Thursday, January 22, 2015

What's Wrong with Creationism?

Creationism confuses the language of faith with technical language.

The language of faith points beyond itself, and leads us to places that cannot be grasped and manipulated, but grasps, and manipulates or changes, us.

Technical language points to an object of interest, enabling us to grasp it, manipulate it, transform it, use it, to enhance our life process.

The language of faith is seen in such words as:
Grace, mercy and peace ...
Faith, hope and love ...

Whereas technical language is revealed in such words as:
Height, length, breadth and width ...
Speed, temperature, density ...

I can use the phrase: The sum of all things ..." in either of these senses.

The sum of all things is faith, hope and love.

That's makes sense, in a faith setting, and everyone realizes the language is metaphorical, poetic, highly and imaginably expressive of things beyond our reach, things that reach us, with surprise and transforming power.

The sum of all things, referring to a list of numbers, or other technical factors, is 382 pounds moving at 23 miles per hour in a vacuum equals thus and so ...

That makes sense, too, in a technical setting, and everyone realizes the language is technical, scientific, expressive of encountered reality here and now, pointing to the object of our concern, which may reveal all sorts of strange and wondrous things to us about the nature of reality, yet the language remains focused upon the object at hand, that we might know something about it, and eventually use it.

Creationism confuses the two languages.

Perhaps, in part, out of fear. As the World of the Middle Ages gave way to the Industrial World, as the language of the poet, the saint, the mystic, gave way to the language of measurement ... as the focus of life shifted from "up there and beyond" to the "here and now," religion grew edgy, as it sensed its world diminishing, its importance shrinking, its influence declining.

Rather than standing firm on the mystery of faith-language, some sought to transform the language of faith into technical language (dogma), and what better place to begin then with the Genesis creation stories - here is the "beginning" of all things, and if these stories can be literalized, given "weight and substance, time and energy," things that can be measured and determined and added up, then we have found a means to yet convince the world that faith has meaning, value, relevance, because now it's "scientific," and not just "faith."

Such confusion destroys the language of faith, robbing it of its beauty, its ability to lift the human mind beyond itself to that which is genuinely mysterious and wonderful, that which transcends us, meets us in the unexpected, and comes to us in love.

Such confusion destroys as well the language of science, turning it into a matter of opinion, as if measurement of weight and height and velocity were now just so much "someone's point of view."

To confuse the two languages, which actually work rather well together when held in their distinctive abilities, is to lose both. Faith becomes something unintelligible to both the believer and those who hold other faith and life perspectives. And science also becomes unintelligible, because its meaning in terms of the measurable is destroyed as if measurement were simply just so many opinions of those who may, in fact, be quite wrong.

Indeed, scientific observations may prove wrong, as it has in the past, but the thrust of science has been accurate, and it has the ability to self-correct itself, which enables us to say what was just said: Science has proven itself to be wrong. But not entirely wrong, but in some of the details. The scientific effort is largely trustworthy and deserves our respect.

Even as the language of faith continues to inspire and lift and motivate. The language of faith is powerful and good - its the music by which dance, even as the steps we employ can be diagrammed on a piece of paper.

To confuse the two languages, both are lost ... and in such loss, the only outcome is more confusion, the loss of meaning, the loss of accuracy and the loss of inspiration.

That's why Creationism is wrong ... it needs confusion to make its point, and in making its point, fosters greater confusion.

We can do better than this, and we must.


2 comments:

Bob said...

What a nice way to put it: ...everyone realizes the language is metaphorical, poetic, highly and imaginably expressive of things beyond our reach, things that reach us, with surprise and transforming power.

Yes, things that reach us.

Chris Dahl said...

I like the analogy made about the language of faith "it's the music by which one dances." The music and dance can be diagrammed while faith gives us the emotion of the music and movement.

Thanks