I’m not going to approach this series too systematically but I will likely focus most on what I know best - Christian traditions and biblical stories. I want to include other religions and other traditions and will as I learn more about them, but for now why don’t we start with the beginning, at least the beginning of the most commonly held religious beliefs, the creation story, from the Old Testament. This is a story shared by Muslims, Jews and Christians – who together make up over 51% of the religious traditions in the world and about 85% of those in America.
According to a 2010 Gallup poll 40% of Americans believe that man was created in his present form, by God no more than 10,000 years ago. This is down from 55% in 2006 (according to a CBS poll)
This is more than a theological discussion. It’s a very hot political one as well. There are still stickers in text books across the country, warning that evolution is ‘just a theory’. There is a renewed push in several states to legislate that evolution be taught with more than the usual disclaimers. 60% of biology teachers are afraid to teach the theory and spend little time on it, if at all. 13 percent of the teachers said they "explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design…”
So here some questions to consider. I would really like to hear people’s answers to some of these however, if they don’t interest you but the topic does, forget them, just share your thoughts. Please and thank you!
1) Some consider the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. Others consider it divinely inspired but not inerrant. Do you think a refutation of the literal creation story threatens the idea that the Bible is the word of God?
2) What are the moral, spiritual lessons we learn from Adam and Eve? How can we apply them today?
3) Do you believe in the concept of “Original Sin”. If so, can you share your thoughts on this and its impact on how you view the world?
4) What, if anything, do feel it says about the character of God, or morality in general?
5) If you believe the story to be a literal, historical account – what are your thoughts on the evidence/science that counters this understanding?
6) If you believe the story has some truth, if not literal, what do you consider it to be? An allegory – if so, of what?
7) If you think the story has no historical validity, how would you describe its role/impact in our society? Would you like to see that role changed? How?
I want this to be a real discussion and for that to happen, everyone needs to feel they will be respected as individuals should they participate. I will not ridicule the assertions of anyone here. I may debate against them, even vigorously, but I will respect anyone that is willing to genuinely engage in the process. All serious attempts to contribute will be appreciated.
In the interest of fairness I will share my viewpoints with you as well here. If you have something to say about them, that would be great but I would rather hear about and discuss your thoughts on the story.My views will be part of any subsequent conversation anyway.
My viewpoint: I think there is no empirical evidence for the literal truthfulness of the creation story of the Old Testament. I consider it a creation myth on par with those of other faiths. I think there is some questionable morality on the part of God in this story as well. I don't think that it should be a curriculum topic in science classes, either as young earth creation theory or as intelligent design. The only place I think I has a place it schools would be in a literature or comparative religion class, the latter being one I wish we had as standard curriculum in the US, like they do in the UK.
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment.
Teaching the controversy: