The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Skepchick

An atheist writer has an entry on her blog today about The GeoChristian (see Skepchick: Genesis and Geology). She obviously has more readers than I do, and she has sent them in droves to click on “Myth” on my Understanding Genesis 1 poll.

Skepchick started her blog entry by saying some nice things about me (she also encourages her readers to not post “mean comments” on my blog, which I appreciate very much):

One of the geoblogs that I have started reading- casually- is a blog called The GeoChristian. The blog is written by a liberal Christian with some science (especially geology) background. In many ways, I admire this blog and the blogger. The author tries to improve the science education of very conservative Christians, including the Young Earthers. This is a noble effort, and I really hope that the blogger is successful. The blogger accepts an old Earth, which I find comforting.

Not everything nice that people say about me is true, and this is no exception. Here are a few clarifications:

  • I am not a liberal Christian (“liberal” meaning one who denies the authority of the Bible and/or core Christian doctrines). I am quite conservative in my theological views, including my view of the Bible.
  • I have a Master of Science degree in geology, which is a bit more than “some science.”

It was good of her to start with nice things (I try to do the same), but obviously as an atheist there are things about The GeoChristian that she doesn’t like.

However, when the author of the GeoChristian blog tries to reconcile events in The Bible with geological science, my blood starts boiling. For instance, I just noticed that the GeoChristian has put up a poll titled Understanding Genesis One. This poll asks “What is your preferred interpretation of Genesis One?” and gives a number of options– including a Young Earth Creationist option (6,000 years) and several options trying to re-interpret the text in The Bible in order to make it compatible with the old age of the Earth.

I’m sorry that I got her blood boiling, but I think that once again she at least somewhat misunderstands what I am getting at on The GeoChristian. I don’t spend a whole lot of time trying to “reconcile events in The Bible with geological science.” I actually spend a lot more time trying to counter the arguments of Christians who stretch science (usually young-Earth creationists) to fit what they think the Bible requires (for example, my Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis series).

My overall approach to questions of science and Scripture is borrowed from Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer, who reminded Christians that “all truth is God’s truth.” As a Christian, I believe that if there is a conflict between the Bible and science, then either we don’t understand the Bible correctly, or we don’t understand science correctly (or both). In the end, if we were to correctly understand both, there would be no conflict. When Biblical scholars propose things like the “analogical days interpretation” or “framework hypothesis” (see the poll questions), they are doing one part of that effort: taking a closer look at Genesis and seeing what it really does say, and weeding out what it doesn’t say.

I do believe that there is an overlap between the Bible and Earth history. On one level, I expect that Noah’s flood, which I believe to be a localized event (click here) to have left some sort of geological record (as Skepchick alludes to at the end of her post). On another level, both the Bible and science give an explanation for the origin of the universe, the Earth, and life. Old-Earth creationists of the day-age variety seek correlations between the days of Genesis 1 and the events of Earth history, and they have come up with some interesting insights. They may be correct, but I’m not placing my money on their harmonizations. Some of the other options on the “Understanding Genesis 1” poll don’t require  attempts at harmonization between Genesis and geology.

When Christians visit my blog (which normally means about 90% of my readers), my hope is to give them sound Biblical and scientific reasoning in regards to the interface between science and Christian faith. Sometimes this is in regards to questions about origins, such as the age of the Earth or the extent and work of Noah’s flood. I also put a lot of effort into writing about issues surrounding the environment.

When non-Christians visit my blog, my hope and prayer is that they will see that one doesn’t have to commit intellectual suicide in order to be (or become) a Christian. Often these non-Christian visitors have misconceptions about Christianity or the Bible, and I aim to help clear up those misconceptions (some examples: a Bible contradiction, unicorns in the Bible). I am unashamed and unapologetic about my faith in Jesus Christ and my belief that Christianity is true.

Grace and Peace

February 26, 2011 - Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Christianity, Geology, Old-Earth creationism, Young-Earth creationism | ,

18 Comments »

  1. Thank you for responding so gracefully to my “Skepchickating” of your poll. I apologize if I misrepresented you in any way. I have updated my Skepchick post to reflect your response. I’ve encouraged the Skepchick reader to look around your site– I will do the same myself as my busy grad student schedule permits.

    All the best,
    Evelyn
    Skepchick & Geoblogger

    Skepchick.org
    Georneys.blogspot.com

    Like

    Comment by Evelyn | February 26, 2011

  2. I’m sorry to see the Skepchick following in the footsteps of PZ Myers by sending our her drones to flood another online poll. It always strikes me as such a childish thing to do.

