Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Origin of Skepticism?

I have just learned from a Facebook friend about a new "celebration" happening this year on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species. Kirk Cameron, actor turned ultra-conservative evangelical, and a friend have gotten together and written a new introduction to Darwin's famous book. Their plan is to hand out the book on college campuses this fall. What makes this newsworthy is the introduction's content (and, more importantly, its intent). Cameron, who is quite clearly a creationist (read: anti-evolutionist in this case!), and his friend have rounded up all the dirt they could find on Darwin and Evolution and their "seedier" associations, and gotten them published as the 50-page intro to Origin. They include such things as Hitler's "undeniable connection" to evolution, Darwin's "racism" and "disdain for women", and assorted misleading ideas like the"hoaxes" of evolutionary theory and the "lack of intermediate fossils". One woman has put out her own rebuttal of Cameron's video introducing his new scheme. It's a bit ... crass, shall we say, for my tastes, yet she makes most of the points I had thought of watching his video. Mr. Cameron, THIS is how you look to non-believers. This is how you look to BELIEVERS who share your faith in Christ, but don't believe there is a contradiction between the processes of evolution and the awesome power of our God - who is powerful enough to have created them.

First off, Cameron attempts to link Darwin and evolution to such horrible things as Hitler, racism, etc. What if we were to do this for the Bible and Christianity? Yikes. Crusades, murders, torture, racism, oppression of women, the Holocaust. I don't think we want to go down this road! Ms. ZOMGitsCriss proposes writing an introduction to the Bible (it's public domain, too, you know!) detailing all it's associations. I rather think we would not like how it would make Christ look. Yet, we believe.

Cameron also mentions in his video a number of scientists who believe God created the universe. That's all well and good - but most of them are dead. At least give us some living ones! Also, what about all the CHRISTIANS who believe God created evolution in order to create the universe? There are plenty of us out there, but we get no mention.

I have to wonder if Cameron thought at all about the ramifications of his approach. In effect, he is telling people that Darwin and his theory are evil and incompatible with Christianity. I'm sure that's what he was going for, but again, it's not true. They are quite compatible. Like I said, there are lots of us who believe God created the process of evolution to create the earth and its inhabitants. What this says to many non-Christians is that you can EITHER believe evolution (and there is a lot of evidence for it, including in the fossil record), OR you can be a Christian. Not both. This strategy he has come up with, using Origin to tell people how "it's a lie", is telling people who likely already believe evolution that they have to leave it if they want to follow Christ. That's a lie! It is chasing people AWAY from Christ, not leading them to him! This approach does far more harm than good, all the while making Christians look foolish. Darwin himself started life in the Church. He even considered going into the priesthood. But the church chased him away - they told him his evolution was incompatible with their Church, and he believed them, and died an agnostic. The church is the reason Darwin died as a non-Christian! I wish these guys would think about how they are portraying the faith, and the effects it might have on those who read this "new and improved introduction".

I know many Christians think the earth has to be young for Genesis to be "true". But many of us do not - the parables didn't have to be "literal" to speak "truth". There is more than one option here. One person's views rarely express the ultimate truth, yet Cameron (and a great many others) make them out to be, chasing people away from Christ as a result. This kills me. I wonder, if we were not so elitist, not so rejecting of science and logic, how many more believers there might be?

A better introduction for the Origin would focus on the response of Darwin's church. If they had accepted his ideas, how might the world have been different?

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