My fellow science blogger Alison Campbell recently wrote a blog post entitled “teach creationism, undermine science” in which she highlighted some of the concerns shared by many scientists. As a Christian and as a scientist I believe the issue is far worse than the undermining of science. Because so many teaching creationism are so well meaning it saddens me to say this, but the teaching of creationism is anathema to the Christian gospel. Three reasons:
1. Creationism misrepresents the Bible. When the Hebrews were standing on the banks of the Jordan wondering what would befall them should they cross, they were not asking “How did God create the world?” Rather, they were wondering if Yahweh who had led their parents generation out of Egypt, and seemed to be in charge in the desert, actually knew anything about farming across the Jordan. It seemed to them that the local fertility gods must know something – after all it was a rich land. The two stories of creation we now find in the book of Genesis speak to the fears of the Hebrews then, and in later generations to fears held when they were in exile. The message is clear – Yahweh is in charge, and the so called gods (eg the sun and moon) are mere creations of his. Those stories are definitely not scientific accounts – indeed science writing was not to be invented for thousands of more years. They answer “whose in charge” and “what’s my purpose” questions, not “How” questions.
2. Creationism rejects truth about the workings of creation which science has revealed. Science is a gracious gift which is to be cherished and put to good use. It is under God’s sovereignty and requires the participation of his people. Indeed, creationism opts out of kingdom building, the task of the Church. Our destination is not some super-spiritual, non-material eternal existence in heaven (indeed no where does the Bible explicitly say we will “go to heaven”), rather it is a new earth (material) where God dwells amongst us and God’s rule applies (heaven). How this will come about, no-one can be certain, but our pursuit of knowledge through science and our applying that knowledge as good stewards of the Earth is part of the process of building the kingdom.
3. Creationism puts a stumbling block to faith. Sadly, propagating creationism results in an easy, and sometimes convenient, target for scientists who may otherwise be willing to listen to what Christianity has to say. To use Paul’s terminology, it is a stumbling block. Many pupils taught creationism as a science will later learn the falsehood when they are exposed to all of science in its full glory. Sadly, many will react against Christianity and throw the baby out with the bathwater. When this happens, those who taught those pupils creationism as if it were science will become accountable.