    Like

    Comment by Jordan | February 26, 2011

  3. Jordan,

    The numbers on my poll are now skewed, but I am happy to have skeptics and atheists visit my blog. My hope and prayer is that they will see something somewhere on The GeoChristian that will be used by God to open up their minds to the truth of Christianity.

    Plus, I am thankful that the Skepchick readers are not flooding my blog (yet?) with the middle-schoolish “You Christians are a bunch of #%&@! morons” comments that the disciples of PZ Myers are prone to make.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | February 26, 2011

  4. That’ll teach you to try to gauge the diversity of your readership. ;)

    Like

    Comment by Jordan | February 26, 2011

  5. Perhaps I am like David taking a census?

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | February 26, 2011

  6. Gotta love how you’re being labelled a “barking mad apologist” over there. Best wipe the froth from your mouth, Kevin. ;)

    Like

    Comment by Jordan | February 26, 2011

  7. I’ve been called much worse things than “barking mad.”

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | February 26, 2011

  8. @Jordan- We aren’t drones, we are human beings with an opinions of our own. Many people who would never have visited this blog or have been exposed to its message otherwise have been thanks to Evelyn. Some voted and some didn’t. Few commented, and none were abusive. Demonstrating a diversity of views isn’t childish. I feel that you haven’t really spent any time attempting to understand the motivations of people you view as your enemies, and you have made a strawman of their views. Some might see it as childish to think that scientific truths can be decided by an internet poll. Having an unexpected result in a poll like this one is more prone to start a dialogue, like the one you are seeing now, rather than allowing a self-congratulatory echo chamber to be created. How is that a bad thing?

    Just because the Pharyngulites have the tendency to be bad guests, doesn’t make their position invalid. It just makes some of them jerks. And one commenter on Skepchick refered to him as a barking mad apologist. Do all the commenters on this site speak for you? Does anyone who posts a comment here automatically reflect your views?

    @GeoChristian Your blog is great! Lots of good info. You may or may change people’s mind about Christ, but I think you will certainly help change some people’s ideas about Christians. They have earned quite a reputation in this country for being anti-intellectual and anti-science, and I think it’s great that you are spreading the word that it doesn’t have to be that way. :)

    Like

    Comment by Jen | February 26, 2011

  9. Jen,

    Thanks for your positive comments about my blog.

    I don’t think that I in any way was trying to say that “scientific truths can be decided by an internet poll.” My hope was to get a better idea of the diversity of my regular readership regarding how they understand Genesis 1, and I think I accomplished that objective.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | February 26, 2011

  10. Oh, sorry. I wasn’t trying to say that was your motivation with this poll, only that this perception is generally what causes the pharyngulite hordes to descend on a poll. My fault. I was unclear.

    Like

    Comment by Jen | February 26, 2011

  11. Jen,

    Thanks for the reply, though I think you’re reading an awful lot into the little I’ve said so far. The poll that the readers of the Skepchick flooded was started by the geochristian so that he could better gauge the diversity of his readership. I think it’s pretty fair to say that the vast majority of the people who followed the Skepchick’s suggestion to flood the poll aren’t readers of the geochristian blog, and only came to this blog for the first time in order to skew the poll. Given this, I can’t help but feel that there’s little reason other than childish fun for flooding (or “skepchickating”) the poll. That certainly seems to be the case given the comments I’m reading over there.
    I dunno… maybe I am being a bit hyper-sensitive. It annoys me to see PZ Myers and his followers do this all the time (much to their chagrin, I suppose), so when I see other atheist forums doing the same, I just shake my head.

    That being said, it’s great to have you here. I certainly don’t want this place to become a “self-congratulatory echo chamber”, as you say, and hope to see you around here more often.

    Like

    Comment by Jordan | February 26, 2011

  12. Intellectual suicide is a “tad” strong when referring to us mere peasants who consider or are considering Biblically-defined creation (6-day) as viable.

    Like

    Comment by PHW | February 27, 2011

  13. @geochristian
    This may be slightly off topic, but I think you’ll appreciate it none the less.

    While I was directed to your site through skepchick.org and Evelyn’s post there, I’ve browsed through your site quite a bit to feel that you and (the majority) of your readership are actively thinking about your faith. You are looking at evidence and your scripture closely and examine why you believe what you believe. I find this very refreshing compared to a lot of other people of faith who just preach to the choir about how they are correct, and anyone who disagrees is incorrect. You seem to have a thirst for knowledge and for something more than this physical world.

