually lived and therefore all of Mark Twain’s books are pure bunk? Or that Rodka never actually killed the woman in “Crime and Punishment” because he wasn’t a real person, and therefore the book is pure “fairytales and fantasy”?

The reason creationists look silly, in my opinion, is that it should be obvious that the creation accounts are not intended to be read in that manner. Sure, there’s the science too – that’s also quite convincing.

The creation stories are one part of an entire book – an entire tradition – that tell us of the love story of God for humans. The creation stories are fundamental building blocks to answer the questions of “what does it mean to be human”, and “why did God create us”, as well as any of the “why does God allow…permit…etc”.

So let’s end the fascination with creationism. It doesn’t make anyone look good.