Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Polkinghorne on Creationism

The issue of scientific creationism never seems to go away. If it's not a creationist museum opening up in Kentucky it's news that a politician (this time Sarah Palin) wants creationism taught along side evolution. I'm reading at this moment biologist Kenneth Miller's Only a Theory, and will comment later on it, but British theologian/physicist John Polkinghorne has a new statement out on this issue in the London Times.

In this essay Polkinghorne takes on the problem of biblical literalism and the way in which it misuses and abuses Scripture -- especially when its proponents make an ancient text speak to modern scientific issues. What makes all of this even more interesting is that we are on the eve of two important events -- the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal text -- On the Origin of the Species.

To give you a taste of Polkinghorne's statement, here is his opening paragraph.

An irritating feature of modern life is the way in which useful words get hijacked and used for different, and often unacceptable, purposes. An example is “creationist”. As a Christian believer I am, of course, a creationist in the proper sense of the term, for I believe that the mind and the purpose of a divine Creator lie behind the fruitful history and remarkable order of the universe which science explores. But I am certainly not a creationist in that curious North American sense, which implies interpreting Genesis 1 in a flat-footed literal way and supposing that evolution is wrong. (To continue reading, click here).

H/T to Chris Tilling for reference to this article.


Anonymous said...

Bob, You and I have been over this ground at some length. Since we last wrote, I've read a book by a physicist, Nick Herbert, titled Elemental Mind. He addresses the problem of consciousness which is being worked on diligently by many in the physics community. I much prefer Herbert's work to your suggestion of my reading Polkinghorne's work (which I did not read exhaustively).

"In the beginning was the Word. . ." is a creation impossible to grasp without consciousness itself. Here is the very place to start. Literalism is folly. (And I think we agree on this point.) But there ought to be some room in highschool to discuss this entire issue, Palin notwithstanding. ~eric.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to wade into these waters and quickly realize I get in deep over my head on people who use much bigger words than I do.

I feel as Christians we are told to sit back and shut up on this issue. I simply ask the evolutionist.. if time is linear, who started the clock? What created the stuff before the Big Bang? Scientific theory (remember, much of this is theory and not fact) seems to weaken the further back we go.

There is a point where faith and science half to depart. Do you really believe a physical man died and was resurrected back to life? Science will never support that theory. Maybe if he was dead for 3 minutes or 3 hours.. but THREE DAYS?

Eric makes a good point though.. both are essentially theories. Why does one get preferential treatment over the other? Who gets to decide?