    I encounter a lot of people of faith were I now reside. I moved from a large city, to a very small, rural, mostly Caucasian, Protestant/Evangelical Christian area. I find a lot of the message of Christianity gets skewed to fit either a political or personal agenda. A majority of people never get around questioning why they believe, they only recite and cherry pick passages to justify their own views on how the world should be, and confirm their biases. These people, in my opinion, make Christians look bad. They have passion, but are without knowledge of what that book of scriptures really says, and use religious fervor to attack people who do not believe what they do. I often compare these people to Bill Maher– an outspoken atheist who seems not to have arrived at his position rationally. Maher denies scientific evidence (anti-vaccinations, pro-alternative medicine, pro-homeopathy, a general conspiracy theorist) in order to support a political agenda, and it seems his Atheism arises from not evidence, but an anger of atrocities done in the name of various religions. I feel he’s creating bad PR for non-believers as much as hypocritical Christians create bad PR for other Christians that think for themselves. Through time, patience, mistakes and love I have discovered that not all Christians are supporting agendas like Jerry Falwell or Tony Evans or Joseph Ratzinger; hopefully just as you and your readers have discovered that not all skeptics are incendiary like Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris or PZ Meyers. I like PZ and Dawkins as scientists and biologists, but I feel they do a disservice to people like me, and thousands of others who embrace logic and reason, but do not want to shove it down other’s throats, but to educate. You find a lot of jerks in every facet of society, but most people are quite nice and pleasant even when you disagree with them.

    I find that the majority Christians who embrace science instead of denying it or looking for ‘evidence’ (propaganda or debunked science) to support their preconceived notions seem to have a grander appreciation for life, their faith and for science. They seem to realize that their very existence and the planet they stand on is absolutely amazing. You and a majority of your readers fall into this based on comments posted. I feel that people have a right to believe whatever they wish, as long as it does not endanger or harm anyone else.

    I don’t believe in the supernatural due to the lack of evidence (in my opinion). I am agnostic in terms of a God or gods. I am a skeptic so I question my beliefs. I do my best to evaluate evidence and arguments, and I try not to slant anything to a particular viewpoint. When I do notice my own biases, I do my best to correct it. I realize what I think is true today may not be actually be true tomorrow, and despite how horrible that may sound to some, it’s absolutely amazing and leaves me in a state of wonder and appreciation of my world, my body and the incredibly small amount of time I have here on Earth.

    I applaud your efforts to raise scientific awareness in Christians and show that science is not something to be fearful or hostile towards, but something to embrace and enrich people’s lives. I feel that people can be skeptical and believe in a God or gods and that the question of God or gods does not have to (but can be, for some) evaluated skeptically- belief isn’t something you can just turn off and on at will. If evidence points you towards a God or gods, then there you have it. If not, it doesn’t.

    Like

    Comment by AJ | February 27, 2011

  14. PHW:

    When I mentioned that one doesn’t have to commit intellectual suicide to become a Christian I was not thinking specifically of young-Earth creationism. I was merely addressing the common skeptical perception that all of Christianity is based on bogus thinking.

    Having said that, I do think that young-Earth creationism is often part of the problem rather than part of the answer. The YEC movement has a track record of using poor arguments (from moon dust and thrust fault arguments in the 60s to accelerated nuclear decay and hyper-rapid post-flood speciation today) to prop up their interpretation of the Bible, and this only adds fuel to the fire for the atheists and skeptics. I would rather it be the foolishness of the cross that drives people away from Christianity than the foolishness of our arguments.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | February 27, 2011

  15. I’m a long-time atheist reader of your site. Just wanted to let you know that you do have atheist readers that aren’t here to make fun of you or crash your polls.

    Like

    Comment by Eronarn | February 27, 2011

  16. Eronarn:

    Most atheists who have commented on this site over the years have been courteous, and I appreciate that. I have only deleted a handful of comments, edited only a few more, and blocked only two or three people. I haven’t even been all that bothered by the poll-crashing, though my preference would have been otherwise.

    Thanks for being a regular reader.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | February 27, 2011

  17. […] to add: The GeoChristian blogger has responded to our Skepchickating of his poll. I’ve edited a few items below to reflect his response. I […]

    Like

    Pingback by Genesis and Geology | Global Posts | February 28, 2011

  18. GeoChristian; Have you seen or read books by Gerald L. Shroeder? He is Jewish, and has degrees in physics, and I think he served on the Atomic Energy Commission. He has a theory about reconciling Biblical 6 days with the generally accepted age of the Cosmos by time dilation; ie it took 6 24 hour time periods to develop and at the same time, about 15.75 billion years. Interesting idea.

    Like

    Comment by Confait | July 22, 2011


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: